With the start of the major league baseball season right around the corner, rumors are flying around. Players are worried about being traded, renewing their contracts, teams are worried about injuries and chemistry. With spring training in full force, that buzz is zipping around from fan to fan about why this year is the year their team has every chance to be a dark horse and win the World Series. And while every team has new hope and new life at the start of the season, there is one team I can guarantee will not win a championship this year. The Los Angeles Dodgers. And there is one reason—Manny Ramirez.
Upon his arrival to camp this year, Man-Ram had the audacity to tell team management and fans that he would not be returning to the Dodgers after this season. He wants out. He is quitting on the Dodgers before the season has even started. I am bewildered to say the least. His timing perplexes me. His motivations unclear to the public. Why on earth would he not want to return? He plays in the weakest division in baseball, the NL West. He faces the worst pitchers day in and day out, against teams with the slowest outfielders and weakest arms. He has all the talent in the world to dominate this division and he is quitting.
Well, maybe it was management or the city or something off the field. He is playing for one of the best owners and general managers in baseball. He is playing for an organization that stood beside him and supported him during his 50 game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs in a city that loves and adores him. They named left field Mannywood, for goodness’ sake. Maybe he just can’t get his steroids supply in L.A. That must be what it is. He can no longer get that artificial testosterone that enabled him to hit towering homeruns. Granted, Manny is the most talented hitter of our time and era, his timing is impeccable, his balance and preparedness at the plate is mind-blowing, his swing is a work of art. He is comparable to Picasso or Monet in their primes. I am not here to engage in a steroids battle and their effects on a hitter. I am here to say that despite this immeasurable talent, Ramirez is not a player I would want on my team.
He is a quitter. A wimp. A softy. A sandbagger. He refuses to handle a little bit of adversity or struggle. And when things don’t go his way, he moves on. Ramirez is a cancer. He tears apart locker rooms. Just look at Boston. When he left for the Dodgers, none of his teammates seemed overly upset, but rather relieved that they no longer had to deal with “Manny-being-Manny.” Which, by the way, is the biggest load of crap I have ever heard. Manny-being-Manny is a way for owners and managers and players to justify the complete lack of intelligence, hustle or passion he shows on a routine basis. It was their way of comforting themselves by saying the man can hit, but he is a detriment and distraction to our team.
He is the least adept outfielder I have seen in my entire life. Cutting off throws from fellow outfielders, high-fiving fans mid-play? Who else gets away with that other than Manny? Nobody, because nobody can hit like he could. The problem is, he isn’t hitting like he used to, not putting up the numbers of years past. Last year, he hit 19 homeruns. This was the first time since 1994 he hit fewer than 20 homers in a season. Manny commands his $20 million salary for his ability to hit the long ball. So if he can’t hit the long ball, why is he getting paid?
He isn’t a 5-tool player. He isn’t a Ken Griffey Jr., or Matt Holliday. He doesn’t play the field with the grace of Ichiro or with the arm of Vladimir Guerrero; he doesn’t run the bases with the speed of B.J. Upton or with the intelligence of Chase Utley. What he does is jack balls over the field fence with remarkable ease and regularity. He is an over-glorified designated hitter. So why put up with Manny-being-Manny any longer?
As a fan I am sick and tired of it. Manny isn’t an all-time great player. He is an all-time great hitter. He has not been an icon for a team. He has not been an ambassador for the game. He has done nothing but hit lots and lots of homeruns in a time marred by steroid allegations and cheating. Not to mention the fact he has been linked to that cheating. So what is Ramirez? A bum. A talented bum, but a bum nonetheless. It is time for the charade to quit. If I were the owner of Dodgers, I would cut him, release him, because by saying he doesn’t want to be in L.A. after this year, it is obvious he has quit and is going to be a detriment to the team’s chances of winning a championship.
The problem is, nobody has the courage to do what they know is right. The manager shouldn’t play him. The GM shouldn’t pay him. The fans shouldn’t put up with his nonsense. But that won’t happen. Fans will stay optimistic and hope he pulls out of a season-long slump, which he never will. The man is 38 years old, who no longer can get away with injecting himself. So he won’t hit the moonshots any more. The GM wants to keep his job and so does the manager, so Ramirez will get to goof around and play half-heartedly all season, make more money than anyone would ever know what to do with, and move on to the next team. And as fans, we are left to sit, watch and squirm through another sub-par season by an over-the-hump-superstar. Fantastic.