Joe Torre baseball camp

Later tonight, Joe Torre will be honored during pregame ceremonies here by Chuck Tanner, the former Pirates manager. Chuck came and spoke to me as a young camper at Joe Torre Baseball Camp back in the 80s in the San Fernando Valley and as I recall, he was a very nice man.

But, in thinking about that camp, I had a very strange flashback to one of the times Joe Torre showed up to teach us a few things. I was a catcher in Little League and I vividly remember him coming over while I was in my crouch and pushing me in the shoulder (I toppled over) to demonstrate how you have to have balance as a catcher. Then, he did a demonstration about how throwing accuracy was the most important thing on stealing bases. He showwed this by having us try to steal second base while he rolled the ball to second and it always beat us there.

When I asked him if I was remembering either of these correctly, he was pretty shocked and said that’s exactly what he does at clinics. God only knows why that stuck with me, but I guess he was a pretty good catcher so it’s a good thing to know if any of you catch.

Meanwhile, the Hall of Fame put Joe, Maury Wills and Gil Hodges on a short list for potential induction to the Hall of Fame in an announcement today. Let’s hope they all get their due, as well as two other former Dodgers on the short list – Al Oliver and Dick Allen.

On a side note, it’s good to see the Inside the Dodgers people traveling around the country to follow the team, as I ran into Emma (aka crzblue) here in Pittsburgh yesterday on a baseball trip. I hope you are all coming out this homestand to support the team. Should be a lot of fun (Saturday is already sold out).

Here’s tonight’s lineup:

Martin, C

Ethier, RF (back in town)

Manny, LF

Loney, 1B

Blake, 3B (back in the lineup)

DeWitt, 2B

Pierre, CF

Berroa, SS

Lowe, P


  1. ladyinblu

    All is right with *the world again…

    By the way, I’m extremely happy to hear about Wills. He changed the game just by being in it. Good luck to him!

  2. trublu4ever

    Josh ~ thanks for the lineup. Welcome back Andre. We missed you. Hope Matt is okay. Have a great game Dodgers and give Lowe lots of runs.

  3. trublu4ever

    I was so happy about Andre being back, I forgot to mention how great it is for Wills and Hodges. I actually got to see both of them play………fine ballplayers, indeed.

  4. amyw27

    Josh- great memories to have. I hope all the great Dodgers make it in to the hall of fame as deserved. Emma is a traveler! She’s been all over the country this year. I hope to see her at this next homestand!
    I will be at the game Saturday for sure. I almost couldn’t get tickets myself. All levels were sold out! my goodness.
    Welcome back daddy Ethier for sure. Matty- take a break if you need. I bet he’ll be in as a PH later tonight. Good to see Casey back and without tightness. Lowe will come out and dominate.
    I am looking forward to another great dodger victory tonight.
    Go Dodgers!!!

  5. thinkingblue

    Thanks for the lineup and for sharing your great memories.
    EMMA…you go girl! Supporting the dodgers where ever they go…that’s the way to do it.
    Amy…have fun at the game on Saturday…you are lucky you get to go.


    Torre, Santo and Hodges on Hall of Fame ballot
    2 hours, 42 minutes ago

    Buzz Up
    COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (AP)—Joe Torre, Ron Santo and Gil Hodges are among 10 players on the latest Hall of Fame ballot for Veterans Committee voters.

    Dick Allen, Jim Kaat and Luis Tiant are on the list, made up of major leaguers whose careers began in 1943 or later. Tony Oliva, Al Oliver, Vada Pinson and Maury Wills also were among the candidates announced Tuesday.

    Voting results will be announced Dec. 8 at baseball’s winter meetings in Las Vegas. A player needs 75 percent to be elected—the living 64 Hall members will vote.

    Last month, a ballot of 10 players from pre-1943 was announced: Bill Dahlen, Wes Ferrell, Joe Gordon, Sherry Magee, Carl Mays, Allie Reynolds, Vern Stephens, Mickey Vernon, Bucky Walters and Deacon White.

