Ramirez apologizes after altercation with Sox' traveling secretary
BY SEAN McADAM
Journal Sports Writer
HOUSTON -- Maybe it's something in the water in Houston.
Days after Houston Astros pitcher Shawn Chacon tackled general manger Ed Wade in the home clubhouse at Minute Maid Park, the visitors clubhouse was the scene of another player-club employee altercation Saturday afternoon.
Manny Ramirez shoved Red Sox traveling secretary Jack McCormick to the ground in an argument over Ramirez' ticket allotment. Several onlookers moved quickly to separate the two.
Ramirez had asked McCormick for 16 tickets for Saturday night's Red Sox-Astros game, an unusually high number for day-of-game. In addition to handling all travel details for clubs, traveling secretaries also take player ticket requests for both home and away games.
When McCormick cautioned Ramirez that he might not be able to fulfill his request, Ramirez responded by shouting: "Just do your job!"
An argument ensued and Ramirez pushed McCormick, sending him to the ground.
Later, the two met behind closed doors and Ramirez apologized to McCormick, who accepted the gesture. No further disciplinary action is expected against Ramirez.
Asked on Sunday to comment on the altercation, Ramirez responded: "That's over. We're fine now."
"Sometimes things happen," said Terry Francona, "and when they do, we choose to handle them internally. I'm satisfied with how we handled this."
Added McCormick: "It was an unfortunate misunderstanding and it's over with as far as I'm concerned."
BOSTON _ Red Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez has been bothered by a sore right hamstring for a while, which makes the upcoming interleague series with the Astros at Houston a little more interesting.
During the recent interleague series at Fenway, Ramirez was able to serve as the club’s designated hitter due to American League rules. When the Sox travel to the National League Park there will be no DH, so Ramirez will have to play left field with the sore hamstring.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona said the chances are good that Ramirez will be able to play left field. The slugger’s hamstring is feeling better, and the off-day on Thursday will also help.
June 3 (Bloomberg) -- Tiger Woods has made almost $128 million in prize money and endorsements over the past year, more than twice as much as any other U.S. professional athlete, according to Sports Illustrated.
The world's No. 1 golfer tops SI.com's "Fortunate 50" list of the highest-earning U.S. athletes, raking in $22.9 million in winnings and another $105 million in endorsements. Woods, 32, has earned almost $800 million over his 13-year career and may become the first billion-dollar athlete, according to SI.com.
Fellow golfer Phil Mickelson is second at $62.4 million, followed by basketball player LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers. James made almost $40.5 million in the past year, including $28 million from endorsement deals, and is one of 26 National Basketball Association players in the "Fortunate 50," the most of any sport.
Boxer Floyd Mayweather ranks fourth with $40.3 million in earnings, followed by NBA players Kobe Bryant ($35.5 million) and Shaquille O'Neal ($35 million).
New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez is the top- earning Major League Baseball player and ranks seventh on SI.com's list at $35 million.
Kevin Garnett, whose Boston Celtics are playing Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals, is eighth with $31 million, while Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning is ninth and the highest-earning National Football League player at $30.5 million. Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter completes the top 10 with $30 million in salary and endorsements.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the top earning racecar driver among U.S. athletes and ranks 11th overall with $27.2 million -- $5.2 million from winnings and $22 million from endorsements. His total was almost $20 million less than the winnings and sponsorship money received by Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland, who ranks second in SI.com's list of top-earning athletes from outside the U.S., with $46 million, after soccer player David Beckham.
Boston athletes on the SI Fortunate 50 list
8. Kevin Garnett: $31 million
20. Manny Ramirez: $22.5 million
32. Tom Brady: $18 million
34. Paul Pierce: $17.86 million
38. Ray Allen: $16.75 million
In The Boston Herald, John Tomase writes today that Manny Ramirez has become one of the most popular players in baseball -- a popularity that he writes could be seen this weekend in Baltimore even beyond the tens of thousands of Red Sox fans at Camden Yards: "Far from just Red Sox fans, the people cheering No. 500 wore as many shades of orange and black as red and blue. Orioles fans could be seen standing with their Red Sox counterparts as Ramirez circled the bases. Yesterday the park was once again filled with chants of "Manny!, Manny!"
In The Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo writes that back in 1995, young Ramirez hit seventh in the Cleveland lineup, behind current 500-home-run club members Eddie Murray and Jim Thome, as well as 465-career-home-run man Dave Winfield and Albert Belle, who hit 50 home runs in that '95 season. Talk about power.
Manny Ramirez has now gone 29 at-bats since his last home run, and he has just two home runs in the last month of baseball. Since April 22, he's seen his batting average fall 50 points, from .342 to .292, and he's struck out 24 times in 25 games. All this has some folks wondering: Is the pressure getting to Manny? (Click the link here to vote.)
"He doesn't look the least bit settled in the batter's box," Krasner writes. "He's jumping at pitches and when he hits them, he isn't consistently driving them. He's even uncharacteristically chasing pitches out of the strike zone."
No question Ramirez was doing that last night against Kansas City, when he was a strikout victim three times.
Here's what Sean McAdam had to say on today's edition of Projo SoxTalk: "He had made a big deal about wanting to get there [500 home runs] before the end of April, which seems a long time ago now, and seemed to be cognizant about that and wanting to get this done and get this taken care of. How many times do you see Manny Ramirez strike out three times in four at-bats in one night and not look very good doing it either? So, it could be that he's pressing. He's been stuck in the high 490s for quite some time now, and I'm sure he looks out there and sees that number 498 hanging above the Green Monster; he certainly knows that the milestone is within reach, and it does seem like of late that he's been trying a little too hard to get there."
Interesting, the same was said last year of Alex Rodriguez as he neared number 500.
Perhaps Manny won't get number 500 at Fenway, but instead that he'll do it when the Red Sox head out for the West Coast later that week. I can't find the Lynn Item column that Nick Cafardo mentions today in the Globe's Extra Bases blog, so I'll link to Cafardo himself. Ramirez told the Item's Maureen Mullen over the weekend, according to Cafardo, that he in fact is not excited about reaching 500, that 600 is really his goal, and he predicts that number 500 will come out West.
The story contains quotes from Mike Lowell, Dustin Pedroia, J.D. Drew, Mike Timlin, Kevin Youkilis, Alex Cora, Curt Schilling, David Ortiz and Sean Casey. All these guys praise Ramirez's seriousness of purpose. The story also includes a poll that seems pretty out of place: What do you think of Manny Ramirez? The choices: Knucklehead, too laid back, misunderstood, still not sure. I'd take "all-time great player," but it's not an option.
But Bradford says that Manny was not joking when he said this:
"I think I'm the best ever to play left field in Boston."
Manny goes on in the story about the way he has revolutionized his position with his flip-throwing motion on tosses back into the infield, and he analyzes the pros and cons of playing shallow in Fenway's left field.
It all makes you wonder, in Manny's words: "How am I going to win a Gold Glove if they take me out in the eighth [inning]?"
Haggerty doesn't have any details on what the commercials will show. They are part of the network's humorous "This is SportsCenter" ad campaign (the Celtics' Big Three are featured on one ad that is currently in heavy rotation). Seth Ader, senior director of ESPN marketing, said Ramirez arrived to the shoot on time and worked well with SportsCenter anchors Jay Harris, Karl Ravech and Steve Levy.
BOSTON _ Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez has questioned a lot of calls this season, probably more than usual. It’s also no secret he has a keen eye when it comes to the strike zone and he doesn’t argue that often. When he does it’s a safe bet he’s probably right.
He was ejected from today's game in the bottom of the second inning by home-plate umpire Paul Emmel. Ramirez was called out on strikes and as he left the batter's box he said something to Emmel. Put it this way, you don't have to be a good lip reader to figure out what Ramirez said. It's the fourth time in his career he's been tossed. Joe Thurston took his spot in the lineup.
“I think there may have been something said there,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who came out to talk with Emmel to no avail. “Maybe they were balls. Manny doesn’t usually say much unless he’s got a pretty valid point. He knows that strike zone pretty well. We all agree with that.”
His ejection almost proved crucial in the eighth inning, but his teammates came through.
The Red Sox were in the midst of a comeback and were down a run when the No. 4 spot in the order came up, which is almost always Ramirez’s spot. Thurston was 0-for-2 and was hit by a pitch in Ramirez’s place and was scheduled to come up with two outs in the eighth. Francona elected to give Dustin Pedroia, who was originally given the day off, an opportunity to pinch-hit.
Fortunately for the Sox the second baseman drove in the game-tying run and later scored the eventual game-winning run in the 6-5 win.
Speaking of days off, Ramirez was originally scheduled to have today off – only if Coco Crisp (hamstring) is able to play – since he’s played in all 20 games so far this season. Because of the ejection Francona said he didn’t know if Ramirez would be back in the lineup today.
The Rangers will start lefty Kason Gabbard, which makes the decision a little tougher. Plus, Ramirez is locked in like crazy right now.
Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield picked up his second win of the season today. The knuckleballer worked a season-high eight innings and allowed five runs on seven hits with no walks and five strikeouts. He threw 86 pitches and 68 of them were strikes. Wakefield did surrender two home runs, including a lead-off shot to the Rangers’ Ian Kinsler in the first inning and a three-run blast to Milton Bradley in the sixth.
“That’s the most strikes I’ve ever seen him throw,” said Francona. “He was throwing strike after strike and the ball had movement and that’s a good formula.”
The Red Sox offense scored a total of six runs in the seventh and eighth inning to give the veteran the victory.
“I was hoping for a comeback, obviously,” said Wakefield.
