Tag Archives: Manny Ramirez

This Week in Boston Baseballing, May 23 – 29

The Red Sox snapped a brutal, offense-starved 10-game losing streak in Atlanta on Memorial Day. Boston won the next night as well for only its second series sweep of the 2014 season – both of which have been of two-game variety. Back home in Boston, the Sox won their 10th game of the month Wednesday behind a very strong start from John Lackey and reaped the benefit of a variety of gifts courtesy of the sloppy Atlanta Braves defense. The team’s four-game win streak is its longest of the season.

Boston needed somebody in the lineup to get hot and it appears Xander Bogaerts will do just fine in that role for now.

 

The 10-Year Anniversary of the 2004 World Series Champs
On Wednesday night, the Red Sox held a ceremony celebrating the (almost) 10-year anniversary of the 2004 World Series victory. The highlight of the evening was Manny Ramirez’s return to Fenway. His tenure as a Red Sox was complicated. Fans loved him. Reporters mostly appreciated his talent but were incapable of discussing said talent without bringing up the baggage he’d acquired along the way to becoming one of the best right-handed hitters of his generation.

The severity of Manny’s transgressions depends on who you ask. The Boston media liked to portray him as a clubhouse cancer. There is more than anecdotal evidence that Manny was a malcontent at the end of his time in Boston. However, it’s worth noting that the former general manager of the team, Theo Epstein, recently brought Ramirez on as a hitting instructor for a young, “impressionable” Chicago Cubs team. Perhaps time heals most wounds. Or the wounds weren’t nearly as grave as the talking heads wish to believe. Either way, there’s nothing media members love more than an apology.

Manny came out of the left-field wall…

And Manny threw out the ceremonial first pitch…

And everybody just had a grand time reuniting.

 

Clay Buchholz Heads to the DL
Fans can only hope that the embattled right-hander’s ineffectiveness over the first two months of the season truly is due to some physical ailment. The player and the team had not identified any tangible injury that was contributing to the struggles. That is, until this week. Clay apparently hyperextended his right knee on Monday during his start against the Braves. Tweaking his knee could be a blessing in disguise since it seemingly gives the righty a credible opportunity to actually skip a couple of starts. From the ESPN Boston story:

Buchholz said he’ll spend the next few days watching video and trying to refine his delivery. He thinks he’ll be back on the mound throwing bullpen sessions in the next four or five days. … Buchholz appeared confident that he’ll be able to fix what’s wrong. “I know it’s not an injury to my arm like it was last year, so first and foremost is health of that area of my body and the ball’s coming out of my hand fine; it’s just a matter of getting that little fire that I had last year, as far as throwing pitches in the zone, pitching to contact instead of pitching to swings and misses,” he said.

The bellyaching last year that Buchholz took his time coming back from a shoulder injury is likely to return at some point in June if Clay misses more than a few starts. The difference is the Buchholz many wanted to rush back on the mound last year was a Cy Young candidate during the first two months of the season.

Rubby De La Rosa Gets the Call
With the Sox in need of another starter for at least a couple of weeks, De La Rosa heads north from Pawtucket. Rubby has been impressive in AAA this season. His strong peripheral statistics (sorry, Bob Ryan) suggest it’s fine time to see if the results in the minors may translate to success in the majors.

 

NESN’s Jenny Dell Is Moving on to Bigger, Better Things Maybe
With the high school homecoming dance season a mere four months away, Jenny hath been freed to spread her wings and fly away.

 

Screen Grabs from MLB Classics on YouTube: Boston at Cleveland, Game 5, 1999 ALDS

Last week, we took some fun still shots from Game 1 of the 1990 ALCS between Oakland and Boston at Fenway Park.

Today, the series continues with a recap of Game 5 of the 1999 ALDS: the Red Sox at Indians at Jacobs Field. The starting pitching matchup was Bret Saberhagen versus Charles Nagy. But a certain other right-hander for Boston would calmly bide his time on the bench before eventually stealing the show.

The Fox feed is spliced with audio from Indians radio announcers Tom Hamilton and Mike Hegan.

04:21: A Cleveland fan sporting a sign that says, “We Are the Curse” is really quite excited that Charles Nagy has induced two quick groundouts in the first inning.

