The grave on the Manny Ramirez era is set. (Zac Trainor illustration)
cul⋅ture [kuhl-cher] -- noun
a particular form or stage of civilization, as that of a certain nation or period: Greek culture, Red Sox Nation.
As ownership and management throw the last few piles of dirt on the Manny Ramirez era, I wonder exactly what the identity of the Boston Red Sox has become. When Roger Clemens and Wade Boggs roamed the clubhouse it was the infamous age of 25 players, and 25 cabs. No true chemistry was present on any of those teams, and the pressure of being a Boston Red Sock seemed too large for even professionals to properly handle. Red Sox culture was dysfunctional, defunct, and disorganized. Then, in that gloriously tragic year of 2003, a team of misfits, cowboys, and idiots created a positive environment in Boston for the first time since a season located near a piece of time called the summer of love was dubbed impossible. Well maybe not that far back, but you get the point.
People have been talking and writing about how the Boston Red Sox may now indeed be boring. There is no Millar. There is no Pedro. There is no Schilling. There is no Manny, and now Johnny Jesus will not rise again as he went Damn Judas with the Yanks. V-Tek’s still with the club I guess, but Captain Flat Top hasn’t always been a bucket of overflowing personality. But blanketly saying this 2009 club is boring may be waxing a little too much in the past, and focusing not enough on the present. Exhibit A: Mr. Jonathan Papelbon.
Papelbon is the freshest, most honest and entertaining ballplayer we have in this post-bobble-head era. What Papelbon had to say about Manny is the most honest and truthful thing any party has spoken since the whole comedy of errors began last summer. You want to talk about a Judas act, Manny’s final chapter in Boston was his most vile to date, and probably ever. He disrespected his teammates & fans doing the worst possible thing imaginable, giving up. Johnny at least hustled his ass off 100% of the time he was here in Boston, Manny...not so much.
But here I go again, shooting out of a cannon with the cool night wind screaming by, somehow finding myself in the terrible grips of another Manny Ramirez rant. I will practice restraint, however, please realize the disappointment my fingers have right now, as there’s nothing quite like a dance between Manny and the keys. But as I was saying earlier, Manny’s grave is set, it is time to move on, and be proud of what our culture has become.
We now see a clubhouse with a bunch of World Series tested winners, which, a large majority are in the prime of their careers, locked up in long term & affordable contracts. I sure hope Papelbon’s close behind in that line too. I understand closer’s burn out faster then “regular” pitchers, but I saw Mo Rivera do it for well over a decade in the Bronx, and I’d like to see our Bud Light box wearing idiot do the same time in Boston. If you’re looking for some fun on the Sox, there’s no reason to look any further than Papelbon, who is everything but boring.
Here’s a litmus test for you, the next time you’re talking to that Yankee friend in your life, ask them which player they hate the most on the Red Sox. It used to be Manny for some, but I’ll bet you it’s now Papelbon for most. This group of Red Sox is just as dirty, dumb, and fun as the others, they’re just a little different, and to be honest, better. The Red Sox culture is evolving, and with that evolution comes a change I happen to like. What it comes down to when you’re talking sports is this, any athlete will tell you which culture is the best to around, and that’s a winning culture. Which is what we now have in Fenway Park, and for the foreseeable future.