Wednesday, February 21, 2007

In my spare time, I've been looking around for a new tool of the week segment. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a tool who stood head and shoulders above the run of the mill tools that make up a good 3/4 of the American population. Since it's been well over a week without a tool, I'm giving up for the time being and renaming it the tool of interest segment, or maybe the tool of note segment. I have some time to decide, since I don't need to run one for a while.

To fill the tool void, one need go no further than, where one can discover strong evidence that the tools among us haven't gone to sleep just yet. There is, after all, Dan Shaughnessy and his never-ending stock of shallow premises, faithful obedience to John Henry and half-assed attempts to be hip.

I know I spend a lot of time attacking Dan Shaughnessy in this blog. To be fair, however, he is a terrible writer with no redeeming vices. He's lazy, opportunistic, a shameless puppet of Red Sox ownership and for some reason has been waging a one man war against Manny Ramirez for some time now. In case you're interested, a redeeming vice would be a good sense of humor, the knack for incorporating an interesting or relevant external reference into his work once in a while or evidence of some effort expended to earn his paycheck.

In this recent effort, he dragged down the 1960s band Procul Harum by dragging their song into this piece of sycophancy (not really a word in common use, but it should be) directed at John Henry. It might seem, for an instant, that the CHB isn't giving his real boss a back rub. But when you look at all his tough talk, it's directed at Henry's partner in his racing endeavor, Jack Roush.

A legitimate columnist would have devoted more than three sentences to the fact that the Red Sox have the highest ticket prices in the land. It's small matter that they could charge more. Just because you can do something, that isn't moral justification for it. But John Henry is one sharp cookie, he reads about commodities and investments at 4 AM. I bet Warren Buffett is cowering in terror in his Omaha empire, just waiting for the day that John Henry becomes America's most renowned investor.

One would think that his status as Henry's mouthpiece would make him less likely to wage a crusade against Manny Ramirez. But then one must remember that Henry's regime has been characterized by a number of hints and hopes that Manny would continue being Manny in some other uniform. Rumors of trades and demands for trades have been floated so often, one no longer pays them much attention. It does seem clear that this team has been trying to make Manny expendable. Why else did they bring in JD Drew?

Consider it for a moment. JD Drew has come to a team at great expense to play the outfield. The team already has Manny Ramirez, Coco Crisp and Wily Mo Pena manning the outfield positions. Depth is an excellent thing to have, but is it a commodity to be purchased at the rate of $70 million over the next five years. One thing is clear, the Red Sox could never dare move Manny without a big name to fill the hole in the lineup and in the fan's hearts.

The real problem with Manny as a baseball player and a man isn't that he's eccentric. Rather, it is that he hasn't shown the proper veneration for Dan Shaughnessy, baseball expert, genius, writer and man. Instead of genuflecting and kissing the CHB's ring as though he were the Pope, Manny hustled even less after the CHB upbraided him for not hustling enough. I'm sure legislators the world over will finally get off their asses and make that a capital crime any day now, but until them, maybe the CHB will learn how to live with disappointment.

This article is a representative sample of the campaign against Manny. It begs the question, what does Manny Ramirez owe to the team, the fans and the media? He is paid to hit, and he does. If he lives in his own world, but produces big offensive numbers he doesn't need to live the way the CHB thinks he ought to. Ironically, a Red Sox outfielder who produced fantastic numbers but enjoyed a stormy relationship with the Boston media was the subject of a vast number of puff pieces written by our fickle friend the CHB.

Manny Ramirez isn't Ted Williams. He's not the player Ted was, not the patriot that Ted was and not the philanthropist that Ted was. But he shows up and hits for power and average, and he drives in runs. Beyond that there is no obligation he must meet. The CHB conveniently mentions that the rest of the team is furious with Manny, but doesn't dare criticize him. Without a player on record, either the CHB is making it all up, or the team is full of gutless frauds. Either way works for me, since a team full of gutless frauds won't win it all and I hate the CHB.

It's amazing to me that he can criticize Manny for shutting it down early last season while signing the return of JD Drew with bated breath. Apparently, Red Sox Nation is dumb enough to believe that this leopard will change his spots. JD Drew is selfish, injury prone fraud and he'll be inserted in the line up on Opening Day. Just wait until Red Sox Nation wakes up to find out that it missed Trot Nixon when Drew plays 100 games and has an even more mysterious injury than the one that felled Manny late last season.

It is entirely possible that this was part of the deal to net Matsuzaka, as many have speculated. And we all know that Daisuke Matsuzaka has already been engraved on the CY Young Award for the American League for the next 12 years. So it's win-win, even if Drew flops in Boston, as illogical as that seems to the man who isn't enamored of the Red Sox. Even if Drew never gets a hit, the Red Sox win twice because Matsuzaka will be the greatest thing ever to come to America.

Perhaps the optimism that surrounds a pitcher that has yet to throw so much as a pitch in North American professional baseball is so shocking to me because I was born a pessimist. Or maybe my hatred of the Red Sox has clouded my capacity for rational thought. Or it's possible that I'm right. Who knows. All I know it that the CHB is own way probably jinxed Matsuzaka in a misguided effort to be cute and folksy by calling him "Elvis Matsuzaka."

And Shaughnessy had to go and ruin one of my predictions. He ran a deathwatch column on a Red Sox alumnus and it wasn't Carl Yastremski. In my post where I introduced the idea, I predicted it would be Carl Yastremski because the only other Red Sox alumnus I could think of who might reasonably stir enough fan interest to excuse the laziness on the part of the CHB was Johnny Pesky. And if it weren't for the pole in right field and the fact that he hangs around the team day in and day out, who would even know him?

Of course, if I even thought about him, I would have immediately gone with Dom DiMaggio. Not so much because he was a star (he was good in center field, but not great), but because of the massive celebrity of his brother Joe. Knowing the CHB and his vanilla writing style and complete lack of creativity, I should have seen this sentence coming:

There were nine kids in the home of the Sicilian immigrants at 2047 Taylor St. in the North Beach section of San Francisco. Dad Giuseppe was a fisherman, mom Rosalie a former schoolteacher, and three of the five boys would become major league baseball players -- one of them rising to the level of American icon, celebrated in literature by Ernest Hemingway and in song by Paul Simon.

Wow, how cool is that. Not only did he have an intern look into DiMaggio's vital records, but he listened to Mrs. Robinson and might have perused The Old Man and the Sea. God help us all.

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