It’s hard to remember a longer week in recent Red Sox memory.
It seems like ages since the Red Sox went into extra innings to beat the Seattle Mariners in the last game of the three game set just over a week ago. Looking back on it all, that game may have been the genesis of a series of events that would shape the 2008 Red Sox season as dramatically as any other this year.
When Manny Ramirez asked out of the lineup that night with a sore knee, it felt like nothing more than another “Manny being Manny” moment and a day off. Heck, we’ve become accustomed to him taking months off in the second half of the season, what was one day?
But when Manny begged out against Joba Chamberlain and the New York Yankees upon the team’s return to Fenway Park, things suddenly felt different. It was a culmination of events this season that just couldn’t square in the heads of most Red Sox fans; fights with teammates, pushing down Red Sox staff, the days he would beg out of the lineup,the non-hustle plays and seeming ambivalence at times to the context of his surroundings.
It had all come to a head.
Much like 2004 would have been remembered if it where not for a magical October as the season the Red Sox dealt away Nomar Garciaparra, 2008 will for now be dominated by the story, or maybe better coined the saga, of Manny Ramirez. And much like 2004, only another World Series trophy will both justify the ends to which the organization went to remove Manny from their sights and take some of the bite away from “paying a steep price” to do so.
While the saga of Manny Ramirez is front and center in the minds of a nation of baseball fans, it is time to take a page from the man himself and “turn the page”.
For the organization, it’s both as simple as the new marketing campaign that hit the NESN airwaves only minutes after the deadline (25…..become…..1) and as complicated as piecing together a “post-Manny” plan for the next few seasons.
For the players that Manny left behind, it’s both the bittersweet remembrances of a friend that has left and the weight in the clubhouse that kept the air surrounding the team heavy lifted. This will be a different lineup without Manny. But just as with recent Red Sox legends Nomar, Pedro and Damon who left before him, this team will find a way to rally around a new persona in his wake.
For Jason Bay, its playing for a team that matters (sorry Pittsburgh) in a city that makes it matter so much more. From the cellar to the penthouse a the snap of a finger. But as Peter Parker’s Uncle said so eloquently, “with great power comes great responsibility”. It is time for Jason Bay to step into the limelight that shines much stronger than anything he’s experienced in his career and withstand the pressure of replacing one of the most dominant right handed hitters of our generation.
For Craig Hansen and Brandon Moss, its a new beginning and a chance to make something of yourself. For Moss, the opportunity of opportunity awaits him in Pittsburgh in a way that he would have never found in Boston. Thanks for that 9th inning shot in Japan to kick us off this season. For Hansen, it’s the opportunity to fulfill on the promise of potential. If anyone just needed a change of scenery, you have to believe its Craig Hansen. Good luck to you both.
For the fans, the 2008 season starts over today. We’ve staked the Tampa Bay Rays a three game head start and the Yankees sit a game and a half in our rear view mirror with the prospect of the Los Angeles Angels swatting them around for nine more games on the way down the stretch. The fans have every right to the mixed emotions they, and I, must be feeling right now. How could they trade Manny and give up prospects to downgrade? How could Manny be so selfish to have put them in this situation in the first place? This is both bittersweet and frustrating.
For many people and in many ways, it is time to heed the advice of the immortal Manny Ramirez and turn the page.