1. The Best Matchup of the Week
Boston at New York: Friday through Sunday.
Who would you rather have as your left fielder, Manny Ramirez or Hideki Matsui? By any measure of statistical reality, Ramirez is the more productive player, but he is psychologically taxing whereas Matsui is reassuring. Why is this? Because Matsui looks like he was paying attention when he was taught the game and like he wants to be there when he is playing it. He approaches the game like most people want ballplayers to: with determination and fundamental soundness. On the other hand, Ramirez looks like someone who has about 10 other places he'd rather be, that bestowing his greatness on the world for two or three hours a day is a major inconvenience.
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Even though the smart fan knows that Ramirez helps a team more than Matsui does (he's fifth in the league in runs created per 27 outs while Matsui barely cracks the top 50), having to experience him on a day-to-day basis has got to be exasperating. This past weekend Ramirez missed the entire Yankee series with a soar throat. Here's something that should be written into the contract of every major-leaguer making more than $10 million per year: you are not allowed to use the same excuses to miss ballgames that kids use to skip school. It was like Manny's own remake of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" in that he reportedly showed up at a hotel bar on Saturday night before and after being unable to report for duty.
Look, maybe he was in too much pain to play; what do I know of another man's suffering? But if you're healthy enough to meet a buddy at a bar, you're healthy enough to show up at the ballpark and lend your teammates emotional support. If it hurts too much to cheer them on, make a banner or something. Let folks know you're doing everything you can to earn your $17 million a year.
What if Ramirez had Matsui's demeanor to go along with his own talent? What would we make of him then?