Shortly after American soccer star Abby Wambach suffered an injury in a "friendly" game against Brazil on Wednesday that will likely end her Olympic career, the 28-year-old's public comments were less about her obvious disappointment and more a rallying cry for her distraught team. Wambach, the leading scorer for the U.S., broke the tibia and fibula in her left leg, and losing her is a blow to the team's chances to win another gold medal in Beijing next month.
"Obviously, it's devastating, but above everything else, I'm only one player, and you can never win a championship with just one player," Wambach said in a statement. "I have the utmost confidence in this team bringing home the gold."
About the same time, Boston Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez was complaining to the media that his team, the one that has paid him well in excess of $100 million over the past seven or eight years, just wasn't being fair.
Ramirez goes into the option years of his contract for 2009 and 2010 at $20 million per season, and he says he feels left in the dark about the Red Sox's intentions, hence the following comment over the All-Star break:
"I want no more [stuff] where they tell you one thing and behind your back they do another thing." Ramirez was quoted as saying in Boston news accounts. "I think I've earned that respect, for a team to sit down with me and tell me, 'This is what we want, this is what we want to do.' "
Over the years, fans and observers have given Ramirez a Get Out of Jail Free card with the now famous rationale for (A. Not running out ground balls, B. Leisurely admiring his home runs, C. Demanding a trade, D. All of the above) of simply "Manny being Manny."
It's an excuse that has worn thin for some.
So does Ramirez have a right to be informed directly in the offseason about whether Boston intends to pick up his option?
Sure he does.
Is it a good idea to bring it up, especially in a confrontational fashion, in the middle of a battle for a division title?
Well, it might be a classic case of "Manny being Manny," but it's also selfish.
The guy has collected $125 million on his last contract and earned $30 million more in deferred payments. He can wait to hear whether it's the Red Sox or someone else who will pay him millions more in the coming years.
Meanwhile, Wambach, who, I'm going to venture a guess, won't realize from her soccer career even a fraction of the interest that Ramirez makes on his money-market accounts, had this to say before she was to have surgery to put a rod in her leg:
"I'm excited to watch them and cheer them on during this challenge they've been presented with. It's really going to take everyone coming together. I love them all so much and appreciate so many people involved with this game and the team."
You wonder about an athlete taking that kind of attitude, and I suppose there's only one explanation. It's just Abby being Abby.