Today's Extra Bases blog at the Boston Globe web site has an interesting piece of news from Bob Lobel, the sports director from WBZ in Boston, who says that the Red Sox fined Manny Ramirez "a six-figure sum" for the altercation he had last month with traveling secretary Jack McCormick. (Although later reports today say the fine was "between $10,000 and $15,000.")
And apparently, Ramirez was miffed enough about it, according to Lobel, that he gave the Red Sox brass "the middle finger" during a game earlier this month. When Manny went to pinch-hit in the ninth inning of the game against the Yankees and Mariano Rivera on July 6th, he struck out on three pitches and never took the bat off his shoulders. The Sox front office believes that this was his way to "stick it" to them for the fine he got hit with after the pushing incident with McCormick.
The Sox originally refused to discuss what happened immediately after the incident, and that it was handled "internally." I find it hard to believe that the fine remained a secret for this long. Whether Manny did tank it on July 6th is still a matter of conjecture. But it might also explain the bizarre happenings of earlier this week.
Manny says that he wants to meet the Sox front office staff about his contract after the season. According to the Boston Herald, Manny said, "I want to know what's my situation. I want no more [expletive] where they tell you one thing and behind your back they do another thing. I think I've earned that respect, for a team to sit down with me and tell me this is what we want, this is what we want to do."
The Red Sox owner John Henry shot back in an email, and wasn't happy with Ramirez' comments. "I find remarks that we have been anything other than completely straightforward to be personally offensive. Manny has been a crucial part of two world championships. I do not believe we would have won either without him. He has never played a more important role than he has thus far this year."
Manny really isn't in a strong situation here. The Red Sox hold all the cards, and have two $20 million options, for 2009 and 2010. No one is going to pay him $20 million per year if the Sox decline it and he becomes a free agent. If Manny has a lousy second half, the Sox may ultimately decline it, but it would hurt him tremendously in his wallet if his numbers go down. He will be 37 next season. But if he has a monster second half, the Sox would probably keep him for at least 2009. He has said for a good part of this year he wants to stay in Boston, but this little dustup with management is hard to figure out. Could this be the tentacles of Scott Boras, Ramirez' new agent, at work here?
Never a dull moment with Manny around. Stay tuned.