I’m really not one to criticize any professional athlete about his/her on-field work because there’s no way in “H-E-Double Hockey Sticks” I can come close to doing what they do. I’m a sportscaster because I wish I could only do what they do. I found that I can talk about what they do better than my attempting to duplicate what they do. Plus, trying to duplicate what they do requires too much exercise. You “feel me?”
Brings me to Manny Ramirez. Waived by the Dodgers earlier this week, and claimed by the Chicago White Sox, many Dodger fans were glad to see him leave. Sure, he wasn’t able to help the Dodgers get to a World Series. He did help the young core of Dodgers learn how to win at the major league level. I’m talking about guys like Russell Martin, Matt Kemp, James Loney and Andre Ethier. The latter becoming a feared hitter among National League pitchers.
In his two years with the Dodgers, Ramirez brought some excitement back to Chavez Ravine. Since Rupert Murdoch bought the franchise from the O’Malley family in the early 1990s, let’s face it, if you wanted to find a nice place to take a nap in L.A., Dodger Stadium was the choice.
Manny’s first game with Los Angeles was against the Arizona Diamondbacks the first day of August in 2008. It helped that it was Dodger Cooler Night with all fans getting one. But you could feel the electricity in the air for the first time in quite a Dodger Blue while.
Come on. “MannyWood” in left field. Dreadlock “Manny Wigs” becoming the hottest item for every L.A. kid at the stadium. His presence and what it did for Dodgers baseball can’t be denied.
He played 53 games for Los Angeles after his trade from the Boston Red Sox that Summer of ’08 becoming the most popular athlete to wear number 99 in L.A. since Wayne Gretzky came to the Kings in the 80s.
Check out Manny’s numbers in those 53 games because Manny put the Blue Crew on his back and led them to the N.L. Western Division Title. Manny’s line read 74 hits in 187 at-bats. He tagged 17 homeruns, scored 36 runs, had 53 rbi with a .396 batting average. With those numbers and his leading the Dodgers to the Western Division Title, he was third in the N.L. Most Valuable Player award voting. Those 53 games cost the McCourts $7 million. A good investment.
Rewarded with a two-year, $45 million contract, Manny helped take the Dodgers to a second consecutive Division Crown. During the run is when the wheels began to fall off the wagon. Last season, Manny was suspended 50 games for taking female hormones that, somehow, count as performance enhancing drugs.
Who knew Manny was trying to become a mom!
Anyway, it was never the same after that but the excitement was still there. Let’s remember. Since the Dodgers World Series win over Oakland in 1988, Los Angeles won just ONE playoff game in those 19 years and nine months prior to Manny’s acquisition. Manny was with the Dodgers 760 days. During that time, Los Angeles won eight playoff games getting to the League Championship Series twice.
So here’s where I’m going with this. I want to thank Manny for the shot of adrenaline he gave Los Angeles Dodgers baseball. I could’ve lived without that shot of female hormones but that’s another story. Ramirez made it fun to go to the ballpark again. After all, it’s entertainment and I, along with all those Dodger fans who went to the stadium from August 2008 until this past week, were certainly entertained.
If you still doubt what Manny’s impact is on a team, the White Sox are buying the left-over “Manny Dreadlock Wigs” the Dodgers have in stock because Chicago doesn’t have much time to produce them for the stretch run.
Have fun in the Windy City, Manny. Now, if only you could’ve taken the McCourts with you as well.
That’s another story.
(photographs by Eric Geller)