Sunday, January 01, 2006

Name Dropper

A former Red Sox player (I call him Hank) stopped by to visit a relative, whom I asked, "Do you know how many home runs Hank hit in his career?" His family member looked puzzled and said, "one, maybe two?" Hank quipped, "Thanks." Actually, it was more than twenty in a career spanning more than a decade, but it shows how even with many of our love of baseball and statistics, not everybody gives a hoot.

My son Conor went in to visit classmate Chris Snow, Sox beat writer for some friendly chat and some Texas Hold 'em. Conor reports that Chris works as many as eighty hours a week during the season, and that Chris gets phonecalls very regularly with new information, even during the card game. There were a couple of not too startling developments, which I won't pass on as 'hearsay', or maybe heresy.

Where do I stand on the Manny trade? Very simply, there must be something approaching fair value. Booting Manny's rear end out of town in an act of unquiet desperation doesn't work for me. Pete Rose was "Charlie Hustle" for his 4256 hits and 3 World Series titles, three batting titles, and NL MVP, not because he ran hard to first. The minors are loaded with 'all-effort' guys who can't play. If you wan't 25 of them on the Red Sox, then good luck to you, but chemisty and hustle take a backseat to talent.

I heard a radio commentator (and former NFL player) talking one day, mentioning that every roster has four or five really good guys, four or five thugs, and everyone else in the middle. He said, "take away the thugs and you won't win anything." I don't think that he meant out and out personality disorder/criminals, but then again, judging from the excellent book Pros and Cons, he may have.

Manny isn't a criminal, he isn't a saint, he may not be the greatest guy in the clubhouse, and parts of his game could stand improvement, but the guy can hit. Unlike Jim Rice, sweating out a limited chance of getting to Cooperstown, Manny won't worry about it. Heck, he may not even know when it's happening.

Several years ago, a colleague's son worked for the Red Sox, and he felt there were only two 'difficult' (fill in your favorite adjective for difficult) players on the roster, a certain departed shortstop and a pitching diva. The former was entirely self-absorbed via his routine and the latter just the paragon of narcissism. As Paul Harvey would say, you know the rest of the story.

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