Friday, August 01, 2008
Manny Had to Go - 'Nuf Ced!
In 1903, the Red Sox faced the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first ever World Series - a best of 9 games affair. Historians give a great deal of credit for the Boston victory to a raucous band of fans known as The Royal Rooters, a group of hard-drinking South Boston Irishmen. The Royal Rooters were led by "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, later to be mayor of Boston, father of Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, and grandfather to JFK. The soul of the Rooters was a pugnacious tavern owner by the name of Mike McGreevey, known to all as "'Nuf Ced" McGreevey. He came by this unusual sobriquet because of the way that he ran his tavern, known as "Third Base." Park opened in 1912. It was also known as "Third Base" because, as The bar, located on Columbus Avenue in what is now Roxbury Crossing, was located near third base at the old Huntington Avenue Grounds, home to the Boston baseball team (not yet officially known as the Red Sox) until Fenway Park was built in 1912. McGreevey was wont to say: "It's the last place you stop before heading home!" Whenever a dispute would break out at the bar, McGreevey would let it go just so long before he would settle the matter once and for all by proclaiming in his Irish tenor voice: "'Nough said!"
Manny had to go - 'nuf said!
The beginning of the end of the Manny era in Boston came on June 29 when he threw to the ground Red Sox travelling secretary, Jack McCormick, in the visitors' clubhouse in Houston. In tossing McCormick, Manny in effective threw down the gauntlet, challenging anyone to rein in his puerile excesses and countless episodes of "Manny Being Manny" that had accreted over the years. The Red Sox leaders finally picked up that gauntlet and agreed to a duel to preserve the honor of the team. In tossing McCormick, Manny also tossed aside a legacy that he had spent 8 years building as part of the cadre of players who helped return Boston to its glory days as the hub of the baseball universe. What followed was an inexcusable parade of feigned injury, provocative statements, begging out of the line-up and whining that made the prospects of his continued presence in a Red Sox uniform untenable and unthinkable. The crowning blow came Wednesday night, when the Red Sox phoned in the most woeful performance in recent memory - a lackluster game in which they were hammered 9-2 by the Angels, during which they committed 4 errors. Following that embarrassing drubbing, Red Sox GM, Theo Epstein, polled some of the veteran players and learned from them that they felt that Manny had to go. If something were not done - and done fast - the clubhouse would implode under the weight of the tension and conflict. So, at the end of the day, it was his failure as a reliable team mate that sealed Manny's fate in Boston. Winning matters, but so does character. And the World Champion Red Sox were no longer willing to tolerate their reputation being tarnished by a petulant and egocentric man-child in pajama pants and dreadlocks.
Yes, we have dealt away a consensus first ballot Hall of Famer, and received - on paper - a lesser player in exchange. But we have banished a first ballot Hall of Shamer to the Left Coast, where his antics will be tolerated or ignored. And in pulling the trigger on a shotgun divorce, the Red Sox owners and executives have sent a strong message to the rest of the team that they will not tolerate a cancer that hinders their chances of repeating as World Series Champions.
Red Sox Nation is swooning this morning - some feeling that we paid too much to lance this festering boil.
I say Manny had to go. "Nuf Ced!"
I expect a victory tonight at the Fens.