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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Manny The Great

It is too bad that we often don't appreciate the greatness of some athletes in our midst because they might not fit our idealized vision of what the "perfect"persona for that role should be (not everybody looks and talks like Ted Williams). I am afraid that is the case with Manny Ramirez, perhaps the best right-handed power hitter of his era. While many focus mostly on Manny's gaffes and goofiness, he is - without doubt - a Hall Of Famer, and a player starting to reach some impressive career milestones. His second-place ranking in Grand Slams is a great case in point.
Yes, you do have to be on teams that get on base in front of you, and you have to have some protection behind you in the batting order, but you still have to hit it out when the bases are loaded. Manny does this better than any modern-day player (including Williams and Aaron), and often he drives it out to the opposite field because most pitchers pitch him outside in that situation to avoid the HR. He hits it out anyway, with relative ease.
And yes, Manny is leading the league in Outfield Assists. Believe it. Why? Short left field, lots of chances, or maybe other team coaches underestimate Manny's arm and hustle. Still, you have to make the throw, and he does.

Manny's power numbers are consistent year in and out - while the rest of baseball was boosting numbers with syringes. Manny's RBI numbers are the best in the league this year so far, despite a down year in batting average. Productive, without steroids.

No, Manny won't ever be in the broadcast booth; he doesn't have the spit and polish for that job, nor does he care I suspect. Word is he may retire early when the current contract expires and he doesn't need anymore money. Too bad. You wonder what Manny could do if he played until he was 40. Yes his errors are ugly, he is not a graceful runner or fielder, and he does seem out-to-lunch sometimes. But you have to recognize and respect his production, in almost any situation, and under pressure.

Sox fans should be happy every day that Manny is Manny.