    A 12-person panel that includes Hall of Famers Bobby Doerr, Ralph Kiner and newly elected Dick Williams will vote on the older players, with nine votes needed for election.

    Induction ceremonies will be held on July 26.

    Managers, umpires and executives will next be considered by the Veterans Committee in 2009.

    Updated 2 hours, 42 minutes ago

  7. scurtis1999

    YAY Pierre is back! I thought he would be drug tested after last night.

    Why didn’t Garvey make that list? That’s crap!

  8. thinkingblue

    S17180 thanks for all the info you provided.
    SCURTIS…the funny thing is that I was thinking the same thing…LIL PIERRE hits a HR….hopefully it was because he was well rested and the wanting to keeping playing caused him to hit the HR.
    MANNY deserves a day off…well earned day off.


    NP they had a blog early this morning on Manny taken a day off. I’m not really sure everyone seen it yet but I’ll posted it soon.

  10. scurtis1999

    sl7180, I think this would have been the first for the veteran’s committee list, but I could be dead wrong.

    dodgersrule, I just wonder where Kemp is. No matter what lineup we put out there, we should destroy the Pirates.

  11. kho88

    I guess Kemp needs a rest and pierre has to earn his $9M a year so I guess he has to play. I’m glad Joe has apparently seen the light and is resisting the urge to put Pierre in the leadoff spot.


    I never thought this was possible because I never seen any Dodgers be in the top 30 in fantasy ranking glad Manny break that curse.

    2008 StatsY! Fantasy RankAvg HR RBI Runs
    .327 34 111 95
    Season Month
    6 3

    lol Manny could be #1

  13. thinkingblue

    S17180 the truth I don’t know where KEMP is, if he is hurt or just resting but hopefully he is well and comes back soon.


    Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:03 am EDT

    ModernTube: The Joe Beimel bobblehead is this guy’s best friend
    By ‘Duk

    For those of you who don’t spend hours a day watching baseball videos on YouTube, Troy From West Virginia is a legend. Despite living almost 2,500 miles from Dodger Stadium, Troy files regular reports on his favorite team from the basement of his West Virginia home, all while reminding everyone of Harland Williams and sporting the sweetest set of chops this side of Ditka’s Restaurant.

    His is really an incredible story, though. Eight months ago, Troy used a tribute to his favorite player, Joe Beimel, to grab his own slice of Internet baseball fame.

    Today, as evidenced by the video below, he’s the proud owner of a Joe Beimel bobblehead.

    And tomorrow, he’ll be the proud owner of a restraining order from said bobblehead.

    In the year 2008, this is the American dream, really.

    Very nice story


    I think the reason Garvey is not on the list is because he still may be eligible to get in via the normal process. I think he should make it but I doubt he will. I do hope Wills and Hodges finally get in after so many votes. Hodges probably deserves it more going by comparisons to other first baseman already in the Hall but I would like to see Wills in as well because he made a strong impact on the game. I believe he is one of the best players to ever wear an L.A. Dodger uniform in terms of what he meant to the team and certainly was one of the most exciting. He may not have the stats voters look for and he did not endear himself to major league baseball after he left but it would mean so much to him to get elected.

  16. oldbrooklynfan

    This may be of little interest to most of you out west, but I have a little race of my own going on, that maybe some of you might like to follow. (to me it’s like old times)
    Here in N.Y. they are saying that the Yankees would be 2 games ahead of Joe Torre’s Dodgers(as they are known now in N.Y. and I like that), if they were in the N.L. West.
    Com’on Guys PASS THEM YANKEES.
    HaHa, like we don’t have enough troubles. LOL


    I still wish we didn’t blow those 2 games in SF and one in Philly and that 2nd to last against the Brewers at home when we blew that game and Martin was robbed of a homerun in LF when the fan didn’t even knock the ball away from the fielder.

  18. ladyinblu

    Anyone in NY remember what they’re paying their players in order to have a 2 game lead on “Joe Torre’s Dodgers” by chance?