Curse sign

06:06: Brian Daubach singles and Nomar homers to center field (on the first pitch). 2-0, Boston.

Nomar HR

08:55: Bret Saberhagen, his shoulder tendons held together with “steel anchors,” got the start for Boston in Game 5. Sabes also started Game 2 and gave up six runs in the 3rd inning as Cleveland won 11-1. Shoulder pain (which forced him to the DL three times during the regular season) restricted his ability to throw his change-up, which at his advanced age was about the only swing-and-miss stuff he had left.

Saberhagen

11:44: After Saberhagen misses badly en route to walking Kenny Lofton to open the inning, a shot of Pedro Martinez calmly sitting in the dugout.

Pedro in dugout 

13:29: Mike Hargrove quickly gave up on his dispute that Jason Varitek may have touched an Omar Vizquel bunt attempt in fair territory. So Jimy Williams’ coming out of the dugout afterward feels a bit, you know, gratuitous…almost like he just wanted to be seen here. He looks pretty comfortable and relaxed, though.

Jimy Williams pants

14:20: For no reason in particular, let’s take a moment to admire the well-timed, controlled extension of Kenny Lofton’s left arm on this slide as he easily steals second base.

Lofton slide second

16:01: For no reason in particular, Fox takes a moment to show Pedro sporting spikes in the dugout after the Indians quickly get a run back off Saberhagen.

Pedro's spikes

17:00: Manny’s well-documented struggles in the series (0-for-15, 7 Ks) were believed to be due to a glitch in his batting stance in which he had his feet too close together.

Manny

19:44: Split screen of Pedro Martinez trying to will Saberhagen out of the inning from the dugout. Jim Thome would hit a mammoth two-run homer. Three more cuts to Pedro sitting on the bench. Hamilton eventually says Pedro is available for maybe two innings. Hegan says that’s still a “big if.”

Pedro clapping

35:25: Travis Fryman’s home run (briefly called a double before the umpires conferred) in the 2nd inning chases Saberhagen. Derek Lowe is first out of the bullpen. Lowe would wind up surrendering three runs in two innings.

Lowe bullpen

47:31: Trot Nixon doing eye drops in the dugout in plain view of everyone. Everything you’ve heard about performance enhancers in the late 1990s was obviously very true. And just look at a dejected Bret Saberhagen pretending not to notice or care.

Nixon eyedrops

50:57: The Indians walk Nomar to get to Troy O’Leary.

IBB Nomar

51:55: Troy O’Leary hits a grand slam on the first pitch. 7-3, Boston.

Oleary GS

1:00:09: Capping off an Indians rally, Jim Thome hits his second jack of the game – this one off Lowe – to quickly give the Indians back the lead, 8-7.

Thome 2nd HR

1:03:06: Look who’s up in the bullpen….Rod Beck! And some other guy in the shadows on the left.

Beck and Pedro pen

1:14:24: Pedro comes in with the game tied, 8-8, after John Valentin hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the 4th.

Pedro 1_14_pt1

1:14:51: Jimy must have been saving John Wasdin, Kent Mercker, et al for later…

Pedro 1_14_pt2

1:15:02: Pedro had actually gone only four innings in Game 1, looking mortal while striking out just three batters before leaving with back pain. It was no foregone conclusion he was OK five days later.

Pedro 1_15

1:18:16: Lofton tries to beat out a grounder to first with that same slide he used to steal second base.

Lofton slide first

1:18:23: The result is a bit more painful…a dislocated left shoulder. A bad omen for the Indians. (Is there any other kind of omen in Cleveland?)

Lofton slide first_v2

1:33:35: Still shaking off some rust in the 5th, Pedro has a breaking ball slip out of his hand and barely miss Manny Ramirez. Manny would wind up earning one of three walks surrendered by Pedro.

Pedro to Manny

1:36:45: Pedro drops an absolutely perfect 3-1 curve right on the outside corner to Thome.

Pedro 1_36

1:50:40: A somewhat forgotten fact: Dave Roberts took over for Lofton in center after his ill-advised slide into first base. Roberts appeared in 41 games for Cleveland in 1999. The announcers would even lament that the team needed to “count on” guys like Dave Roberts to get to the ALCS.

