Labor Day weekend promises plenty of unsettled weather, with locals bunkering down and preparing for the unpleasantness ahead. We’ll be bracing for the onslaught, ready for anything.
I’m speaking, of course, about the arrival of Manny Ramirez as a member of the Chicago White Sox. What, you thought I was referring to some little old hurricane that’s blowing out to sea?
Who do you think will cause more damage over the course of Labor Day weekend in Boston: Manny or Earl? One will force locals to keep an eye on the TV, shouting out obscenities if they see signs of significant damage. The other will bring rain and wind to the region Friday night.
We’ve already seen Manny come to town once this season, back in the happy-go-lucky interleague days of June. You remember those days, right? That was when the Sox put a 13-5 hurting on the National League teams that dared to stand up to the plate. Imagine where they’d be if they didn’t pad those interleague stats — probably hanging on for dear life hoping for some sort of September miracle.
Never mind. That’s where they are anyway.
The Sox swept the Manny-led Dodgers over the final weekend of spring at Fenway Park, outscoring the McCourt Dependents 17-10. Manny was locked in at the plate, going 5-for-12, but his damage was limited to a solo home run in game two.
Let’s hope Hurricane Earl’s wind gusts also lack significant punch.
Now, Manny is back in town wearing the uniform of the other Sox. Chris Elias, the keeper of the numbers in the Green Monster, had better keep the door open during pitching changes. You never know when No. 99 will drop by for a visit.
Back in June, the reaction for the man who was once Boston’s best slugger was mixed. I’d say there were slightly — slightly — more boos than cheers. It might be a little different Friday night. Red Sox Nation is feeling an agita that it hasn’t dealt with since 2006, the feeling that we’ll be missing out on that October party. Now, Ramirez is the big addition brought into Chicago to try to propel Ozzie Guillen’s team on an improbable charge into a playoff spot. In fact, the first obstacle in Chicago’s way is Boston, the team ahead of it in the wild-card standings.
Manny once slunk his way out of Boston, spending more time in the trainer’s room at the end than he spent on the field. In case you think that was a simple personality clash between a great hitter and his team, think again. Ramirez is in Chicago because he was too laid-back for LA. That’s hard to do.
In his two full seasons since leaving Boston, Manny has managed to play 170 games for the Dodgers. That’s 84 fewer games than J.D. Drew has played for the Sox. Yes, Ramirez was suspended for 50 games because of his violation of the MLB banned substance policy, but that still leaves Drew 36 games ahead.
Manny will undoubtedly enjoy his time in Boston. He has flown in his old friend Monstro, "barber to the stars," to town to cut his dreadlocks. This, so he can conform with his new team’s policy regarding the length of players’ hair.
See, Manny’s a good team player. He’s trying to fit in with his new team,m aybe even convince them to give him a contract for $15 million or so next year. All he has to do is hit .396, drive in a run a game, and hit a home run every three games or so. It’s what he did after the Sox traded him to the Dodgers in 2008, leading LA to the playoffs. LA loved him, became "Mannywood" and gave him nearly $24 million to play there in 2009.
Of course, by the end of that season, and for much of this year, Manny began to revert to his old tricks. That’s why Joe Torre was more than happy to see him go. But we’re sure things will be different this time around.
All he has to do is start pounding the ball for his new buddy Ozzie. He’s 1-for-3 so far, and his contract drive continues Friday night at Fenway. Our coverage begins at 6 p.m.
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