The best movie of the year has yet to come out. It is a thriller filled with suspense, action, and the sound of revenge. The numerous plot twists are what makes this storyline the best movie I will ever witnessed. I can already feel it. Of course, as most of you already know, I'm talking about "Manny Being Manny," the Manny Ramirez story. There is no Hollywood screenwriter that could have written a story as good as the one Manny Ramirez is writing this year with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Cast away after guiding the Red Sox to two World Series championships, the 2004 World Series MVP has the opportunity this postseason to stick it to his former team where it hurts the most.
Since becoming a Dodger at the trade deadline this year, Ramirez has a .398 batting average with 17 home runs and 53 RBI in just 180 at bats. In that time the Dodgers pushed their way past the defending NL West Champion Arizona Diamondbacks and into the postseason for the first time since 2006. Not only that, but the new Ramirez led Dodger team swept the Chicago Cubs, who had the best record in the National League in the NLDS.
It is the first time since 1988, the year the Dodgers defeated the Oakland Athletics in the World Series, that the Dodgers had won a playoff series.
Meanwhile, in the American League, Ramirez's former team knocked off the Los Angeles Angels in four games to advance to the ALCS against the Tampa Bay Rays. Both the Dodgers and Red Sox are now only just one series away from complete chaos.
"Through all the fun and games, there is always an edge about him. He's about as confident in his ability as anyone I've ever seen, but it's more than that. Whatever it is that drives him, it drives him. It is there all the time, no matter how much fun he seems to be having....This guy wants to win more than anything else, and he wants to prove himself every time up."
-Dodgers Manager Joe Torre on Manny Ramirez
Ramirez had been asking to be traded out of Boston since the 2004 season, but never got his wish until now. In the years in between, it became commonplace for Ramirez trade rumors to heat up at the deadline, but most of the time the baseball community was left disappointed as no deal was reached. Red Sox management knew that Ramirez wanted out of Boston, but when they felt they couldn't get even value in return, they played Ramirez's constant trade request off as "Manny Being Manny." Initially, Manny Ramirez had no choice but to go along with it as fans would have reacted negatively had he not.
However, as the years went on, Manny realized that this new persona he was given gave him all the power in the world. Especially if the Red Sox kept winning ballgames. In essence, Boston giving Manny the power to be a distraction a first time promoted his behavior and much of the reasoning for the manner of his departure from Boston can be accredited to the team not handling the situation well initially. They let Manny Ramirez dictate how their team was going to play and when you let the convicts run the asylum, it never ends in a good result.
Eventually many people began to question whether or not Ramirez was purposely taking days off, faking injuries, and not concentrating on winning. The "Manny Being Manny" tagline was growing tiresome among Boston fans. However, it wasn't until the persona started to wear thing on management and other players that caused the Red Sox to actively look for trade suitors.
So when Ramirez finally was traded to the Dodgers, many criticized him of not wanting to win. However, in my opinon, I think Joe Torre, who saw Ramirez plenty of times as an opposing manager, said it best. "Through all the fun and games, there is always an edge about him. He's about as confident in his ability as anyone I've ever seen, but it's more than that," Torre said of Ramirez. "Whatever it is that drives him, it drives him. It is there all the time, no matter how much fun he seems to be having....This guy wants to win more than anything else, and he wants to prove himself every time up."
Maybe that is the reason he has won two world series rings in the past four years and is on the verge of making it to a 5th. Ramirez's tarnished relationship with the Red Sox will give both sides extra motivation to stick it to the other. Amping the scenario up even more, is that the Dodger team that Ramirez joined features fellow Red Sox outcasts Nomar Garciaparra and Derek Lowe. All of which have something to prove to Red Sox Nation(though Garciaparra is out with an injury).
Manny is playing baseball as if he has a huge chip on his shoulder and I absolutely love it. It is his competitive drive to succeed that makes Ramirez's vengence with the Dodgers seem that much sweeter. I haven't watched a player play with that kind of motivation and drive to prove something in a long time.
If the two teams end up squaring off in the World Series, it will be interesting to see if the Red Sox fans embrace the man who helped them win two world titles or if they will boo him. I'm hoping it's the former, but you never know with Boston fans. Either way, if the two teams meet, the world series is sure to have a Hollywood ending.