Manny Shows Up, Raises Suspicions

The power of the press to slant opinion was evident this morning, as Manny Ramirez reported to camp. The accounts on blogs such as the Globe’s Extra Bases, described things as “terse” and that Manny spoke “sharply” to Jackie MacMullan. This led Dale Arnold on WEEI to extrapolate that into his own interpretation of how Manny “snapped” at MacMullan, and then to speculate as to why Manny was so angry and that this could only mean bad things, and how he is sick of the whole Manny experience.

This led to a lengthy discussion on the the topic, all based on the wording of writers. How do we know how Manny actually sounded when he spoke to MacMullan? The ones writing those words have the power to shape not only public opinion, but also sports radio discussions as well.

To further illustrate this point, note the AP version of the encounter with MacMullan as noted on CNNSI.com:

"Please move," he told a reporter politely. "I need some space."

So did Manny “sharply” ask MacMullan to move, “snapping” at her, or did he ask her “politely?”

Which is the better (and easier) story for the media? For Manny to have “snapped” at her, of course.

In any event, more easy talk show fodder has been found. Glenn Ordway feels that Manny showing up now is “suspicious.”

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Can I also say that I am disgusted by some of the questions asked by the reporters at the brief press conference held by Manny’s agents? Check them out, especially the fourth and fifth questions, which were apparently asked by Johnny Miller of WBZ radio:

Manny is 34 now. Do you think it’s time for him to be more accountable instead of being babied like a 12-year-old?

Do you think since he’s your meal ticket, you should try to help him grow up?

And the media wonders why so many hate them. Even Michael Holley says these were “dumb” questions.

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Fred Smerlas and All Pro Productions get more bad publicity. This time they are the focus of a Team 5 Investigation on WCVB after the company was hired by the Police Relief Association for a fundraising campaign.

Team 5 investigates reviewed the state’s most recent fundraising report and found startling numbers. More than $14 million was raised in 2005 in the name of police, firefighters and paramedics, but less than $4 million actually went to the groups. The rest — more than $10 million — went to the telemarketers.

The largest company, All Pro Productions, raised $5 million in 2005 and on average gave 37 percent to charity. The contract in North Andover was for 40 percent.

The Team 5 investigates crew attempting to talk to Smerlas about the situation and reports thusly:

Smerlas wasn’t available for an on-camera interview but in a telephone conversation, he acknowledged confusion over who’s calling, but he defended his telemarketers saying they identify themselves are monitored and read from scripts, although All Pro refused to provide one.

Smerlas called All Pro’s 60 percent return reasonable considering fund-raising expenses. As for the complaints received by Stanley, Smerlas denied responsibility, saying there are dozens of competing campaigns going on every day.

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Seth Mnookin offers proof that “Boston is, without a doubt, the city most in need of some perspective of the relative importance of baseball.”

Peter King has his weekly edition of Monday Morning Quarterback from the scouting combine.

Richard Deitsch has his media power rankings for February.

Chad Finn previews the NL Central.

Mike Reiss looks at the 10 top free agent signings of the Belichick/Pioli era. Interesting that all of them are from prior to the 2003 season.

Jackie MacMullan had a chat on Boston.com this afternoon. She describes Manny as “curtly” asking her and Shaughnessy to give him some space. Shaughnessy wasn’t mentioned in the earlier reports.

Richard Sandomir reports on a viewing of NBC’s broadcast of Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series and notes how much things have changed since then.

David Barron looks at fan concerns over a pair of pending deals – first between Major League Baseball and DirecTV for the Extra Innings package, and also the pending merger of Sirius and XM satellite radio.

Bob Raissman says Versus messed up by promoting the Tommy Morrison comeback fight heavily and then not showing the actual fight.

Michael McCarthy looks at ESPN’s newly announced weekday series College Football Live.

Sox and Pinstripes is a new blog that promises to be “devoted to all things Red Sox and Yankees.”

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Tonight

7:00pm, Versus – Thrashers @ Bruins (Channel 65 on my Comcast system)
7:00pm, ESPN – Georgetown @ Syracuse (HD)
8:30pm, FSN – Celtics @ Rockets
9:00pm, ESPN – Kansas @ Oklahoma (HD)
10:00pm, Versus – Ducks @ Sharks