When Manny Ramirez was a member of the Red Sox, he caused fans a lot of headaches. Now, as a member of the Dodgers, he’s still causing Sox fans headaches.
Ramirez returns to Fenway Park as a member of the Dodgers this weekend. And, as was often the case each season of his Red Sox tenure, many fans aren’t sure whether to boo him or cheer him.
During his time in Boston, Ramirez gave us plenty of reasons to loathe him: phantom injuries that wouldn’t show up on tests but would cause him to miss games; not hustling, at times not even running, demanding trades, arguing with teammates and pushing down traveling secretaries, and, most of all, seeming to not care.
Of course, he gave us plenty of reasons to cheer. Along with David Ortiz, he was part of what statistically was the best 3-4 hitting combo since Gehrig and Ruth. AND, he just happened to be the MVP of the first Red Sox World Series in 86 years.
Ultimately, he was the worst kind of baseball player — the kind that quits on his teammates and his fans — and at the same time our Baseball Jesus, saving us from 86 years of torture.
So now, just like years ago, we don’t know whether to boo him or cheer him.
Fans booed Johnny Damon when he came back as a Yankee. But his sins were much less. All he did was go for the money as a free agent, just like 99.9 percent of all other athletes. And just like you’d do in the same situation. This despite all his heroics in the 2004 playoffs.
Johnny shouldn’t have been booed. But to me, Manny and his quiting present and much more difficult case.
Come game time tomorrow, I don’t think Manny should be booed. Face it, without him we don’t win two World Series. And maybe it’s easy now to take those for granted. But for those of us who REALLY remember what it was like before 2004, we’ll never take those for granted.
However, Manny quit, and quit many times on this team. He should never receive a standing ovation in Fenway Park, just like he should never have his number retired.
Just polite applause please, and then cheer for him to quit on the Dodgers.
The Boston Globe recently ran this little passage about Dodgers’ owner Frank McCourt being miffed at Manny Ramirez:
If Dodgers owner Frank McCourt had his way, he’d kick Manny Ram’rez to the sidewalk, void his contract, and say, “See ya later.” But McCourt doesn’t have that luxury, so he has simply asked Ramirez to do some very basic things to make amends for his embarrassing 50-game suspension. He did address the team, so that’s one off the checklist. But that’s about all he’s done. All Ramirez has to do is show remorse, take batting practice, be a presence in the clubhouse, and continue to help out the young hitters. So what is he doing? He’s staying away. The Dodgers expected Ramirez to come to Los Angeles after he briefly addressed the team in Miami last week. But Ramirez didn’t. It’s another act of defiance – a slap in the face to McCourt, who has been more than generous to Ramirez. Don’t forget, Ramirez had no other offers of substance before McCourt came in to pay him $25 million this season and tacked on an option year for $20 million. In the offseason, Ramirez worked at Athletes Performance Institute, but he did it at the one in Pensacola, Fla. Nobody could figure out why. All the Dodgers want Ramirez to do is come clean about what he did, be a good teammate, and prove to the management and fans that he’s truly sorry. He told the Los Angeles Times sports columnist T.J. Simers, “I’m not ready.”
Talk about justice being served. McCourt’s ignorance and foolishness are to blame here; not Manny. These antics of Manny are no surprise to any Sox fans who have watched Manny being Manny since 2001. You mean to tell me McCourt, who risked $45 million on this man-child, paid no attention to any of this? And when he was throwing all of that money at Manny, who was he bidding against? The answer: Nobody. McCourt and company didn’t do their homework, botched their negotiations, and now are reaping what they’ve sewn. Just another example of why you should appreciate the good ownerships we have at Fenway and Foxboro.
A year ago at this time, the idea the Sox would someday retire Number 24 wasn’t even up for discussion. It was a certainty.
When Manny retired, and was voted into the Hall of Fame, the Sox would hang his Number 24 up next to the all-time Sox greats. It would be a ceremony that included Dwight Evans. We’d all reminisce about the great teams of 2004 and 2007. Good times.
Since then, Manny quit on his team (again), got traded to the Dodgers, and got caught using PEDs. Of course, how the Sox brass thought about Manny’s place in Sox history was evident even before he got busted for ‘roids: They gave his number to set-up man Tagashi (sp?) Saito right out of Spring Training. While the bad feelings for Manny were obvious, giving his number to a reliever right away was a surprise. I still thought the Sox would someday recognize Manny by retiring his number. He is, after all, one of the greatest right-handed hitters of all time, and along with Papi made up the greatest 3-4 tandem not named Ruth/Gehrig in baseball history. But, the PED bust has removed any notion of that.
Ah well. Hopefully six years from now we’ll be hanging up Number 45.
Since Manny’s positive test, all the so-called baseball experts have been climbing over each other to proclaim that they aren’t surprised, that nobody surprises them anymore. That’s convenient — just blanketing everyone means you don’t have to think about it and do any analysis . . . and you’ll always be right whenever someone tests positive. Now if somebody not obvious like an Ichiro or Ken Griffey tests positive, they can smuggly proclaim “I’m not surprised.”
The fact is, Manny’s positive test is somewhat surprising. If you take the time to analyze his numbers, he’s been consistent since the time he came up with the Indians in the early 1990s. Throughout his career, he’s steadily been that .300, 35, 120 hitter. Whereas other steroid suspects saw a dramatic (and suspicious) jump in their numbers — McGwuire, Sosa, Bonds, Brady Anderson, Luis Gonzalez — Manny’s numbers stayed level throughout the Steroid Era. Given the type of hitter he is, one would suspect that he might have jumped to a 60-home-run guy during that time had he been on ‘roids. The only time his production took a dramatic jump was last year.