It’s that time of year again when the Commonwealth of Massachusetts celebrates Patriots Day. The Boston Marathon takes place tomorrow, and the Red Sox will play their annual 11 a.m. game. Francona actually enjoys this day for a number of different reasons. His last major-league at-bat came on Patriots Day in 1990 when he was playing for the Milwaukee Brewers, who beat the Red Sox 18-0. Francona played in one more game after that and served as a pinch before he was sent to the minors where he career ended.
Now as a manager he enjoys this day.
“I wouldn’t want to do it every day,” he said. “But I think it’s kind of a neat day with all the stuff that goes on. The atmosphere and the game is part of that, so for one day it’s okay. For the coaches it’s no big deal because we’re here anyway. I think getting your engine revved up as players can be a little different.”
The Red Sox are 64-48 all-time on Patriots Day. The club has been scheduled to play on this day every year since 1959.
Francona mistakenly thought Red Sox pitcher Bartolo Colon would take today off from playing catch, but the veteran right-hander, who has been dealing with an oblique issue, was in right field toss the pearl around with trainer Mike Reinold. Francona said he got the days mixed up. Colon will take today off and begin his throwing program at 90 to 120 feet on Tuesday.
We've already noted the changed attitude that Manny Ramirez seems to have brought into this, his eighth season with the Red Sox. And while some cynics might say that the changes in Ramirez -- coming to camp on time and in better shape, speaking cordially to the media -- might be motivated by the fact that this is the last guaranteed year of his current contract, we'd like to point to his offseason embrace of yoga (as well as meditation and the power of positive thinking).
TOKYO -- Maybe it was being out of the Western Hemisphere. But for some reason, Manny Ramirez was in a talkative mood before the Sox took on the Hanshin Tigers.
Ramirez, who said he's adjusted to the time difference well and enjoying the plentiful sushi, said he anticipates playing for some time to come even though, at age 35, he's entering the final guaranteed year of his landmark eight-year deal.
"I know what lays ahead,'' he said. "I’m going to get two more years here" -- the Sox hold options for the 2009 and 2010 seasons -- "and then I’m going to get [a four-year contract, either with Boston or on the free-agent market], so it’s going to be six years . . . I’m ready to play. I’ve prepared myself good to play the game. I’m going to go have fun, play the game and that’s it.”
Ramirez is confident that four-year contract after the 2010 season will come from the Red Sox.
"I’m going to finish my career here," he said.
Ramirez heads into this season needing just 10 homers to reach 500 for his career, but he has no plans to stop there.
"I’m going to get to 600 [homers],'' he said. "Why not? The sky’s the limit. There’s no limit. I’m going to play six more years and there’s no doubt I can do it."
Ramirez was asked if 700 homers could be within his reach.
"Like I say, the sky is the limit,'' he said. "I want to be like Julio Franco and play until I’m 50.I’m ready to go. I’m happy. Like I tell them, I’m going to get two more years, than sign a contract for four years and that will be six years. I’m going to finish here. I feel like a baby now.”
Ramirez read the book The Secret, an ode to the power of positive thinking, this spring and it seems to have had some impact.
"Like I told you, the sky’s the limit,'' he said. "There’s nothing impossible in life. If everybody in [the Red Sox clubhouse] gets the same thoughts and we’re thinking right, there’s no way [we won't do well]. We have the same group of guys that won last year so there’s no doubt that we can do it again. Nothing is impossible.''
Early morning happenings: Manny takes Dougie's locker
**The Red Sox have already started to pack for their trip to Japan next Wednesday. In the corner of the clubhouse here at City of Palms Park, there are five large boxes of gum that are all ready to go.
**It didn't take long for Manny Ramirez to change lockers. Catchers always have the biggest stalls because of all the equipment, so after Doug Mirabelli was released on Thursday, Manny moved into the larger living quarters.
**Second baseman Dustin Pedroia still can't believe Manny bought him a $10,000 Rolex watch for winning the Rookie of the Year award in 2007. Ramirez told Pedroia this spring that if he hits .300 this season then he'll buy him the matching bracelet.
"Heck, if he's going to continue this, I'll hit .300 for the next 20 years," said Pedroia. "By the time my career is over I'll look like Mr. T."
Welcome back to the Mannybeingmanny sub-blog, in which we provide a roundup of news concerning the Red Sox' superb and enigmatic left fielder. Manny may be a bit player in some of the items, or he might be the star. But in either case, he's always being Manny.
As Joe McDonald reported here last week, Ramirez had a special gift last week for second baseman Dustin Pedroia, congratulating Pedroia for winning last year's American League Rookie of the Year award: He presented Pedroia a Rolex watch.
ESPN.com's Gene Wojciechowski has a feature about Gregg Forwerck, whom Wojciechowski calls the Annie Leibovitz of sports trading card photographers. One of Forwerck's strangest works, apparently, is a Bowman rookie card of Ramirez, who is seen sporting a striped shirt and posing in front of the chapel at Duke University (Ramirez was in Durham with Cleveland's farm team to play a Triple A game).
This one will make you cringe. AP writer Gregg Bell has a feature on Seattle Mariners infielders Yuniesky Betancourt and Adrian Beltre, who tempt fate by declining to wear protective cups on the field. Beltre does this despite knowing the story of Josias Manzanillo, an unfortunate relief pitcher who was not wearing a protective cup in 1997 when he found himself on the receiving end of a low liner from Ramirez.
Morning Fort Report: Colon signing is news to Manny
Journal photo / Brita Meng Outzen
Manny Ramirez greets fans as he heads out to the practice field today in Fort Myers.
I attempted to engage Manny Ramirez in some discussion about Bartolo Colon, with whom he is very friendly.
I didn't get very far.
``I didn't even know we had signed him,'' said Ramirez as he dressed this morning.
When I asked if he thought Colon could help the Sox, given the injuries he's battled the last two seasons, Ramirez gave me a strange look.
``I'm not a pitching coach,'' said Ramirez.
And that was that.
On the subject of pitching coaches -- sort of -- Bruce Hurst has accepted a formal par-ttime position with the organization and will serve as a Special Instructor for Player Development.
Hurst has been in camp for the last two weeks, but in an informal, undefined role. He has agreed to travel once or twice a month to the Sox' minor league affiliates and continue as a spring training instructor.
``I think this is THE elite organization in baseball,'' said Hurst, who pitched for the Sox between 1980-1988. ``It's the epitome of this place can be.''
Hurst said he will stress mechanics, command and mental toughness when he works with the young pitchers in the organization.
Here's a quick sampling of what they're saying about Manny Ramirez's startling 4-for-5 start since returning from a 24-game hiatus:
"The highest compliment that that can be paid a hitter is to say he could roll out of bed and hit .300. Manny Ramirez has proven over the last two days he might actually be able to do it," writes Jerry Beach, in DieHard Magazine.com.
"Manny could rip IV tubes out of his arm, vault out of the ICU, and crack a single up the middle on the first pitch he's seen in six months. Manny could stand alongside a 4-foot snowbank in White River Junction, Vt., on Feb. 10 and hit the first 90-mile-per-hour fastball thrown his way. He could skip part of spring training (and has), then show up rested and ready to go 4 for 4 against C.C. Sabathia," writes Dan Shaughnessy, in The Boston Globe.
"Calling someone a 'Christmas Day hitter,' an expression used in the Red Sox clubhouse, is supposed to signify that a particular player can roll out of bed on the holiday, or any other day, and knock out a slew of hits without even thinking about it. Christmas has come early for Manny Ramirez [stats] and the Sox," writes Rob Bradford in the Boston Herald.
Journal photo / Kris Craig
Manny Ramirez singles in his first at-bat on Tuesday night.
Yesterday we mentioned on the Web site the way the offense for the Red Sox basically held up in the absence of Manny Ramirez. After last night's return, Ramirez has now played in 128 of the team's 157 games. Below are a few of the team's numbers in the 128 games with Manny, and in the 29 games without him.
Batting average: .271 without Manny; .279 with Manny
Slugging percentage: .442 without Manny; .441 with Manny
Runs per game: 5.4 without Manny; 5.3 with Manny
But here's the big difference.
Winning percentage: .552 without Manny (16-13); .602 with Manny (77-51).
-Here's what a few quotes from Kevin Youkilis on Manny returning to bat second in the lineup, according to Mike Fine's account in The Patriot Ledger:
"He's hitting second, so I think he's going to move over runners, do the little things. He’s going to play small-ball. He might get a contract extension if he finishes well. He really has to show himself well because he's one of those September call-up type guys."
Right. And, finally, it should have surprised no one that the crowd went nuts for Ramirez last night, despite the not-too-subtle suggestions out there that there's something not on the up-and-up about the amount of time that Ramirez has missed. The fans have always been quick to forgive when it comes to their favorite left fielder.
BOSTON -- Manny Ramirez, who hasn't played since leaving the Aug. 28 game in New York because of a strained left oblique, is back in the starting lineup Tuesday night as the Red Sox open their final week of the regular season with the first playoff game a week or so away.
Ramirez is in left field and batting second.
Manager Terry Francona said moments ago during his daily press briefing that it was likely Ramirez would get two or three at-bats before calling it a night. He has missed the Sox' last 24 games, and Boston was 12-12 in those games without Ramirez.
The reason Ramirez is hitting second instead of his customary cleanup spot is that he can get those at-bats as quickly as possible as he readjusts not only to hitting in game situations again, but also getting his body back into shape for playing a full game in the field.
In essence, it is a spring-training type of usage for Ramirez, but the time frame for the slugger to be ready to go a full nine will be accelerated with the postseason around the corner. Ramirez has been taking regular batting practice sessions for almost two weeks, including a session at Fenway Park Monday on the team's day off.
Hitting is one thing, said Francona. Another is playing the outfield where Ramirez will be standing around and then ''going in directions (chasing fly balls and base hits) not preconceived.''
Jacoby Ellsbury, who has started in left field in the bulk of the games Ramirez missed, is expected to return to left when the Sox decide Ramiez's night's work is over.
