Thursday, August 14, 2008

Everything Happens to Manny

I was in a pretty bad way last night. Everything hurt, and I needed something to soften the blow of yet another loss. Ice cream was the obvious solution. I was waiting in line behind a couple of teenagers—a girl and a guy. I gathered from their interaction that they were not so much a couple as they were one of those high school boy-girl best friend pairs with repressed feelings for one another other. (I hate to toot my own horn, but I’m astute.) He struck me as the type who would be in a band, but not the band that was really popular and had the lead singer everyone wanted to make out with. The one with the three dudes who hang out at records shops and would eventually know every useless piece of information about every musician, song, and album that had ever come into existence. So the guy was making fun of the girls who worked at the shop behind their backs to get a laugh out of his companion. And, admittedly, they were annoying. One of them kept talking about “rehearsal,” giving the word a special emphasis. Nothing against people who have rehearsal, but if you aren’t Pavarotti or Baryshnikov, you should really limit the frequency with which you say “rehearsal.” It came time to pay, and the guy was making a big production out of the fact that he was going to treat his lady friend. She was embarrassed, apparently, and repeatedly refused. He finally put the discussion to an end with a line of reasoning with which she could not argue, saying, “Look, it’s called gentlemanness.” That’s right, buddy. It sure is.

Oddly, I couldn’t find a definition for gentlemanness in the dictionary. McCarver was also of surprisingly little help on the subject responding simply, “It’s the same as gentlemanosity.” So I am going to give you my definition based on my understanding of what it means. Gentlemanness relates to how one should behave in society—it is the quality of being well-mannered and acting in accordance with rules laid out according to a code of proper conduct. It is, in essence, the opposite of Manny-ness.

Manny was at it again Monday night, leaving the game in the ninth to use the bathroom. It was apparently an honest mistake. Torre gave him an air fist bump when he returned to the dugout in the eighth, and he interpreted it to mean that he was being yanked from the game. If I had a dollar for every time that happened to me. Manny, who didn’t feel much like talking about the incident, did have this to say about it: “Everything happens to me.” That, Manny, is what we call Newton’s Third Law of Motion. Manny being Manny is the action, and your experience of the world would be the equal and opposite reaction.

Despite the fact that Manny found everything happening to him, yet again, he must have been surprised to find himself in an environment where nobody seemed to care. There were no boos when he finally sauntered onto the field after holding up the game, no angry editorials, no indignant fans and teammates complaining that Manny simply doesn’t seem invested. The general reaction in Los Angeles was that, even if it wasn’t exactly the ultimate display of gentlemanness, it was pretty hilarious.

After the trade, one of my SoCal people commented to me that L.A. might just be the perfect fit for Manny—that Boston took it all too seriously. “They like dudes who ‘get their uniforms dirty' and have stubbly facial hair,” he said with disdain. “Cuz that means they're ‘grinders.’" He went on to say that Boston didn’t appreciate the value of someone who wanted the game to be fun. Boston wants their players to run it out when they ground to short. L.A. doesn’t care so much about that, as long as they hit it harder the next time. After observing this latest display of Manny-ness and the general response with which it was met, I’m starting to think my friend was onto something.

I’m not from Boston. Obviously. Kenahora. But I tend to take the stance that I want my players to show me they care. Maybe it’s an East Coast thing. But I guess my feeling is that as long as you're getting paid an obscene amount of money to do what you love for a living—you know what?—run it out. Just to show me that you’re grateful. To show me that you get that those of us watching are not getting paid an obscene amount of money to do what we love for a living, and yet we spend the money we do earn to come watch you, and we assume that you’re trying your best. We know we are. Imagine the school teacher who says, “Meh. That one’s never going to read anyway. Screw it." Sure, the literacy of that kid obviously matters like a whole lot more than whether or not you make it on base, but those teachers also make about a gazillionth as much as you do. In my humble opinion, the least you could do to make up for that inequity is always try your hardest. You are essentially the luckiest people alive. Acknowledge that by running it out. Hell, if you do that every time, you might get lucky and catch a break on an error once in a while.

But as my friend pointed out, in L.A., they don’t care quite as much. Maybe they’re just projecting their approach to their own lives onto the field. They don’t put in any more effort than makes sense. They don’t perseverate and make themselves crazy. They just relax, enjoy the 75 degree weather, and try to have a good time. Maybe that’s why they’re happier out there. Who knows? Maybe it’s even smarter and more efficient. Either way. I still want my players to run it out and get their uniforms dirty.

