Manny of the people

mannyGood for Manny Ramirez. Good for him for standing up to the power structure in Major League Baseball and telling them, “You think you can buy me with $25 million? Ha!”

“Ha!” he says.

So yes, kudos to Manny Ramirez for not allowing the Los Angeles Dodgers to reduce him to a dollar sign. There’s more to Manny than the money, like… well… he’s good at hitting a baseball and he has a unique hair style. Yeah. Not everyone can hit a baseball or grow interesting hair, so Manny has that going for him.

Which is nice.

So why is the fearsome right-handed hitter trivialized with dollar signs? Why do they insist on turning the great game of baseball like it’s some sort of business?

Manny is an artist and he’s above such trite things like contacts and millions and millions of dollars. He just wants to play the game and show off his skills. He wants to entertain and dazzle us with his pure swing.

Twenty-five million dollars? Who has time to be bothered by such trivial non-sense?

Manny’s agent Scott Boras knows this. It’s a good thing the hitter has someone like Boras on his side looking out for his best interests, too. After all, could Manny fend off those jackals in those sharp suits and sensible shoes working for the Dodgers who want to give him $25 million to play baseball in 2009? Probably not. The way those guys throw around money and push and bully hardworking folks like Manny around, it’s a wonder he doesn’t wake up next to a horse head.

So when the Dodgers came calling with the contract and a Brinks truck, Boras just laughed. Maybe he chuckled. He definitely guffawed. Later, he smirked just thinking about the nerve of those suit-wearing folks in the executive offices in Chavez Ravine. C’mon, $25 million? If Boras was getting a 10 percent cut of his client’s cash, that left a mere $2.5 million.

Really…the nerve!

But let’s try this one out for size – maybe Manny is a revolutionary. Maybe he is looking out for the proletariat. You know, the hard-working, lunch-pail middle American. And so to show solidarity with the backbone of America, Manny, a son of immigrants who grew up in Manhattan’s hard-scrabble Washington Heights section, proves he can’t be bought.

Twenty-five million dollars? Go fly a kite.

Boras, in a conversation with the LA Times, called the $25 million offer a, “Suggestion.” In fact, it was an even bigger slap in the face than the two-year, $45 million offer the Dodgers sent to Manny in November.

It’s as if the Dodgers and the rest of the franchises in Major League Baseball are trying to tell Manny something. At least that’s what his pal Albert Pujols said during a press conference last week.

“I speak with Manny every three days and he tells me, ‘Man, no one wants to sign me,’ Pujols said. “I’m not an agent or general manager, but I can’t understand how Manny has not signed.”

Boras says he expects to have a deal in place by the time spring training camps open on Feb. 14, which will further stoke the speculation. Will the Mets wade into the fray despite the fact that the team’s brass say publically that they aren’t interested? Hey, why not? Manny is from New York so it could be a sweet little homecoming for him. Better yet, Newsday’s Wallace Matthews suggested that the Mets could take the cash from CitiBank earmarked for the new stadium-naming rights and just hand it over to Manny. Since CitiBank is suckling at the ample bosom of the federal government for a fat, $300 billion bailout from you, me and every other taxpayer, it’s nice that we can help a fella down on his luck find a job.

Hey, times are hard. The U.S. lost 522,000 more private-sector jobs in January, which is down slightly from the 659,000 jobs that were lost during December of 2008. Oddly enough, some of the numbers figured into the December total come from, coincidentally enough, Major League Baseball. You see, MLB decided to start a new television network on Jan. 1, 2009 so had to trim a little fat. As such, 30 or so folks who were working on the MLB web site were sent packing because, according to one report, they were making too much money.

You know, like $50,000 to $60,000 per year.

So in order to launch the network and to sign big-name stars like Bob Costas to wax philosophic, a dude writing stories for the web had to go. MLB gets its talking heads and Costas and whacks Ken Mandel.

Talk about a steal.

But wait, here’s the good part… not only did MLB have to make those jobs cuts to restore order to its bottom line, it also had to make sure commissioner Bud Selig got his. Like we said before, times are hard. MLB only had $6.5 billion in revenues last year and not a dime came from taxpayer bailouts. Plus, Selig was paid $18.5 million in salary last year and not one single person ever went to the ballpark to see him.

Not one person ever.

So let’s call Manny a Robin Hood in reverse. If the Mets swoop in to sign him with CitiBank bailout cash, it would be like stealing from the poor to give to the rich. You know, Reaganomics.

But Selig and MLB are bracing for the tough times and the rocky economic road ahead. With soaring ticket prices in places like the new stadium in New York coupled with the new network and a potential big check to be cut for Manny, Selig’s company might slump to an even $6 billion in 2009.

“We’re living in unprecedented economic times,” Selig said at last month’s owners’ meetings. “We’re trying to understand what it means.”

To be fair, it won’t take John Maynard Keynes to figure out this economic riddle. For as long as possible the pigs will feed whenever they want, for as long as they want.

So yeah, why shouldn’t Manny turn up his nose at $25 million even in a time when jobs are being shed like hair on Telly Savalas’ head? If Selig is stealing getting $18.5 million, maybe it’s right that the economy should collapse.

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