Police report: Manny Ramirez slapped his wife, causing her to hit her head and fear for her safety

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According to the arrest report arising from Manny Ramirez’s arrest for domestic violence last night, Ramirez and his wife were arguing. Ramirez slapped her face, causing her to hit her head on their bed’s headboard. Ramirez’s wife was afraid that the violence would escalate so she called police. She declined medical treatment but did have marks consistent with her story, the report said.

The incident itself is a subject for law enforcement now.  The subject of Manny Ramirez, however, is no longer appropriately the subject of jokes and apologies.

I don’t think even the harshest Manny Ramirez critics ever considered him to be a truly bad guy. His transgressions were usually seen as those of an absent-minded man. A flake. Someone with motivation problems. The PED stuff was troubling, but so many ballplayers did it that it spoke more to his baseball character than some inherent personal flaw apart from said laziness.  Those of us who truly believed in the concept of Manny being Manny thought of him as a mostly benign eccentric.

That narrative wasn’t perfect. For one thing, it didn’t really account for that time he shoved the Red Sox traveling secretary Jack McCormick to the ground during an argument over tickets.  The Manny being Manny narrative absorbed that, however, because it was quickly followed by a trade and a new set of seemingly harmless Manny behavior — and good play — once he got to Los Angeles.

But that narrative of the kooky flake doesn’t really hold water anymore. Maybe it shouldn’t have before. Either way, this is obviously very serious and very sad business.

Must-Click Link: Do the players even care about money anymore?

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Yesterday I wrote about how the union has come to find itself in the extraordinarily weak position it’s in. The upshot: their leadership and their membership, happily wealthy by virtue of gains realized in the 1970s-1990s, has chosen to focus on small, day-to-day, quality of life issues rather than big-picture financial issues. As a result, ownership has cleaned their clock in the past few Collective Bargaining Agreements. If the union is to ever get back the considerable amount of ground it has lost over the past 15 years, it’ll require a ton of hard work and perhaps drastic measures.

A few hours later, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan dropped an absolute must-read that expands on that topic. Through weeks of interviews with league officials, agents and players, he explains why the free agent market is as bad as it is for players right now and why so many of them and so many fans seem not to understand just how bad a spot the players are in, business wise.

Passan keys on the media’s credulousness regarding teams’ stated rationales for not spending in free agency. About how, with even a little bit of scrutiny, the “[Team] wants to get below the luxury tax” argument makes no sense. About how the claim that this is a weak free agent class, however true that may be, does not explain why so few players are being signed.  About how so few teams seem interested in actually competing and how fans, somehow, seem totally OK with it.

Passan makes a compelling argument, backed by multiple sources, that, even if there is a lot of money flowing around, the fundamental financial model of the game is broken. The young players are the most valuable but are paid pennies while players with 6-10 years service time are the least valuable yet are the ones, theoretically anyway, positioned to make the most money. The owners have figured it out. The union has dropped the ball as it has worried about, well, whatever the heck it is worried about. The killer passage on all of this is damning in this regard:

During the negotiations leading to the 2016 basic agreement that governs baseball, officials at MLB left bargaining stupefied almost on a daily basis. Something had changed at the MLBPA, and the league couldn’t help but beam at its good fortune: The core principle that for decades guided the union no longer seemed a priority.

“It was like they didn’t care about money anymore,” one league official said.

Personally, I don’t believe that they don’t care about money anymore. I think the union has simply dropped the ball on educating its membership about the business structure of the game and the stakes involved with any given rule in the CBA. I think that they either so not understand the financial implications of that to which they have agreed or are indifferent to them because they do not understand their scope and long term impact.

It’s a union’s job to educate its membership about the big issues that may escape any one member’s notice — like the long term effects of a decision about the luxury tax or amateur and international salary caps — and convince them that it’s worth fighting for. Does the MLBPA do that? Does it even try? If it hasn’t tried for the past couple of cycles and it suddenly starts to now, will there be a player civil war, with some not caring to jeopardize their short term well-being for the long term gain of the players who follow them?

If you care at all about the business and financial aspects of the game, Passan’s article is essential.