    Joepierre, we all know the Dodgers are fortunate to play in the N.L. West division and that the Dodger’s record in any other division would leave them far behind the leaders. However, it would be ironic for the Dodgers to make the playoffs with Joe Torre while the Yankees sit home and watch on TV.

  20. trublu4ever

    ladyinblu ~ you’re right! I know they make fun of our division but, perhaps we have the best pitching and as a whole, our division is better. The national league west might just have the best players. Right now, I think the Dodgers can beat any team.

  21. vl4ecc

    Tru I like the Dodgers chances in the post season. As long as they keep putting up 5 or more runs per game, they will be tough to beat.

  22. trublu4ever

    jj ~ so do I. as I said, right now we are playing as well as any team out there. I’m keeping good thought about our team.

  23. northstateblues

    JoePierre, I’d be VERY interested to see the Torre Dodgers pass up the Yanks in the standings. My Connecticut-born girlfriend is confused how I could hate the Yankees so much, yet the two teams never play each other (her mom is a die-hard Yankees fan).

    She shoots me the evil eye when I say things like “I’d rather drink from the toilet than from one of those damned Yankees cups!!” But her mom understands, and we don’t disparage each other’s teams in the house (she gets it enough from her classless Giants fans co-workers, who have had little room to talk since leaving Coogan’s Bluff).

    But I have to say, since we stole away her Torre, she acts like the Dodgers don’t exist (and it looks like the Month of October is going to likewise pretend the Yankees don’t exist).

  24. thinkingblue

    OK here is a quick & cheesy song…yup I know…I will go down as the ITD one hit wonder but hey….this is to join JOEPIERRE race to beat the Yankees…of course sing it to Yankee Doodle
    repeat chorus

  25. trublu4ever

    dodgersrule ~ Great job. One of these days I’m going to try a song. I think perhaps a poem would be better for me.

    nsblues ~ good to see you.

  26. northstateblues

    Hi Tru! I’m up in Chico right now, my girlfriend has class ’til 6:20, so I’m taking advantage of the computer lab, listening to the game in the computer lab 🙂

  27. thinkingblue

    Thanks trublue!
    Right now is time to kick some Pirates butt…so here is my one-liner song again…(I had posted it earlier)

  28. oldbrooklynfan

    It’s always good to see Gil Hodges on the HOF list to be voted on. As an old Dodger fan, he was one of my favorites and if elected he’ll make a lot of fans happy in Brooklyn.


    I know there has been a lot of talk on this blog about how disappointed the fans are at the Dodgers winning only one playoff game since 1988 but how would you like to be a die hard Pirates fan who has had to suffer over a decade without a winning season.

  30. enchantedbeaver

    I knew Joe would find a way to stick JP in there again. Heaven forbid he sit the day after a home run like the others. It won’t surprise me if JoJo keeps him in there the rest of the season at Dre’s and Matt’s expense.

  31. vl4ecc

    I just did some checking out of curiosity.
    The Dodgers are 57-6 when scoring 5 runs or more per game for the season, and are 11-0 when scoring 5 or more so far in September.
    Let’s all hope they keep it up!

  32. dodgereric

    Steve Garvey retired after the ’87 season. I think they fall off the ballot after 20 years, so he must be close. Although I loved The Garv, I honestly don’t think he belongs in The Hall. If there was a Hall Of Pretty Damned Good, stick him in there, along with these other guys:

    Steve Garvey 19 8835 1143 2599 272 1308 .294 .329 .446
    Al Oliver………18 9049 1189 2743 219 1326 .303 .344 .451
    John Olerud…17 7592 1139 2239 255 1230 .295 .398 .465
    Ruben Sierra..20 8044 1084 2152 306 1322 .268 .315 .450
    Bill Buckner….22 9397 1077 2715 174 1208 .289 .321 .408
    Cecil Cooper..17 7349 1012 2192 241 1125 .298 .337 .466
    Will Clark…….15 7173 1186 2176 284 1205 .303 .384 .497
    Mark Grace….16 8065 1179 2445 173 1146 .303 .383 .442

    I think the Hall belongs to Aaron and Ruth and Mathewson and Gehrig and the like. I don’t think it should be based purely on statistics though. I think Maury Wills changed the game and belongs in there regardless of his stats. I think Sandy Koufax belongs although his career didn’t last as long as most. With the exception of his career batting average, Jackie Robinson didn’t have the glossiest statistics, but he sure as hell belongs in there.

