Manny's gone. Although it isn't unreasonable to be upset about his lousy last AB as a Dodger (and the head-scratching aspect of Manny it represents), it's disingenuous to think he should have changed his character when he came to supposedly laid-back L.A.
We knew what we were getting. And what we got was an amazing 2008, a tainted but still productive 2009, and a waste of a 2010. All for only $45 million.
Here's Dusty's take:
I remember where I was when I learned that the Dodgers had acquired Manny. I was in my office at work when a good friend called to tell me the news. He never calls me during work hours. This was big news, indeed. I immediately ran to the offices of a few colleagues I knew would also be happy to hear the news. I was like a kid running to tell my parents that I'd gotten an A on a report.
MANNY WANTS TO PLAY FOR THE DODGERS. I kept repeating that to myself. It really stoked my True Blue blood. The fact that a future Hall of Famer and one of the greatest hitters of the modern era wanted to come play at Chavez Ravine just blew me away. It's been awhile since we had that caliber of hitter, so maybe I was just easily excited.
One of the things that Manny did when he arrived was immediately to make the young payers around him better. The transformation was almost instantaneous. In a physical sense, the presence of one of the most feared hitters in baseball meant that other players like Kemp and Ethier and Loney would see more good pitches to hit. But Manny also brought an intangible to the Yard. He brought confidence and veteran knowledge, as well as a work ethic that was both serious in terms of his craft but loose in terms of his approach. In short, he was the anti-Jeff Kent, and it was badly needed in the dugout. The addition of Casey Blake just a day or two before also helped bring some veteran presence to the team. The chemistry took hold and we took the NL West.
The crowds took to Manny right away. I was there on his second night in Los Angeles as a Dodger. I saw his first home run as a Dodger that night. Crowd went wild. I went wild. The love affair had begun. Though there have been great players and great moments in recent Dodger history (e.g., 4+1 game), and we'd been blessed with terrific young talent that makes up the core of our future, when Manny arrived, there hadn't been a buzz in Chavez Ravine like that since Gagne and Game Over. We needed him. And he needed us, to be sure.
I was also there on BobbleSlam night. It was the damndest thing I ever saw during a baseball game (only incorrect grammar could give this sentence the emphasis it needs). I will never forget where I was sitting or the volume of the crowd after Manny stood in -- nary a practice swing taken -- and smacked that homer into Mannywood.
I was at the Yard the night Manny missed his first game after the PED suspension, and I was there the first night he came back -- wearing #99 t-shirt. As I stood in line the night he returned, I was interviewed by a local reporter who tried to press me to say something negative about Manny. Don't toy with me, dying media.
Manny, we'll miss you. We'll miss your bat. We'll miss your goofiness. We'll miss your tortured answers to inane media questions. We'll miss your dreadlocks. We'll miss your Bee Eye Pee Tickess adverts. We'll miss the number 99. We'll miss your clutch heroics as well as the times you couldn't deliver but temporarily brought hope that you could. We'll miss your being the only player we list by first name when we post the lineups in the Sons of Steve Garvey game thread. Mostly, we'll miss how your being a part of the team drove Simers and Plaschke completely insane.
Thanks, Dusty! SoSG readers, what do you think? Take the poll and leave a comment!