Although the Yankees are still a powerhouse in the American League, it's safe to say that the 2003 version of the Bronx Bombers are not the same team that won World Championships 4 out of 5 years in the late 1990s. As Ed Cossette remarked yesterday:
Yeah, these are the Yankees, but, you know what? I'm not scared of them like I have been in the past.
"When it's time for us to win again," said Shapiro, "I hope our club is patterned after the Angels and the Mariners. They are good, but most of all, they play the game right all the time."
The Mariners and the Angels clearly patterned their teams after those great Yankee squads. What's interesting is that the 2002-03 Yanks look more like the Indians of the '90s or the original Gashouse Gorillas themselves, the Texas Rangers, than they do like their old selves or the Angels or M's for that matter.
ON THE MANNY
There was another interesting bit in the Gammons column. This time about Washington Heights' favorite son (who isn't named Rod Carew), Manny Ramirez:
When the Rangers played in Boston, Herbert Perry told some of his young teammates this story about Manny Ramirez. "We signed together (Perry as the No. 2 pick, Manny No. 1 of then-Indians scouting director Mickey White)," Perry said. "And if you guys think Manny is a smart hitter now -- and he may be the smartest in the game in terms of setting up pitchers -- then you should know he was brilliant at 18. Sure, Manny comes across as carefree, but he is all business when it comes to the mental part of the game. We signed, and went to Cleveland. All the signed players are trying to jerk balls out. Not Manny. Head down. Swung through the ball. Line drives. We played a game. First at-bat, Manny set up the pitcher, got the slider he wanted and hit it out."
Ramirez's Boston teammates marvel at his ability to set up pitchers and recall situations against them. And if you want an example of how happy he is this season and how dedicated, go to the Sports Club/LA some morning when the Sox are in town and check out Manny and his wife in the yoga class. No kidding. Manny does yoga, has lunch, goes to Fenway, wanders out to the cage in center field and hits.