Whatever the case, this sort of joie de vivre approach to baseball really might be the most compatible with Manny’s je ne sais quoi approach to everything. If he produces, let him disappear in the ninth to go potty. L.A. is, after all, a town that loves to pamper and indulge annoying people because they are who they are. And as we are all well aware at this point, Manny is Manny.

That said, maybe it’s a match made in heaven and maybe it’s just that the honeymoon isn’t over yet. L.A. has been in a relationship with Manny for a few weeks. Boston for eight years. You know how what often seems cute and charming in the beginning is grounds for the tossing of dishes at the end? Or maybe the key the to this relationship’s success is that Joe Torre—the ultimate in gentlemanness—will neutralize Manny’s Manny-ness. Maybe he knows that, like a child, you don’t want to give Manny negative attention because it will only encourage his Manny-esque behavior. You focus, instead, on what he’s doing right. Maybe, like Paula Abdul and the anthropomorphized cigarette-smoking, leather jacket-wearing cat in that video, they come together cuz opposites attract.

Regardless of the answers to these questions, one thing remains the same. Manny is still Manny, and Manny, oh, Manny am I glad to have him out of the ALE, especially the way he’s been hitting of late. Not that it would make much difference the way we’ve been playing of late.

About the Tankees, I don’t know what to say anymore that wouldn’t be redundant. Do our boys need a refresher in the basics of fielding—who catches which balls, where to throw and when, foot on the bag when you go for the out. (Or didn’t you Cano about that one?) Do we wait for Phil Hughes and Carl Pavano to come back into the rotation and hope that they have it in them to save our hides—like they would in the Disney version of this season? Or was there simply nothing that could have been done in this last series? Is Delmon Young alone just too much for one highest paid team in baseball to handle? I haven’t given up. But I do hope our boys take this day off before their next home stand to do some serious thinking. Thinking about HOW THEY’RE RUINING MY LIFE. In the mean time, let us all be grateful that today’s an off-day because, when they don’t play, they can’t lose.

In other, better news, the Dodgers and the Mets both did each other a solid yesterday—each beating the team that was standing in the other team’s way of the division. Adorable. As a result, both are tied for first in their respective races. As I think I’ve made clear by now, both of these teams are NL favorites for me. The Mets because I always go with New York and my parents would disown me otherwise. The Dodgers because of Joe Torre and threats from the Korean mafia. My NLC team, just to put it out there, is the Cubs. And not because they’re winning but because I want only good things for Soriano and only feelings of regret for those who made the decision to trade him. On some level, I have always found the Cubs a little cloying. The whole lovable loser thing. It’s like, you don’t have to be a loser to be lovable. I don’t know who started that rumor. Not to mention the fact that they get such a ridiculous and unnecessary amount of attention. Now, that wouldn't happen to have anything to do with the fact the people who own the team also own the Chicago Trib, would it? Or am I just a cynic? Meanwhile, the White Sox, who get a whole lot less recognition, are a whole lot more badass.

Speaking of which, I wouldn’t say Griffey Jr. won the game for the ChiSox last night, but with an RBI single and a uniform-dirtying diving catch, he definitely contributed. Is it fair to say we’re at one and a half out of the predicted four? And on the subject of White Sox we like, Swisheroo says he’s very excited to be playing in McAfee once again. Apparently, the feeling is mutual.

And here’s some breaking news on the NFL beat: Farvil reports that—what a surprise—his arm is feeling a little fatigued. He commented, “To be honest with you, I'm surprised that, I don't want to say I feel good, that I've been able to make it through every practice so far." Please, Farvil, as if the phrase “to be honest with you” means anything coming from you. Especially when it’s followed by a statement that basically implies you tricked us into thinking you were in condition to play when you knew all along that you weren’t. Nice one. Got us again. Fortunately for Pennington, Dan Marino got wind of the Farvtigue situation, and it got him thinking. You see, given the recent plunge in the economy, the restaurant business isn’t what it used to be. Inspired by Farvie, Marino had also started contemplating the possibility of unretiring, which would have left Pennington up the creek yet again. However, as the result of Farv’s recent woes in training camp, Marino has decided to reconsider. At least according to his latest text message update to ESPN.