    Conversely, Don Sutton shouldn’t be in, IMO. Sure, 300+ wins, yadda, yadda, yadda. He was on a lot of good winning teams in the 4-man rotation era. One 20-win season. Pretty good, yes. Dependable, you bet. Hall-Of-Fame worthy, no. Not to me.

  33. trublu4ever

    eric ~ all very good points. The Hall-Of-Fame isn’t what it was meant to be. Now, it seems as though average players get in, just so they hit 500 home runs.

    Enchanted ~ glad to see you. Heard you had trouble getting on today.


    Eric, I agree with your Hall of Fame comments. It is my understanding that a major criteria for selection to the HOF is to have been a player that dominated his position. The key is for how long and how one would define domination. But as you said, the Hall is for the best of the best. Sutton is an interesting case but since the benchmark seems to be 300 wins, it would have been hard to keep him out. However, with starting pitchers going fewer innings and not completing games, the 300 win mark may be out of reach. If so, will 250 wins become the benchmark?

  35. trublu4ever

    enchanted ~ I think Juan is playing because it’s the Piratres. Matt was struggling a bit so maybe one day off will help him……..just ONE day Joe.

  36. oldbrooklynfan

    I really like having the Dodger feed on MLB.TV(Steiner/Lyons)
    It looks like we don’t have to listen to the opponent’s feed anymore.
    Waiting a long time for this.
    Great shot from C A S E Y raising the boom.

  37. vl4ecc

    Good question Ibirken. Complete games are becoming just about extinct in this day, and age of baseball. That’s why I think Sabathia is such a beast.

  38. dodgereric

    Nice effort, dodgersrule! I’ve consulted with the Board of Directors of Dodger Lyrics (easy to convene, since there’s only one of us) and we decided that your little ditty is worthy of Dodger Lyrics. It’s in there now.

    lbirken, those “benchmarks” – 300 wins, 500 homers, 3000 hits – shouldn’t be automatics. Lord almighty, Dave Kingman had 442 HRs and he was only 37 when he called it quits. If he hung on a couple of more years just to get 500, does that mean he gets in with that .236 career BA? But that is also one of the reasons that this is such a great sport. We get to argue and debate forever over this stuff!

  39. thinkingblue

    Aaahhh Thanks ERIC…Special thanks to the Board of Directors of Dodger Lyrics. I feel special now. But please feel free (anyone) to improve the song…LOL…
    Furcal is in the dugout…(I am not watching the game, but working – wink wink)

  40. junkyardjamie

    WELCOME BACK ANDRE!!!!!!!!!!!
    4-0 Alright boys!!! Keep it up!!!
    Just got out of a meeting, and heading home – catch up to all of you later..
    dnelly, June Darlin’, Junie, Miss Debbie, Mrs. Nelson, nelle, nells, nelly, nellygirl ~ ETHIERaholics, and so glad Andre is back in the lineup.

  41. trublu4ever

    lbirken & eric ~ what happens when all the steroid era players come up for the selection…..Sosa, McGuire, Bonds? I don’t think they will ever get in, do you? Some of the voters have already said they will never vote for any of them. While others say, Bonds was a good ball player before the steroids.

  42. obi_wen

    Bowa said Kemp would be back in the line-up in the next game, so unless Juan” Little CC Sabathia” Pierre goes yard again tonight, expect to see him back on the pine sitting next to his friends, the box of David Sunflower Seeds and the barrel of Powerade.

    And just my dos centamos, but Gil Hodges and Maury Wills both DESERVE to be in the HOF.

