Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday's Musings on Sports - Manny being Manny and Fresh Starts

As regular readers of this blog are aware, the Monday post was usually devoted to sports with highlights and analysis of the Max Kellerman show which formerly aired on 1050 ESPN Radio. Although Max resigned from 1050 more than a year ago, I have tried to continue the tradition of linking sports to Torah which I believe was an undercurrent of the Max Kellerman show.

Over the weekend, news broke that Manny Ramirez (aka ManRam) had been claimed by the Chicago White Sox after he was waived by the Los Angeles Dodgers. For those unfamiliar with the process of waiver, here is a quick primer. A team can put a player on recallable waivers, a process by which any other team can put in a claim for him. If no team claims the player, the original team can trade him to whomever it wishes to. If a team does claim the player, the original team can do one of three things: (1) allow the player to be claimed and lose the player; (2) recall the player from waivers, or (3) work out a trade with the team that claimed the player.

Towards the end of last week, the Dodgers put ManRam on waivers in large part due to the fact that the team is in financial crisis occasioned by the owner's nasty divorce case and ManRam had a heavy contract and was not coming back next year. The only question was, would a team take a chance on Manny, given his questionable work ethic and caustic personality?

During the weekend, it was revealed that the White Sox had decided that Manny's talents were needed, despite his obvious flaws. It was only a matter of time until a deal would be reached between the Dodgers and Sox.

With the pending transaction hanging over his head, Manny began his final game with the Dodgers. He did not start the game, but was inserted as a pinch hitter. However, being Manny, he did not finish the appearance as he was thrown out of the game by the umpire. Following the game, many sportswriters opined that Manny did this on purpose. This evoked memories of the end of his tenure with Boston when he invented injuries to avoid playing and did not run out ground balls.

Manny's soap opera performance and the fact that the White Sox still wanted him, despite his flaws is quite ironic to me in this month of Elul. We stand a week before Rosh Hashanah, when the world will be judged. We are given the month of Elul to repent and return from our bad habits. The gemara teaches that Hashem is ready to accept us if we are ready to return as the letters Elul are an acronym for Ani L'Dodi V'Dodi Li - I am for my beloved and He is for me. Another acronym I have heard is Ish L'reyeihu U' Matanos L'Evyonim (a man acting kindly towards his fellow man and presents for poor people). As explained by R' Mansour, Elul is an opportunity to good for others and in so doing, to give Hashem a reason to grant us another year of life. It is up to us to decide to seize the opportunity and take advantage of the fresh start.

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