Wtf! I have been living it up at Zoomass for the last two-three years, and I don’t find time to get on board the Boston sports talk train as much as I use to. I never called up WEEI with any beantown rants (Ok, I called 3 times. Hey I was 17! I was so young and full of hope), but I did perform good armchair criticisms of the “Big Show” while driving from work in Malden.
During those times, my hugest qualms were always with these know-it-all callers who seem to castigate the two players that were the true catalyst for getting the Red Sox to the World Series: Pedro Martinez & Manny Ramirez.
It would always rotate on which player the callers wanted to roast on a certain day. If Manny misplays a bounce of the wall (which, by the way, I would like to mention how beautiful and accurate those bare-handed throws are from hits off the wall), some fuckface will come on the radio and whine about, “Why are we paying him so much money?”, ” He isn’t even top 10 in the league!”, ” His defense is horrible, did you see that play?”.
Most of these comments are just regurgitations of the perception that somehow Manny produces a laziness that thwarts our team from winning baseball games. That somehow Manny’s lackadaisical psychology undermines the ability of other players to do better. That somehow, with $20 million, we can go out there and find a player who is just as good as Manny and will promote a healthier demeanor in the clubhouse.
These are all valid opinions and I don’t question how they were given life to the Sports Radio Circus, BUT LOOK AT WHAT IS IN FRONT OF YOU! Manny Ramirez will probably go down as one of the top 20 greatest hitters of all-time (top 10 if he can get his batting average back above .310), he had great hitting series against the Yankees (where to Red Sox Fans, it should matter most), he has stayed here and pretty much held up with the all the fans negative bullshit (Clemens, Mo Vaughn, & Garciaparra couldn’t do the same), and he has done nothing but been the most intimidating hitter in this lineup for the entire 21st century (I know you’re saying “What about Ortiz; I’ll explain in a bit).
Let’s look at how good Manny really is: From Baseball-Reference.com)
Career Batting avr: .313 – 7th active, 81st all-time
Career On-Base: .409 – 7th active, 37th all-time
Slugging: .593 – 3rd active, 8th all-time
Homeruns : 489 – 26th all-time
RBIs: 28th all-time
Career vs. LHP: .342 ( including 2005 where he batted just .236 against them; weird?)
Total bases: 9th active (to note, only Alex Rodriguez is younger than he is that is ahead of him)
13th all-time single season holder for RBI’s ( 165 in just 150 games in 1999).
These are stats that would get anyone into the Hall of Fame, and he has two World Series and one ring to boot.
Why is Manny better than you think?
Pitchers have to change around a whole gameplan for him. That is it.
This lineup represents a great deal of good fastball hitters. Most times, if a pitcher is coming into the ‘Fens, they are more likely to snap on off the outside corners than they are to try to pump a good 92-mph past these bats. All of these players are known for getting good knocks on fastballs (Lowell, Youkilis, and even former players such as Trot, Millar, Garcia-*tear*-parra) and it forces pitchers to work more to get them off-balance. But even with the surrounding talent, what makes the lineup more dangerous is the fact the Manny exists within it. Period.
Manny’s existence forces pitchers to think ahead to how well they keep the first batters off-base. You push a man on-base and it only gives Manny a stronger opportunity to knock those pitches in.
But what about Ortiz? The most clutch bat in the history of the SOx?
People have good amnesia but you have to remember that Ortiz’s clutchness coincided with the fact that Ortiz moved from behind Manny to in front of him upon Garciaparra’s injury and ship-out in 2004. Manny’s talent is the reason that he is best utlilized as not only a cleanup, but as protection for Ortiz. Ortiz was nowhere as good as Manny behind him, or in general, before 2004.
Ortiz isn’t very good protection since his swing isn’t designed to hit off-speed pitches. It was one reason it took him so long to become a great hitter; he always played in batting orders (Twins, Red Sox 2003) where he had no protection behind him, no baserunners in front of him, and no pitcher willing enough to place a heater on ANY side of the plate.
No! Ortiz can hit pitchers with or without Manny in the lineup.
I will try to run up more stats here, but remember that series against the twins in July of 2005? The one where Manny sat out 3 of 4 games going into the weekend as everyone was prepared to see Magglio Ordonez in his place on Monday? With no protection, here were Ortiz’s stats:
3 games without Manny from July 28-31st: 1 for 7, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 6 BB.
Without Manny, the pitchers will just sit there and run sliders low & inside until Ortiz breaks down and cry. Ortiz is dangerous, don’t get me wrong, but he is DOWN-TO-EARTH if Manny can’t be there behind him.
Well, Manny is behind him this year and they are both sucking it up. What gives?
JD Drew JD Drew JD Drew JD Drew JD Drew JD Drew JD Drew JD Drew JD Drew JD Drew JD Drew JD Drew JD Drew JD Drew JD Drew JD Drew JD Drew !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
David Ortiz had an injury, but that still wouldn’t explain that he is going to hit 50% less homeruns, especially since he has been pulling them around that 320 ft. right field pole ( I can do that with one free hand and four red bulls). Ortiz isn’t getting the pitches he needs to drive the ball anywhere; he is stuck trying to pull low-sliders past the shift-of-doom they place against him everytime. But now, seeing as the table-setters haven’t given the pitchers too many recurring problems this year ( I say recurring; you can’t just have 10 good games out of the 1-2 spot and expect opposing pitchers to be scared; plus, how many leadoff hitters have we had?) They now have an even newer plan: take Manny’s bat off his hands. I call it Operation: 20 Mil Kill!
Now pitchers have decided that they can risk both of these speedsters on base by just pitching away from them and hoping that they walk or pull the ball into a double-play (and you see how many both Manny & Ortiz have been in this year? 37! And Manny is #1). But why are they no longer pitching to Manny? It is because Jackass Drunk Drew has been doing a good job of protecting the 3 & 4 spots by batting .250 and driving in 50 RBI’s. Yes, that makes me want to pitch to Manny so bad! Oh no! If I don’t pitch to Manny, I have to dread that JD Drew will somehow come up to the plate and…. Whhaaaa!
Although this dynamic forces the team to struggle, think about it if Manny wasn’t in the lineup! His prowess goes a lot more beyond hitting, and it does more to psych out the opposing pitcher, solidify the offense regardless of his struggles, protect the lead run-machine (Ortiz), and to provide enough talent that is insanely hard to pitch around.
His existence has only made the Red Sox the top 3 in hitting every year since 2000. He is probably the 2nd best hitter that the Red Sox nation has ever seen. It even bothers me more that fans now look up to their best hitter now more than ever, considering Manny and the Best Red Sox hitter ever both criticized hard in their Fenway tenures. Such a shame, how when Manny finally leaves, it will be too late to thank him . Not only for his zany and bumbling moments, but those moments that made the Red Sox who they are now, and made me more of a fan of him, the team, and the game as a whole.
Thank you Manny Ramirez.