Manny who?

Manny, Manny, Manny.  We always knew you were an idiot, but this?

By now, everyone in the Baseball, heck the whole sports world, knows that Manny Ramirez, the highly paid outfielder for the LA Dodgers, has been suspended, without pay, for 50 games for failing a Performance Enhancing Drug (PED) test.  He becomes the biggest name to have been suspended since active testing began.  It’s a first time failure, hence the “mere” 50 game ban.  Bet the McCourt’s and Dodger’s brain trust are loving this.  Especially after all the hoopla in the offseason before he resigned with Los Angeles.

Now, for those of us who have watched Manny since he came up with the Indians way back when, we knew he was mercurial at best, and down right looney at worst.  While he never went to such strangeness in Cleveland as he did in Boston, he still had those “Manny being Manny” moments.  He’s always been one to just be in his own world, be it on or off the field.  He just did his own thing, and never a care for who thought what of him.

Even so, this PED test failure comes as a bit of a shock.  Unlike many others who have been linked to various PEDs, Manny was not one of them.  Even with his strange behaviors, no one ever made any sort of even vaguely sustainable links between Ramirez and PEDs.  Now, one could argue now that PED’s are the cause of much of Manny’s behavior quirks.  But IMO that’s just hind sight.  No, I think this is just as Manny said in his statement, he was an idiot.  He should have done more checking on what he was being given, and if it would fall under the banned substance rules of MLB.  He admits to this in his statement, and accepts “responsibility” for his actions, and will not challenge the suspension.  Oh, and he does have a point, in that he has passed some 15 previous PED tests administered by MLB.  So, in the absence of any further information, I will take Manny at his word (such that it is).  He’s taking his lumps, and that should be that.

I found it unsurprising that the media rather than talking primarily to the Dodgers, instead went to Boston.  After all the drama that surrounded Manny and his exit from the Red Sox, it was obviously where reporters thought they’d get some sort of sallacious details.  Unfortunately for them, the Sox weren’t so obliging.  Yes, Dustin Pedroia talked a bit, as did David Ortiz, and Terry Francona.  Yet in each case, they weren’t all that interested in giving scandalous details to reporters, even if they had any.  The general gist of the comments can be summed up as: “Manny’s in LA, not in Boston.  He’s not here, so why should we talk about him?”

This leads me to the man who “replaced” Manny Ramirez in Left Field for the Sox, one Jason Bay.  While Bay did not put up those lights out kind of numbers Manny could after he came over from Pittsburgh, he did more than enough to cement himself as an important part of the Red Sox team.  But his start this year has been outstanding.  He’s produced in the clutch (take that Mariano Rivera!), has been getting on base consistently (tied for the MLB lead in walks), driving in runs, and swiping the occasional bag with ease.  Further more, he’s as far removed from Manny personality wise as one could possibly get.  Not to mention a better defensive Left Fielder.  Bay is a fairly quiet (but not reclusive) player, who prefers to let his efforts on the field speak for themselves.  He’s much more a team player than Manny, and not one to seek, or even be found on the tabloid pages.  Basically, he’s the ideal Red Sox player.

So, like many in Red Sox nation, I’ll keep saying “Manny who” anytime he gets mentioned.

Bluray Review: Star Trek TOS Season 1

Ahhh, Star Trek, The Original Series (TOS), on Bluray.  Many a geek has been waiting for this to be released.  This release is second only to Star Wars in terms of geekdom waiting for it.  If any series is desrving of a high definition treatment, Star Trek is it.

Fans will not be disappointed by this set.  The episodes have been digitally remastered, and though I’m only through disc 2 (there are 7 in the set), so far I have not seen any print errors that slipped through.  The picture quality is simple out standing.  Sharp, clear, vivid, makes the viewing aspects of these espisodes thoroughly enjoyable.  Sound has also been remastered into 7.1 surround sound, which does enhance a lot of the “backgtound sounds” of each episode.  Things like the electronic hum of panels, the “whossh” of the doors, all comes through in a “natural” way.

The big things to be found is in the reworked special effects, digitally enhanced matte paintings, and the reworked special effects in space shots.  For the most part these new effects are seemlessly integrated.  They are not done in such a way that they appear out of synch with the episodes.  Well, for the most part.  In the very first episodes, such as “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” the enhanced effects can be a bit jarring.  This is mostly due to the surrounding technology being a bit “behind the times” to produce say a screen image next to it.  Even so, using the same episode as an example, they have done some wonders to enhance the over all feel of the episode and story.  A great, if subtle example is in how they digitally tweaked the matte painting backgrounds for Delta Vega, tweaking colors and such to better reflect the stated time of say in story, and to give greater depth to the painting to enhance the sense of scope.

Purists may still rejoice though.  The episodes are also on each disc in their “original” though remastered formats.  Original mono sound track, original effects and all.  These versions are “merely” digitally cleaned up, but otherwise left unaltered.  There is the ability to switch between the two versions while watching, so one may compare the original recordings with the new enhanced versions.  It’s quite an interesting thing to do.  Though as usual, your milleage may vary.

The special features are a mixed bag so far.  There is the usual bits on “making of” and some commentary.  The first disc has a “double enhanced” track for “Where No Man Has Gone Before.”  One one side you have pop up information boxes on items and characters, providing a bit more depth to some of the one shot characters and special items seen in the episode.  On the other side you get some commentary from a variety of persons, some involved in the remastering, some in the original episode, and Bjo Trimble (who can be annoying).  Paul Carr (Lt. Lee Kelso in the episode) steals several moments with his commentary.

Any fan of Star Trek, or of SciFi in general should get this set.  At around $100 it’s not cheap, but it is oh so worth it.