This is beyond proverbial. The gun's to my head, the toughs have my cat in a sack, the kid are crying in the corner. This can all go away if I answer the question.
"It's never that simple!" I say. "You can't just blame one guy!"
One of the thugs gives the cat bag a shake.
"Alright! Here it goes. Wait, what was the question again?"
The man in charge asks: "If there is one player or pitcher to blame for the failure of the Dodgers season, who would it be?"
I give it a few seconds of thoughts and exclaim "Manny Ramirez!"
"Manny being Manny" is thrown around gratuitously whenever you talk about Manny. It's usually accurate. I think I can only come up with a few instances where Manny wasn't being Manny. It seemed like he was interested in fielding this year. Decent fielding isn't Manny but it became so. However, sandbagging and disappearing when Manny isn't interested is Manny being Manny. Despite winning two World Series, Manny wore out his welcome in Boston.
Now he is at the end of his contract with the Dodgers, he is nowhere to be found. He's appeared in 16 games but we haven't seen the likes of him since the Dodgers were 3.5 games out of the West on July 16th. He may be hurt, he may not be as hurt as he makes out to be but he is not around. It is hard to point the finger of blame at a player that isn't on the field but, if a gun is to my head, I will.
I will also admit that I was wrong when I was among those saying that we had to get this guy signed to a contract after the 2008 season. As the Cubs surely think to themselves in hindsight, there were three better options than Manny and Milton Bradley: Adam Dunn, Bobby Abreu and Raul Ibanez. After that playoff run in 2008, however, I thought that only Manny would suffice. Two years of Adam Dunn would have been nice. He didn't want to come to the Dodgers but they could have topped what the Nationals paid for him.
I hear and read how other Dodgers are getting blame. It may be fair to blame some of these Dodgers like Kemp, Broxton and the starting pitcher who gets the quality start but the Dodgers score one run less but, in the same way that Jason Schmidt failed to get onto the field and when he did, he sucked, I fail to see why Manny can't be blamed. It may not be fair to blame a player who is genuinely hurt (and I do doubt that Manny is genuinely hurt) but I think guaranteed money should come with guaranteed responsibility. If Manny breaks a bone or tears a muscle, perhaps you point the gun somewhere else.
Right now, I think that Manny is in a position where if he says he is hurt or says that he isn't right, he could sit out. If Manny comes back and finishes out the season, perhaps I may be out of line. If Manny doesn't come back, this will be Jason Schmidt all over again. If he comes back and goes elsewhere on the waiver wire, we will see. If he does well with the AL team that picks him up, that may be grounds for accusing him of quitting on the Dodgers. It wouldn't be the first time. It would be the second time in three seasons. A fool and his money is parted again and the fans become chumps again.
I don't really think that Manny is the only reason that the Dodgers will miss the playoffs but, if cornered, I will say that he is the biggest reason that they aren't returning. The heat and anger is coming for Manny. Right now, though, it seems absent. Instead, fans seem to be blaming the guys on the field. It's just a matter of time before the fans will turn on the player that should be playing and got paid lavishly to be there but is not getting there. This is Manny being Manny and we all got burnt.