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?