Ramirez's teammates, not surprisingly, are happy to see him return to the lineup. And they joked about his position in the batting order, a spot generally reserved for a player with speed who can handle the bat.
"Hitting second he's going to move the runners over, play some small ball, drop down a bunt, do the little things," cracked Kevin Youkilis. "(If he plays well) he might get a (contract) extension. He's one of the (roster-expanding) September call-up guys."
"I think he's going to bunt the first time up," said Jonathan Papelbon.
David Ortiz, meanwhile, is well aware that where Manny hits in the order isn't going to change the Athletics' game plan for him.
"I told him he's not going to fool anybody unless he changes his name and cuts off his dreadlocks," said Ortiz.
The sight of Ramirez in the lineup, though, is a boost to the team because the Sox know they need his bat to succeed in the playoffs.
"It's great. We absolutely need him. We need to get the ball rolling and get it rolling in the right direction," said Papelbon.
Ramirez is batting .292 with 20 homers and 86 RBI.
We haven't had one of these Mannybeingmanny entries for a while, largely because the subject of the column has been on the shelf since late August. But with today an off-day, I thought it would be good to update fans on what people are saying about Boston's injured slugger.
Jayson Stark of ESPN is ready to revive the Manny trade watch, now that Ramirez has just one season left on his Red Sox contract. Stark quotes an unnamed official from an unnamed team as saying that the Red Sox have "had some nibbles already," and that although their posture is that they are not looking to move Ramirez, they might in fact be able to do something.
Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz are both candidates for best-dressed MLB player in an SI.com fan poll. Their opponents include Derek Jeter and A-Rod, but you're going to have to track down the links for those guys yourselves if you want to vote for them.
Today's Manny file: Drew gets ready to meet the Manny
J.D. Drew, who will start tonight's game in center field in place of Coco Crisp, was at first diplomatic last night when asked about what will be his first time playing alongside Manny Ramirez: "It will be an opportunity for me to see Manny doing what he does best." But, as Sean McAdam reported, he also had a warning, just in case Manny tries to cut Drew off, as he did to the weak-throwing Johnny Damon a few years back: "If he does that with me, there's going to be trouble because I throw the ball a lot harder than Johnny."
As for the question of communicating with Ramirez in the field, here's what Drew said, according to the Hartford Courant: "I think Manny's [motto] is, 'Leave it up to you to catch it if you can.' "
The good news from last night: Manny helped the Red Sox score a run when he ran hard down the first-base line on a one-out grounder, making a double play impossible and allowing Dustin Pedroia to come in from third.
The bad news from last night: Manny missed another cutoff man as a run scored for the Angels.
Ramirez is one of several current and former Red Sox players who will appear in the coming movie Reservation Road, which stars Mark Ruffalo as a Red Sox fan who runs over a child while returning from a game during the 2004 season (sounds like quite a downer). The movie also stars Joaquin Phoenix, Jennifer Connelly and Mira Sorvino.
Orange County Register columnist Jeff Miller, in gloating over the Angels' two wins, describes the Red Sox this way: "They're Coco and Wily Mo and Julio and Lugo. They're Manny Ramirez's dreadlocks and Terry Francona's deadlocks."
AP photo / Mark Avery
Ramirez gets a few more words in after being tossed in the fourth inning.
Rookie umpire James Hoye threw Manny out of last night's game in the fourth inning -- the first ejection of the year for Ramirez -- after Ramirez "said the magic words," according to manager Terry Francona. Ramirez's tossing left Brandon Moss in a trial-by-fire situation in left field, and showed the Red Sox once again how much they need Ramirez's big bat in the middle of their lineup.
Terry Corbell, a business-management consultant who writes a regular content for the Web site of King-5 television in Seattle, says he saw lessons for business in the recent Mariners-Red Sox series at Safeco Field, which saw Boston take two of three games. Corbell said that while Mariners players were disgruntled over playing time and the recent call-up of Adam Jones, Red Sox stars Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz appeared loose and happy before the games at Safeco. Lesson: Good morale equals good performance.
Manny Ramirez hurt the Red Sox with his awful base-running play on Friday, but he played the hustler on Saturday night, dashing from first to score on Jason Varitek's RBI double to left field off Jarrod Washburn. In a game that went down to the final out, the Ramirez effort was key.
That play, followed by Sunday's home run, provided a dandy ending to a weekend trip that did not begin well for Ramirez. Playing in the same stadium where Ramirez famously shut it down in 2006, Ramirez did his part to run the Red Sox out of a first-inning rally on Friday night, charging around second and going to third on a hit by Mike Lowell -- only problem, Kevin Youkilis had merely made a turn around third; he wasn't heading home. Youk did a good job of extending the play so that Lowell could go from first to second before Ramirez was tagged out. As it turned out, the gaffe probably was not costly, because Jason Varitek followed with a hard groundout that almost certainly would have been an inning-ending double play had Lowell still been standing at first. Later on Friday, Ramirez grounded into a double play to help kill a promising fifth inning, and struck out for the final out in the seventh with a man on.
After yesterday's home run off Miguel Batista, Ramirez is within 11 of reaching 500 for his career. As The Globe reports today, Ramirez (who started the season with 470 homers) has a pretty fair shot at reaching the milestone this year, based on his historic performances. Ramirez has hit 11 or more home runs from Aug. 5 on in five of the last seven seasons. Ramirez's season-long home run pace would leave him short of the mark, but his post-All Star game pace would put him over the hump before October comes around.
We asked you awhile ago if Manny Ramirez was a good fielding player. If the question was, Is Manny a better fielding player than Jay Payton? then the answer, at least yesterday, was yes. Payton must have had a little heartburn when he misplayed David Ortiz's third-inning fly ball into a double, but when Ramirez scorched a ball that Payton didn't seem to even begin to know what to do with, it must have really stung. Ramirez's hit scored a run. Then there was the next batter, Mike Lowell, lofting a ball to left field, high into the Fenway sky. Payton staggered before collecting the ball and avoiding any more embarrassment.
Ramirez passed Rogers Hornsby and Harmon Killebrew for 32nd place on the all-time RBI list yesterday with his 1,585th. Next up is Andre Dawson.
It was a two-hit effort for Ramirez, who broke an 0-for-9 skid at the plate.
Manny Ramirez didn't make a good case for himself last night when it came to the question: Is Manny Ramirez a good fielding player? He contributed to an Orioles run in the sixth inning when he misjudged Ramon Hernandez's hit to the warning track, then missed the cutoff man on the throw back toward the infield, allowing Miguel Tejada to score without a throw.
Ramirez also was the man at the plate when Nick Markakis made his remarkable, diving-into-the crowd catch of a foul ball in the eighth inning. Ramirez's foul out came right after David Ortiz's homer into the bullpen off Rob Bell, which tied Ortiz and Ramirez for the club lead in home runs (18). Manny's 0-for-4 night brought his average back down under .300, to .299.
For those of you who may have been wondering if Manny Ramirez has been showing his age this season, it should come as some comfort that last night's mammoth second-inning shot was not only the third-longest in the history of Jacobs Field, it was the longest of Ramirez's career, anywhere, according to The Boston Herald's Rob Bradford, who got the story confirmed by Ramirez himself.
As Bradford continues, the pregame scene was an example of Manny Being Manny: "Even before accelerating his offense to another prodigious level, Ramirez offered a glimpse into his unpredictability. It came before the game and after three days in which Ramirez’ presence was dominated by trips back and forth to the batting cages, some quiet interaction with teammates and an occasional turn on the clubhouse’s video game system. But then came another surprise. 'Hey Varitek, are you going to buy me a Nintendo game?' Ramirez bellowed. 'We’ll chip in to get you one,' responded a seemingly caught-off-guard Jason Varitek.
What a way to make people forget about your gaffe of the night before, when Coco Crisp got thrown out at the plate.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer has more on the fast friendship of Manny and Ryan Garko. Apparently, Garko received some custom batting gloves from Ramirez this week, and Manny requested and received an autographed bat from Garko.
Today's Manny file: Blame him for the debacle at the plate?
Manny Ramirez didn't do much to help Coco Crisp last night, as Crisp tried to score from second on David Ortiz's ground ball single against the Indians' shift. Ramirez, the on-deck hitter, didn't close enough to the play to tell Crisp whether or not to slide, something that may or may not have contributed to Crisp's slowing down as he approached catcher Victor Martinez at the plate. Manager Terry Francona was quick to credit Martinez for doing a good job of blocking the plate, and Crisp -- as has frequently been his tendency lately -- went out of his way to avoid reporters after the game.
The Columbus Dispatch points to one at-bat in the fourth last night, when Fausto Carmona struck out Ramirez, as exhibit 1 that Carmona has become a true ace. After just missing with a sinking fastball, he threw a harder fastball to get strike three. By the way, Carmona shouldn't take the strike-three-that-wasn't personally; I increasingly feel like I have no idea what they're going to call a ball and what they're going to call a strike these days.
Cheap shot of the day: In the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, writer Kevin Clark says that Miami Dolphins rookie Lorenzo Booker yesterday "looked like Manny Ramirez in pads" while attempting to field punts at Dolphins camp in Davie, Fla.: "A number of times Booker dropped punts, including one poorly timed fair-catch attempt. One arm was still waving as the ball fell in front of him, bouncing off his free hand."
Manny continued to post amazing numbers against Cleveland ace C.C. Sabathia, going 2-for-3 with a pair of singles off him last night to improve his lifetime stats against Sabathia to 12-for-21, a .571 average. Tonight, the Red Sox hope Ramirez will once again be batting behind David Ortiz. Terry Francona hopes the opportunity Ramirez has had to be a designated hitter the last few games has given Manny some rest, and that that will pay off later in the season.
Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe looks back today on Manny Ramirez's tremendous 1999 season with the Cleveland Indians. Batting cleanup in a stacked Indians lineup, Ramirez had 108 RBI by the end of July, and completed the season with 165 RBI, 131 runs scored, 44 home runs and a .333 batting average. Alex Rodriguez recently became the first player to reach 100 RBI in fewer than 100 games since Ramirez in 1999.
Former Red Sox outfielder Dave Roberts was with Cleveland that season, and he sums it up: "I've been around him for a long time, including in 2004 with Boston, but that year in '99, man oh man. You couldn't wait for Manny to come to the plate."
As Red Sox fans will remember, Ramirez's fantastic season fizzled out big time in the playoffs. He went 1-for-18 with a double and one RBI as the Red Sox came back from a two-game deficit to beat the Indians in the best-of-five American League Divisional Playoff Series.
Ryan Garko, one of the Indians young hitting stars, introduced himself to Ramirez before Tuesday night's game at the Jake, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Here's an excerpt from the story: "At one point, Ramirez, the Red Sox's designated hitter Tuesday night, flapped his arms repeatedly while laughing and pointing toward the outfield. 'He was telling me about a ball he hit [Monday],' Garko said. 'I told Manny how much I enjoy watching him play. One of the things he told me was how much he likes playing in Cleveland.'
From the who knew? department: Manny Ramirez's home run earlier this season against Seattle's Horacio Ramirez was the first-ever Ramirez-off-Ramirez home run in baseball history. You can find out this and other interesting facts in USA Today's story about home run historian David Vincent.
An observation from the blog Sedition in Red Sox Nation, inspired by the ESPN series The Bronx is Burning: "Reggie Jackson was a lot like Manny Ramirez back in the day. If only Reggie didn't talk to the press, he might have been Reggie being Reggie long before Manny started being Manny.
Today's Manny file: Hero in the first, goat in the fifth
The good news first, because it turns out to be more important: Manny Ramirez's two-run double in the first inning put the Sox on top to stay last night in Cleveland, and also moved Ramirez into sole possession of 35th place on the all-time RBI list, with 1,576. Next up is number 34, Al Kaline. Manny needs seven more to tie him.
The bad news is that Ramirez exhibited a pretty embarrassing lack of effort last night in the fifth, just after Jon Lester had wiggled out of a jam that could have wiped out the Sox' lead. Thinking his shot, which ended up hitting the wall, was a home run, he trotted to first, getting only a single. The next batter, J.D. Drew, grounded into a double play, making Manny's gaffe real unfortunate. Sure looked to me like Drew was safe at first, though.
Former Cleveland Indians teammate Jim Thome, who is likely to enter baseball's 500 home run club this year soon before or soon after Manny Ramirez, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer recently about what it was like to see Ramirez hit for the first time, in batting practice before a AAA game in Charlotte, N.C. Thome says he wasn't really impressed, as Ramirez was just blooping balls over the infield. Then came the game, and Manny blasted two home runs. "I mean it was like, Whooh!' This was a guy who was just hitting bloopers over the first baseman's head in BP. But with Manny, he always has a plan when he hits. The guy was incredible, and it's been that way since," Thome says.
Kevin Thomas of the Portland Press-Herald believes that when David Ortiz comes back, he should move to fourth in the lineup, with Manny fifth. The top three spots would be Coco Crisp, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis.
Sorry not to have updated the mannybeingmanny blog for so long: I'll blame vacation.
In any case, since I've last written here, Manny has taken lots of criticism for playing too shallow in left field; he's moved temporarily into the DH role in David Ortiz's absense, thus obviating the need for him to play deeper; and, more importantly, he's gone on a bit of a tear. Sean McAdam says today in projo SoxTalk that Manny shows signs of going on one of his vintage streaks; we'll see as he goes to a familiar place -- Cleveland -- for four straight games. Here's what he's done in the last 10 contests: 13 for 35 (.371 batting average, .476 OBP), four home runs, 10 RBI. The four-homers-in-10-days streak follows a 16-game homerless stretch.
Gordon Edes wrote in the Globe today that Manny returned to the fourth spot in the lineup, behind Kevin Youkilis, yesterday after hitting third "pretty much because Manny felt like it." Funny.
Brian Ettkin of the Times Union in Albany, N.Y., uses Ramirez in the lead of his adoring story about soon-to-be-Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr.: "Every season, like clockwork, Manny Ramirez will take games off, often at inopportune times, when his team needs him. It's explained away as 'just Manny being Manny.' And because of Ramirez's extraordinary talent, the Red Sox tolerate this. Then there was baseball's Iron Man, Cal Ripken." One wonders if people will still be recycling all the cliches about Manny even after he's retired. Memo to Ettkin and the rest: Give Manny a break. He still leads the Red Sox this season in games played, with 95, which puts him tied in that category for 36th in all of Major League Baseball, right up there with Albert Pujols, Ichiro Suzuki and Carlos Beltran. Of course, if Manny decides to take August off, that's another story.
BOSTON -- There’s been a lot of talk of late concerning how shallow Manny Ramirez has been playing left field. It has cost Red Sox pitchers a few runs over the last week, but Wednesday night he was back to normal depth.
Francona admitted yesterday he spoke with Ramirez after Tuesday’s game where he cost Tim Wakefield two runs.
Francona said he felt Manny kept creeping in a little of late, but not purposely.
''He actually took some routes (Wednesday) that were very aggressive and he did a good job,'' said the manager.
''He’s always aware of not allowing teams to score on base hits to left, which is good. There are a lot of different ways to approach our left field; you always try to take away something. But at different times of the game you have to be aware of what can hurt you worse, or what you want to take away.''
(AP) One side of the room was lined with Red Sox: David Ortiz, Jonathan Papelbon, Hideki Okajima, Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell. There was one empty table though, as Manny Ramirez didn't show up for the media availability.
"I just made sure he got to San Francisco," Ortiz said. "After that, I have no control."
Ramirez usually skips the Monday media availability so this was no surprise. He also was held out of the lineup Sunday at Detroit because of a stomach ailment. The 11-time All-Star is expected to play in the game tonight.
Ramirez, one of six Red Sox players in the game, is hitting .284 with 11 homers and 45 RBI.
"I think he was a little surprised to be here," Lowell said. "He didn't have the same numbers he usually has, but I do know he's happy to be here. Manny is hard to talk to about a lot of topics. He's a hard worker but he's in his own world."
Today's Manny file: Yup, it looks like he's gonna play
So, despite the conspiracy theories, Manny Ramirez will suit up tomorrow night for the American League All-Stars. He'll do so as a reserve, the first time since 1998 that Ramirez has not been voted onto the American League's starting lineup. For his career, Ramirez is 3 for 9 with a home run (off Roger Clemens in 2004), four RBI and three walks in All-Star appearances. The last time Ramirez was not selected to the All-Star team was in 1997.
Those are pretty good statistics, but of course Ramirez is better known for his history of skipping out of the All-Star Game than for his exploits during the midsummer classic. On Friday, the San Francisco Chronicle's Ron Kroichick reviewed some of the history, and he includes a funny quote from Frank Thomas about Ramirez's selection to play in this game, despite his subpar season. "I think they're punishing him," Thomas said. It's not much of a punishment: Ramirez gets a $75,000 bonus for making the team.
With the bases loaded (again) and Manny on third, Jason Varitek was at the plate. After fouling off five of the first seven pitches he saw, Varitek had a chopper in front of the mound.
Jon Switzer, Tampa Bay's third pitcher and making his first appearance of the season, could not field the ball, which was to his right (glove hand). Switzer did pick up the ball and looked at Manny, who was several steps off the bag.
Switzer held the ball, and Manny did a tap dance/hop type of thing on the base line back to third.
When he got on base in the first, Manny was doing high-knee lifts at first and again at second, frantically running in place for a couple of seconds each time.
And he playfully wrapped his arms around both David Ortiz and Mike Lowell near home plate after Lowell's three-run homer; Ortiz was already giving Lowell his customary hug.
The word in today's Boston Herald is that Manny Ramirez will actually travel to San Francisco to play in this year's All-Star Game. While reporter John Tomase had no quotes from Ramirez himself (who does?), he reports that multiple teammates say Manny will play. Ramirez skipped the midsummer classic in 2000, 2003 and 2006. That's why Scott Miller, on CBS Sportsline, lists the possible reasons Ramirez might beg out of the game this year ("Sore knee? Ill relative? Hair-extensions appointment?").
On another note, Tony Massarotti wrote over the weekend in the Herald that while Manny's stats are down this year, he has given it a good, professional effort. One more thing about the All-Star Game: This is the first time since Ramirez has joined Boston that he did not get voted into the game by the fans.
On the other hand, it's hard to overlook the fact that Ramirez is 3 for his last 27. Still, there is chatter out there among the fandom about moving him to third in the batting order, and dropping partner-in-crime David Ortiz (2 for his last 17) to fourth. The Red Sox heavy hitters, by the way, do not exactly have glorious histories against tonight's Rangers starter, Brandon McCarthy. Where's Tim Hudson when you need him?
We saw a glimpse of the good Ramirez in the field yesterday, when he made a back-handed stop of a base hit by Ramon Vazquez, helping hold Vazquez to a single.
Gregg Bell's AP game story from yesterday noted that Seattle's Jose Lopez had his eye on Manny Ramirez's positioning, close to the line in left, creating a large gap in left center, before he launched his game winning hit into that gap. Ramirez's unorthodox attempt to catch the ball came up empty, as did all five of his plate appearances yesterday. Ramirez is now just 1 for 16 over his last five games, and he's hitting .253 with runners in scoring position.
SI.com's Tom Verducci weighs in on the how-bad-a-fielder-is-Manny debate, and here's his answer: pretty bad. But in the same mailbag column, Verducci puts Manny right behind Jimmie Foxx, Hank Greenberg and Rogers Hornsby on the list of best right-handed hitters of all time.