    And whenever Angel Berroa makes any kind of mistake or error, the ITD rule is to pronounce his first name as OH-HELL 🙂

  43. ladyinblu

    I genuinely feel sorry for Pierre. I think he’s a very hard worker, doesn’t necessarily have a spot on this team anymore, but nonetheless, I haven’t stopped laughing out loud at the Juan” Little CC Sabathia” Pierre comment! Classic!

  44. northstateblues

    wow… I go to put more money in the parking meter, and come back to a 5-0 game! Good to see, we gotta win the games to have to, because there’s no guarantee we’ll win the games we don’t… (wow, that sounded worthy of Yogi Berra)


    Eric, I agree about the so called benchmarks with regard to Kingman but baseball is a game of comparison and the numbers are what we use most often. It may very well be that the benchmarks for hitters may have to rise while the benchmarks for pitchers will have to decline.

  46. thinkingblue

    N.State…thanks….LOL and hey don’t forget to teach the future grandkids (if there will be any) the song….LOL

  47. obi_wen

    After the game, stay tuned for the season ending episode of “Juan Pierre, Dugout Cheerleader”. Juan gets excited when his manager chooses him to be the starting CF of his Merrill Lynch Fantasy baseball team. However, Pierre’s happiness turns quickly into feelings of betrayal and jealousy when Bank of America takes over the team’s sponsorship and Pierre finds himself back in Ethier’s shadow. Also, Manny and Matt Kemp take Jeff Kent to a Lil Wayne concert and hilarity ensues. Jose Canseco makes a guest appearance.

  48. thinkingblue

    OBI…that is soooo funny, imagine Kent in a Lil Wayne concert…he comes back all tated out with bling blings in his mouth….looking like VANILLA ICE….lol

  49. oldbrooklynfan

    B L A K E needs a double to do what no Dodger has ever done in the past 38 years.
    Ethier was there twice last week.
    The Mets I heard have never had a batter hit 3 HRs in a game.
    Nor a pitcher pitch a no-hitter.
    So we’re not that bad off.

  50. junkyardjamie

    It’s great to see you Obi!!!!!!! I can see you are getting right back into the swing of things – very nice!!!
    nsblues – that would be a good song…. lol!!!!
    Dodgersrule – ETHIERiffic song!!

  51. northstateblues

    Rick Monday just now:

    “The moon, not a full moon, just hanging out watching the game here. Hope it’s good weather where you are…”


    Oh a rare k’s from Pierre. I don’t want to here Guzman cycle. Stop it you 2 I don’t want to here Drew/Beltre.

  53. selltheteam

    It’s going to be tough without Kuo. He helped hold us together for many lean months. Thank goodness Saito is back.
    Let’s go Casey – get that double!

  54. kpookiemon

    Joe, Juan (for four) hit his one HR for the year or two last night. I know you’re excited about your little PVL but please play Kemp until we clinch, please. And move him up in the line-up…I don’t think the six hole has been very kind to him.

  55. ajay m

    The 2009 schedule will come out tomorrow at 10 in the morning our time
    We will start the season on the road and I hope we start it in New York against the Mets in the new stadium.


    Dioner Navarro drives in the winning run as the Rays retake first from the Red Sox. It sure will be nice to see the Yanks watching the playoffs on TV this year.

  57. junkyardjamie

    The gnats don’t seem like they are in a helping mood tonight ladies and gentlemen. Who needs their help anyway – right? The Dodgers can do this with or without their help. Just more fuel for the fire for the match up this weekend.

  58. northstateblues

    ajay, you’re idea of having the Dodgers open in NY is brilliant!! Since it’s brilliant, I doubt it ever crossed Selig’s mind…


    Damn Giants have you seen our game and taken some note on how well we hit Haren from our series with him twice?

