And no, this has nothing to do with Boston’s spacey left-fielder digging The Arcade Fire. Though hardly overshadowing Josh Beckett dominating the Indians last night (or C.C. Sabathia’s continued woes in the post-season), Manny’s hesitancy to bust it out of the box remains a hot topic this morning, thanks to the Chicago Sun-Times’ mascara-fiend Jay Mariotti.
It’s no longer about Manny Being Manny, maybe the most stale cliche and lame justification in the annals of baseball and psychology. No, it’s about a Moron Being a Moron, a $20-million-a-year slugger/slacker embarrassing himself with his mouth, his on-field stunts and his attitude. Good thing for Ramirez that he had Beckett, October pitching legend, as a teammate Thursday night. If not for Beckett’s latest gem, including a curse-and-stare showdown with Cleveland pest Lofton that almost sparked a brawl, America would be talking even more about Ramirez’s latest farce in a 7-1 victory that saved the Red Sox from elimination.
It was troubling enough when Ramirez waxed lackadaisical about the deficit of the Red Sox, causing a furor in New England that won’t be soothed by a win that trims the Indians’ series lead to 3-2. “If it doesn’t happen, so who cares? There’s always next year,” Ramirez said on the eve of Game 5. “It’s not like the end of the world or something.”
Manny proceeded to play like he didn’t care. In a series in which he already mocked the seriousness of competition by raising his hands triumphantly after a meaningless home run, Ramirez topped himself in the third with another incredibly selfish, doltish moment. We’re not saying the man can’t hit a baseball, and facing Cleveland’s struggling C.C. Sabathia, he ripped a laser beam to right-center field that struck the top of the wall. And I mean the very top of the wall, deflecting off the padded yellow stripe and bouncing back onto the field. But according to the Jacobs Field ground rules, the ball must clear the fence to be a home run, which Ramirez should know, considering he used to play for the Indians and has been in this ballpark hundreds of times.
Manny didn’t know. Manny doesn’t know much of anything. He stayed quite a long time in the batter’s box admiring the shot, then trotted down the first-base line. He peered at his masterpiece, rounded the bag and tried to low-five the first-base coach, Luis Alicea. But Ramirez received no skin in return — because it wasn’t a home run. It was a 380-foot single.
I don’t care if he hits .500 in the postseason. I don’t care if he’s on a power tear. Manny has insulted and mocked the game this week more than the late Max Patkin, baseball’s clown prince, ever did. He should be ashamed, but, hey, it’s not the end of the world.