Boy, do I loathe Manny Ramirez.
Barry Bonds is a grandstanding cheat, both on and off the field. A-Rod is obnoxious on the field, a cheating narcissist off it. But Manny is just a fool. An idiot savant.
This is a man who has so much natural hitting talent, he assumes it's okay to be a lazy, careless, cocky embarrassment to his teammates, the Red Sox, the fans, the AL East, and baseball in general.
He pimps meaningless home runs, he doesn’t run out infield hits, and last night he hit the longest single since Robin Ventura's infamous "grand slam single" in 1999 – 375 feet - because he thought it looked like a home run and decided to jog out of the box. He asks to be traded nearly every July when the team is losing. He refuses to pinch hit. He calls in sick and is seen in his hotel bar drinking with a Yankee. He shows up late to Spring Training. He pisses in the Green Monster during pitching changes. Worst of all – and this is unforgivable - he loves reggaeton.
And after naming one of his sons Manny Ramirez, Jr., he had another one and named him...Manny Ramirez, Jr. No kidding.
But good Lord, can he hit. He can hang on an 0-2 count and force a walk. He can lay off a hanging curve and drive the ball anywhere he wants, whenever he feels like it. He hits for average, he hits for power, he hits in the clutch, and he wins games. But I can’t come to terms with Manny Ramirez being on my team anymore.
Part of me wants to see him fail, but a bigger part of me wants to see him hit the ball because it’s such a glorious thing to see. Does this make me as bad as a Yankee fan rooting for Reggie Jackson or Gary Sheffield? Or a Giants fan pulling for that artificial 756th? Pete Rose was a brawler and a gambler, but the man had personality. Reggie Jackson had boatloads of it, and Manny, sad to say, is all beatific innocence, personality coming out of his ears.
The worst part is, he’s idolized by droves of little kids all over New England who will someday have to come to terms with the fact that they can’t act the way he does and get away with it unless they hit over .300 ten years in a row.
There are other guys on the 2007 Red Sox who work hard everyday, 162 games plus, running out infield singles and groundouts, bouncing back from injuries quickly, giving interviews and autographs, visiting kids at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and generally being upstanding role models. Youkilis, Varitek, Wakefield, and Manny’s future replacement, Jacoby Ellsbury, come to mind. I love these guys. These guys are why I root for the always-unpredictable Sox. How utterly enjoyable it was in September, when Manny was out with a strained oblique and Jacoby was a vacuum out in left field, running his rookie ass off, hitting the crap out of everything he saw.
But now we’re in the postseason, and Manny’s back, and he’s hitting something like .442 with a 15-game postseason hitting streak, and I want to shower him with love and punches to the head.