  60. junkyardjamie

    By on September 5, 2008 11:57 PM
    Report any abuse or spam
    It’s been awile since we have heard from our ndeschenes. I hope all is well with you ndeschenes. We miss your wonderful postings. It looks like the Dodgers might actually be reading your thoughts. They sure do look like they are heading in the right direction right now – the year of the Los Angeles Dodgers

  61. junkyardjamie

    I know we shouldn’t be looking ahead to this weekend with two more games to go with the bucs, but the gnats (at least their fans) are all ready to come after us. Their fans are calling into the eventing show (they were doing this also this morning on my way to work), and that’s all they care about right now is beating the Dodgers. It’s claimed they are not goint to mess with their pitching order, but their fans sure want them to.

  62. thinkingblue

    Good Morning ITD…it’s a beautiful morning with nice BLUE skies. Just wanted to say….YEAH BLAKE, MANNY & LOWE LOWE LOWE LOWE LOWE LOWE LOWE (apple bottom jeans…boots with da’ furrrrr…)…
    Now everyone at ITD have a wonderful morning

  63. trublu4ever

    Good morning Rose & ITD land ~ Good win last night. Let’s do it again today, Dodgers. We can’t worry about what the Dbacks do, we can win it on our own.

  64. dodgereric

    Goooooood morning ITD!!!

    Magic Number is 8 this morning. A win today will eliminate the Gnats and the Rox. Seems like only yesterday that people were saying, “Look out for Colorado!”

    All of a sudden we’re 5 games behind Philly. It’s a real long-shot, but it’d be nice to NOT be the team with the worst record in the playoffs just so that we wouldn’t have to keep hearing about it from the east coast media (ESPN).

    We’re 1 game behind the Yanks in PierreEMW’s cause célèbre. Let’s keep it rolling, boys! Plenty of time in November to cool off!

  65. junkyardjamie

    Good Morning, ITD writers and readers!!
    I don’t have much to say other than – ONLY 8!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Have a great day everyone, and I will check in when I can
    dnelly, June Darlin’, Junie, Miss Debbie, mom, Mrs. Nelson, nelle, nells, nelly, nellygirl ~ ETHIERaholics, and glad to see Andre back into the swing of things – literally. Even got a mention on ESPN again “…. and there’s Andre Ethier again” – very nice to hear.

  66. amyw27

    Good morning all 🙂
    Dnell- I have the best story. I was writing an email to a non- baseball friend yesterday and I typed ‘Ethier’ instead of ‘Either’ totally by accident. You’ve completely rubbed off on me that I spelled Andre’s name without even thinking about it. It just goes to show that Andre is our Superstar 🙂
    Eric, Rose and Tru- yes. 8 is a beautiful number. I love watching this team play baseball. It’s amazing. Welcome back Mr. Ethier. Mr. Blake- super awesome- way to contribute.
    2 wins with the Pirates, 2 to go. We got this!
    GO Dodgers!!!- we are almost to our homestand where we will dominate!

  67. amyw27

    BTW, look at the gallery of last night’s game. The last picture of Matt walking to the clubhouse. Wonderful 🙂
    Just had to share!

  68. dodgereric

    Hi amy! Yeah, he looks really depressed that he didn’t get to play last night, doesn’t he? Must be one of those ‘team players’ we keep hearing about. Let’s hope he walks into the clubhouse tonight with dirt on his uniform. We could really use him. Although we won, we got help. Three unearned runs last night made it a lot more comfortable than it would have been otherwise. I’m not looking for the dark cloud, I just want Kemper back in there swatting the ball like we know he can.

  69. amyw27

    Eric- i love your humor 🙂 Yea, The Kemper- hopefully the rest last night got his mind right and he will be able to attack again and stop swinging from the heels. Those are ugly. The Kemper 🙂 good times.
    I look forward to tonight’s game. Memo to Pirates: Billz is going to destroy you- watch out.
    shad- understood!


    14 of 16. damn. enjoy it huh. lets keep the momentum going….

    “The reluctance to put away childish things may be a requirement of genius.”

