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The Tales of ManRam

August 31, 2010

When Kathleen Battle got fired from the Metropolitan Opera in 1992 for her habitually “difficult” behavior, mouths gaped open all across the music world, and we all wondered the same thing: Exactly how insufferable do you have to be to get canned from a place where “diva” is practically listed among the minimum job qualifications?

Give or take a few dreadlocks and high C-sharps, Manny Ramírez is the Kathleen Battle of Major League Baseball: a world-class talent and a first-class jerk, a marvelous gift yoked to a miserable personality. They’ve both achieved wealth, fame, and success strictly by virtue of working in fields that have a pretty steely tolerance for prima donnas, and they’ve both done the world the extraordinary service of discovering just where the limits of patience in their respective arenas lie. Just as the Met isn’t in the business of dumping profitable soloists, neither are baseball teams in the business of giving away proven power hitters and getting nothing in return—yet it just seems to keep happening with Manny, doesn’t it?

As you’ve no doubt heard by now, his last act as a Dodger was so fitting as to be downright elegant: Sent in to pinch-hit with the bases loaded and one out at a pivotal moment in a moderately important game, Manny, who’d spent most of the last four days on the bench in preparation for being shipped elsewhere, saw one pitch, objected to umpire Gary Cederstrom’s strike call, and was instantly ejected. Reed Johnson, who pinch-hit for the pinch-hitter in the wake of Manny’s ouster, promptly hit into a double play, simultaneously squelching the threat and costing the Dodgers a bench player they could have used a few innings later.

It’s fair to point out that Manny didn’t entirely write his own ticket to the showers (and equally fair to point out that Manny barely works hard enough to need a shower when he plays a full nine innings, let alone when he looks at a single pitch, so I probably ought to have chosen a different figure of speech; my bad). He was right about the call—the pitch was half a foot outside—and I trust that that helped accelerate the upward motion of Cederstrom’s thumb. Manny and the ump both stated for the record that none of the “magic words” that always prompt an ejection had crossed Manny’s lips. It was a questionable tossing.

And you know what? That almost makes it more beautiful to me. It’s as if some cosmic choreographer had been at work, some divine playwright who knew Manny was headed to the White Sox today and scripted a totally improbable and utterly perfect exit for the flawed, fallen hero. It’s poetic. It’s delicious. Somewhere, right now, Kathleen Battle is pacing furiously in her salon, firing a costumer or two, twisting the LA Times sports section to a pulp in her hands, and wishing she’d thought to go out that way.

The show must go on, of course. Here in Los Angeles, there are dreadlock-festooned do-rags to be auctioned off and a Dodger-Stadium seating block formerly known as “Mannywood” to be renamed. (I’m thinking “Podsednikopolis.”) And, naturally, we’ll be keeping our eyes on Chicago’s South Side, and placing our bets on how long it will take the relationship of ManRam and Ozzie Guillen to devolve into tragicomic opera.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Matt permalink
    August 31, 2010 10:26 am

    Being that the two things I love most in this world (aside from family) are opera and baseball, this post made my head explode. Awesome.

    • fearlessleader permalink*
      August 31, 2010 10:31 am

      I sort of maybe had you in mind a little bit when I wrote it. 🙂

  2. jrf permalink
    September 1, 2010 6:01 pm

    Since it sounds like ManRam will indeed have to conform to White Sox grooming standards, I’m dreading (so to speak) the appearance of Manny-locks on eBay and the like….

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