Are you not entertained?

T.J. Simers doesn’t get all of the Manny outrage, but he’s not even pretending to be objective about it. In today’s column he fields the emails of those angry at him for being a Manny apologist. He doesn’t duck the charge at all. For him, it’s all about the entertainment factor:

“Your idolatry of Manny is ludicrous,” is the way Shirin Patel put it in an e-mail, rewriting an earlier headline in The Times, but hey, if Manny needs me to be his mule so he can keep going like he did a year ago, I’m here for him.

“Let me understand your warped logic,” writes Dan Howard. “It’s OK to be a cheating drug user if you are charismatic, talented and interesting like Manny.”

It also helps to hit home runs.

“Now I get it,” e-mails Jack Tracy. “Persecute GaryMatthews, but kiss Manny’s [behind].”

It’s such a satisfying feeling when people finally get it.

I like someone, I’m far more forgiving. I don’t, and I’m going to treat them like Kobe.

I know what Dodgers games were like before Manny arrived, and I wouldn’t wish that on any paying customer or someone obligated by employment to attend . . .

. . . “OK, I will tell you, you have it all wrong,” writes DavidCook. “Manny is a drug user, a cheat, and a liar. He is laughing in the faces of all Dodger fans. Manny should be traded, or better yet, fired from the Dodgers. . . . Manny’s replacement, Juan Pierre, has done an outstanding job, and all he has to show for it is a ‘thanks, but now it’s back to the bench so we can bring the drug cheat back.’ “

Would you rather watch Juan every night, satisfying your moral outrage, or Manny?

Granted, Simers’ schtick is to poke people and see what happens when they’re poked, but that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t got a point here. It ties in with the “Comment of the Day” post from yesterday: No matter how much time some of us spend hashing out the behavior of ballplayers — and lord knows I do — these guys are still just entertainers. For the most part, then, the stakes are pretty low. At least if you’re not expecting athletes to be role models for kids, which I don’t. So when Simers says something like this:

Here’s the dilemma, and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn later on it led to the split of Jon & Kate: Do you continue to grill, grind and grouse about Manny’s reluctance to come clean, or do you revel in the added entertainment he brings to every game? Manny has made a mistake in not appearing more repentant, in not being more forthright, and in not throwing himself on the mercy of Dodgers fans who embraced him unconditionally. But it’s not going to happen, so does the grudge become more pressing than the entertainment escape his play provides?

I have to answer “no.” Manny is by no means my favorite player in the world, but there’s all manner of crap Ramirez could still do that wouldn’t keep me from enjoying his game. And if your answer is “yes,” — if you’re going to let your problems with Manny outweigh the entertainment of it all — don’t you have to ask yourself if you’re really watching baseball for the right reasons in the first place?

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  1. Craig Calcaterra said...

    And yes, I realize that this is fresh and tasty Jack Marshall bait.  Don’t disappoint me, Jack!

  2. J.W. said...

    Ha! I was just about to say the following:

    Geez, Craig, apparantly YOUR schtick is to poke Jack Marshall.

    But, yeah, Simers puts it well, but you put it best yesterday: short of cruelty, violence, blatant malicious intent, and the mistreatment of kiddies, the product probably outweighs the personality problems of the producer.

  3. TC said...

    This is my perspective in 2001 with Bonds: OF COURSE he is cheating, but have you ever seen anything like this?  Is he not incredible? 

    It’s 8 years later now, and I’m publicly pro-steroid use in sports, so, well, you all know where my priorities lie.

  4. Michael said...

    We don’t even know if the stuff HELPED Manny (according to Sox fans, he sucked before he left the team).

    Again, many people will pretend they know how the game is affected by steroids, when they don’t have clue one.

    Oh, and Jack doesn’t require much poking – simply mention someone who has done something stupid in his life and let the rush to judgment begin.

  5. YankeesfanLen said...

    I can’t even remember how many times this spring I said “Leave ARod alone”. I could do it for Manny as well.
    If the press wasn’t complicit with Mantle, Ford, Martin behavior they could have had a field day back then.
    Let’s just retroactively put Mark Sanford on a 4 day DL.

  6. Jack Marshall said...

    Where Manny is concerned, this isn’t even good Marshall bait. I like watching Manny hit, but nothing else about his game—-his slovenliness on the field, water bottles in his pants, peeing in the Wall, his lack of professionalism, his obvious lack of interest in winning or losing as long as he gets his checks, his intermittent hustle every few weeks to show us how he COULD play if he gave a damn, his lack of any sense of loyalty—-I don’t see how anyone who likes to see a sport played well can find this enteratining other than in the YouTube “can you believe this guy?” sense.

    I was going to let this one go, but I didn’t want to let you down, Craig…

  7. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Fair enough, Jack.  I’m bored this afternoon so I’m kind of lookin’ for a fight. 

    Time to launch another Chief Wahoo thread . . . .


  8. Nick Whitman said...

    Manny didn’t suck before he left the Red Sox (his OPS+ was a healthy 136), but you wouldn’t know it if you listened to the Boston media.  Red Sox ownership has a disturbing habit of using the local media to vilify players that they want to get rid of.

    Is it weird that I have idea who “Jon and Kate” are?

  9. TC said...

    Nick- Not weird at all.  I had no idea, myself, until about 2 weeks ago. 

    Oh, and for the record: I wholeheartedly agree with Jack regarding Manny, although I suspect I get more mileage out of the “can you believe this guy!?!” element than does he.

  10. Craig Calcaterra said...

    I’m able to overlook a lot of Manny’s baggage due to quotes like this one Simers recounts from him during the 2007 ALCS:

    “We’re just going to go, play the game and move on,” he said after the Red Sox trailed the Indians three games to one in the playoffs two years ago. “If it doesn’t happen, so who cares? There’s always next year. It’s not like the end of the world.”

    There’s a certain kind of fan who will vilify an athlete for saying that, but my view is that it only matters if the player’s effort on the field is likewise casual.  Manny certainly has his limitations and has had his mental lapses—and we can argue about what actually happened just before the trade last summer—but his track reocrd on the field is one characterized far more by playing hard than not in my view.

    He’s just not all rah-rah about it, and I find that there’s something refreshing about that.

  11. not jason said...

    TJ’s awesome, speaks the truth, Gary Matthew gets no free ride because he’s barely an above average player, and he plays for the angels. TJ Speaks the truth to the youth, I loved when around the horn kicked him off because he said how much the show sucked in his column.

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