Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Open Up The Manny Ramirez Criticism Floodgates and Shower Curtains

The Dodgers' losing Game 4 of the 2009 NLCS finally gave sportswriters across the country the opportunity to write that article they've had written for months, if not years: The Dodgers' downfall is due to Manny Ramirez. Bring out the lynch mobs, and let press room typewriters lead the way!

At least Gene Wojciechowski positioned his ESPN.com column as one of encouragement, even praising Manny for his defensive play in the seventh inning that kept us in Game 4 in the first place by silencing a Phillie threat:

OK, give Ramirez credit -- his grass-blade-high catch of Raul Ibanez's sinking line drive later in that sixth inning ended a Phillies rally, prevented the tying run to score and caused NLCS viewers everywhere to say, "Did Manny do that?"

Yes, he did. How, I don't know.

Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, watching from the dugout steps, was so sure that Ramirez couldn't possibly make the catch that he raised his arms in celebration as Ibanez's liner curled toward the ground and supposed safety. But then Ramirez's glove appeared and the ball disappeared. L.A. still had its one-run lead. [...]

Ramirez isn't the only reason why the Dodgers are in this NLCS sinkhole. But he's one of them. Now, more than ever, it's time for him to do what he's done in playoffs past.

Be Manny.

But it only goes downhill from there. The LATimes' Bill Plaschke is obsessed with images of Ramirez in the shower, which is frankly a little creepy:

Manny Ramirez?

He was bathing.

While the Dodgers were taking on the brunt of postseason pressure in the ninth inning here Monday night, their star was taking a shower.

While his teammates were wilting under the spotlight, their leader was relaxing under the spray.

By the time the Dodgers had finished staining themselves with a ninth-inning collapse in a 5-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series, Ramirez was just scrubbing clean.

I know that repeating oneself three different times using similar sentence structure and a plethora of synonyms is fundamental to Plaschke's column-inch wasting formulaic drivel. But really, enough with the visual images, Bill.

Plaschke goes on to indicate how Ramirez' four RBI and .276 batting average this batting average is pathetic. But really, how bad is this? No other Dodger has more than two RBI in the NLCS, for a grand total of 11 (yes, the same amount of runs scored by the Phillies in one game).

Ramirez is batting .250 with an OPS of .688. But even if we can get over the small-sample-size leap in logic, there are plenty of other Dodgers at which we can point the finger. Casey Blake is batting .133 with two hits in the NLCS. Andre Ethier has three hits and is batting a whopping .200. Rafael Furcal is .125 with two hits. Matt Kemp is tied with Ramirez with four hits and a .250 average, but only Russell Martin (.333), Ronnie Belliard (.333), and James Loney (.357) are showing any sort of consistent offensive punch.

Yes, Ramirez is the Dodgers' cleanup hitter, he is paid the big money to hit like a beast, and it looks even worse when Ramirez is juxtaposed against Ryan Howard, who is off to another crazy series (batting .385 with 8 RBI). Again, the small sample size is not worthy of quantitative analysis. Let the man shower in peace, will you? If his manager isn't rankled by Ramirez' behavior (Ramirez allegedly hit the showers in the bottom of the ninth inning, replaced by Juan Pierre in the field, while Jonathan Broxton worked the one-run lead to disastrous results), as Joe Torre said in the piece, then why are you making such a big deal of it?

Perhaps he assumed Broxton's ninth would be automatic. Maybe Ramirez is demure. Maybe he had a party to attend after the game. Whatever the reason, it's (soap and) water under the bridge for the players and managers and most of us Dodger fans, save a handful of journalists (that means you too, Jeff Passan), who are watching every last move of Ramirez in the locker room, waiting to pounce on Manny at any point they deem he is vulnerable.

Matter of fact, it's no wonder why Manny showers early and alone.

4 comments:

Mr. Customer said...

Perhaps it's because he's paid to be an outfielder, not a cheerleader. I don't understand why sportswriters expect players to be fans, as well.

It's his job, Bill. I don't care what the hell he does when he's off the clock.

Dusty Baker said...

I don't even want to feed the beast and continue this Manny/shower dialog. It's a non-issue for me. There is a long, long list of players who routinely do the same thing after leaving a game, and no one attacks them. If the players thought Manny's actions were ever an issue, then we'd know about it. If they don't have a problem with it, why should fans or writers?

Plaschke, STFU for the last time.

Steve Sax said...

nice, Mr. C. I didn't even think of that angle.

Mr. Customer said...

@Sax,

I think Joe said something to the similar effect in the presser. It's not like he could put Manny back in the game.

I regularly see pitchers hang in the dugout until their runners are erased, then vanish. Your work here is done, see ya tomorrow!