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Manny Being Manny | Some ‘Gladwellian’ Insight


This is Manny. Manny Ramirez.

Manny RamirezBelieve it or not, Manny is one of the greatest right handed hitters in Baseball history. He is also a 2 time World Series Champion and 1 time World Series MVP. Manny was also recently suspended from baseball for 50 games for violating the league’s Substance Abuse Policy when he tested positive for a substance used to hide performance enhancing drug use.

In other words, he cheated. And yet, he is adored and loved, cheered and ballyhooed. Why?

You don’t need to be a baseball fan to continue reading.

The public’s reaction is more confusing when juxtaposed with the public reaction to other substance abusers.

Barry Bonds (nothing has ever been proved), Roger Clemens, Mark McGuire, Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa are other big names in baseball who are hated and booed wherever they go for their cheating. What gives?

Why are we so nice to Manny and so mean to everyone else who cheated?

One of my favorite authors is Malcolm Gladwell. Previously, I have had quite a few Gladwell posts (check those out) on this blog. This is another.

In “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking” (which I highly recommend and you can purchase here) Gladwell compares Doctors who get sued for malpractice and Doctors who do not get sued for malpractice for the same exact types of misdiagnosis or poor treatment. Gladwell found that doctors who do not get sued have one common thread.

They are liked.

Gladwell found that patients who could sue for malpractice would not sue if they liked the doctor. They would say “He is such a nice man, I could never sue him”. In fact my wife’s grandmother has a cause of action against a doctor of hers and she says (insert Holocaust survivor European accent) “Oh, I could never sue him, he a wonderful doctor”. I asked her if he is so wonderful how did he screw up so bad? She says “oh, it was a mistake, he tried his best”. You could still sue you know… “Oh, I could never…”.

And so it is in life. People who are liked sometimes get a pass. People who are disliked are criticized at every turn. Barry Bonds is ornery and cantankerous, Roger Clemens is conceited and condescending, Sammy Sosa is disingenuous and a fraud and Manny Ramirez is a self deprecating, fun loving, caricature of himself.

When Manny makes a mistake, we can forgive him because he is such a great guy. Manny jokes about himself. Manny apologizes. Manny is lovable and that’s why we can forgive him.

Gladwell hits another home run.

The message for us is simple and easy to see. Being nice and friendly to others can go a long way. When people act positively toward one another their flaws are hidden. We don’t notice or care about the other person’s deficiencies as much when they are nice.

We all want to be liked. We all want to be appreciated. A smile, a hello, a friendly guesture or act of kindness goes a very long way to helping others see the best in us.

There is something we can learn from Manny. (No, it is not okay to cheat). We can learn that a good disposition can make a big difference in how people look at us. Let’s try and make the world a friendlier place. Let’s try and help others see the best in us.

In this respect – let’s be a little more like Manny.

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6 Responses

  1. Not at all surprising, and yet not necessarily obvious. Nice post.

  2. Tzvi Haber says:

    For all of his “good disposition” he was ejected from his first game back for throwing equipment. what’s up with that? and do we still like him?

    • rabbifink says:

      And as he was ejected he was smiling! He is just having fun. That is what makes him different. He wasn’t throwing it out of spite, it was in levity.

      (And yes, everyone still loves Manny except Red Sox and Yankees fans)

  3. brian says:

    i have some friends from boston who would beg to differ on manny’s likeability quotient. there was no love lost there. but he’s mellowed in LA and i think you’re on to something here…

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