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The latest news about Manny Ramirez, the Chicago Cubs, and Theo Epstein definitely smells like a publicity stunt. Today the 2004 World Series Championship team will be honored before the Red Sox game at Fenway Park. Ramirez will be among the Band of Idiots that Reversed the Curse at the ceremony today. Meanwhile, Epstein, the architect of that Red Sox team, hires Ramirez on the Sunday before this ceremony to join the Cubs organization as a minor league coach and possible player. Really, Theo? You traded him to the Dodgers, remember? Oh, how quickly we forget.
Mr. Epstein I do think you were interested in capitalizing on today’s event at Fenway Park. Still, I also believe that you think Ramirez can make a difference with the Cubs’ minor league players. Manny admits that he wants to be a role model, primarily for younger players. Certainly, Manny can show these prospects the finer points of hitting (a career .312 batting average and 1 of 25 players to hit 555 home runs), but base running and sliding, not so much. And fielding, well he is best known for his bathroom break in the Green Monster in left field, hardly a noteworthy defensive statistic.
The knowledge may still be there, somewhere, within Ramirez. I am just not certain he will be able to impart this wisdom to these prospective players. Some players are doers (or were doers), and are not teachers. I think Manny falls into the was-a-doer category.
Former teammate, David Ortiz, feels that Ramirez is a changed man. Ortiz says to Weei.com’s Rob Bradford:
“He is a totally different dude,’Ortiz said. “I’m very happy the way his life has changed for good, because sometimes it’s hard for people to understand the things that we deal with every day. And hear me out, I’m not trying to make any excuses for the things that he did before — because it doesn’t matter, they’re bad things — but I believe that people always deserve a second chance, especially when you want to do things right.”
Yes, David, he does deserve a second chance on some level, but the first rule of Manny’s Fight Club is: Manny will be Manny. Why now should we believe things will be any different? Ramirez cannot go anywhere without becoming the center of attention. I think this is just what Epstein wants for his ball club, despite countless denials to reporters. If Chicago cannot get media attention with their talent, then, maybe the ever-charismatic Manny can get the media excited about Cubs’ baseball once again.
In a world where any news is good news, Manny will fit right in with Epstein’s plan to inspire interest in this struggling franchise.