The headline on the back cover of the Daily News today reads:
Torre & Manny's succes in L.A. turns into...YANKS' WORST NIGHTMARE
They've got to sell papers, I get it, but the only nightmare I can see is the Red Sox winning the World Serious again (and even that's not enough to keep me up at night). I don't think the Yankees would have made the playoffs if Torre had stuck around, do you? Which is not to say that I don't hope he wins it all with the Dodgers--the story is just too good to pass up (though I'd rather see Tampa to win it all at this pernt). I would smile from ear-to-ear if Torre wins a Serious in Hollywood.
In the signature at bat of the series, in Game 1, Ramirez swung flat-footed at a wicked shoe-top-high 0-and-2 curveball from reliever Sean Marshall and blasted it 420 feet into the Wrigley Field bleachers.
"Just sick," teammate Greg Maddux says. "Even we look at Manny and go, 'That's just on another level.' It's like watching Tiger Woods hit an eight-iron a thousand feet in the air and knocking it stiff. Normal people just don't do that. Guys like Tiger and Manny are out there in a class by themselves."
...Says L.A. general manager Ned Colletti, "Normally, as a pitcher gets strikes on a hitter, the hitter becomes more and more defensive. But with Manny it's different. It's like the more pitches he sees, the more he knows about what the pitcher is doing and where the pitcher wants to go, and the odds swing more to his favor. And the pitcher knows that.
"I've been around Maddux, [Barry] Bonds and Manny. Those three guys are the smartest baseball players I've ever seen. They're in a class by themselves. They see and understand the game at a higher level than everybody else. The game slows down for them. It's like they see everything in a frame-by-frame sequence. It's different from everybody else."
"It's extraordinary - the dichotomy between what he was in Boston and what he is in Los Angeles.
"I mean, talk about wearing out your welcome in a town, and it was a long welcome with the Red Sox. But some of the things he did were simply despicable, despicable - like not playing, refusing to play. Forgetting what knee to limp on. And now it's washed, it's gone."
McCarver goes on to say that Ramirez scoring from first on a double is just something that he didn't do in Boston.
Not only does Manny Ramirez score from first on doubles to right more often than Tim McCarver thinks he does, and in no different proportion post-trade than he did pre-trade, but he scores from first on doubles to right more often than the average baseball player. The league gets home around 37% of the time, with some of the failures being very costly outs at the plate. As shown above, Ramirez gets home around half the time, and hasn't been thrown out at the plate on that play since 1999. If the idea is to pick on Manny Ramirez, this is the wrong place to make a stand.
Of course, Tim McCarver doesn't care, and that's why this is important. See, come Thursday night, Tim McCarver is going to look into a camera and tell tens of millions of people what he thinks about Manny Ramirez. He's probably going to revisit this theme any number of times over the following couple of weeks, especially if the Dodgers reach the World Series. When he does, there isn't going to be a graphic showing Ramirez's stats during the timeframe when he was supposedly being such a detriment to his team. There won't be a cutaway to Joe Sheehan in the studio pointing out that Ramirez outplayed most of his teammates and carried two or three of their carcasses while not getting the three-day paid vacation they got. We won't hear Joe Buck come over the top of McCarver and point out that Ramirez played nearly every day in July.
...Manny Ramirez played in 90% of his team's games in July and hit like a beast, coming up huge in a critical division matchup late in the month to help the Red Sox avoid a sweep and sustain their place in the standings. Those are my...no, those are the facts.
Manny is the greatest right-handed hitter Joel Sherman has ever seen but the veteran columnist warns:
But don't be a sucker. This is no feel-good story. No matter how many homers Manny hits for Joe Torre. No matter how much he channels his inner Paris Hilton in suddenly craving media/fan attention/adoration.
He is a con man in dreadlocks, the kind who can say - as he did yesterday - "I can play for anybody. When you play hard, you can play for anybody." Yes, Manny Ramirez, Charlie Hustler.
Anyone who falls for this - are you listening New York teams - deserves what will come during the three- to five-year, $20-million-annual deal he is angling for this offseason. He will not run the bases or defend in left field with quite the energy/skill combo he has shown as a Dodger. At some point he will just not play due to an ailment that smells fishier than an aquarium.
He suddenly will stop being the life of the party, but start wondering why he is not paid more and/or signed for longer. He is a Venus flytrap right now, tempting you toward a poor decision with his great bat and best behavior.
Love him or hate him Manny does give you something to chew on.