My needs at this point are pretty simple. I need to hear someone skip the “Bull Durham” lines and let me know that people in the room are livid. Really good and mad. And that they’re going to channel that anger - not lack of focus, not disappointment - into Game 3.
Someone from in the room should make it clear that what the people out of the room have seen in these first two games is absolutely unacceptable. And then we can go from there and make Montreal feel the embarrassment on their home ice.
Caps over Rangers in 6, Sabres over Flyers in 7, Bruins over Habs in 6, Penguins over Bolts in 6, Canucks over Blackhawks in 5, Sharks over Kings in 6, Red Wings over Coyotes in 5, Predators over Ducks in 7.
I was brought up studying baseball, and I was a student of the fundamentals-first school. You back up every play. You run out every hit. You leave everything you have out on the field, and if that means you wind up bringing a little bit of the field back into the dugout with you—bits of dirt, clay, or grass—you wear it as a badge of pride, a reminder of the way you expelled that last possible bit of effort. You don’t play seriously injured, but you play sore or tired, and you play in the rain until you hear thunder or the guys in the blue tell you to come in.
Manny Ramirez drove me absolutely insane.
Anyone who followed Boston baseball during Manny’s time heard the stories. He was the among the first to the park each day. He trained relentlessly, studied, honed a swing that seemed to come so naturally. For all the increasingly erratic behavior in the spotlight, there was a driven athlete on the inside.
I heard all about it, but I never saw it. I saw the guy making phone calls from the Monster, who couldn’t remember which knee he’d hurt, and who—most infuriating to me—openly sighed and flipped his bat as he sauntered his way down the first base line after hitting what nine times out of ten was a routine ground ball put out.
I also saw the one time out of ten that he could have beaten out the play or the error but chose not to.
His play on the field, more often than not, insulted the approach to the game instilled in me since before I can even remember.
That said, what I hated most about Manny’s years on the Red Sox was that I couldn’t entirely hate him. When the man hit, and I mean really connected, there was nothing more exciting to experience.
You’d feel the anticipation spread through the Fenway crowd before the first “Man-ny, Man-ny” chants began. Especially when the pitcher walked Ortiz to get to Ramirez. Choosing to face Manny over Papi? Oh, pitcher, he’s going to make you pay for that decision. Even the languid way he approached the plate made you wonder if it wasn’t indifference after all—he was simply saving up all of that energy to send it over the wall with that baseball.
And to top it all off, there was 2004. And then 2007. No Boston sports fan born before 1986 can entirely write off someone who helped deliver to us what Williams, Yaz, Fisk, Rice, and the rest couldn’t.
But when it came to Manny, I always shook my head: Sometimes in bemused exasperation, sometimes disbelief, sometimes disgust.
Today it’s a little from column B, a lot from column C. A man destined for Cooperstown effectively threw away his invitation to the Hall. Sad or tragic doesn’t seem to do it justice, but what’s most maddening is that you don’t get the impression that he even cares.
I hope, though, that when the time comes that people ask me what it was like to see Manny Ramirez play, this isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Nor do I want to flash back to the lethargic play, the signs, or the Manny Door.
I want Manny’s legacy, at least in my mind, to be that sense of anticipation. The feeling that some poor unsuspecting pitcher’s night just took a turn for the worse.