Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Is "Manny Being Manny" A Cliche Yet?

Remember back in November and December, when Manny said he wouldn’t show up to camp if the Red Sox failed to trade him? And remember how the Boston media bit on the story? Well, I was reading some literature for my elusive Soriano piece for the day (which may be delayed until tomorrow) when I came across this intriguing piece over on ESPN’s MLB page.

So instead of completely foregoing camp, Manny had requested a later reporting date, which was granted by the Sox. This speaks of some lingering turmoil between the two parties. Manny has realized that skipping camp is not in his best interests, trade or not. But by requesting a later reporting date (possibly because of a trip to Italy, as conjectured by David Ortiz), Manny is in essence saying, “look, I know that not reporting would be a terrible move, but I’m not just going to show up on time like some chump.”

Manny’s personal reporting date is now March 1st, which is a day after the mandatory reporting date, per MLB guidelines. Specifically, it is this detail that makes me think Manny is looking for the extension as a form of insubordination. Since the front office doesn’t want to further ruffle Manny’s feathers, they’re liable to cave on any of his demands, no matter how ridiculous.

I hope I’m right on this, since it would mean a media feeding frenzy. Plus, Boston Dirt Dogs would be updated hourly, which is always nice. Nothing better than reading about the woes of the enemy.

What further increases the intrigue of this story is Manny’s increasingly integral role in the Sox offense this year. He and Ortiz will still be the focal points, but there is the potential for a diminished supporting cast, given the departures of Johnny Damon, Bill Mueller, and Edgar Renteria. Mike Lowell and Coco Crisp are still question marks at this point, Alex Gonzalez is no offensive threat, Trot Nixon is always an injury liability, the jury is still out on Kevin Youkilis, the team doesn’t know what version of Mark Loretta they’re getting, and ‘Tek is a catcher on the wrong side of 30 and could pull a Jorge at any point.

In fact, it is because of the above list that the Sox have been doing their best to keep Manny happy. But if he’s truly not happy in Boston, or shows signs of that for a portion of the season, the team could be in for quite a losing run. Maybe that’s my obvious bias, but I do feel that if Manny doesn’t show up in 2004 form, the team is in for weightier issues than the Red Sox Nation may be prepared to handle.