Manny Ramirez cost Bob Melvin his “chance at greatness”

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There’s all kinds of Manny Ramirez hate floating around the web right now. It’s expected and understandable and you kinda gotta let it run its course.

But some of it is just plain insane. Like this post at Business Insider by Cork Gains. In it he argues that Manny Ramirez was responsible for Bob Melvin losing his job twice — first in Seattle and then in Arizona — because of his cheating.  Seems the 2003 Red Sox beat out the Mariners for the Wild Card and the 2008 Dodgers came back to overtake the Diamondbacks for the NL West title.  Bob Melvin was fired soon after each of these occurrences.  Gaines characterizes it thusly:

That makes two instances in which Manny’s cheating cost Melvin-led squads a fair shot at the playoffs. And in each case, if Melvin’s teams make the postseason, he is probably not fired the following year. Nobody can argue that Manny was a great baseball player. But his cheating cost others a chance at greatness. And maybe nobody lost more than Bob Melvin. Does that sound like a Hall-of-Famer?

Yes, as I’ve always argued, the only thing that kept Bob Melvin from achieving “greatness” as a manager was that cheating, meddling Manny Ramirez!  He’s bad news, I tells ya!  He’s Agrajag to Manny’s Arthur Dent, continually reincarnated as the next Casey freakin’ Stengel, only to be subsequently killed by Manny, except unlike Arthur Dent, Ramirez did it with malice aforethought.

Um, OK. I may have gone too geeky with that last reference. But the article is still bonkers.

UPDATE: But amazingly, it’s not even the most bonkers thing this author has written about Manny Ramirez in the last 24 hours!

MLB managers weigh in on anthem protests

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No other Major League Baseball player has taken a knee during the National Anthem since Athletics’ catcher Bruce Maxwell‘s protest on Saturday night. The demonstration was sparked by President Donald Trump’s call for the boycott of the National Football League and the firing of any player who chose not to stand during the anthem. The comments drew harsh criticism from many NFL players, coaches and owners and more than a few in MLB have also lended their support. There is still one game left to play on Sunday, but it’s unclear whether any of Maxwell’s league-mates will show their solidarity by refusing to stand as well.

Given a baseball culture that tends toward conformity more often than not, it seems unlikely. But it’s something league managers are prepared for — even if they don’t all agree with the demonstrations themselves.

White Sox’ skipper Rick Renteria specifically addressed Maxwell’s protest on Sunday, speaking to the league’s policy of inclusivity:

None of the White Sox knelt prior to their series finale against the Royals. Neither did members of the Pirates or the Cardinals, though St. Louis manager Mike Matheny and Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington both weighed in on the situation.

Matheny called the president’s comments “hurtful” and, like the Cubs’ Joe Maddon, appeared content to leave the decision to protest up to each player.

The Pirates, meanwhile, took a firmer tone. “We appreciate our players’ desire and ability to express their opinions respectfully and when done properly,” GM Huntington told Elizabeth Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “When done appropriately and properly, we certainly have respect for our players’ ability to voice their opinion.”

Just what the Pirates consider “appropriate and proper” protocol was left up in the air, and club president Frank Coonelly offered no further insights in a separate statement to the press. Setting strict parameters for players to voice their opinions kind of puts them in a gray area, one they’ll have to clear up should someone elect to protest in the days to come, either with a bent knee and a hand over their heart or in some other fashion.

Equally ambiguous were comments from Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts, who claimed to oppose the movement for personal, if misguided reasons, but also respected the right of his players to make an “educated” statement in protest.

The Indians’ Terry Francona took what was perhaps the most balanced approach of the entire group:

“It’s easy for me to sit here and say, ‘Well, I think this is the greatest country in the world,’ because I do,” Francona told MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. “But, I also haven’t walked in other people’s shoes. So, until I think, not just our country, but our world, until we realize that, hey, people are actually equal — it shouldn’t be a revelation — and the different doesn’t mean less. It’s just different. We’ve got work to do.”

These may all be moot points. Maxwell may be the only player to formally protest Trump’s comments, despite the good intentions of his teammates and fellow players around the league. Others may feel too ambivalent, threatened or uncomfortable to protest what the A’s catcher referred to as a “racial divide,” especially in a way that is routinely perceived as unpatriotic.

Even if the protests made by NFL players and Bruce Maxwell fail to gain momentum, however, the underlying issues they speak to are not going away anytime soon. Here, then, is where MLB managers can help foster a more inclusive environment throughout the league, not only by showing respect for a player’s decision to stand against racism but by actively partnering with those who do so. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a start.

Nationals plan to activate Bryce Harper on Monday

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The Nationals are planning to activate Bryce Harper from the 10-day disabled list on Monday, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. Janes adds that Harper has been taking his knee injury on a day-to-day basis, so if he experiences pain ahead of tomorrow’s series opener in Philadelphia, then the Nationals won’t activate him.

Harper, 24, suffered a knee injury running out a grounder last month against the Giants. The Nationals hope to get him into some game action before the end of the regular season just so he can get acclimated in time for the playoffs.

When Harper returns, he’ll look to improve on his .326/.419/.614 slash line with 29 home runs, 87 RBI, and 92 runs scored in 472 plate appearances.