This man has a way of prompting a reaction
The Los Angeles Times pretty much floods the zone with Dodgers' coverage, and their Dodgers commentators couldn't be more different. At one end of the spectrum you have their latest addition, Jon Weisman, who writes the Dodger Thoughts blog. Jon, while wearing his Dodgers' fandom on his sleeve, always brings a sensible perspective to things, and should be everyone's go-to voice whenever anything L.A.-related hits the wires. Here's Weisman on yesterday's big news:
How do I feel? I feel that this is one of the many imperfect things that happens in an imperfect sport. Everyone and everything that I love is flawed. I get frustrated, annoyed, angry, depressed. Over time, I love some a little less, others the same despite it all . . .
. . . As for the man? Even if we didn't know this would happen, we knew he was flawed. I was prepared to risk the bad for the good and judge him at the end. Now, he has broken the rules -- How, specifically? We're still learning -- and he's going to pay the price (figuratively and literally, to the tune of more than $7 million in salary). After the punishment runs its course, we start over. The Dodgers are not virgins in dealing with players who have tested positive for banned substances. Today's news is a big deal, but it's no watershed moment.
The game is greater than any one person, good or bad. I've just seen too much to be up in arms.
Not surprisingly, Weisman's view largely matches my own. And before you simply assume this is a case of bloggers having bloggers' backs, know that Vin Scully view isn't all that different, and Vin Scully is the freakin' man.
At the other end on the spectrum is Bill Plaschke. Though he's known for his human interest stories, Plashchke can be a bomb-thrower when he wants to be. He's also good at populist outrage, genuine or otherwise. Here's Plashchke:
Mannywood has officially gone to hell. The giddy streets are lined in shadows. The colorful houses are painted in lies. The friendly shops are stocked with juice. The mayor is a drug cheat . . . The Dodgers can't build their team on fakery. They can't march to a championship behind a charlatan. They can't fall for his act again. I would love for them to release him at the end of the suspension, but the major league drug agreement prevents them from exacting further punishment. I would love for them to release him at the end of the season, but that would cost them $20 million, and no owner could consider that worth it.
For years he and his colleagues demanded a drug testing system, and now that they have one and it's working, he demands that it be ignored and guys be banned for life. Whatever, Bill. In any event, let's remember to check back in with Plashchke in October when the Dodgers are sprinting towards a World Series victory. I have this feeling he won't be nearly as wounded by Manny then.
Finally, there's T.J. Simers. Simers has never met a subject he can't rip, even when doing so works to his own detriment. A particular specialty of his is to sidle up to a ballplayer in the locker room, say some outrageous things hoping for an emotional reaction, and then write a self-aggrandizing column about it. Don't get me wrong -- he can be an awful lot of fun to read, but more often than not he's simply awful. As such, I fully expected his take to be the most outrageous of the three. In light of this, Simers' sensible, and measured take truly disappointed me:
Some folks were saying Manny's latest blunder was "sad." Others reacted as if "angry." These people really do need to be on something. Does Manny going stupid change anyone's life other than his own, and that of McCourt, who gets a first-place cushion, saves more than $7 million and then gets Manny again for the stretch run? . . . Maybe L.A., Dodgers fans and certain columnists have been burned by Manny's belly flop, but tell me you don't like Manny. It has been so much fun having him in a Dodgers uniform, anyone around here trying to rewrite L.A. history now a hypocrite of sorts. At the same time we've been given a great reminder that no matter how gifted the athlete, re: Kobe Bryant, we really don't know what's going on inside. But we also know from experience that an L.A. crowd can be moved to chant, "MVP," no matter what sins have been committed, so long as a top-grade performance follows.
If T.J. Simers can't be moved to outrage over this, one truly has to question whether any of the outrage we've seen in other media outlets -- and will continue to see for the next couple of days -- is really worth it and really even genuine.