Do we forgive or do we forget?
Two such people are in the news these days – Manny Ramirez and Artie Lange.
Their similarities might surprise you – both have insane talent; both have battled substances; and even Lange (while you might not notice it today) was an All-League Shortstop at Union High School in New Jersey. Both are making incredible amounts of money – Ramirez, about $20 million per year for the Dodgers, and Lange – at least a couple of million a year doing standup comedy and serving as Howard Stern’s invariable foil and sidekick on Sirius XM Radio.
Ramirez’ troubles have been extensively noted. Lange has battled cocaine (and won) and heroin (an ongoing fight). Ramirez, after infuriating the Boston Red Sox and their fans with boorish antics – was literally given to the Dodgers despite his amazing offensive prowess.
Lange, who is trying desperately to get off of heroin, has missed several days of work on the Stern show; had to cancel a major gig at the Comedy Central Bob Saget Roast (ironically, it was Saget who gave Lange his comeback opportunity when casting him in Dirty Work).
The classic manager in me says they’re not worth the trouble. They should be fired or given ultimatums – clean up or your out the next time.
But the human in me recognizes how few people possess the talent that Ramirez and Lange have – Ramirez at 36 already has Hall of Fame numbers, and Lange’s legion of fans are notoriously loyal to a man who’s appetites have spawned websites such as savebabygorilla.com and artielangedeathwatch.com.
Both are tinkering with losing what’s most important to them – their core consitutency, their fans. How long can they expect to keep loyal fans with their screw-ups.
What’s worse, and perhaps what makes them more empathetic, is that I don’t think either can help themselves. It’s easy to write a blog and tell Manny no more banned substances, or tell Artie to shut up, quit drugs and booze cold turkey, and show up to work.
There are demons there, and until they are completely conquered, the demons may end up destroying a talent the precious few of us have.
If you’re a manager – do they stay or do they go?