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T.J. SIMERS

Ramirez will always be the life of the party

October 07, 2008|T.J. SIMERS

MANNYWOOD -- He tapes a message from a fortune cookie above his Dodgers locker: "Don't look back -- Always look ahead."

But then a joking Manny Ramirez asks about a fortune of another sort: "You think I'm going to get a full share [of playoff money] from Boston?"

Everyone laughs, someone wondering if the Dodgers players who recently took a vote have given him a full share?

"I didn't even get invited to the meeting," he says, while acting as if crestfallen.

Mark Sweeney overhears the conversation and says, "Well, what's he done for us?" before adding, "can we give him two shares?"

Obviously the Dodgers aren't feeling the pressure of playoff baseball, as if they had any choice with Ramirez carrying on in the clubhouse Monday.

"I'm just being myself," he says with a grin while entertaining a large group of reporters and taking the pressure off everyone else in the room. "That's why I got problems all the time."

Any chance he gets, he makes fun of himself and his reputation for being a goof. And stepping into a pair of teammate Ramon Troncoso's sneakers, while packing a pair of Russell Martin spikes for the trip to Philadelphia, how could anyone think him a goof?

"They haven't given me any shoes," he says, and if they won't give him a pair shoes why should anyone think the Dodgers are going to give him more than $20 million a year? "You know anyone who can get me size 11 1/2 shoes?"

THE DODGERS are splashing in champagne Saturday night, Ramirez moving from clubhouse to field to celebrate. On the way, he runs into Dodgers GM Ned Colletti.

"I want a five-year deal," Ramirez says while hugging Colletti.

"Let's see what we can do," says Colletti, who last winter gave $18 million a year to Andruw Jones without thinking twice.

The fans in Dodger Stadium made it pretty obvious what they think the other night, so how does Frank McCourt tell them he liked Manny just as much as they did, so long as he didn't have to pay him?

"I imagine you can't go anywhere these days without the owner hugging you," I said, "and thanking you for saving his franchise from yet another disastrous season?"

Ramirez shakes his head. "The day I came here, I see him. He shows me the mountain, all around the stadium, this and that, but hey, I just want to get dressed and play."

He likes to play, all right, and play around. "You will never guess who I heard from the other day -- Kenny Lofton," Ramirez says of Page 2's nemesis. "He says to say hi, although it's probably not a safe idea to run into him."

RAMIREZ IS four more wins, and the stars aligning just right, from sports drama at its best and a return trip to Boston. But he won't go there yet.

"I leave everything to God," he says, acting at first as if he hasn't heard Page 2's praise for Red Sox outfielder Jason Bay. "[God's] got me in the place perfect for me. I've only got you going against me."

When the talk shifts to Boston, Ramirez usually takes off walking. But he admits, "That was a great trade for Bay. They got the right man. He's a six-tool player. I got just five."

He might compliment Bay, but he almost never credits himself with doing anything special. When he hits the golf shot in Wrigley the other day, he says later, "That's an out in Dodger Stadium."

When someone suggests the Phillies were interested in trading for him, he laughs. "They've got great hitters and Gold Glove defenders; I got a green glove."

"I'M PULLING" for the Red Sox, Ramirez says, because of his affection for so many of the team's players.

But then just as quickly, he wants to know, "Do you think I'll be here next year?" He doesn't wait for the answer.

"When I get my six-year deal . . . " he says -- letting the laughter finish the sentence. "OK, five."

He will be asking for five at age 37, undoubtedly will hear offers for three, and the team that goes for four will probably get him. And just what will they be getting?

"You see this?" he says while holding up one of his Nike bats, a twinkle in his eye. "It says, 'Just do it!' right there on the end of the bat. They came up with that just for me."

SO DR. Frederic Nicola pronounces me fit enough to play for the Raiders, and I'm supposed to feel good about that?

The knee is coming along just fine after surgery, as I drag it behind after visiting with physical therapist Kari Franks in Newport Beach.

Franks is trying to break the leg in half, claiming it's just what she does for a living, until I learn she's an Angels fan and admirer of that big bore, Mike Scioscia. She's also pregnant, and I swear her kid was kicking me, too.

I'm not running yet, which is a concern since I'm going to Philadelphia, and those folks are angry, striking out at anyone who doesn't live in Philadelphia and suffer like they do.

JIM BELUSHI not only made good on his losing wager on the Cubs, sending a check to Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA, but significantly increased his donation.

The Dodgers, meanwhile, briefly thought about voting a share of playoff money for Page 2 with it all going to Mattel's -- the emphasis on "briefly."

Derek Lowe raised it at the players-only meeting, but said he got the "stink eye" from Jeff Kent, and that was that.

"We were there for you," said Sweeney. "Talk to Kent."

Now why would anyone want to do that?

--

T.J. Simers can be reached at

t.j.simers@latimes.com. To read previous columns by Simers, go to latimes.com/simers.

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