On July 6th with the Red Sox and Yanks locked in a game that would eventually be decided by a Brett Gardner infield single, Manny Ramirez came up to pinch hit in the top of the 9th. With the winning run on base, Ramirez had the unenviable task of facing Mariano Rivera. Manny took three pitches, all for strikes, and walked back to the dugout.
At the time, we were in awe of Mariano. He is having a season for the history books, and that strike out of Ramirez was indicative of his success. But what if Manny helped him along a bit? In a post on the Extra Bases blog today, Boston Globe writer Steve Silva writes about a conflict between Manny and the Red Sox. Apparently, Bob Lobel, the former sports director of the Boston-based WBZ, while reporting on the six-figure fine Ramirez received for shoving Jack McCormick, had some choice words to say this morning. Silva reports:
[Lobel] went on to allege that there was a perception that in a pinch-hit at bat at Yankee Stadium on July 6 — more than a week after the incident with McCormick — Ramirez took three straight called strikes to send a message to the Sox.
“The thing that most people are forgetting and haven’t talked about is the strikeout in Yankee Stadium,” Lobel said. “The bat on the shoulder for the three pitches from Mariano Rivera. That was a big [expletive] to the Red Sox after the fine. I’m just telling you … there are things in the front office that are perceived … I’m saying that there is a strong feeling that that [three-pitch strikeout] was the message to the Red Sox and it’s a strong feeling that that’s unacceptable … there’s a feeling that he didn’t give it his all, let’s put it that way … I’m just saying the front office has not forgotten that moment. It’s akin to Nomar sitting on the bench. It’s the same thing. It’s an at bat that resonated very strongly in the front office.”
For us, this shouldn’t take away from the accomplishments of Mariano Rivera. If the Red Sox want to make “Manny being Manny” excuses, let them. Mo is Mo every time he pitches this year.
But from a player personnel perspective, this could get interesting. In 2004, Theo Epstein drew the ire of Boston sports fans by trading away the popular Nomar Garciaparra. While I doubt he would do the same with Manny Ramirez this year, the Sox and Manny have a contract to negotiate, and incidents such as this one and another involving the Front Office won’t endear Manny to the Sox.
So here’s something to muse: With the Yanks’ outfield in a state of flux and Manny seemingly on the outs with the Red Sox ownership, how would you feel about Manny in pinstripes for a season or two? The temptation will be very, very strong among the Steinbrenner family if Manny hits free agency in November.