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T. J. SIMERS

Manny as the leader isn't so despicable

October 13, 2008|T. J. SIMERS

It's just despicable what Manny Ramirez is doing to baseball.

Just ask the folks in Arizona, Chicago and now Philadelphia, everyone of them probably agreeing with broadcaster Tim McCarver, who said the other day, "Some of the things he did were simply despicable."

He's "deserving to be despised," as dictionary.com puts it, the Diamondbacks in first place until he arrives, the Cubs poised to break a 100-year-old streak until folding under his onslaught, and now the Phillies turning to meek mush.

And it's not fair, almost contemptible the way he seemingly cares about nothing, just a flick of the wrist sending the ball out of the park, and a wink to everyone dressed in blue to let them know it's all about having some fun.

He not only drives in the first run of a game the Dodgers have to win Sunday night, but when Hiroki Kuroda throws a pitch over the head of Shane Victorino, he moves all the way from left field to shortstop, and this from a guy who supposedly doesn't like to run all that hard.

"I was there in case something happens," he says.

Later, when both benches empty, he sprints from left to the first base line to stand in front of every one of his teammates, the new leader of the Dodgers screaming in Spanish and English, or "Spanglish" as he later describes it.

"I was just yelling," at anyone dressed in red, he says.

But talk about despicable -- he admits later he didn't give it his all before really charging the Phillies -- waiting for Russell Martin, Delwyn Young and coach Bob Schaefer to grab him.

"I didn't want to get thrown out of the game or suspended," he says with a grin, so he makes it look Hollywood good, fighting as if it takes everything Martin, Young and Schaefer have to hold him back.

Three months ago the Dodgers would've had to call a team meeting to determine who the team leader might be, maybe Jeff Kent stepping forward but the kids not following.

But here's Ramirez, who still insists he really doesn't care that Brett Myers threw a pitch behind his head in Game 2. "It's not me," he says, while noting he wasn't the only one forced to duck in Philadelphia.

"I was mad because it wasn't taken care of in Philly," he says. "We just want to send a message that we want to play the game right. It's not only me -- we're a team. And it's nothing against Victorino. He's a good guy. There's no bad blood."

But Ramirez appears so upset, later walking up the dugout steps when Martin is plunked again.

"Hey, I'm not a fighter," he says. "I'm a lover."

The fracas, of course, has no impact on the game, although it will dominate media coverage. The Dodgers clobber slow-pitch softball pitcher Jamie Moyer, and reporters surround Ramirez, who has now become team spokesman.

"We're not in control of anything," he says, everyone else pumped up by the win. "They have two wins and we have one. The pressure is still on us."

But there he goes again, pulling everyone's leg, as if he ever feels pressure. "Well, no I don't," he admits, "but maybe my teammates feel it."

So as team leader, what might he do about that?

"I'm not the team leader," he says, now kidding himself as well as everyone else. "I don't have a 'C' on my jersey as captain. Maybe next year."

Who knows where he will be playing next season, but given the excitement he's brought back to Dodger Stadium, if the Dodgers don't do everything they can to bring the guy back, it'd be just despicable.

You think Tiger Woods is sitting in Dodger Stadium on Sunday night if Ramirez isn't playing? You think anyone else, including the Dodgers, is sitting in Dodger Stadium if Ramirez isn't playing?

NO TELLING how upset the folks in Angryville must have been because the e-mail stopped after the Fightin' Phils took a first-inning dive.

WHEN BOTH teams poured onto the field to discuss inside pitches thrown in this series, the Dodgers' music man played, "Why Can't We Be Friends." By War, of course.

TOM LASORDA WAS sitting in the same section with Woods, and when asked if Woods gave him any golf tips, he said, "Yeah. Don't try playing."

JUST ASKING . . . before each game the Dodgers select a youngster to tell the crowd, "It's time for Dodger baseball." Before Game 3, the public-address announcer introduced a youngster who had come "all the way from Atlanta" to make the announcement.

They've run out of kids in the greater Southern California area?

THE DODGERS brought out Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Bill Russell and Ron Cey to throw out the ceremonial first pitches. The quartet had been together for 8 1/2 seasons. To catch them, the Dodgers sent out the infield of Nomar Garciapara, Blake DeWitt, Rafael Furcal and Casey Blake, who have been together about five minutes.

TODAY'S LAST word comes from Louis:

"I've lived all my life in Angryville, as you are so idiotic in calling it, and let me tell you, I've been in the newspaper business for more than 30 years. I can't possibly imagine writing the junk you write."

Don't be so hard on yourself; you're probably a great paperboy.

--

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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