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White Sox Tue Aug 31 2010

A Few Scattered Thoughts About Manny Ramirez

manny mug.PNGIt's all Manny most of the time here at Tailgate, and I've still got time to follow up Rick's incisive post before he plays his first game in a White Sox uniform. Tuesday in Cleveland, Ramirez was held out of the starting lineup (because getting up early is hard) and made it only as far as the on-deck circle before a three-run homer by A.J. Pierzynski eliminated the need for his pinch-hitting services in the top of the ninth.

The blast gave the Sox a three-run lead and they hung on for a 4-3 win, but they're still 4 games behind first-place Minnesota in the AL Central. Even with the arrival of one of the best hitters in baseball history, they're going to have seriously pick it up if they're going to close that gap in the season's final 5 weeks. Manny Ramirez probably is worth only about one extra win by himself.

But heck, no one wants to hear about that. Let's all bathe in the warm, glowing light of one of the most fascinating and polarizing athletes in sports.

OK, so "fascinating" might be a bit strong -- Manny is basically the definition of a sports man-child -- but he's a wonderful Rorschach test for fans. If you just like watching sports, especially baseball, he has long been a marvelous specimen, equal parts beautiful and brutally effective. If you expect virtue from your athletic stars, well, Manny has nearly none of that. He might be the most spoiled child in sports, with what seems to be a genuine inability to consider anything beyond his own immediate needs.

manny.PNGI'm in the former camp -- and yes, I cheered him as a Red Sox fan for 7 1/2 years, through two World Series championships and his acrimonious, entirely predictable banishment to Los Angeles just more than two years ago. That doesn't mean his frequent absent-mindedness isn't frustrating, but you're only setting yourself up to get hurt if you expect "professionalism" and freak out about bizarre stories like this. Just relax and enjoy that gorgeous, balanced swing.

Even if Manny can't save the season, you've got to applaud Kenny Williams and check-writer Jerry Reinsdorf for ponying up the relatively small sum of $4 million to roll the dice.

This move has no downside. I mean, they've been allowing Ozzie Guillen to write Mark Kotsay and Andruw Jones and Mark Teahen and Omar MF'ing Vizquel into the lineup every day at designated hitter. (A fine strategy for winning in the National League -- except as Jim Margalus notes, American League teams are allowed to use nine hitters at once.)

If Manny Ramirez is healthy and happy enough to feel like playing, there's no way the White Sox offense won't be better. Time is the biggest problem here.

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Rick Abplanalp / September 1, 2010 9:29 AM

Well said, Jim. At the very least, Manny will offer you a little slice of home as you are subjected to Chicago baseball.

Brian L. / September 1, 2010 10:11 AM

Is Manny gonna cut his hair?

Jim Reedy / September 1, 2010 10:23 AM

@Rick -- Yeah, Manny might make it worth sitting through Hawk and Steve Stone.

@Brian -- You'll notice I studiously avoided talk of his dreadlocks. There are few sports storylines dumber than the hootenanny about cutting hair or shaving a beard every time a hirstute baseball player gets traded to the Yankees (or, apparently, White Sox). Until Jerry Reinsdorf makes it an issue, I could not care less. Clearly, and unsurprisingly, it seems Manny at this point plans to do whatever he wants with his hair.

Rick Abplanalp / September 1, 2010 10:42 AM

Hawk's name has become synonymous with fan insults, but STONEY? What could you possibly have against the man who has made a career out of offsetting the blathering of insane yet iconic sportscasters on both sides of town?

Brian L. / September 1, 2010 11:08 AM

Don't forget Ben Wallace being prohibited from wearing a headband when he was with the Bulls.

Jim Reedy / September 1, 2010 2:52 PM

Eh, I don't really have anything against Steve Stone. He's just kind of straight up the middle -- which, as you point out, is a necessary balance when you're working with a crazy person.

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