One Game In, Ramirez Sniping Begins
Last week, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wrote a fairly mundane prediction column, calling all the shots for the forthcoming season and making few outside the box calls. He did, however predict one relatively surprising development: That Manny Ramirez would hold a "sit-down" strike at some point this season in L.A., disappointed with his contract. Rosenthal put the over-under on Ramirez's games played at 128, and he said his performance wouldn't live up to what everyone is expecting after last season's heroics.
One game in, and Rosenthal looks pretty prescient (Ramirez was 0-for-3 against the Padres with a walk). Then again, if all decisions were made after one game, Brandon Webb would be sent to the scrap heap and the Yankees' $340 million offseason would go down as one of the worst in MLB history.
Well, Ramirez was all too happy to talk to the L.A. Times' T.J. Simers after the Dodgers' 4-1 win (how times have changed). And he made light of Rosenthal's most brash prediction. Or did he?
"That's a lot of games -- 128," he says with a laugh. "I wasn't thinking about playing that many; I was thinking 100. I thank him [for the motivation to play more]."
Ramirez also said that Andre Eithier was the true Dodgers RBI man now, so people should be focused on him. That's a bit like Mark Teixeira saying that the Yankees' success at the plate depends most on Hideki Matsui, yet coming from Ramirez, it's probably not likely to offend anyone as it does make them chuckle.
In the end, that's the trick with Manny's act. As long as he's laughing about the criticism and skepticism, the Dodgers will be in a good place. The trick will be when the inevitable midseason slump sets in. That's when the joking becomes sniping, and raw emotions -- combined with a man who's mentality is, at best, at the level of a high school senior -- create a cauldron in which the weight of the Dodgers will collapse around Ramirez, or he'll revert to his existence in Boston, shutting himself out of the media glare while raking homers like a man half his age.
Either way, the situation bears watching, as does life with Manny in general. After all, some things never change, even when baseball's biggest sideshow moves from one coast to another.
April 7, 2009; 1:55 PM ET
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