I wrote this 4 years ago, nearly to the day, after the Sox traded my favorite player under circumstances very similar to those surrounding the past two weeks' Manny Ramirez circus:
I'm 34 years-old, well past the age of hero-worship. I understand that baseball
is a business and that I basically root for the laundry. I do. And even though
that's true, I will feel very conflicted when the Chicago Cubs take the field
tomorrow and this big-nosed guy with an athletic gait bounds out of the dugout,
kicking the toes of his spikes into the turf, number 5 across his pinstriped
back as he sprints to his familar position on an unfamiliar diamond. I've never
had a second-favorite team before, but odds are about even that I'll own a Cubs
hat before I post again. They'll never be the Red Sox, but, then again, they've
And in the end, I never did buy that Cubs hat, while the 2004 Red Sox cleansed their system and took off on a tear that ultimately yielded a world championship that forever changed an entire Nation's outlook on life. After that, I'm willing to give Theo Epstein the benefit of the doubt regarding just about any roster move.
That said, there are some major differences between facts on the ground in 2004 and the operative details now. In 2004, Nomar yielded two terrific defensive players in Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz, and the Sox picked up Dave Roberts in a separate deadline deal. Manny's petulance and its corrosive impact on the 2008 Sox effectively ruined any leverage the Sox' front office may have enjoyed, while also preoccupying the team so much that they failed to address any other pressing needs. On paper, Jason Bay for Manny Ramirez, Brandon Moss, and Craig Hanson makes the Sox worse. In 2004, you could at least argue the opposite.
As noted above, though, the Sox really had no choice. I have every confidence that Manny would have completely subverted the Sox if he'd stayed in Boston for the remainder of the year, and we'd be spitting the sour taste of 2006 out of our mouths once again. More selfishly, I think I would have hated him for it, and while Manny was never my favorite player, I took a great deal of enjoyment from his goofy mien, otherworldly skills, and - not insignificantly - Yankee-killer exploits. At least now I can remember him fondly, if a little wistfully.
I'm more convinced today than I was a few days ago that the Sox smell like a 3rd-place team. At least now that smell isn't coupled with the rank stench of a poisoned locker room - it's more like old sweat socks and Drakkar. I'll live.