Manny 2003 or Manny 2008

I just finished reading Wayne Scanlan’s piece detailing the trade requests of Manny Ramirez, Kobe Bryant and Dany Heatley. The premise of the piece was superficially simplistic but it had some merits and is worthy of discussion.
Despite numerous trade requests in the cases of Bryant and Ramirez, neither were moved and both went on to win Championships in their respective cities. Scanlan argues that Heatley could learn from the aforementioned superstars, remain here in Ottawa and (in a rare form of Ottawa journalistic optimism) win a Championship.While Scanlan does mention that Heatley is not Kobe Bryant and hockey is not basketball, where one or two personnel changes can make the difference in a title run. What is relevant is that Kobe survived the hype about his wish to move if the team did not change direction.
What’s relevant to Kobe, isn’t relative to Heatley. Everyone knew why Kobe wanted out of LA, but with Heatley, no one’s sure. Fresh off a disappointing NBA Finals loss in 2004, the Lakers dealt Shaquille O’Neal to the Miami Heat and anointed Bryant as the face of the franchise. As O’Neal enjoyed the immediate success and won another ring with Dwayne Wade, Bryant was overshadowed as his Lakers team was uncharacteristically average. Through his own insecurities and Mitch Kupchak’s inability to improve the Lakers immediately, Kobe’s vanity lead him to ask for a trade to rid himself of the “second fiddle to Shaq” label. And arguably, until Kupchak raped the inept Chris Wallace — GM of the Grizzlies — of Pau Gasol, Bryant would probably still be looking for his ring.

As certain as spring is followed by the midsummer trade deadline, Ramirez and his agent, Scott Boras, schemed to get Man-Ram out of Boston. Ramirez was a big part of the Red Sox championship season in 2004, ending the curse of the Bambino, yadah yadah, but, by 2005, Ramirez was miffed at the Sox for making his trade request public. He would later sell his Boston condo and threaten to skip all of training camp if the Sox didn’t move him and his $20-million-per-year contract.

Manny was rumoured to be headed to the New York Mets, then to Baltimore, but by 2006 he had told the club he now wanted to stay in Boston, even as his agents suggested he was still available for trade.

So it was that Ramirez remained with the Sox for another World Series in 2007. He got into verbal altercations with teammates, and had to apologize for physically shoving the team’s travel secretary.

In the end, Ramirez and the Red Sox were both happy to see Manny become a Dodger in 2008, but not before he was part of two championship seasons with an organization he had wanted to be traded from for a very long time.

And it’s amazing to believe that none of the Manny situation would have unfolded had any team claimed him off of irrevocable waivers in 2003. Any team could have had Manny’s bat but no one wanted to absorb his $20M price tag and on-field general malaise. Even though Manny’s disdain for the media attention and his lack of privacy were well publicized, it never became of a distraction for his teammates or for his production. It wasn’t until last season when he hired Scott Boras, that shit really hit the fan.
For a player who allegedly wanted out of Boston, why did he wait until 2008 to behave in a toxic manner for his teammates? Conspiracy theorists believe that Boras schemed last year’s events so that Boston would not not pick up Manny’s option and Boras would get a cut of Ramirez’s free agent contract.

Could Heatley possibly return to the Senators and lead a normal life as a contributing person and player on a rebuilding franchise?
Maybe. But personally, I don’t think normal is possible for Heatley here in Ottawa. Unlike Manny, Heatley doesn’t have folklore status amongst the fans and media. And unlike Kobe, Heatley’s not the one of the two best players in the NHL. Hell, he’s not even the face of the Senators franchise.
If normalcy is returning to Ottawa,a place where he’ll endure the wrath of the media and fans, and where he and his teammates will routinely have to answer the question of “Does Dany still want to be here?”, he’ll be a negative distraction for a team that can ill afford to underachieve.
Since Heatley and Cory Clouston reportedly aren’t on the same page, I’m reminded of this quote from Jonathan Papelbon:

“He was on a different train! And you saw what happened with that. We got rid of him, and we moved on without him,” Papelbon was quoted in the April issue of Esquire. The story was posted on the magazine’s Web site yesterday.

“So Manny was tough for us,” Papelbon added. “You have somebody like him, you know at any point in the ballgame, he can dictate the outcome of the game. And for him not to be on the same page as the rest of the team was a killer, man! It just takes one guy to bring an entire team down, and that’s exactly what was happening.

“Once we saw that, we weren’t afraid to get rid of him. It’s like cancer. That’s what he was. Cancer. He had to go.”
~ courtesy of the Washington Post

So provided he’s not deal, which Heatley will show up to camp, pre-Boras Manny or post-Boras Manny?