Manny “ManRam” Ramirez was signed to a minor league contract to be a player-coach at Triple-A Iowa by The Chicago Cubs and their President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, who was with Ramirez for seven years in the Boston. So now he can teach all the young new players how to just be Manny being Manny.
“While Manny is not and will not be a fit on the Cubs major league roster, we do think at this stage of his life he’s a nice fit as a mentor for some of the young talented hitters we have in the organization. Manny will coach full-time and play part-time in a limited role that does not take at-bats away from our prospects. If he shows there is still some magic in his bat, perhaps he will find his way to the major leagues and help another team, but that is not why he is here. We are thrilled that he wants to work with our young hitters and make a difference.”
Pedro Martinez was one of the best pitchers the game have ever seen, and he takes a little time from his roll of “Special Assistant” (We all know that just means him and Kevin Millar are the Sox official party starters, and they are good at their job.) for the RedSox to discuss the art and science of pitching.
“Pitching is both [art and science] and you have to put them together. You have to study a lot. You have to study the movement of your pitches – the distance your pitches move compared to the swing paths of batters. You have to learn to read bat speed against the speed of a fastball. You can tell a slow bat or a long swing, or a short, quick swing. You counter those things. If a hitter has a slow swing, I don’t want to throw him anything soft. I want to go hard against slow. If he has a quick bat, I probably want to be soft more than I want to be hard. You have to be able to repeat your delivery and be deceiving at the same time.
And one final story, about beer and bats…
I hate the term “lovable loser.” There’s no such thing nowadays. As ticket prices go up, players garner larger salaries, and championship droughts extend even further, fans have less and less patience with basement dwelling teams.
See that guy? That’s Matt Millen, former GM of the Detroit Lions. No one loves him. Not even his family. He is the ultimate type of unloved: hated in his own city and irrelevant everywhere else. His buffoonery over the years (horrendous drafting, questionable contracts, upsetting mustache) has not caused Detroit diehards to suddenly starting hating the team, since that’s not how fandom works. But he caused them to hate him specifically. The team itself (that is, the collection of laundry that people root for), never gets the hatred. It’d be like hating a building for the people inside of it. When times get tough, fans target a single loser or a group of losers, and start hating on them in force. “Fire Such-And-Such” Websites pop up, message board posters fire off tirades about lazy players and season ticket holders show up to the stadiums with bags on their heads. And that’s what I find so interesting about fans of a consistently terrible team; they could hate every single player, coach and owner, but they’ll never hate the team.
I suppose, in that regard, the uniforms themselves are the lovable losers. The people wearing them aren’t. The owners that put them on the players aren’t. But the poor numbered shirt, forced to clothe the inept and poorly managed, are the things that fans have sympathy for, but you can go and buy men’s clothes online to improve your looks and fashion. I don’t feel bad for 0-for-the-century Kosuke Fukodome, but I do take pity on his uniform. It’s so reviled it’s even a curse word in some places.
I find myself wondering what it would be like to be able to say “Aww, it’s alright. Those lovable scamps will get them next game.” That question comes from the same part of my mind that wonders what it would be like to shop at a general store or receive an ice delivery from a refridgerated truck. I kind of like being so passionate about something that I can hate someone that tries to harm it. I hate Hank Steinbrenner, for instance, and that makes me stronger. Before their Super Bowl win, I hated Eli Manning, Jeremy Shockey, the ghost of Tiki Barber and most of the offensive line, but it somehow made my love of the Giants more intense. I think the sports culture of our finest sports cities would be lessened if the tradition of the “there’s always next time” mentality came back. Hating on things is almost as fun as loving them.