Frank Thomas belted his 500th home run today -- Manny might now end up being the fourth player to reach that hallowed milestone this season. Alex Rodriguez (492 homers), who earlier this season was tied with Ramirez on the all-time list, seems sure to be next, and then it will be either Ramirez or Jim Thome. Right now Ramirez is stuck at 481, while Thome has 482. Thomas' home run brings the all-time 500 home run club to 21 members.
All-Star voting closes at midnight, so we'll know whether Ramirez can get back on top in the running for a starting outfield spot.
Today's Manny report: He's an ironman, relatively speaking
Manny Ramirez may not have been in the starting lineup last night, but he remains the team leader in games played, with 74. Coco Crisp, David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis and Mike Lowell have all appeared in 71.
The Seattle Post Intelligencer's baseball blog hinted before the game that the decision to keep Ramirez out of the starting lineup may have been a sign of respect for Mariners starter Felix Hernandez, who had shut down Ramirez (and every other Red Sox hitter) in his first two starts against Boston. But I'm sure Ramirez would have rather faced "King Felix" last night than J.J. Putz.
This is from a Q&A on the Cleveland Plain Dealer's site: The game-winning run in the first regular-season game ever played at Jacobs Field -- a 4-3 Indians victory over Seattle -- was driven in in the 11th inning by one Wayne Kirby. That was April 4, 1994. As the season went along, a certain rookie would emerge and make sure that that Kirby did not have more big highlights to celebrate.
Detroit's Magglio Ordonez has moved ahead of Manny Ramirez in fan balloting for the All-Star Game. Ordonez, who has never been elected to start an All-Star Game, would join Vladimir Guerrero and Ichiro Suzuki in the A.L. 's starting outfield. Ramirez is fourth in the balloting. Manny has been one of the leaders up until now, something that did not sit well with Tom Gage of the Detroit News. Ordonez leads the league in batting average (.379), doubles (34), on base percentage (.453) and extra-base hits (47). Manny's numbers in the same categories: .296, 16, .394 and 28.
Ramirez had good numbers against Jeff Weaver coming into last night's game (a lot of the Red Sox did), but Weaver got him out twice with runners on base last night, including once in the third with men on second and third with two outs. Ramirez is hitting .257 this year with runners in scoring position, although his OBP is .407.
Today's Manny file: An inspirational call to Colon
AP photo / Larry Ignelzi
Manny Ramirez goes into a slide on Saturday night to take a hit away from San Diego's Jose Cruz Jr.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Manny Ramirez placed a call early Sunday to struggling Angels starter Bartolo Colon, apparently to offer Colon some encouragement as he prepared to make a start Sunday afternoon against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Colon did not get a decision in the game, which the Angels won, 4-3, in extra innings, but he did pitch six effective innings, and left with his team ahead.
Yesterday, he was thanking Manny. "Around 8 in the morning, Manny Ramirez called me and we had like a 15-minute talk," Colon said, according to the Times. "He's such a confident hitter that I think he rubbed some of that on me today. Confidence is a big part, but I'm very thankful to Manny Ramirez for calling me early this morning to just remind me who Bartolo Colon is."
Last week on projo SoxTalk, Sean McAdam remarked that Manny Ramirez has a flair for the spectacular play, while also being a threat to botch routine plays from time to time. On Saturday night, he showed us a touch of the spectacular, making a sliding catch to take a hit away from Jose Cruz Jr. Just one thing about that: Ramirez always makes me nervous with those hard-landing, feet first slides in the outfield. They just seem to be an injury waiting to happen. Great effort, nonetheless.
Our friends at FanHouse list Ramirez as Boston's number-three top athlete, behind Tom Brady and David Ortiz but ahead of Curt Schilling and Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Dave Sheinin had an article in Sunday's Washington Post about one of baseball's toughest single-season records: Hack Wilson's 191 RBI in a season, a mark that Wilson reached in 1930 with the Chicago Cubs. Sheinin mentions something that I did not realize: Manny Ramirez came closer than anyone else in the last half-century to tying the record. Ramirez drove in 165 with the Indians in 1999. Still, that is a long ways off.
Manny Ramirez hit his 11th home run last night, and the Sox are now 10-0 in games in which Ramirez homers (including his two-home run game May 3 against Seattle).
Manny got his batting average up to .300 with his three-hit effort last night. A month ago, he was at .244. He's hitting .400 in June with a .538 on-base percentage. He only has three home runs for the month, but all of them have come in the last five games.
Ramirez also tied former teammate Jim Thome for 25th on the all-time home run list; both men have 481. Manny also surpassed Willie McCovey for 36th place on the all-time RBI list.
According to the Boston Herald's Jeff Horrigan, Manny Ramirez was spotted wearing a Matt Clement jersey yesterday during early batting practice in Atlanta. Later, manager Terry Francona addressed the status of Clement, who has not pitched for the Red Sox since Stuffy McInnis retired. OK, I'm just saying that since I saw Stuffy's name in Sean McAdam's notes column today; in actuality Clement has not pitched since June 14, 2006. Francona said the team was hopeful that Clement could return by September.
Curt Schilling told reporters after last night's game that he "wanted badly to step off and bring Manny in about 15 or 20 feet" before pitcher Chuck James hit a bloop, RBI single for the Braves last night. The Worcester Telegram & Gazette's Bill Ballou concludes: "There is no telling what Ramirez would have done — perhaps he would have thought Schilling wanted him to pitch, or that the inning was somehow over. Even if Ramirez had come closer and caught the ball, it would only have delayed the inevitable because where McCann’s home run landed, there was no waving anybody into position unless he had a ticket for a bleacher seat."
The Boston Globe reports today that Ramirez was at a housewarming party Saturday night atop the Ritz-Carlton towers for Greg Agganis, the grandnephew of former Red Sox Harry Agganis, who apparently has a lot of money.
Today's Manny file: The fruits of hustling, or the lack thereof
Journal photo/Bob Breidenbach
In case you missed it in today's photo gallery, here's a picture by Bob Breidenbach of Manny Ramirez celebrating his home run with a pretty girl in the front row.
Ramirez's two home runs over the weekend provide some hope that the Red Sox may finally be about to get the power surge that they've been lacking lately from the middle of their lineup. The Saturday home run, which gave the Red Sox a 1-0 win, ended a stretch of 50 at-bats without a home run for Ramirez. But, as Steve Krasner writes today in his Inside the Game column, a failure by Ramirez to hustle on a third-inning play yesterday cost the Red Sox at least a run. Ramirez failed to run hard on his hard grounder to second baseman Ray Durham. That gave Durham, who had to hit the ground to field the ball, enough time to roll to a stop, collect himself and throw for the out from one knee.
On the other hand, Ramirez did have a nice hustle play on Friday night, getting quickly down the first-base line to prevent a double play on his bases-loaded, no-out groundball in the third inning. The effort led Jerry Remy to quip that Ramirez has pretty good speed, when he chooses to run hard. Unfortunately that play didn't make a whole lot of difference, as Kevin Youkilis did hit into a double play on the next at-bat to end the threat with only a run across.
According to The Boston Globe, Mike Lowell thinks he has discovered a business plan. Here's the scoop, from Gordon Edes:
Lowell revealed he has plans to start a blog. "Not for me," he said. "My philosophy is, if Manny is willing to sell a grill for $20,000, I'll tell him just to talk to me, and I'll type a blog for him --Mannysblog.com. And I'll pay him $21,000, he'll think he sold a grill, and I'll negotiate a dollar a hit. I'll be a gazillionaire, and Manny will be happy because he can buy a new barbecue . . . Everyone wants to know what Manny's saying, so all he has to do is give me two legitimate answers and after that I'll make up anything I want, and nobody will know the difference."
Rotoworld says Manny "played the ball like a bag of toys" on Yorvit Torrealba's double last night. Pretty good description.
It's play like that that got Manny named yesterday to the All Lead Glove Team by the Web site Bugs and Cranks.
Thanks to AOL's FanHouse blog for pointing this out: Here's where you can view the vital stats on the 1967 Lincoln Continental convertible that Manny Ramirez is trying to sell for $139,000 on Hemmings online auto marketplace. This is apparently the same car that was behind the fiasco surrounding Ramirez's planned appearance in February at an Atlantic City, N.J., classic cars show. Ramirez bought the car for 10 grand, then took it to a hot-rod specialist he had seen on the Discovery Channel, according to Ben McGrath's New Yorker piece, "Waiting for Manny." At that time, Ramirez said the car was a gift for his father. Today, the vehicle is listed as having 79 miles on it after a "total rebuild."
In other amusing news, the Chicago Tribune's Mike Downey lists Ramirez as one of the players Cubs catcher Michael Barrett is most likely to punch next. Seems like a stretch, though, since the Red Sox and the Cubs would both have to make the World Series.
I didn't know until now that Ramirez was among the major leaguers who make regular donations to Barry Zito's charity for wounded U.S. servicemen and women. He joins several other position players -- Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher, Chipper Jones, Jermaine Dye, Eric Chavez, Mark Ellis, Mark Kotsay, Eric Byrnes, Jason Kendall and Orlando Hudson -- who pledge money based on their numbers of hits, home runs and RBI. Curt Schilling (as well as Warwick native Dan Wheeler) is among 20 big league pitchers who contribute money based on number of strikeouts.
David McCarty, and other players drafted ahead of Manny
Yesterday, as we were watching the televised (!) broadcast of the start of the MLB Draft, the Cleveland Indians selected Beau Mills, son of Red Sox bench coach Brad Mills, with the number 13 overall pick. It was noted that the last time the Tribe had the number 13 pick, they used it on Manny Ramirez.
