Josť being Manny?

A couple of decades or so ago, the Cleveland Indians had a young outfielder who went by the name of Manny Ramírez. Manny was a gifted athlete who came up through the Indians’ farm system and went on to have an illustrious career, hitting 555 home runs, including 236 during his eight years with the Tribe.

Indians fans who remember watching Manny play baseball may recall that although Manny quickly became one of the most feared hitters in the game, his fielding – and his base running in particular – also evoked fear in many who were watching the game. Especially his managers.

Manny didn’t approach fielding with the same enthusiasm he did with hitting. It wasn’t unusual for Manny to treat a ball hit in his direction as though it were radioactive. There were times Manny would trot – or actually walk – over to retrieve a ball that was hit down the line while the happy baserunner(s) would take an extra base as a result of Manny’s – for lack of a better word – “defense.”  

Manny’s base running skills also left a bit to be desired. I’m not certain Manny ever really knew what the job of the base coaches were, since Manny never appeared to be paying attention to them. Manny played by his own rules when running the bases (which many times would lead to an out). Over the years, this became something of an endearing trait of Manny’s, since it always seemed that any fielding or base running transgressions would be forgiven when Manny hit one of his monster homers at The Jake (Jacobs Field, before it became Progressive Field).

Manny always had a warm smile, which helped generate a sort of “country bumpkin” image that most fans embraced. Whenever Manny experienced one of his fielding or base running blunders, most fans would shrug it off, eventually dismissing it simply as “Manny being Manny.”

I mention all of this because it appears we might be having a “déjà vu” moment a full generation later. And the guy I’m talking about even has the same last name. José Ramirez is an equally talented ball player, and although an excellent fielder, can be overly aggressive while running the bases. Even though he has run the team out of several games (two or three before the All-Star break), José – much like Manny – has that endearing quality about him. And in José’s case, he takes calculated risks on the base paths while Manny simply wasn’t concerned enough to weigh the pros and cons.

As good as Manny was, this Ramírez may have an even better career when it’s all said and done. My somewhat twisted (and light-hearted) comparison aside, José is that talented, folks. Just be happy we didn’t trade him before we knew what kind of talent this kid has.

Talk about a guy coming out of nowhere. If someone had asked you who the Tribe’s MVP (non-pitcher) would be, who would you have guessed? Encarnacion, maybe. Lindor, perhaps. Kipnis, possibly. Brantley, a longshot after the injuries. But Ramírez? No way, José!

Laugh no more. If he continues to play the way he did the first half all the way through September, Cleveland will have a big-time MVP candidate. Who’da thunk it?

Jeff Bing

Lifelong Westlake resident who dabbles in writing whenever the real world permits. My forte is humor and horror...What a combo!

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Volume 9, Issue 14, Posted 9:54 AM, 07.18.2017