by John Furgele
Earlier this week, I stated that the Red Sox should not trade Manny Ramirez, feeling that the Sox could not win a world title without his bat. Well, they went against my advice and traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers for in essence, Pirate slugger Jason Bay. They gave up a lot to get him, surrendering promising relief pitcher Craig Hansen and “serviceable outfielder” Brandon Moss.
As much as I thought Manny should have remained in Boston, I must admit, when I saw Ramirez ground into a 5-4-3 double play, in which he barely jogged down the first base line, I knew right then that Manny’s time in Boston was over. Throw in the fact that they were being no-hit by John Lackey only made matters worse.
The Red Sox players must have vomited in their mouths watching Manny jake it down the first base line. The story in Boston was that management didn’t like Manny, Manny didn’t like management, but the players loved Manny, so management accepted Manny because of that love. Throw in two World Series championships since 2004 made trading Manny even harder.
But, the players finally turned on Manny. When Manny basically refused to play in last Friday’s crucial series opener against the Yankees, that was likely the last straw. Respect among one’s peers is the most important trait a player needs and after the last few days, respect for Manny dwindled to zero.
So, the Sox made the deal. Are they as good a team without Manny? Is it addition by subtraction? When you look at the just the numbers, Jason Bay is actually having a better season than Ramirez. Bay is batting .295 with 22 home runs and 64 RBI; Ramirez is batting .299 with 19 home runs and 63 RBI. And, since 2006, Ramirez’s numbers are nothing but ordinary. But, many felt that Manny was waiting for the end, the postseason, to explode and take over like he did in the ALDS and ALCS last year. Nobody knows if Bay can do that. He is a very good player, but only 15,000 people care enough to attend Pirate games. In Boston, they dissect EVERY baseball game like most towns dissect football games. After a Red Sox loss, WEEI radio will take Red Sox calls from 6 AM until the time in which the next game starts. They don’t do that in Pittsburgh.
The one thing we learned is that the Red Sox are comfortable in their own skin. Every game is sold out, they broke an 86 year drought by winning two world titles in just four years, and deep down, if they don’t win it all this year, they can probably live with that fact. They wanted to cleanse the team—and organization—of the one player who they simply tired of and that was Manny Ramirez.
Manny Ramirez will someday be in the Hall of Fame, and he will likely wear a Red Sox cap on his hat. And, someday, when his career is over, both he and the Red Sox will hopefully conclude that each was good for the other. The fans will probably realize that as well. The thinking is “he may have been a bit wacky, but he helped give us a joy that we never thought would happen.”
Manny will now head to Los Angeles and because he has a chip on his shoulder, may have a sizzling end to the 2008 season. Perhaps, he can help lead the mediocre Dodgers to the postseason, something the once proud Dodgers have not seen much since their last championship in 1988.
I wonder what is really going through Manny’s head right now? Most will crack a joke and say nothing, but there has to be some sadness. But, Manny learned that everyone can and will eventually be replaced.
If only Brett Favre would realize this.