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Manny put Dodgers back on the map

October 16, 2008|T.J. Simers

MANNYWOOD -- The Dodgers are finished two weeks ago, Jose Lima still standing as the team's postseason hero over the last 20 years, if it isn't for Manny Ramirez.

He not only puts the Dodgers in the playoffs, stretching the season out an additional eight games and making millions for the Parking Lot Attendant in souvenir sales and additional ticket sales, but he single-handedly makes the Dodgers relevant again.

He plays 61 games in Dodger blue, hitting .410 with 21 home runs and driving in 63 runs, and there's actually some folks in the media debating whether to bring the showman back?

The paying customers in the left-field pavilion, apparently not caring that some reporters can't get past what happened in Boston, are chanting, "Manny stay, Manny stay."

If Frank McCourt, the image-minded owner of the Dodgers who talks about winning championships while raising prices every chance he gets, doesn't throw every available dime at Ramirez, he can never again be believed.

"Ned [Colletti] and I will talk," McCourt says after the game, but when asked, isn't it a no-brainer? he says, "It's not a no-brainer to bring him back. It takes two to tango."

McCourt has proven to date to be a good tap dancer, but the tango with agent Scott Boras will be something else, Ramirez laughing when McCourt shakes his hand and says, "We'll talk soon."

"You see," Ramirez says, "that's the second time he's talked to me. The other time was the day I arrived."

Outside a group of fans are still in the stadium calling for Ramirez, so he obliges and returns to the field to wave to them. Oddly, they are not calling for Andruw Jones, although the Dodgers had no problem paying him $18 million a year.

"I want to thank the fans for their great support; I think it was a great trade," says Ramirez, and if he wants $20 to $25 million a year, how much will McCourt will have to put out after selling more tickets, earning additional cable revenue and selling more Manny Mania?

"I just want to go home [to Florida] and spend some time with my family," Ramirez says, while adding with a grin, "I want to see who is the highest bidder. Gas is up and so am I."

The Dodgers will have a 15-day window to talk exclusively with Ramirez once the World Series is over, and while McCourt ought to be knocking on his door every day loaded down with money bags, the suspicion here is McCourt will try to get away finishing second in the bidding process, later telling everyone he did what he could.

"I hope he loves L.A. as much as L.A. loves him," the tap dancer says, while careful to point out it will be up to Ramirez whether he returns.

Like any other free agent, though, it will be the length of the contract and the amount of money that gets Ramirez's attention. And that's on McCourt.

Now maybe it all turns sour three, four or even five years from now, as if there's any Jason Schmidt/Jones/Darren Dreifort guarantee when it comes to these sort of things.

But Ramirez already has a 61-game proven head start as a Dodger, and the bigger question might be whether he wants to return, if McCourt doesn't also do his best to bring back Rafael Furcal and Derek Lowe.

Ramirez, a healthy Furcal and Lowe make the Dodgers the favorites to win the West the next few years. If they all go away, then it will be up to McCourt and Colletti to start rebuilding the Dodgers.

And how scary is that?

RAMIREZ, ASKED if he will watch the Red Sox playoff game, said, "I got nothing else to do now."

THE DODGERS are in a do-or-die situation, Phillies' fanatics are so obsessed with their baseball team they can't contain their obscenities, the telephone rings and none of it really matters.

Miranda Beck, 12, the little girl in bed at Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA pictured on Page 2 a year or so ago with the Stanley Cup on a visit by the Ducks -- dies this week.

A week or so ago things are looking so good, but the battle takes such a toll on her body, and her heart gives out.

"She battled for so long and so hard and gave it her all," says her mother, Lisa, who has been at her daughter's bedside 24/7 since the leukemia discovery in January 2007.

Lisa now remains so committed to keeping Miranda's spirit alive, she's asked for an autopsy so the results might be given to researchers at Mattel's to help others.

"She was my one and only child, my angel, and now she's in heaven and at peace," Lisa says. "I'm hoping to start a foundation, anything to keep her life and spirit going, and at the same time maybe prevent someone else from having to go through the battle she went through."

SEVERAL DODGERS fans e-mailed complaining about the fan experience in the stadium for Game 4.

"I am not sure I will take my son to another Dodger game any time soon," wrote Ken Gowey. "It makes me absolutely ashamed to be a Dodger fan."

I was afraid of this, knowing some folks born in Philly have probably moved here and become Dodgers fans over the years.

The thing is, you just can't take the Angryville out of them, which obviously explains all the problems in Dodger Stadium.

TODAY'S LAST word comes from Norm Pangracs:

"After the fifth inning I called the number the Dodgers said to call if anyone is causing trouble during the game. I was surprised to get a recorded voice. I thought for sure a live person would answer. I left a message: 'There's a group from Philadelphia making me very uncomfortable. They're the Philadelphia Phillies.' "



T.J. Simers can be reached at To read previous columns by Simers, go to

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