I admit it: Manny Ramirez’s existence is a constant irritant to me. I regard him as epitomizing the worst tendencies of professional sports stars, and the attitudes of the most conscience-free who walk among us who make/ society and the culture a little bit worse every day. I was thrilled when his baseball career came to an appropriately sordid end, with his being caught using performance enhancing drugs and retiring o avoid having to serve his suspension, and nauseated when he announced the end of his retirement a few weeks ago, hoping to lure some addled team owner into paying him a million dollars or so to hit home runs and loaf.
Now, thanks to the research skills of baseball blogger Craig Calcaterra, my morning began by learning that Manny is also akin to the recording stars, Hollywood actors, rich politicians and toadying business executives who have tried to pass themselves off as Occupy Wall Street’s virtuous and harshly exploited 99% despite all reason and evidence to the contrary. In an interview in Spanish, Manny was explaining that he might have to travel to Japan to play ball again, and said,“Somos un obrero y donde quiera que haya trabajo hay que ir a trabajar;” in English: “We are the working class and must go where there is work.”
Manny has been paid about 20 million dollars a year for the past decade, many millions of which were deferred and will still be arriving for years. There is nothing wrong with being successful in one’s chosen field, despite the “income disparity is per se unfair” class warfare rhetoric being pushed this political season. Being successful is, in fact, good in every way. Being unsuccessful or modest in one’s achievements is no shame, but it does not confer automatic moral superiority or victim status either. Demonizing the rich as a group is simultaneously bigotry and tugging at the threads that hold the social fabric of America together: it is irresponsible. But the rich and successful who try to masquerade as working stiffs, like Bruce Ismay hiding among the women to steal a place in a Titanic lifeboat, offend all sides, misrepresenting their position in life, insulting their peers, and treating the rest of us as if we are idiots.
I know, I know. Manny Ramirez’s SAT scores were probably in double digits. Maybe, however, the absurdity of his working class hero pose will give pause to Tiffany revolutionaries like Ann Hathaway, Alec Baldwin and Kanye West. After all, hen you find yourself acting like Manny Ramirez, it’s time for some serious reflection.