Thursday, April 17, 2008


If you're a Cleveland Indians fan, Manny Ramirez is like a hot significant other that dumped you years ago -- and, tragically, is still hot, if not hotter, than when you were together.

And it's awkward because you have to see each other once in a while.

I've noticed a few Tribe fans on the b/r who seem to still lust after Ramirez. They long for the days of yore when Ramirez manned right field in Cleveland, slugged doubles and homeruns, and never legged out a ground ball. I'm sure they were even more hot and bothered with Manny's two-run, ninth inning blast off Joe Borowski Monday night that gave the Boston Bleepin' Red Sox a come-from-behind win over the Wahoos. But hot and bothered in a "I-hate-you-but-I-still-list-you-as-one-of-my-favorite-childhood-players" sort of way.

Sure, Ramirez has two World Series rings, and Cleveland has none. And sure, Ramirez has a fat contract, an adoring fan base in Boston and, at the rate he's been playing in the past couple of days, will crack his 500th career home run, oh, I don't know, tomorrow.

That said, I still wouldn't want him back. And I still wouldn't cheer for him if he came to the plate, nor will I when on his first ballot he gets inducted into the Hall of Fame.

It's hard to explain, but I guess it's a pride thing. I understand that in the winter of 2001, when Manny inked his 8-year, $160 million-deal with the Red Sox, he was only acting with business in mind. He essentially took his agent's word as gospel, and it's worked out for him. Despite his numerous mental and verbal gaffes, Boston embraces "Manny being Manny" like they embrace traffic on the Mass Pike. It annoys them a little sometimes, but mostly they laugh and realize they couldn't live without it. Really, the Cleveland diehards who remember watching him develop as a player should be happy for him.

But this is sports. There are winners and losers.

Remember Manny's stunt at home plate last year in Game 4? He admired a meaningless solo shot and showed up the opposition with a pregnant pause and self-exaltation at home plate. That's like when a ex-girlfriend grabs her new boyfriend and makes out with him right in front of you. Completely uncalled for. Casey Blake probably thought about tripping him as he rounded third but refrained from the poor sportsmanship as the Indians were seemingly bound for the fall classic, which they were until the fates intervened (Josh Beckett, Dustin Pedroia) and everything fell apart.

But last year is over. As are all of the years between now and when Manny left the Tribe. I mentioned earlier that when I attend games where Manny plays, I don't cheer. I also don't boo. I don't want to be disrespectful. When your "ex" gives you a cold "hello," you reply with the obligatory head-nod acknowledgement, don't you? That's kind of what it's like. By sitting on my hands and maintaining a stoic silence, I'm making my point. It's over. We've moved on. He's moved on. Let's all try to keep our dignity.

When Manny hits No. 500, knowing that he hit 236 of those with the Indians, I will send an obligatory head nod of acknowledgment in his direction. Nothing more, nothing less.

(That said, you'd better believe I have him on my fantasy team right now. He is raking in the points!)


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