July 5th, 2007

Fenway Forever

Now I Can Die in Peace

I'm reading Bill Simmons' seminal book on the Red Sox right now (I got it for Dave for Christmas and he never cracked it open). I'm not terribly far along (I'm only to page 141), but has this brilliant analogy:

"I've always believed that fans feel more attached to position players than pitchers. Position players are like dogs - you see them all the time, they're loyal, you have to walk them three times a day and so on. Pitchers are like cats - they disappear for days at a time, they're fussy and they can't be trusted. And when they end up fighting, the hitters always end up chasing the pitchers."

But that got me thinking, wouldn't relief/set-up/closers be like Siamese or Abys, those cats who, while still being cats, are always around trying to get your attention? Because Okajima and Paplebon, we see them almost every day, and they seem to be a little more interactive than the starters...

In the book, he also describes the wheeling and dealing the Red Sox did to get Manny on the team. Now, I actually thought the Manny Being Manny phenomenon happened later on, after we got Ortiz and Millar. But no, he was actually very Manny even before the Sox signed him:

Moorad awakens to a morning phone call from Manny, who has a suprise announcement: He's ready to accept Boston's offer, but only if they agree to hire (Cleveland clubhouse attendant) Frankie Mancini as well. There's comedy, there's high comedy, there's transcendent comedy, and then there's the moment Moorad relays this request to his associates by phone and explains, "Frankie Mancini...he sets up the pitching machine for him...[realizes how ridiculous this is, starts giggling hysterically]...are you kidding me??? [more giggles] That's why he's Manny."
(There are a million different reasons why we'll adore Manny over the next decade, but I can't imagine anything topping "I'll move to Boston, but I have one last request - the guy who sets up the pitching machine gets to come, too."

This was December 2000.

The Sports Guy also proffers this gem of insight in a footnote: "After watching him for four years, this is the one way to tell if he's struggling or if he's in a groove: The long at-bats. If he looks like he's just trying to get the ABs over with, either he's slumping or he's bothered by something goofy like "I wish they hadn't painted the pitching machine," or "I can't believe my favorite parking attendant was off today."

Because...yeah. That's totally Manny.