Monday, May 16, 2005
Not to get too sentimental about this or anything, but it's something that's been an awful long time in the making, and Manny Ramirez's 400th career homerun deserves all the cheesy photoshopping it can get.
I could throw all the numbers at you, how he's the 39th player to reach the 400 homer mark, or how he reached it the 5th fastest to get there, behind Mark McGwire, Babe Ruth, Harmon Killbrew, and Jim Thome. Not such shabby company to be keeping.
Impressive as the numbers are, though, they don't really matter. Manny, in his usual Manny way, has an idea of this: "Just another home run. That's a great moment in my life, but tomorrow it doesn't mean nothing. I'm just going back and trying to hit [another one]."
All I know is that I was in the car with my mother, the back full of new deck chairs, listening to a rising chorus of boos as Manny stepped to the plate. "They're booing Manny," I said, amused, because you only ever get booed in a far distant stadium if you've done something bad (see: Giambi) or if you're too damn good, and there's no doubt about which category Manny, even a slumping Manny, falls into.
Moments later we were listening to Castig and Trupe yell with excitement as "number 400" fell into the seats. "That's what you get when you boo Manny!" we crowed, triumphant, and we high-fived, right there in the car, and I sat back and thought, "Four hundred. COOL," because fuck erudition, Manny had just hit 400 frikking homeruns. Adjectives, as they say, failed me.
Then we got home and put the chairs on the deck and I went in and watched the rest of the game, hoping for that one elusive run to tie it up, wondering why the hell bloody Miguel Olivio was suddenly so good, seeing the replays of the homerun and Manny's subsequent greeting at the plate and in the dugout, the long chain of hugs as he worked his way through the team, because what better way to congratulate the much-celebrated master of the manhug than with 24 (and change, with coaches) of the same?
It's been a long road from 1993, from that first homerun at Yankee Stadium. Home ground has been traded, from the Jake to the Monster. There have been the sartorial changes, from Chief Wahoo on his sleeves to a World Series Champions logo, from the tight pants of a self-conscious rookie to the baggy carelessness (or carefree-ness, depending on how you look at it) of today. His hair has gone from close-shaven to bushy to cornrowed to braided to bushy again to close-shaven to even more voluminous than ever, back to braided, and on to loosely dreadlocked. Hugs with fellow slugger Jim Thome have been traded for hugs with fellow slugger David Ortiz.
Maybe Cleveland has, to date, gotten to see more of Manny, but Boston has certainly seen the best of him. And yes, he's been 'distracted' lately-- given the history, I'd take this with a handful of salt-- but Manny will be Manny, and the reason could be anything. We've complained about this before only to eat our words later in the season. Maybe this time the decline is for real, though, maybe he's getting too old, maybe we're seeing the beginning of the end and it's time to start cursing that bloated contract in earnest.
Regardless. Today Manny hit his 400th homerun. The fan who caught it gave it up without a fuss, and there were hugs all around, and Manny joked about selling it on E-bay, and it was business as usual. Except it wasn't, because that was a homerun 12 years in the making.
Here's to hoping we get to see at least a few more of the same.
OK, that was too sentimental, wasn't it? Meh. If it's laughs you crave, go check out Royals Review, the newest SportsBlogs site about, yes, the Royals. I think the guy writing it is clinically depressed, although it's hard to tell if it's him, or the team he's writing about, or some combination of the two.
"Sadly, the more I think about it, is there anything to be gained by having anyone in a Royals uniform?... there is the service the Royals provide to the rest of MLB, allowing for a round number like 30 teams and helping to make sure that the Cardinals, who as you know have the "best fans in baseball", completely dominate in Missouri."
In any event, go read it, it's fucking hilarious.
EDIT: You know how there was chatter about how Millar had talked to Miguel Olivio before today's game and gave him some help on his batting stance, and then Olivio went ahead and looked awesome in the game? Ha ha ha, what a sad and funny coincidence, you say. Not so much. Lookout Landing went to the trouble of getting images from the game before and the game after Millar talked to Olivio, and damn if the guy didn't go right ahead and change his batting stance to start hitting the ball again. Thanks bunches, Kevin. Someone remind me why the MLB has a rule (albeit an oft-ignored rule) against fraternizing with opposing teams?