Dave Roberts

2:00:34: Paul Shuey gives up an infield hit to Valentin and, after an intentional walk to Nomar, Troy O’Leary does it again. A three-run HR lands right over the Red Sox bullpen, which Pedro had rendered into a glorified cheering section.

Oleary 3run HR 7th

Boston pen 7th

2:00:57: 11-8, Boston. This Cleveland fan’s face sums it up…

Old Cleveland fan

2:03:12 / 2:03:32: These guys too.

Other Cleveland fan

Third Cleveland fan

2:04:52: And, as Pedro begins to look more untouchable, striking out contact hitter Roberto Alomar swinging.

Cleveland fan 2_04

2:06:10: Manny strikes out looking, which doesn’t help this fan’s outlook. Fox spent as much time showing Cleveland fans just staring into space as it did Pedro breezing his way through a 1-2-3 bottom of the 7th.

Cleveland fan 2_06

2:18:00: Nomar ends the eighth with this catch in foul territory.

Nomar 8th

2:20:40: Rheal Cormier, Ramon Martinez and Rod Beck all got loose in the top of the 9th.

Cormier Ramon Beck

2:21:36: Donnie Sadler! In to run after a Brian Daubach double, Sadler would score Boston’s 12th and final run on a Nomar double. Not that they needed it.

Donnie Sadler


2:31:00: Pedro completes six shutout, hitless relief innings. Finishing with Beck or Cormier just wouldn’t have been right.

Pedro ends it

Pedro ends it 2

Hub Bids Another Superstar Adieu: Moss departure reeks of Manny trade

Now we wait, with bated breath, for the inevitable accounts of Moss’ last days in New England. Perhaps there is a Jack McCormick-like shoving incident that can be pointed to by revisionists as the impetus to a deal being consummated.

In-season trades of surefire Hall of Famers like Randy Moss and Manny Ramirez just don’t come to be all that often, particularly when the team trading away the superstar is a fair bet to make the postseason.

To paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld: Of course it ended badly. Nothing would ever end if not on a down note.

The logical view from an impartial distance is that both the Manny and Moss deals were defensible in that they represented long-view business decisions. Both trades represented aging stars leaving town in the hopes of one last payday predicated as much on what he has done in the past as what he can be expected to do in the future.

But alas, here comes that old, familiar stench akin to the Ramirez 2008 Hatefest: The faulty perception that players like Moss and Manny have bad “attitudes” (Tony Massarotti comes right out and says it; on ESPNBoston.com, Mike Reiss straddles his well-worn middle ground stance while still managing to imply “locker-room chemistry” issues.)

Over the years, the malcontent storyline has become stock language amongst local media. It is a fallback explanation that has become as lazy as the “Manny Being Manny” nonsense that was co-opted by some into “Randy Being Randy” when it became convenient. Before either ever stepped off a plane at Logan—Manny in 2001 and Moss in 2007—both were unfairly depicted as self-absorbed, over-privileged A-holes. It was never a matter of if pundits would turn on either player; it was just a question of when.

Moss’ press conference after Game 1 of the 2010 season was the latest case in point. When there’s a microphone in the room, You’re Damned if You Don’t, But You’re Almost Certainly More Damned if You Do. Shaquille O’Neal has played the media game deftly for years, but he better be taking notes.

Given the climate of coverage around here, what incentive do our professional teams have to dispel rumors of dissatisfaction and “cancerous” locker room behavior? Whispering into columnists’ ears about lack of effort is a transparent and foolish tactic, but team officials will continue to do it because there are always a few takers willing to ignore things like reality and game film.

Ironically, the Moss news came on the same day that The Sporting News released its “Best Sports City” rankings, which had Boston at Number 2. Presumably, TSN’s algorithm has been weighted heavily on the fact that Boston is relatively blessed with competitive teams and high-profile stars.

But it’s fair to question whether all the winning in this town has actually changed the negative perception that many athletes of past generations had of playing in Boston. The success of otherworldly players like Moss—and Manny and countless others before him—is almost impossible to enjoy in the moment, unabashedly, without worrying that their high statistical outputs would eventually lead to unfair expectations and trifling scrutiny within the media.

