Giants 2010: Manny Just HAD To Be Manny
(originally written 4/19/10)
Manny just HAD to be Manny.
Manny Ramirez, hobbled in the first two games of this week's Giants/Dodgers series, was summoned to pinch-hit in the 8th inning of Game 3. He was the only thing standing between Barry Zito and win #3 in as many starts. Zito had just hung 7 1/3 innings of zeroes on the Dodgers before walking longtime A.L. West nemesis Garret Anderson. In came Romo… and Ramirez.
In a past blog, I noted how the Giants drive fans crazy by scoring nine runs when two would have sufficed for victory—then going out and failing to match that number over the next 3-4 games. This affair stands as a classic example: San Fran went out on Friday and fell behind 10-3, then added five unnecessary and ultimately meaningless runs. Saturday, they score nine when all they needed was one (while acknowledging the Dodgers would have likely played things differently had the score been close.)
In the Sunday (4/18) finale, Clayton Kershaw wrapped the Giants and all their offensive momentum up as tightly as his vaunted curveball. Yet, thanks to the fearless, rugged Juan Uribe—how did he get cut by the White Sox again?—cracked a late home run that snapped a 0-0 tie (lest this game go 20 innings like the Mets/Cardinals did Saturday; I’m not trying to see Eli Whiteside pitching and Jonathan Sanchez in left field.)
But Manny blew it. The usually automatic Romo, whose failures since joining the team in 2008 have been few and far between, made a mistake to Man-Ram that wound up a souvenir. Manny just had to be Manny. Joe Torre brought him in to do one thing, Romo’s job was to stop him from doing one thing—and yet the one thing happened anyway. Why? Because Manny Ramirez is a Hall-of-Famer and one of the greatest hitters ever. Period.
Sure, he’s got the ridiculous hairdo. He cuts off throws from other outfielders. He disappears inside scoreboards. His helmet is covered in goop. He knocks down front office men and goes out clubbing when he claims he’s too sick to play. He demands trades annually, and also announces when he’s leaving his current team. His pants are too big, his fielding is dreadful at times, and he walks practically half the distance to first base when he goes deep.
But when you are down 1-0 in the 8th inning against your hated rivals, and the series is on the line, there is only one man you want up to bat. There is only one Manny you want up to bat. If he wasn’t such a flake, he’d be a legend.
Much was made about the Dodgers resting their regulars and putting out a “B” lineup for Game 2 of the series vs. Tim Lincecum. I beg to differ.
The Dodger bench, fully healthy, consists of a three-time Gold Glover at backup catcher (Brad Ausmus), a three-time All-Star outfielder with 2500+ career hits (Anderson), an All-Star 2B who started for 10 years in Milwaukee, Cleveland and elsewhere (Ron Belliard), and a guy who started for Toronto for years before platooning in Chicago (Reed Johnson). That’s not even including Jamey Carroll, who’s been one of the best supporting players in baseball the past decade.
Though all these men are 33 to 41 years of age, they’re all professionals who’ve accepted their roles. Los Angeles is a flawed team, but it does have depth. B-lineup my ass. That’s more than enough DODGER praise; let’s move on.
Though SF lost 2 of 3 in LA, they remain 8-4 and two games up on the rest of the division…for now, anyway, as they have been hit with their first wave of owies. Aaron Rowand was beaned by notorious plunker Vicente Padilla. I don’t think he meant to hit him in the face, but he did, and now Rowand is on the D.L. Mark DeRosa is also gimpy with a hamstring injury. So there goes 67% of our starting outfield. Is it too late to call up Alex Anthopolous and say “That Fred Lewis deal? PSYCH!” The Blue Jays have enough ex-Giants on their roster anyway (Jeremy Accardo, Merkin Valdez.)
One reason Padilla is a Dodger is because he was run out of Texas for hitting too many batters, leading to retaliation against his Ranger teammates. Any other guy beans Rowand, it doesn’t carry the same stigma. Fortunately, Lincecum nor Zito were dumb enough to retaliate for an accident and get ejected, which could have decimated the relief corps. Speaking of “The Code”, Matt Kemp tried to steal 2nd while the Dodgers were up six in Game 1, a game they’d ultimately win by just two. Some, like Mike Krukow, believe Kemp violated “The Code”. I disagree.
Ever since the Indians overcame a 12-run deficit to beat Seattle in 2001, this writer firmly believes you don’t stop trying to do everything you can to score until the last two, maybe three innings. The only “violation” Kemp committed was getting caught. Ballplayers are taught from Little League onward to never stop trying, always play hard until the game is over. They don’t qualify it with “…unless you’re ahead by a lot.” You don’t like other teams “pouring it on”? Here’s a thought: don’t fall behind!
DODGERS/GIANTS TRAIL MIX
The Dodgers showcased two members of that wretched 2002 Angels team which upset the Giants in the World Series—Anderson, and Ramon Ortiz, a starter for the Angels who now relieves. Last series vs. Pittsburgh, Bengie Molina—the ’02 Angels’ starting catcher—homered off Brendan Donnelly, a rookie setup man on the ’02 Angels. Elsewhere in baseball, Washington’s Livan Hernandez—Game 7 Giants co-goat—shut out Milwaukee, sandwiched around two games in which Adam Kennedy—the ’02 Angels starting second baseman—ripped five hits in eight AB with three RBI.
Ex-Giant starter Russ Ortiz, infamously handed the game ball in Game 6 with what seemed to be a secure 5-0 lead, was clinging to his career as a mop-up man for the Dodgers until being let go Monday.
Renteria went 1-for-13 against L.A. and is 3-for-31 since his torrid 11-for-16 start. On the bright side, Rowand’s beaning will not require surgery, but he will be squirming on the DL for two weeks.
GIANTS VISIT PETCO
Time to beat up on the 6-6 Padres. It’ll be Matt Cain vs. Clayton Richard (one of the prospects acquired from the White Sox for Jake Peavy) Monday at 7:05, followed by Jon Sanchez vs. Mat Latos (he made his first 10 starts last year) Tuesday at 7:05, followed by Todd Wellemeyer and ex-White Sock Jon Garland Wednesday at 3:35? The Giants have four scheduled off-Thursdays in April, and only four more off-Thursdays the rest of the season.