an open letter to: Manny Ramirez

Although most New Englanders have long since come to terms with the matters of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy, some of us still maintain a childlike hope that 2003 will be the year that the Boston Red Sox win the World Series of Baseball. Superstition be damned, either Curse of the Bambino or of Bill Buckner - we still believe in The Dream.

This letter was started in September when Red Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez was caught playing hooky from his appointed duties as a professional baseball player. It is now the morning of Monday, October 6, 2003, and game five, the deciding game of Boston’s wild card series with the Oakland Athletics, rapidly approaches ...

Mr. Manny Ramirez
c/o Boston Red Sox
Fenway Park
Boston MA

Dear Manny,

I've wanted to write this letter for a long time. It was started weeks ago, though for a variety of reasons has repeatedly been put aside to make room for other tasks.

What prompted me to start writing this was when it was reported that you were spotted carousing about town on evening when you were supposed to be resting after having been diagnosed with pharyngitis, or whatever the malady was that you and Pedro had contracted.

Your pharyngitis “vacation” in September was disgusting. No shows with the team doctor and being caught carousing with Yankee players when you were supposed to be home resting were inexcusable.

I’m tired of you and your antics. You’re a slacker when it comes to running down the first base line, your hitting is inconsistent and you’re an island. Your history of lackadaisical behavior while basking in the warmth of your salary is unnerving. Basically your performance of late falls far short of what is expected, in consideration of your salary. Ah, the salary issue: the fuel of the fire. Or ire ...

Don’t cry to me. I’ve done the math. Income tax liability and agent fees aside, lets simply concentrate on gross earnings, which are significant, and gross in more ways than one.

You’re the beneficiary of an eight-year contract totaling 160-million dollars. That’s 20-million dollars a year and certainly not chump change. That yearly figure equates to a weekly gross salary just shy of $385,000. And to take this a few steps further, it’s equivalent to $54,794.52 per day, or $2,289.38 per hour. That’s not just during the working portion of any given day. That’s around the clock: every hour of every day, year in and year out for 8-years.

Or how about this: $38 per minute. Again, that’s not just while you’re “working” at your “job” of “playing” baseball. That’s $38 every minute of every hour of every day of every week, month and year for 8-years.

And by the way, keep the pant legs of your trousers tucked into your socks. You’re a member of a baseball team that goes by the name of the Red Sox. You and your apologist ally David Ortiz can cut the “pajama bottom” look. Baseball teams wear uniforms. Uniform means “one form.” Leave your fashion statements off the field. And about that gold necklace – lose it. If it’s not an item that is part of the standard issue Rex Sox uniform, leave it in the locker room for after the game. When on the field you’re being paid to play baseball – not GQ model.

“Manny just being Manny” doesn’t cut it. It never did, doesn’t now and never will. It’s lame apologist babble that poorly disguises excusing your ill behavior and lapses of sound judgment. Anyone who rebuts a critical review of your less than admirable antics – be it co-player David Ortiz, team manager Grady Little or even owner Theo Epstein with “that’s just Manny being Manny” is simply co-signing your nonsense.

Now suppose some Yankee fan brandishing a machete should happen to rappel from the Monster Seats onto the field, chases you down in left field and chops off both of your legs (you know those Yankee fans - don’t tell me it couldn’t happen). I, for one, expect that for 20-million dollars a year you should “chin up,” and hobble around on your bloody stumps, play ball and finish the game. Don’t be a baby. A super human salary demands super human feats.

It has been a record year for ticket sales at Fenway, due in large part to the talent, popularity and charisma of you and your teammates. A good percentage of those tickets are paid for by people whom still believe in The Dream. Lots of those people work hard all year long for significantly less than what you are paid per week. And many will never make $54,794.52 a year, which is what you make each and every day of your 8-year contract period.

Get out of your ego for a minute and think about that. Quit being a prima Dona and a slacker.

If you don’t get your act together and start consistently playing something that approaches worthiness of your lofty salary level (or at least show the effort), then expect that aforementioned lunatic to chase you down in left field. You’ll have earned and deserved it.

Today is an important day for Boston Red Sox fans. The emotional crescendo is building, Manny. Can you feel it? Real Red Sox fans don’t believe in The Curse.

No, the outcome of today’s game isn’t all on your shoulders, dude, but you do carry some of the burden. Like it or not, you’re a contributing factor to however today’s game ends. But before the game starts, consider this:

Last night I was introduced to someone sporting official MLB apparel with the New York Yankees logo plastered all over it. I tentatively extended my hand and with a suspicious tone quipped, “Yankees fan, eh?”

Our hands locked.

“You’re for Boston, huh?” was his reply, grip firm, eyes focused.

Then we both smiled. Clasped hands that could have devolved into those preparing for a wrestling match instead gripped tighter and moved to a handshake.

We talked of baseball. He was hoping for an east coast pennant series. New York versus Boston. He even went as far to say he wanted to see Boston in the World Series. Versus the Chicago Cubs, of all teams. “It has been too long for both of them” was his reasoning.

“I just love the game” was his closing comment.

I can’t help but wonder if this one anonymous fan from the sea of anonymous fans that work all week, buy tickets for uncomfortable seats in the nosebleed sections of filthy MLB stadiums to cheer on the likes of you and other professional baseball players just might “love the game” more than you do.

Think about that for a moment. And then play ball!

Sincerely, a heretofore anonymous fan,

Jeff Bauer

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Text - Copyright © 2003, 2004 Jeff Bauer
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Revised – Tuesday, May 26, 2020