So what are we to think? Has he been taking them since he came up in the early 1990s and just maintained steady numbers? Or (perhaps more likely) has he started taking them in recent years as his production has started to decline . . . leading to his explosive production with Los Angeles. We’ll probably never know.
Alright, with the season almost upon us, it’s time to wrap up this whole prediction business. I’ve already listed my AL East and AL Central picks. I’ve included them in the rest of the picks below, but if you want to find out my well-researched, brilliantly-reasoned reasons for them, you’ll have to go back to the old posts. So, without further ado, I present to you the rest of the case for my baseball genius:
(see old post for explanation)
(see old post for explanation)
This is another division where almost anything can happen. The Angels are not as good as they were last year – lost K-Rod and Teixeira, and the heart of their lineup is getting old. And the rest of the division has gotten better – the A’s added some offense, Rangers finally have some young pitching ready to take the stage, and you have to expect the Mariners’ Erik Bedard will be better this year. Still you have to like the Angels track record, especially in light of the questions surrounding the other teams. Oakland will find out Matt Holliday is overrated away from Coors, and you can’t depend on rookie pitchers for your starting rotation. Rangers pitchers could improve, or just not be there yet. And Seattle still lacks the offense. Overall, this will not be a strong division. In fact, the East appears heads and shoulders above the rest of the AL.
The Mets can hit, and with Mike Pelfrey ready to arrive as an elite talent behind Johan Santana, not to mention a reinvented bullpen with K-Rod and Putz, the Mets should win this division by five games. Expect the Phillies to be in the wildcard mix, though. The Marlins have a bunch of good young pitchers, and that should carry them past the Braves, who had an active, yet foolish, offseason.
The Cubs are way-above the rest of the NL Central. It would take a curse for them not to win this division. How the rest of this division shakes out is anybody’s guess (a common theme this year). I expect a comeback year from Aaron Harang, and the emergence of their young pitching staff to carry them to second place. The Brewers take a step back; they can’t thrust all their hopes on young Gallardo. I really, really, really wanted to pick the Pirates to surprise. And, until recently, I had them in second. Yes, it was based more on emotion, but they do have a cast of super-talented young pitchers . . . if they can ever put it together. But, ultimately, they don’t have the offensive depth to mimic Tampa’s success from last year.
The Dback already have two of the game’s best pitchers in Brandon Webb and Dan Haren. Throw in uber-talented strikeout artist Max Scherzer, and that’s one impressive staff. The Dodgers have a core of excellent young pitching and hitting talent, and Manny will produce — but he’ll be much closer to our Manny. The rest of the division is scuffling. (But keep an eye on Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez — breakout year.)
AL Wildcard: Yankees
NL Wildcard: Dodgers
AL Champion: Red Sox
NL Champion: Diamondbacks
Both these teams have great pitching staffs and, depending on how Scherzer pitches, the edge in starting pitching might go to the Dbacks. Of course, with trades, injuries, etc., nobody knows what these staffs will look like come October. Still, I like the depth of the Sox offense and bullpen. The Series will go 6 games,
World Champion: Your Boston Red Sox
AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera
NL MVP: Carlos Beltran
AL Cy Young: Josh Beckett (maybe Scott Kazmir)
NL Cy Young: Johan Santana
The Manny vs. Dodgers saga is getting real interesting. The cojones Manny has to turn down their 2-year, $45 million offer. But here’s the thing: the tables might actually be turning in his favor.
A few weeks ago I wrote how the Dodgers had Manny over a barrel. And they did. Manny had no other suitors and the market was crashing. Playing hardball had left Manny and agent Scott Boras without the teams to create a bidding war, and, with salaries dropping, they were out of options. Meanwhile, the Dodgers had the luxury of being Manny’s only true option, and they could have played hardball and dropped their offer below $20 million a year, or gone out and got another slugger (or two) in guys like Adam Dunn and Bobby Abreu.
Fast forward a few weeks, and the Dodgers are starting to look like the desperate ones. They’ve mismanaged their Manny dealings, and now they may be forced to pay through the nose for him after all. Instead of drawing a line in the sand, giving Manny a deadline and threatening to go sign other players, the Dodgers stayed idle and watched as their other options (Dunn, Abreu) all signed elsewhere. Now they are the ones out of options.
The Dodgers didn’t NEED Manny. They fooled themselves into believing that after his performance last season, but they didn’t need him. They needed a good bat. They still need that bat, but now Manny is their only option. They must have been shocked when he turned down this latest offer.
Where things go from here is anyone’s guess. Both parties are out of options; it’s now a game of chicken. Given how weak the NL West is, the Dodgers could play hardball and stick with what they now have and be very competitive in their division. But the Dodger brass might be getting desperate to add Manny’s bat, and Manny and Boras might sense that. Don’t be surprised if the Dodgers give him a third year, possibly with a club or incentive-triggered option for a fourth.
With Bobby Abreu signing a one-year deal with the Angels (smart move by Anaheim), and Adam Dunn signing a two-year deal with Washington (that’ll be a long two years), Manny Ramirez seems to be running out of options. It is apparent the only two teams that may sign him are the Dodgers and Giants. And, despite the best attempts by Scott Boras, neither team seems in a rush to get into a bidding war. Fact is, while both teams would like to get Manny take a shot at their weak division this year, neither seems willing to mortgage their future on an aging headcase. Neither team will go more than two years. It’ll be interesting to see how far Manny takes this as Spring Training gets rolling, because these teams are calling his bluff. (Actually, Manny has never been a fan of Spring Training, so don’t be surprised if this saga drags into March.)
Speaking of Manny, he is one of the nominees for the steroid discussion today over at The Great Witch Hunt. Check it out at http://witchhunt.mlblogs.com.