So we looked up the players drafted ahead of Ramirez in that year: 1991. Let's just say that the Indians picked well. Here are the top 12 picks. Two of these guys, Taylor and Henderson, never even made the big leagues:
1. Brien Taylor, pitcher, New York Yankees
2. Mike Kelly, outfielder, Atlanta Braves
3. David McCarty, first baseman, Minnesota Twins
4. Dmitri Young, third base-outfield, St. Louis Cardinals
5. Kenny Henderson, pitcher, Milwaukee Brewers
6. John Burke, pitcher, Houston Astros
7. Joe Vitiello, outfield-first base, Kansas City Royals
8. Joey Hamilton, pitcher, San Diego Padres
9. Mark Smith, outfielder, Baltimore Orioles
10. Tyler Green, pitcher, Philadelphia Phillies
11. Shawn Estes, pitcher, Seattle Mariners
12. Doug Glanville, outifielder, Chicago Cubs
Two very good players were drafted soon after Manny in 1991: Cliff Floyd, by the Montreal Expos with the 14th pick, and Shawn Green, by the Toronto Blue Jays with the 16th pick.
Interesting to note that Todd Jones, the Detroit closer who once pitched for the Red Sox, considers Manny Ramirez the second smartest hitter in the American League (behind Derek Jeter), while St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols ranks Ramirez number one for "best right-handed swings."
Here's Jones' comment on Ramirez: "Manny is known for sitting on a pitch for one at-bat, two at-bats or an entire game. So when the pitch he's waiting on comes, he's ready."
And Pujols: "I know he's not hitting this year, but hey, neither am I."
Journal photo / Bob Breidenbach
Ramirez laughs with fans as Andy Pettitte tries to keep him close to first base.
Manny Ramirez is hot, and he's playing like he's having fun. Last night, fans were treated to his big belly-flop slide into second base on a double, and his rather laughable attempts to distract Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte by taking big leads off first base and wiggling his fingers as if he were about to take off. Pettitte, who has one of the best pickoff moves in the history of the game, made several half-hearted throws to first, amusing Manny greatly. Unfortunately, the inning ended with him still standing at first.
Sox fans can appreciate this: Ramirez has a six-game hitting streak going, and in the last 10 contests he is batting 18 for 37, good enough to push his season average from .244 to .288. The hot streak notwithstanding, Ramirez's ninth-inning strikeout against Mariano Rivera should have come as no surprise: Ramirez is 8 for 37 (.216) for his career against the Yanks' closer, with just one home run and 11 whiffs.
It's been an interesting year in the American League so far, with the Red Sox soaring, the Yankees faltering, some big names struggling and some new stars (hello Kevin Youkilis) emerging.
And none of the folks voting for the American League All-Star team seems to notice. So far, there are two members of the Red Sox who stand to gain starting positions. Guess who? David Ortiz is far ahead among "first basemen" (he's a DH, of course, but to be on the ballot he had to be assigned a position), and Manny Ramirez with his .269 batting average is in line to get one of the outfield spots. The cellar-dwelling Yankees right now stand to get three starters: Robinson Cano at second, Derek Jeter (certainly deserving) at short and Stray-Rod (the leading vote-getter overall) at third. The other front-runners to start for the A.L. are a familiar lot: Ivan Rodriguez, Vladimir Guerrero and Ichiro Suzuki. You know something is wrong with the fan voting system, by the way, when Jason Giambi has more votes at first base than Justin Morneau. Click here to see the full voting results so far.
Getting back to Manny Ramirez, his outfield assist last night (thanks to a perfectly executed phantom tag by Dustin Pedroia) was clearly the highlight for Sox fans of a dreary sixth inning. You could see why Josh Barfield was angry. Not only was he actually safe on the play, but it's just amazing how much Manny can get on one of his throws without actually bending his knees.
Kevin Youkilis, who has a hit in 22 straight games, remains five games short of Ramirez's 27-game hit streak from last season.
Of all players born in 1972, Ramirez has the most home runs in his career (478, 64 more than second-place Carlos Delgado), the most games played (1,867, one more than second-place Shawn Green), the most runs scored (1,284, 63 more than second-place Chipper Jones), the most hits (2,117, 11 more than second-place Garret Anderson), the most doubles (447, seven more than second-place Anderson), and the most RBI (1,547, 228 more than second-place Delgado).
Of all players in major league history born on May 30, only one other man -- Amos Rusie, "The Hoosier Thunderbolt," who pitched for the New York Giants in the late 19th century -- is in the Hall of Fame. Manny will make it two some day.
In today's notes column by Paul Kenyon and Kevin McNamara, Terry Francona describees the rationale for putting Manny Ramirez at designated hitter in David Ortiz's absence, while putting the defensively challenged Wily Mo Pena in left. Francona sees it as a way to rest Ramirez -- who has played in 49 games, more than any other Red Sox player -- while keeping his dangerous bat in the lineup at the same time.
"It's the perfect chance," Francona says. "We actually told him he could do that in Texas on Sunday, but he wanted to play left field. Anytime we can keep his bat, that can only help us in the long run. Anytime you can keep the bat and keep his legs refreshed, that's good."
Francona has gone with Ramirez at DH and Pena in left for both of the games in the Cleveland series so far. On Sunday in Texas, Ramirez stayed in left while Eric Hinske served as designated hitter. Ortiz is expected back in the lineup tonight.
Red Sox fans have to love Newsday's lead on today's story about Manny Ramirez's success against the Yankees: "With one powerful swing of his bat in the first inning, Manny Ramirez seemed to take the spirit right out of Yankee Stadium last night, injecting it into his own team instead."
All over the New York media world today, the talk was about how Ramirez's first-inning blast off Mike Mussina took the momentum from Monday night away from the Yankees right away. Here's Steve Willis in the New York Post: "Before Ramirez went deep, the Yankees thought they were onto something, having won two straight games after beating the Mets on Sunday and the Red Sox in Monday night's series opener."
In The Boston Herald, Steve Buckley goes over the familiar stats: Ramirez has hit more home runs against the Bombers (51) than all but four players in major league history (Jimmie Foxx, Hank Greenberg, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski). One more ties him with Yaz; two more tie him with Greenberg. Over the last five seasons, Ramirez has hit more homers against New York (25) than any other player, with teammate David Ortiz close behind.
Here are Manny Ramirez's batting averages, on-base percentages and slugging percentages on this date in each of his Red Sox seasons. As the numbers indicate, this early-season slump has been longer and more severe than anything Ramirez has had in his career. He's had a lower batting average once (in 2005), but never has he come closee to having OBPs or slugging percentages as low this late in the season.
It was a mixed day yesterday for Manny Ramirez. In the opener, he collected two hits, driving in the Red Sox' first-inning run with a single and then adding a somewhat controversial single later in the game on a ball that a fan interfered with. In the second game, Ramirez went 0 for 4, striking out in his first 3 at-bats. The first two strikeouts were called third strikes from Chad Durbin. Ramirez, uncharacteristically, barked at home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman on the second called third strike.
According to The Boston Globe, Ramirez has been called out on strikes 18 times this season, after being called out 23 times all of last season. Certainly, Ramirez's struggles have nothing to do with his swinging at bad pitches. He ranks 12th in the American League in percentage of pitches taken, at 62.6 percent. That puts him right behind the famously patient Jason Giambi. Teammate Kevin Youkilis is ninth.
ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski today takes snippets of major-league scouting reports written about current stars back when they were in high school or college, and asks readers to match the quote with the player it was intended to describe. At the risk of ruining the quiz, three of them are about Ramirez:
"Looks lackadaisical at times, but don't let it fool you -- he can play! I don't feel he realizes his baseball potential. He works hard. Only player between games taking ground balls. A good one!"
"This boy may be best free-agent hitter I've seen. Compact swing, super bat speed, drives every ball."
Despite whispers that Manny Ramirez's early exit from the Sunday game against Baltimore might have been more about managerial discipline than a bad hamstring, Manny Ramirez was apparently an early arrival at Fenway Park on Monday: "He came in this morning, to his credit, he was here at 10 o'clock to ride the bike and get the blood flow through it. It's appreciated," Francona said yesterday.
Meanwhile, Ramirez's RBI double past third base moved him past Harry Heilmann into a tie with Willie Stargell for 38th place on the all-time list.
Ramirez's batting average dropped, however, thanks to a 1-for-5 performance.
Lost in the euphoria over yesterday's improbable win over Baltimore, and the concern about Josh Beckett's finger injury, was the fact that it was not a very good day for Manny Ramirez.
Ramirez was booed after failing to make a play on Kevin Millar's pop up in the eighth inning; he misplayed a base hit by Jay Payton in the sixth and he did not run hard on a fourth-inning double play. Ramirez came out of the game due to hamstring tightness and was not a part of Boston's winning rally. We'll s
What They're Saying:Jerome Preisler, YesNetwork Web columnist, author and semiprofessional Red Sox hater, tells The New York Times why Manny is bad for baseball. My comment: Blaming Yankee hatred on a "Calivinistic New England outlook" in the year 2007 is pretty disingenuous. I'd say that most people in this most liberal, not to mention most Catholic region of the country don't take many cues from that icon of the Protestant Reformation, John Calvin. But they'll probably still be saying that about New England 200 years from now.
Pedro Martinez is also still trying to move his house in Brookline, Mass. The Wall Street Journal tells you -- if you pay for a subscription -- why tricked-out homes built by professional athletes are going begging for buyers.
If you've read the lengthy New Yorker profile of Manny, you know that he's also had problems recently selling a tricked-out car for the price that he would like. And then there's that grill.
