After a Bob Lobel accusation that Manny Ramirez looked at three Mariano Rivera pitches on July 6 as retaliation for the Red Sox fining him an alleged six-figures for roughing up an old man, the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy dutifully collects the quotes….many of them defending Manny.

“I don’t think this is false information,” Lobel said last night. “It’s not something I’d make up. It didn’t come to me in a dream. I know it’s not in their best interests to talk about this, but I’m pretty confident with what I said.”

Manager Terry Francona added, “We handled it how we thought was appropriate. So much has happened since. Things that happen, we take seriously. I don’t think because we don’t say things that that makes us spineless.”

When told of Lobel’s accusation regarding Manny’s passive pinch-hitting appearance, Francona asked, “Where’d he come up with that?”

“It’s ridiculous and incendiary for anyone to suggest that Manny would purposefully make an out in any game,” Henry wrote in an e-mail. “Ridiculous.”

Lucchino wasn’t buying, either.

“I’m not going to dignify that with a response,” he said. “This is Boston and this is the big leagues. A lot of things get created out of whole cloth, and we’ve got to appreciate that things like this happen from time to time.”

Manny’s strikeout against Rivera certainly looked bad, but it’s impossible to get into the head of any ballplayer. Nobody said Bob “Beetle” Bailey was tanking when he took three down the middle against Rich Gossage in the 1978 playoff game.

In fairness to Manny, all three strikes he watched were nasty cutters on the black. No one looks good when they go down looking at three strikes, but it’s risky to accuse an athlete of tanking.

We’re probably never going to know how much the Sox fined Manny and we’ll certainly never know what was going through his mind when he struck out against Rivera. The Sox will continue to let him do what he wants because of his talent, and he will continue to entertain all with his slugging and those occasional cartoon moments.

I’m not sure I can handle the shock. Whether the comments above were directly solicited by Shaughnessy or culled from elsewhere, this is somewhere in the neighborhood of an even-handed treatment of Boston’s left-fielder. Other than raising the point after Lobel had already done so.