Gas is Overpriced, so is Manny Ramirez
I hate Manny Ramirez, plain and simple. Then again, that seems to be the common trend whenever he decides he wants to make an early exit out of town, disappointing owners, teammates and fans in the process.
Manny Ramirez is the equivalent of that crazy ex-girlfriend you want to forget as soon as possible. Sure - you remember all the good times, but the ones you can't shake from your memory are those most recent in the downward spiral you hit
toward the bitter end.
People call it "Manny being Manny," but for a guy edging closer to 40, you'd expect a player to assume some maturity as he takes up the role of a leader rather than a guy acting like a pre-pubescent child who was denied extra dessert.
For evidence look no further than his final at-bat for the Dodgers when he stepped up to the plate, down 8-2 with the bases loaded. Being in a situation where just two years ago Ramirez could pride himself on thriving in, he displayed a true shift in character by arguing himself into a game-ending ejection after not agreeing with the first called strike.
Allow me to reiterate this point; knowing that this might be his last at-bat with the Dodgers, Ramirez's actions diminished the Dodgers' chance of a win rather than try and go out with a bang, a classless act that even Lou Piniella might think twice committing. Had it been a called strikeout that ended the inning, the aftertaste would have been different, but in my eyes I saw a guy who had already thrown in the towel on his team and his future with it.
But really the team should have seen this attitude shift coming when Ramirez arrived after leaving the Boston Red Sox under similar circumstances. The Dodgers went out of their way in positioning themselves to acquire him, and in return he carried the "boys in blue" on his back in the last 61 games of the 2008 season by hitting .410 with 21 home runs and 63 RBIs.
However, after that point there was a change in character, as Manny reclaimed the spotlight and his ego inflated to the point where he saw himself as bigger than the Dodgers and the sport.
The entire process of resigning Ramirez in the following 2009 season grew into a spectacle that dragged out over the course of the off-season, prohibiting the squad from addressing other team needs until he was finally given an over-paying contract worth 45-million dollars for two years.
Instead of retaining a franchise player who could be a cornerstone for the franchise for years to come, the Dodgers watched their investment fail, as Ramirez was slapped with a 50-game suspension for violating MLB's substance abuse policy in 2009. Amid promises of a productive return after the suspension, Ramirez responded by lowering his batting average from .348 to .290 by the end of the season.
It's bad enough that the Dodgers could have obtained productive hitters like Adam Dunn or Bobby Abreu instead of Manny in the 2009 off-season. But salt hit the wound when the Dodgers look back on not having enough money to resign dependable second baseman Orlando Hudson or speedy outfielder Juan Pierre- both of whom are helping their respective teams in the heat of a playoff race this year.
This brings us to present-day Dodgertown, a place where Ramirez's signature lackluster outfield play is absent and his jokes no longer echo off the clubhouse walls. Ramirez now dawns a White Sox uniform after the Dodgers sent him and the rest of his contract to Chicago. In the end, the Dodgers have lost out on $20 million for a lost season from their once-prized outfielder, and Ramirez is still unfazed by this entire process.
In his first press conference with the White Sox, Ramirez asked for a translator to speak for him, not because he needed one, but because he needed someone to censor his responses to the press regarding his change in scenery and if he would cut his hair to respect the team's wishes.
Ramirez's responses made him out to be no more than a punk, causing the translator to hold back his laughter at some of the retorts Ramirez shot back to the press.
These indications along with others give way to belief that a post-Manny era shouldn't be such a bad thing; the Dodgers are still a healthy young team with a lot of talent. And with stars like Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, James Loney and Clayton Kershaw still pursuing greatness, it should be noted that the team is in good hands.
The Dodgers remain out of the playoff race since Ramirez's departure, but maybe the actual victory isn't so much apparent in their record as it is in the tone of the locker room.