Disclaimer: waaaaay back before I lived in the Midwest, I lived in Eugene, Oregon, home of the Short-Season Low-A Eugene Emeralds, which were at that time a farm club for the Atlanta Braves. Due to several factors, including the fact of the Ems’ affiliation with the Braves, the fact that every Braves game was on TBS, and the fact that David Justice and John Smoltz were huge studs (to name a few), I spent my early baseball life as a Braves fan (in the early-to-mid-nineties. That was the streak when the Braves and the Indians seemed to meet up every year in the World Series (or so it seemed).
Now, the Braves were possibly the best team in baseball at the time. Their rotation was Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz, Steve Avery, Denny Neagle (and several others that took the place of Avery and Neagle). They had David Justice, Ryan Klesko, Marquis Grissom, Fred McGriff, Javy Lopez, Jermaine Dye, and Jeff Blauser, to name a few. Man, were they fun to watch.
But every year, it seemed like they ended up meeting up with the formidable Indians (okay, not every year, and they weren’t honestly that formidable), who had stars like Albert Belle, Omar Vizquel, Orel Hershiser, Charles Nagy, Jim Thome, Kenny Lofton, and the young Manny Ramirez.
In 1995, with essentially the teams I listed above, the Indians and the Braves got to the World Series. Then, in Game 2, Manny Ramirez came up against Tom Glavine. Remember, this was young Manny, before the disgusting two-foot dreadlocks somehow became the cool thing to do. He hit a deep fly ball and threw his arms up, standing in the batters box, just like he does now. Well, it wasn’t quite deep enough, and Jermaine Dye tracked it down, and everyone had a good long laugh at the idiot who thought he had hit a home run. I figured he would eventually grow out of that stuff, especially the off-field antics that eventually led the Indians not to resign him.
Fast forward to 2007-8. Manny didn’t grow up, but now he has the strength to hit a few more out of the park. He has also become a very clutch hitter, somehow, as the Twins found out last weekend. He also decided somewhere that long dreads were the way to go. He can no longer wear a baseball hat properly because of them. Ever wonder why his hat flies off every play? He can’t get it down over his do-rag. You might have thought it was his swelled head, but it is actually the dreads.
There was a play yesterday when Manny made a spinning catch on the line in right field right near the stands and he spun quickly. His dreads contacted the spectators. I was so repulsed I went to take a hot shower. The worst part: the fans acted like they had been touched by an angel. That kind of hero worship made it twice as gross. No matter what Manny does, peeps in Boston love him. Here is a sample dialogue between me and a Red Sox fan*:
Me: So how can you stand Manny Ramirez?
Sox lover: He’s good at baseball and stuff.
Me: But seriously, he just physically attacked some team personnel. Last road trip.
SL: That’s okay. It was off the field.
Me: Really? You can turn a blind eye to that happy crappy?
SL: Well, not a blind eye. But a forgiving eye.
Me: How about the way he showboats. All. The. Damn. Time.
SL: He’s good enough to do it. I mean, why be humble when you are right?
Me: Did you see the thing with the dreadlocks and the fans and the touchy? How did they not want to burn themselves to become clean again?
SL: Well, you have to admit he is kind of a sexy guy. The whole bad boy image? Very nice.
SL: Seriously. I have a set of dreads I wear when I go to Fenway. You know, to be like Manny.
SL: So, how about throwing out Nick Punto at third base?
And that, my friends, is why Manny Ramirez makes me want to vomit.
Other game notes:
1. Livan also makes me sad. I still don’t understand why he is still around when there are other (potentially) ready starters at Rochester that could ply their trade at the major-league level. Try Mulvey, Duensing, maybe Liriano, etc.
2. Brian Bass does not belong at the major league level at this point. I can see him being a good long reliever for a team that doesn’t have as (sort-of) high standards for their pitching. Rincon (Gas Can Man) is gone, but Bass is quickly becoming Kerosene the Wonder Boy. The only place he is really suitable for at this point is mop-up when the Twins are pretty much out of it, and we have Bonser for that. Bass should go back down to AAA to sort himself out.
3. Bonser, meh. If it wasn’t pretty clear he would be picked up, I would try to run him through waivers as well. He needs to either start or pitch regularly enough that he gets his confidence and command back. That won’t happen with Gardy not trusting him and all.
4. What’s the deal with Breslow? I keep hearing that he has a stiff back, but part of me wonders whether he is just not getting used enough. When was the last time we saw him? A week ago? Ten days? (Answer: June 30) Part of me thinks that he should have pitched last wknd against the Tribe and given Guerrier a night/day off (so he could work on the Good at Baseball thing too).
5. I also was looking for thoughts on Tolbert (anyone else think of Toblerone when his name comes up?). What do the Twins do with him when he gets back? As I remember, he was very raw, but with a lot of talent and speed. I remember a time he was holding a runner on second and still beat Morneau to a foul pop-up in the bullpen. But I tend to think that he could still use some time in the minors. I dunno. I know he is still a ways out, so I shouldn’t be worried yet.
On a more immediate concern, what the crap do they do with Everett? Now that he is on a rehab assignment, it seems he is perilously close to coming back. I don’t think I could handle it if Buscher gets sent down a la Macri to make space for another sub-par infielder (although Punto has worked out surprisingly well, so I must eat crow on that one [for now]). While there is officially no timetable for his return, I have heard that he might be back as soon as the week after the All-Star break. Think he could be packaged with Bonser for anything?