"Manny's still rounding the bases, but Sox get the win," says Boston Dirt Dogs today. And boy was that a long stare that Ramirez gave his eighth-inning home run off Chris Reitsma to win yesterday's game with Seattle. It was quite a night for Manny, who did his best Willie Mays impersonation while basket catching a routine pop-up for the second out of the disastrous 5-run Seattle first inning, then blasted one over the Monster off Horacio "no relation" Ramirez, before hitting a real rocket off Reitsma to win it in the eighth. "I can see why he probably admired it," said manager Terry Francona after the game.
Ramirez now stands at 475 home runs for his career, tied for 27th all-time with Stan Musial and Willie Stargell. He's two home runs short of Jim Thome and three home runs short of Alex Rodriguez on that list. He has multiple hits in four straight games, a stretch in which he is hitting 8 for 17 with three home runs and six RBI. But tonight he faces Carlos Silva, a guy against whom he is 0 for 9 for his career.
Manny Ramirez has now had two straight multiple hit games, after collecting two last night against Oakland. Unfortunately, he couldn't get his bat on the ball against Huston Street in the 10th inning, when he struck out for the second-to-last out of the game. It seemed to me that Ramirez had struck out an unusually high number of times this year, but I was surprised to find that he had only gone down 16 times in 25 games. That would put him on pace for 103 strikeouts this year, well below his personal record of 147, set during 2001, his first season with Boston.
It's almost hard to believe, now that Manny has been here so long, that he still does not have as many hits in a Red Sox uniform (1,000) as he collected with the Cleveland Indians (1,086).
Ramirez had an interesting fielding play last night when -- I think it was Bobby Crosby batting -- a line drive single went into left field. Ramirez stood stock still waiting for the ball to come to him, but instead it sliced to his right, in the general direction of the left-field corner. Ramirez had to throw his glove out to keep it from scooting right by him. Then, of course, he quickly reached into his mitt and fired back into the infield, in his effortless, trademark style.
What They're Saying: The Boston Globe today reviews Merengue, a Dominican-style restaurant in Roxbury where Ramirez and David Ortiz are regulars.
On two notable occasions, Baltimore Orioles pitchers buzzed Manny Ramirez inside. Once it worked, the second time it didn't. In the first inning, flamethrowing starter Daniel Cabrera fired one high and tight. Ramirez dropped his bat and backpedaled out of the box. Cabrera ended up getting Ramirez on a called third strike to end the inning.
Later, in a critical spot in the seventh inning, sidearming former Sox reliever Chad Bradford spun a pitch right in the direction of Manny's knees. Once again Ramirez scurried out of the way. But Bradford doesn't deliver the heat that Cabrera does, and in any case Ramirez was not intimidated. He ended up lining a pitch to right-center for an RBI single, ending Ramirez's 0-for-12 drought. Still later in the game, he hit one much harder, but Corey Patterson (who probably could have caught the seventh-inning single had he played it better) made a spectacular catch to possibly rob Ramirez of his third home run of the season.
Interesting managing, by the way, by Baltimore skipper Sam Perlozzo, who brought in Jamie Walker to face David Ortiz, even though Ortiz was 5-for-9 for his career with 3 home runs off Walker. Ortiz had a terrific at-bat, facing 11 pitches despite falling behind 0-and-2 before placing a single into left field in front of Jay Payton, who was playing way deep. Then it was exit Walker, and enter Bradford, to face Ramirez, even though Manny was 7-for-12 with a home run in his career off of the pitcher. This is why the Sox are 21-3 against these guys since September 2005.
Well, there's one thing positive that we can say about Manny Ramirez's performance last night at Fenway: He wasn't the worst defensive outfielder in the game. Thank you Mr. Pena. But Manny's bizarre bouncing throw toward first, which came after he nicely barehanded a Lyle Overbay double that had caromed high off the scoreboard, got lots of laughs today on SportsCenter. Nick Cafardo, writing today in The Boston Globe, said Manny walked right past a reporter who asked him what happened, pretending not to hear.
Ramirez's average dropped down below .200 again last night, which means that we are talking about something quite a bit more severe than the slow starts he's had in recent seasons. At this time last year, after scuffling for a couple of weeks, he already had his average back up to .300. Going back to last year, he's hit 3 home runs in the last 31 games in which he's appeared. Still, no one seems too worried. Interesting.
What They're Saying: On Slate.com, Seth Stevenson says baseball biomechanics nerds are pushing baseball stats nerds aside. He describes a baseball conversation with a friend: "In the midst of marveling at Manny Ramirez's hitting genius, my friend suddenly got out of his chair and mimicked Manny's swing. 'He keeps his weight back,' my friend said, lifting his knee and cocking his elbow, 'so he has unbelievable balance right into his follow-through.' Here my friend swung his arms and watched an imaginary home run sail into the distance. Now I hopped up, too, holding my own invisible bat. Soon we were discussing hip rotation, and forearm pronation, and how to keep your head quiet through the swing." Hey, it's more fun than mimicking Ramirez taking strike three.
Lee Adams of the Itawamba County Times in Mississippi says this in a column bemoaning the fact that most players don't wear their socks high: "Recently some MLB players have been going back to the high socks style, but you still have players like Manny Ramirez who look unprofessional and sloppy." Itawamba County?
Taking a pause from bashing their own manager after this weekend's three-game sweep at Fenway, members of the New York media are turning their wrath to ESPN broadcasters Joe Morgan and Jon Miller.
Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News takes Morgan and Miller to task for allegedly concealing from the public the fact that Manny told Morgan before the game that this would be the night he ended his slump. Both of them mentioned Ramirez's prediction after the slugger's third-inning home run, the first of four straight homers for the Red Sox. I'm not sure what the big disservice is about not relaying a player's random hunch, but there's another problem with the premise: Miller actually made reference to Ramirez's comments before the game started.
Richard Sandomir of The New York Times makes some good points, though, when he breaks down ESPN's confusing use of footage of Theo Epstein reacting to the home runs. Depending on when you were watching the replay, he might have been reacting to Drew's shot, or to Lowell's, or to Varitek's. There was also film of Ramirez celebrating one of the home runs from the dugout, and as the night went on it became perfectly unclear whom Ramirez was cheering. Sandomir also notes that Morgan and Miller failed to set the record straight when Terry Francona, in a dugout interview, said that Rocky Colavito was one of the Cleveland Indians who -- along with Francona's father, Tito -- hit four consecutive home runs in 1963.
Meanwhile, the guy who gave up those home runs in '63 -- the immortal Paul Foytack -- asks Rob Bradford of the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune this about Manny: "Why do they let [Ramirez] dress that way? I don't understand that." Fine way to thank a guy who has just (kind of) lessened a stigma that Foytack has carried for nearly 44 years. Then again I, for one, had never heard of Foytack until Sunday.
So much for Ramirez breaking out of his slump. Last night was a particularly bad night for Manny, who twice struck out looking, failed to hit the ball out of the infield and misplayed Vernon Wells' third-inning double. But I am sympathetic toward players having a letdown after the New York sweep; I was falling asleep during that game last night myself.
Judging by the results of our most active sports survey, fans are not convinced that this weekend's series has proven anything like the Red Sox' superiority against the Yankees. Boston, after all, has a history of beating up on New York in April, and the Yankees' pitching staff is a shambles. No one, including myself, would be surprised to see the patched up Yankees take two of three this coming weekend in the Bronx.
But here's another way of seeing it: The Red Sox showed this weekend that their lineup can be pretty good -- and let's forget for a moment about the Yankees' rookie starters. After all, the Red Sox scored 10 runs in 16.2 innings this weekend against pitchers not named Jeff Karstens or Chase Wright. All told, they put up 21 runs on the weekend with Manny Ramirez in a horrendous hitting slump. Meanwhile, the Yankees will be getting Hideki Matsui back, but Alex Rodriguez will be hard-pressed to stay this hot.
As far as Manny goes: for a guy who has hit exactly two home runs this season, his reaction to hitting the one in Toronto and the one at Fenway might trick you into believing that this is all routine. During the same four-game stretch in which Ramirez has hit home runs, he's also contributed to killing three early rallies by grounding into double plays twice (against Roy Halladay and Andy Pettitte) and popping up on another occasion (against Wright).
What they're saying: The New York Daily News' Subway Squakers blog had this prediction heading into last night: "Manny Ramirez will do something wacky. Did you see the way he kind of skipped over the ball A-Rod hit Saturday? Wacky. Then there's the hair, with the red strands in it, covered by the Boston do-rag. Wacky. He looks like a pirate - all he needs is a jaunty eyepatch!"
New York Newsday's Jim Baumbach reports that the immortal Paul Foytack was actually watching last night's game when Wright tied his 44-year-old record by giving up home runs to four consecutive batters. But Foytack, who lives in Tennessee, tells Baumbach that he turned the channel after Manny hit the first of the four, so he never got to see his "feat" get matched. At least Wright will be able to say that he gave up his four home runs against four very good hitters. Foytack, while pitching for the Angels in 1963, gave up his against this rogues gallery of Cleveland Indians: Woodie Held, pitcher Pedro Ramos, Tito Francona (father of Terry, of course) and Larry Brown (not the basketball coach). These guys combined for 366 home runs in their careers, against 935 and counting for the Red Sox four.
By the way, if you hear Manny's name called this weekend during the NFL Draft, chances are you've been watching too long. Also, keep in mind that this is not Manny the slugger, but Manny the offensive tackle out of Texas Tech. The writer at the Badger Herald over at the University of Wisconsin has Manny of the gridiron being taken by the Patriots in the first round -- I think he's joking. Is this region big enough for two Mannies?
It was great to see Manny Ramirez finally go deep, and in a clutch situation. Interestingly, this is the second consecutive season that Manny chose Toronto to break an early-season home run drought.
