Dan Shaughnessy

This is a sorry showing, indeed

By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / September 5, 2010

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There’s a scene in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’’ in which the bank-robbing title characters sit on a saloon balcony, kicking around possible career changes after a life of crime.

“We’ll join the Army,’’ says Butch, happy with his idea. “They don’t even have to make us officers.’’

That pretty much sums up how I feel about Manny Ramirez and his Friday afternoon apology.

“I think everything was my fault,’’ said Manny. “You’ve got to be a real man to realize when you do wrong. Hey, it was my fault, right? I’m already past that stage. I’m happy I’m in a new team.’’

So there. Manny didn’t exactly apologize for quitting on the Red Sox in 2008 (and 2006), but he admitted he was wrong.

Swell. Let’s have a parade for Manny.

Manny said he apologized to Kevin Youkilis for slapping Youk in the dugout in June 2008. I checked with Youk on this and Youk confirmed that Manny did tell him he’s sorry.

What about traveling secretary Jack McCormick? Jack Mack was pushed to the floor by Manny before a game in Houston in 2008. Did Manny apologize to the 67-year-old McCormick while he was making his mea culpa rounds?

“He didn’t apologize to me,’’ McCormick said with a smile in the Sox clubhouse.

I tried to get Manny to talk about some of this, but Manny wasn’t talking early yesterday. Approached at 10 a.m. in the visitors clubhouse, Manny said, “No thank you, I got to get ready for the game.’’

Fair enough. Manny spoke for eight full minutes to a handful of reporters Friday afternoon. That’s eight more minutes than he offered to the Dodger public this season.

It’s certainly going to be fun watching Ozzie Guillen deal with Manny. For the last 10 years, we’ve seen baseball lifers Terry Francona and Joe Torre enable Manny in the interest of getting the most out of his ability.

Intent on getting to the playoffs (that is the idea, right?) veteran/championship skippers covered for Manny, letting him operate with his own set of rules. It could not have been easy. It may have shortened their life expectancies. We remember Tito spitting up blood in Seattle when he was at the height of Manny frustration.

Now we have the Oz Man in charge of Manny. This should be beautiful. Guillen is the modern-day Earl Weaver. White Sox publicist Pat O’Connell takes extra care to make sure writers know when Ozzie is speaking on the record and when he’s just bull-spitting.

Guillen was hilarious yesterday talking about Manny’s hair. When White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf put out the word that he wanted his players well-groomed, four players (including catcher A.J. Pierzynski) had to get haircuts in 2006. Guillen asked Manny to cut his hair last week (a little trim doesn’t count), but Manny has thus far ignored the request, just as he did in Los Angeles. Guillen says, “That’s not my rule,’’ and isn’t going to make an issue of it.

Guillen’s only rules are being on time and being around for the national anthem. Haircuts are management’s worry. Maybe if the White Sox are willing to talk contract extension — maybe then Manny will clean it up.

“I think Manny’s a great guy,’’ Guillen said. “I’ve only had Manny for one day, but I’ve known him for a long time. He doesn’t want to be bothered. He just wants to play the game .

“I don’t know what happened with Manny with the Dodgers’’ — he quit — “or with Boston’’ — he quit.

Manny went 2 for 4 in Chicago’s 3-1 victory in the opener and 1 for 4 in the 3-1 nightcap win (making the ChiSox 4-0 in the Manny Era). His reception was predictably rough.

You could hear the catcalls in an otherwise quiet Fenway when Manny came out to the on-deck circle at the start of the second inning of Game 1. Boos rained down on Manny’s dreadlocked head when he stepped to the plate. That’s the way it was all day.

But it was not all negative. While naysayers demonstrated with gusto, other fans stood and applauded. Manny still has his sycophantic supporters. These are the same folks who are OK when Randy Moss behaves like a jackass at a team charity event (wearing headphones while Bob Kraft speaks about cancer screening and awareness), as long as Randy hauls in a few touchdown passes.

Manny did a lot of great things here. He batted .312 with 274 homers and 868 RBIs in 7 1/2 seasons. He was a key piece in delivering a couple of championships.

“If it wasn’t for him, they probably wouldn’t have won a couple of championships,’’ said White Sox slugger Paul Konerko.

True. And so what if Manny was probably juicing the whole time (Manny reportedly showed up on the 2003 list of positive tests and was suspended 50 games last year for use of a banned substance)? It was the steroid era. Remember?

Now — as he transparently courts favor in his quest for one more fat contract — Manny finally says he was wrong about everything that happened at the end in Boston . . . when he quit.

Thanks, Manny. Maybe when your career is finally over, the Sox can sign you to one of those Nomar Garciaparra one-day contracts so you can come back and throw out a first pitch and retire as a Red Sox. The Sox can retire your number and commission a statue of you standing at the plate with the bat on your shoulder, intentionally taking three strikes against Mariano Rivera.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at

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