While it is as much a cliché to continuously blame the media for a star player’s “unfair” treatment, New England’s fanbase is certainly not at fault for either Moss’ or Manny’s deciding enough is enough.

Great athletes all have breaking points—it comes with the territory of eccentric, unique ability. It’s just a damn shame the guys with the microphones and notepads keep reinventing the need to test these thresholds.

After Manny Ramirez steroid revelations, 12-year-old boy steals DeLorean, travels back in time

MELROSE, Mass.–Residents of a small, quiet city seven miles north of Boston have been shaken to their core over the last six days as news spreads that a 12-year-old boy has gone missing after apparently setting out on a Back to the Future-style time-traveling mission to prevent the Manny Ramirez steroid scandal.  

Harold and Martha Chavez last saw their youngest son, Joseph, on Thursday night after watching him play left field during a Little League game. (He wears No. 24, of course.) Upon returning home, their son learned the news that Ramirez had been suspended for 50 games by Major League Baseball for steroid use.

As lifelong Red Sox fans, the Chavez family was understandably devastated to hear the news, especially their young son.

“Joey really took it hard,” said his mother. “He kept talking about how the Red Sox’ world championships were retroactively tarnished. Before he went to bed, he said something about going 88 miles per hour in a DeLorean to go back in time and stop Manny from taking steroids. I just thought he was really tired or maybe coming down with a cold or the pig flu.”

Unbeknownst to Mrs. Chavez, her son’s time travel talk may have been more than just a Hollywood fantasy. 

“He fell asleep holding this picture he had taken of Manny Ramirez clutching the World Series trophy on one of the Duck Boats during the 2004 parade,” said his father, Harold. “When I came into his room this morning, my son was gone and there was just this void in the picture. Manny’s on the Duck Boat holding thin air. The trophy is gone…”

Not coincidentally, an old DeLorean sports car was reported missing on Friday morning from Sal’s Auto Body in downtown Melrose. The Chavezes do not know whether their son managed to penetrate the space/time continuum. (Plutonium is not a known commodity anywhere on the North Shore.) Nor do they have any idea which year he aimed to visit or how he planned to prevent Manny’s use of performance enhancing drugs. 

“I just hope he goes back far enough to make sure (the Red Sox titles in) 2004 and 2007 still count,” said Chavez’s 18-year-old brother, Brian. “Right now we’re just kind of in this limbo. Are the World Series titles tarnished? No one knows for sure. Plus, I haven’t seen my brother in five days so it’d be nice if he came home.”

It has undoubtedly been a trying week in the Chavez household as well as within the entire Melrose community.

“Those championships were so important to so many people around here,” said Regina Rice, 72, on her way out of the dry cleaners. “To have those banners be tainted, tarnished or taken away would just be awful. My husband died in 2006 and I’m dreading the day I’ll have to visit his grave to tell him he never actually saw the Red Sox win the World Series legitimately. This young boy going missing just exacerbates the pain.”

Inside a local drugstore, Richard McCarthy, 39, lamented, “All our memories are ruined. The 2004 season wasn’t what we thought it was…Nothing matters anymore. This missing kid is our only hope. What am I going to do with all the newspaper clippings I saved from that year? Are all my old copies of the Boston Globeobselete?”

Concern over mementos from past World Series victories appears to be justified. In addition to an alarming acceleration of yellowing (or aging) of his Globe newspaper clippings, McCarthy claims other prized possessions have become flawed. “I have this ball that was signed by the entire 2007 Red Sox team. Everybody signed that thing…even the scrubs like Royce Clayton and Bryan Corey. But last week, I noticed some of the signatures were smudged and are either no longer legible or barely visible.”

When asked if she thought her son would eventually return heroically to present day as Marty McFly did in the famed 1985 movie, Mrs. Chavez became noticeably distressed.

“I’m with Stephen Hawking. I’ve always been skeptical of time travel,” she says, blinking back tears. “But my son has seen that movie about 50 times so maybe he’ll be able to figure it out. Who knows?”

When told the future (and, in turn, the present) is ultimately altered at the end of the famous movie, Mrs. Chavez breathes a small sigh of relief. Reality quickly returns, however. A moment later, she turns away to again check the picture of Manny taken by her son during the 2004 victory parade. Alas, the trophy – like her son – has yet to reappear.