This resulted in not only a great team, but a good character team - even a lifelong Yankee hater Squawker Jon actually tolerated the 1996 Yankees (although winning 125 games in 1998 set off his Yankee-hating meter all over again!) Those guys weren't perfect, but even when they did mess up off the field, like, say Darryl Strawberry did, they were still pretty likeable. You didn't feel like cringing over them on your team. You didn't have to feel like you were rooting for the pinstripes over the player.
But in recent years, the Yanks have gotten away from signing such players. I think Roger Clemens was the first Yankee that I really didn't like personally. While I still cheered for him as a player, it took me until 2003 to really warm up to him as a person. And then he wrecked whatever good opinion I had of him when he signed with the Astros.
Other Yankees that made me cringe included Kevin Brown, Randy Johnson, and Roger Clemens (again, and again, and again.)
All of this brings me to Manny Ramirez. When I wrote that I wanted Manny as a Yankee, many of our readers strongly disagreed with me, precisely because of his character issues. Here are a few examples of what they said about him:
One reader wrote:
I am disappointed that Lisa would want to see Manny in pinstripes....Money isn't the issue here, it's having a little respect and integrity for the game, not picking up a sulking, self-centered, guy who plays hard when he wants. The Yankees already have one guy who is a great player but a real loser as a human being, we don't need two.
She-Fan (who has a terrific blog of her own called Confessions of a She-Fan) said:
I'm in the Please-Don't-Sign-Manny camp. The last thing we need is somebody who doesn't run out ground balls and dogs it in the outfield. (Hello? Cano?) We need a big bat for sure - protection for A-Rod in the lineup. But while Manny is a great hitter and an eccentric personality, let him go back to the Dodgers. Joe Torre can handle him, not Joe Girardi.JeanneB said she has "never been so disheartened by a team I have been rooting for my entire life," and wrote:
Manny? Are you kidding me? Manny who doesn't know which knee is injured when he goes for MRI? Manny, doesn't lift the bat off his shoulder when facing Mo? Manny who dogs it in the outfield? Yeah, that is what the Yankees need along with the rest of their overpaid, unmotivated aging players.Several Red Sox fan readers also cautioned against the Yanks signing Manny. NAM commented:
Save yourselves the heartache Yankee fans. Run from Manny. He will leave you pulling your hair out.All things considered, I'd generally rather have guys who play the game than the wrong way on the team. But let's face it - that ship sailed for the Yanks a long time ago.
And at the risk of sounding like a mercenary myself, my concerns about Ramirez's character - and that he'll flake out on the Yanks - are outweighed by his talent. The Yanks need Manny's bat in the lineup - otherwise, we're going to see A-Rod outdo Barry Bonds in intentional walks next season!
But what do you think? Leave us a comment!