Manny Ramirez is the gift that keeps on giving. Today’s Manny-related headline comes to us from the Los Angeles Times: Bud Selig questions Dodgers’ Manny Ramirez trade.
The headline itself is a bit misleading; Selig isn’t concerned with the Dodgers’ acquisition of the future Hall of Famer but rather with the way Manny finagled his way out of Boston. Bud doesn’t like it and plans to send his minions to make some noises before declaring the whole thing a non-issue.
To this, I say: Of course, Selig doesn’t like it. Any self-respecting fan of baseball shouldn’t like it. With an assist from Scott Boras, his agent, who knows what Manny can get on the open market, Manny Ramirez put on a show to get the Red Sox to trade him. He took a few calculated risks, sat out a few key games, said just the right things to the ever-rabid Boston press. Voilà, Manny Ramirez has his options declined and gets himself a one-way ticket to Chavez Ravine.
Now in LA, Manny is hitting .464 with four home runs this month, and the Red Sox aren’t happy. But this is what baseball has become, and while A-Rod’s opt-out shenanigans in October highlighted the baser business side of the game, Manny’s in-season antics drove home the idea with an exclamation point.
When players know they can get more money than their contracts allow and teams are willing to give their top players any sort of leverage with an option, those players and their shrewd agents will do anything they can to get out of seemingly bad deals even when those deals are for more money than you or I will see in our lifetimes. Bud Selig can cry foul; the Red Sox can cry foul. But Selig loves touting the economic health of baseball, and the Red Sox are among the richest, most successful teams in the game these days. They can’t have it both ways, and we the fans just get to watch a shouting match between the rich and the richer. How pleasant.