The Rays formally introduced Manny Ramirez to the wild animal that is the central Florida media on Tuesday afternoon alongside old friend, Johnny Damon. Time will tell, but it's likely that the signing of the former will end up making Tampa Bay look less like savants, and more like straight-up idiots.
In principle, the idea sounds good. You bring in Ramirez — arguably the best right-handed hitter of the last 50 years — for one year on short money, and figure, what's the worst that could happen?
That logic makes perfect sense if you're bringing the volatile Ramirez into a clubhouse full of experienced veterans who know how the game is supposed to be played, not a young team in the midst of rebuilding like the Rays.
However, bringing Ramirez to Tampa, well, that one makes a lot less sense. Ramirez has vowed upon arriving to his two most recent stops, Los Angeles and Chicago, that he was ready to have fun, play ball, all of that fun stuff. In both cases, the end was unsuccessful, if not messy.
The point is, what makes the Rays think that Ramirez will change? Is it because they think he's a desperate man playing for one last contract? Do they think he will be on his best behavior so that he can secure one more money grab before riding off into the sunset?
If that was the case, the Rays couldn't have liked what they heard on Tuesday.
"I already made my money," Ramirez, who signed a $2 million deal, said. "I'm here because I love the game, I love to compete. It doesn't matter how much you make. All you want is a chance to prove to people that you still could do it."
Does anyone truly believe that love of the game will be the motivating factor? Anyone? So if that's not it, and obviously money's not it, what then?
Maybe, it's his fellow idiot, Damon. That's right, Damon will keep Manny in line. Or, maybe not.
Again, look back into Ramirez' past. Sure, he and Damon are friends. They made that abundantly clear in their introductory news conference. Ramirez, though, is someone who's made it clear throughout his entire career that he marches to the beat of his own drum. When he's hitting lasers, it's an endearing quality. When he's loafing, it's all kinds of infuriating.
He's made it clear over the course of his career that he doesn't play favorites about when and where his "episodes" occur. It didn't matter if it came alongside buddies like Damon or David Ortiz. Even having a positive influence like Carlos Baerga in Boston didn't help. After all, Baerga was Manny's teammate in 2002. That year, of course, was the year of the infamous incident in which Ramirez neglected to run out a ground ball to the pitcher (which ironically took place at Tropicana Field).
So being around Damon won't necessarily make Ramirez a model citizen, either.
When you add it all up, it just doesn't make sense. Depsite Damon's claims that the Rays could still win the AL East (a bigger joke than Manny saying he plays for the love of the game), Tampa will struggle this season with or without Ramirez.
The Rays, despite a tumultuous offseason that ravished their roster, have a bright future. Is it worth exposing them to the potential hazards that come with sharing a clubhouse with Manny Ramirez? Do the Rays want can't-miss prospect Desmond Jennings seeing that? What about B.J. Upton? He already has a reputation as a bit of a slouch. It just doesn't sound like a good match.
It's likely the Rays feel bringing in Ramirez — and Damon — will sell tickets and generate some interest. It will do that, no doubt. What it likely won't do much of, though, is generate wins. It may even set what's turned into a rebuilding project back some. If that happens, the Rays will have no one to blame but themselves.
Well, that, and "Manny being Manny."
How do you see the Manny Ramirez era going in Tampa Bay? Share your thoughts below.
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