Man, this was one strange weekend!
In a brief conversation before last night’s game, the Dodgers’ Manny Ramirez said he appreciated the cheers he received at Fenway Park over the weekend. While the ex-Red Sox slugger wanted no direct quotes put in print, since he hasn’t talked to the media all season, Ramirez indicated he got through the weekend much better than he had anticipated.
Ramirez actually received a mixed reaction from the crowd during the three games, some times more cheers and other times more boos.
Ramirez’s boyhood friend from New York City and barber, Montro, spent part of yesterday afternoon with Ramirez trimming his dreadlocks at the Ritz-Carlton before accompanying the player to the ballpark. Montro said Ramirez seemed appreciative of the positive parts of the reactions he got.
Ramirez told Red Sox Spanish Beisbol Network play-by-play announcer Uri Berenguer Saturday that he regretted his trans gressions in Boston. “There’s no reason I should have behaved that way in Boston,’’ Ramirez told Berenguer in a 45-minute private conversation in Spanish.
Berenguer said that Ramirez no longer speaks of retirement, and said that the length of his career will be determined by a higher power. Berenguer said Ramirez has found God, reads the Bible on a daily basis, and quoted scriptures constantly during their conversation.
Ramirez went 5 for 12 in the series, including two hits in each of the last two games, with a home run and a stolen base.
After the first game, the media fervor certainly dissipated. Ramirez was cordial in our brief conversation despite my having been critical of some of his actions, including the Jack McCormick incident, when he pushed down the team’s 64-year-old traveling secretary when the player was told a late request for 16 tickets would be hard to completely fill. Ramirez made no attempt to visit McCormick or apologize to him. It seemed as if he wanted to blow through town without much ado, and for the most part that’s what he was able to do.
It was an odd weekend.
Friday night, Roger Clemens was sitting in the Monster seats, initially unbeknownst to the Red Sox. Clemens also didn’t speak on the record to the media, but for different reasons — he’s the focus of a federal grand jury investigation in its 16th month to determine whether he lied to Congress about steroid use. Clemens signed more than a hundred autographs and left the ballpark around the seventh inning.
Ramirez was the designated hitter in all three games, likely a sign of things to come if he continues his career next season. Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti has said that playing left field every day in the National League takes its toll on Ramirez. There’s no doubt he still can hit, and probably will be able to for a couple of more seasons at least. The question is would he accept a fraction of the $20 million he currently earns?
Ramirez has been good for the Dodgers for the most part during the last two-plus seasons. Joe Torre probably has some stories, but as good as Terry Francona was handling Manny for five seasons with the Sox, Torre is the next-most-perfect manager to be dealing with him because of his calm demeanor and because he has a strong bad cop in third base coach Larry Bowa, who is one of the best disciplinarians in the game.
Dodgers owner Frank McCourt had a hard time making the $45 million commitment to Ramirez the last two years, but he realized at the time that Ramirez would spark the offense, which he did, and Manny also bumped attendance by 5,000 seats per game after he was obtained at the deadline in 2008. While the fervor has died down, he excited the masses in Mannywood.
Short term, Ramirez would be good anywhere.
Entering last night’s game the Dodgers were 163-121 (.574) since acquiring him, the best record in the National League and fourth best in the majors behind the Yankees (.616), Red Sox (.600), and Angels (.585). The deal worked out for both teams, as they say, as the Red Sox obtained Jason Bay, who filled Ramirez’s void admirably and exuded calm where once there was a storm.
Ramirez may enjoy the DH role if he pursues it. Entering last night’s game, in 298 career games as a DH he was batting .313 with a .413 OBP and .574 slugging percentage with 70 homers and 228 RBIs.
When David Ortiz homered Friday night, he tied his old buddy Ramirez for fifth in all-time Red Sox homers. Ramirez even stole a base Saturday.
Ramirez hit one of his patented hard singles up the middle in the first inning last night against Clay Buchholz, and drew a walk in the third.
Buchholz pitched very carefully to him, which was wise because while Ramirez often comes off as nonchalant and uncaring, word is he really wanted to do well this weekend.
He wasn’t the devastating hitter he had been here in the past, nor did he have many Manny Being Manny moments. It was pretty quiet.
Too bad there weren’t more quiet days in a Sox uniform.
Because if there had been, he’d still be here.