Ramirez is a hated character among many baseball fans in his onetime home city. Maybe that's because he's been a great investment for the Red Sox when it comes to evening the playing field with the Bombers. Against New York, Ramirez is hitting .310 for his career (just off his .313 lifetime batting average). He has 48 home runs against the Yankees, which is more than he has against any opponent other than the Blue Jays, and 144 RBIs, which is more than he has against any other opponent period. Against tonight's pitcher, Andy Pettitte, Ramirez is a career .424 hitter (25 for 59) with 3 home runs. Of course, Ramirez for some reason does not hit lefties the way he once did.
What they're saying:The New Yorker's Ben McGrath took questions from readers about his extensive Ramirez profile in the magazine. Among other things, he says he thinks the Red Sox are committed to keeping Ramirez at least until his contract ends after the 2008 season.
It seems like every night we have a reason to suspect that maybe Manny will emerge from his early-season slump, and every night he doesn't do it. He had great career numbers against John Lackey and Hector Carrasco, but failed to make a dent against those two Angels starters over the weekend, even as his teammates pounded them. Then last night, he entered Toronto's Rogers Centre (the building formerly known as SkyDome), where he has slugged more home runs than any visiting player. But all we got was a second-inning single as the Red Sox failed Daisuke Matsuzaka again. Ramirez was 6 for 14 lifetime against temporary Toronto closer Jason Frasor, but he lined out to Vernon Wells in the ninth inning with a chance to start a Red Sox rally. On the bright side, Ramirez's batting average went up, from .200 to .205.
Today, the Seattle Times' Jerry Faull advises fantasy owners against pushing the panic button on Ramirez: "There's no doubt that a serious hot streak is on the way."
The Dallas Morning News' Evan Grant says this about Rangers minor leaguer Victor Diaz: "Some folks think this guy could hit like Manny Ramirez if only he'd stop acting like Manny Ramirez."
Manny Ramirez is off to his worst start through 11 games since he's been with the Red Sox, but it's not for lack of hustling. The left-fielder, who is frequently criticized for an allegedly lackadaisical approach, has been consistently running out ground balls and has made a number of good plays in left field.
As for the numbers, this would be the third straight year that they are unimpressive out of the gate. Here is a breakdown of Manny's stats through 11 games since he came to Boston in 2001:
Of course, Ramirez's less than stellar history starting seasons (2001 and 2004 excepted) doesn't stop some from suggesting that he's trying to play his way out of Boston. Again, I just don't see it.
The Honululu Advertiser's Boston Marathon story contained this lead: "In weather unfit for man, beast or Manny Ramirez, a hardy contingent of runners from sunny Hawai'i braved wind and rain to complete yesterday's 111th Boston Marathon." Hey, Manny played ... just a little later than planned.
Writing on the San Diego Padres Web site, Corey Brock discourages a fan's entusiasm about a possible Manny-for Scott Linebrink and Jose Cruz Jr. trade. Jose Cruz Jr.?
Ramirez has more home runs (25), RBI (77) and runs scored (61) at Toronto's Rogers Centre (formerly SkyDome) than at any park other than his past and current home stadium, Jacobs Field and Fenway Park. Toronto is the place where Manny ended his season-opening home run drought last year with a two-homer performance in the 17th game of the season.
YOU SEE, THIS IS WHY 2004 WAS SO IMPORTANT: Because prior to then, Bucky would have put a Red Sox cap on Satchel. (comics.com) Although, now that I think of it, maybe not; Darby Conley is, after all, a Massachusetts native and a Red Sox fan. But, having lived through it, I think it's all the more reason not to rag on another team's misfortune.
AND BACK TO THE YANKEES: Since Yankee fans were uniformly unsympathetic last year when the Red Sox lost, in no particular order, Jason Varitek and Trot Nixon and David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez and Curt Schilling and Jonathan Papelbon and Jon Lester down the stretch -- after having already lost Matt Clement and David Wells, and missing Wily Mo Pena and Coco Crisp for extended stretches -- you'll forgive us if we're not crying a river over the state of their pitching these days. (New York Post)
G38: Curt Schilling breaks down Saturday's eight shutout innings. Even if you're not into the pitch-by-pitch descriptions, he always provides some interesting tidbits for more casual fans. On this day, he 1) talks frankly about the work of home-plate umpire Tim Timmons, and how one call probably cost him a chance for a complete game, in the midst of a frank and fascinating discussion about umpires, and 2) well, in his own words:
"The fans in NY and Boston are always very in tune with the starting pitchers and pitch counts. Walking off the mound -- when the fans know you've probably pitched your last inning -- as the home guy with those fans on their feet is a rush you just can’t understand . . . April 14th in Fenway and 35,000+ people are on their feet, and LOUD. It’s a rush, an incredible rush. I know it will absolutely be one of the things I’ll miss when I am done but man it’s pretty frickin’ unreal to experience."
Alex Rodriguez continued his hot start last night, hitting a home run off Minnesota starter Boof Bonser. It was Rodriguez's 6th home run of the year, and the 470th of his career. That ties him for 27th all-time, with the man he was once almost traded to Boston for: your own Manny Ramirez.
Rodriguez is, whatever else you want to say about him, a player who will go down as one of the best ever. He is only 31 years old -- Manny is 34 (both are very young to be talking about hitting 500 home runs for their careers). That said, Ramirez has reached 470 homers in fewer at-bats. He has 6,600 career at-bats, which means he has homered once every 14 at-bats. Rodriguez has 6,795 at-bats, for a rate of one home run every 14 1/2 at-bats.
Both guys finished last season with 35 home runs; the year before Ramirez had 45 against Rodriguez's 48. And in 2004 Ramirez had 43 home runs against 36 for A-Rod.
Manny Ramirez made some good contact in this weekend's series against the Texas Rangers, but he didn't have much to show for it, going 2-for-12 in the series and seeing his batting average drop to .217. In fact, the two, three and four hitters in the Red Sox lineup (Youkilis, Ortiz, Ramirez) are all hitting .217, which goes a good way toward explaining Boston's early-season hitting woes. Ramirez is still looking for his first home run of the season, but this is hardly unprecedented -- it took Ramirez until the 17th game of the season to hit a homer last year, when he clubbed two at Toronto.
Coming into the weekend series in Texas, Manny has reached base in five of his last nine plate appearances. The Rangers Ballpark -- which, you may remember, Ramirez would have called home had the A-Rod deal actually happened -- has been a pretty good place for him over the years. He's hitting .321 for his career in Arlington, above his lifetime average, with 7 home runs.
Earlier this week the Cleveland Plain Dealer spoke to Ramirez's former Indians teammate, Jim Thome, about the very real possibility that both men will reach 500 home runs this season. I still remember how that Indians lineup used to put fear into my heart whenever the Red Sox would play them back in the late '90s -- kind of like the Yankees' lineup as the season wound down last year. I also remember the crowd at Fenway chanting "Mann-y's hit-less" during that memorable 1999 ALDS.
This came into my e-mail today from Nick Paulenich, public relations manager at Fathead LLC:
"Fathead, the makers of 3-D, colorful, life-size vinyl images of popular sports and entertainment stars, has released its 2007 MLB product line. Fathead’s launch includes both MLB players and team logo wall graphics. You may be familiar with our product through our commercials on ESPN with Ben Roethlisberger and Chad Johnson.
"Manny Ramirez is one of six new MLB players produced by Fathead (bringing the company’s total to 12). Ramirez is 52” inches wide x 66” inches high and retails for $119. The Red Sox and Yankees are the only MLB teams that have two players available. Fathead also offers David Ortiz and a Boston Red Sox logo."
So there you have it.
Our hero had a good night last night, banging a single through the left side off of Odalis Perez in the first inning and scoring on J.D. Drew's double, then walking twice. Even though Ramirez is going to get a lot of walks, you have to be optimistic that Drew will provide him some protection, based on early returns.
The quote of the hour (posted Monday) on David Gonos' CBS SportsLine blog is this ominous warning: "The next announcer that says, 'Manny is just being Manny,' is going to get stabbed in the eye with scissors."
Marcus Hayes of The Philadelphia Daily News notes that Manny's weak grand slam off Brett Myers one hot Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia marked Citizens Bank Park as a pitcher's hell. This year the club has moved back the left-field wall that Ramirez just barely cleared by 20 feet. Editor's Note: I was at that game, and I don't feel sorry for Myers.
Manny Ramirez, Curt Schilling and Tim Wakefield has each lent his name to a variety of Chilean wine imported by Vinlozano Imports and marketed by Charity Wines and Charity Hop. For each bottle sold, $1.25 will go to the player's favorite charity.
Here's what you need to know about Manny Being Merlot: "This estate-grown, hand-crafted merlot shows a deep red color with aromas of black pepper and ripe red fruit. The velvety and spicy finish matches perfectly with grilled meats, pastas and pizza.
Manny Ramirez believes that all children should have a chance to achieve their dreams. By purchasing Manny Being Merlot, you're helping children of Miami, Florida, have the chance at success and reaching their dreams. Donations from sales of Manny Merlot benefit CHARLEE Homes for Children. CHARLEE provides therapeutic, residential, and supportive services to abused, abandoned, and neglected children within a safe environment in a community-based continuum of care. For more information or to make a donation please call 305-779-9796 or visit us at www.charleeprogram.org."
Manny Ramirez appeared in the lineup for the first time today without the snood he wore over his hair for most spring training games, letting his long dreads flow down his back. In his first at-bat, he flew out to Kansas City center fielder David DeJesus.
Just in time for Opening Day, we're relaunching SoxBlog with a new look and expanded Sox coverage. Providence Journal sports columnists Sean McAdam, Joe McDonald, Steve Krasner and sports editor Art Martone will each have their own side blogs.
Mannybeingmanny will follow the man through the season, Streakers will track who's hot and who's way not.
These are just the first of the new features we've planned. The 2007 season is just beginning...
Meanwhile, I'm debugging this morning. If anything seems a little squirrely, it should be all better by tomorrow.