Why Character Still Counts in Sports
For decades, professional sports franchises chose players solely, or at least primarily, by their raw talent. If you could hit, pitch, run, tackle or dunk better than everyone else, that was generally enough. In more recent years, successful owners, general managers and coaches have learned that it takes more--that character counts too (the San Antonio Spurs come to mind in this context). Some players are cancers in the clubhouse, and it can't help but spread to the rest of the team.
I thought of all that last night as I scanned ESPN.com (not too surprisingly, my teenage sons have set this as the default browser on our home computer) and read this interesting update on the Manny Ramirez situation by the veteran sportswriter Peter Gammons. He rightfully lays into baseball's leading prima donna (who spent his formative years in Cleveland), concluding with this: "buyer beware of a man who chooses to be judged by numbers and salary, with no regard for character or integrity." Amen, we say. If you care to dig more deeply into this story, the New Yorker ran this excellent profile of "mystery man" Ramirez last year. It serves as a nice companion piece to Gammons' column.
UPDATE: The Boston Globe glumly reports that "Manny Mania" is sweeping L.A.