    — Former New York Times Book editor Rebecca Pepper Sinkler

    The following column is dedicated to the admittedly bizarre proposition that one Manuel Aristides (Onelcida) Ramirez, sometimes known as Man-Ram or Manny Being Manny or just plain Manny, is a genius. Now, it’s not an easy case to make that a man who tries to run to third on a ground rule double, who sometimes disappeared into the Green Monster during pitching changes, who gets pulled over by police for having overly tinted car windows is a genius.

    Then, nobody is saying Manny Ramirez is an all-around genius.

    “You don’t know what to throw the guy,” says Bill Swift, a one-time Olympic hero and 20-game winner who faced MannyBManny eight times in his career. Ramirez crushed six hits, three of them doubles, two of them homers. “You just look at him in the box, and you know that no matter what you throw — fastball in, curveball away, slider down, change-up — it doesn’t matter. He will hit it.”

    MannyBManny joined the Los Angeles Dodgers on August 1. This was less than a month after he pinch hit at Yankee Stadium and blandly watched three Mariano Rivera fastballs go over the plate for strikes in a crucial spot. The bat never moved, and even Rivera was baffled, and his days in Boston effectively ended. After his first game in Los Angeles, the Dodgers were a game worse than .500 and seemingly dead in the water.

    Since that day, MannyBManny has hit .401, a homer every 11 at-bats, more than one RBI per game, and the Dodgers have just about run away with the National League West.

    “There must be a pitch that can get him out,” Swift says. “I never found it.”

    * * *

    “There was never a genius without a tincture of madness.”


    For a while there in the 1990s, it seemed like the Cleveland Indians had some sort of Awesome Hitter Tree, and whenever they felt like it they would pluck some new hitting star from it.*

    *We Clevelanders accepted this as a fair karmic payback for 30 years of troublingly bad baseball. When you have seen enough Tommy Veryzers and Miguel Dilones and Jim Norrises you start to feel like you somebody up there owes you something.

    In quick succession, the Indians found Albert Belle and Carlos Baerga and Kenny Lofton and Jim Thome. The surplus grew so overwhelming that, ultimately, the Indians simply could not find a place for all the incoming bats. And so Brian Giles (who hit 35-plus homers four straight years in Pittsburgh) and Richie Sexson (who would twice hit 45 homers for Milwaukee) and Sean Casey (who would make three All-Star teams and hit .300 over a lengthy career) rarely made it off the bench.

    The great and powerful hitters came fast and furious, and it was easy to miss the fact that one of those young hitters was Mozart. MannyBManny’s first game was in Minnesota on Sept. 2, 1993. He went zero-for-four against Twins’ pitchers Kevin Tapani and Carl Willis, though he did hit three balls hard. The next night he was in his town, in New York, at Yankee Stadium, facing the Yankees, and he crushed two home runs. That accomplished, he promptly went zero for his next 15.

    From a distance, there seemed something quirky about this guy … he smiled on the field but did not appear to be having a lot of fun. He appeared pleasant enough, but plainly he did not have much interest in talking. He was a good hitter almost from the start — when he was 23 years old he had a .400 on-base percentage and hit 31 homers. The last three 23-year-olds to do that were Frank Thomas, Ken Griffey and Reggie Jackson.

    The thing was the Indians already had Albert Belle, so the position of “Intimidating And Moody Right-handed Hitter Who Crushes Pitches To Every Field And Does Not Talk Much To The Press And Grounds Into Too Many Double Plays And Often Seems Disinterested In The Outfield,” was already filled.

    All in all, Belle was moodier, Manny seemingly more disinterested, and together in 1995 and 1996 they probably made for the most lethal right-handed hitting combo since Willie Mays and Orlando Cepeda or, if you want to go back, Jimmie Foxx and Al Simmons.

    In 1997, Belle signed a big money deal with Chicago. In 1998 and 1999, MannyBManny drove in 310 runs, the most in back-to-back seasons since Hank Greenberg 60 years earlier. Other than his overpowering numbers and his odd brush with the law in Cleveland (not only was he ticketed for having darkened windows, he was ticketed AGAIN after making an illegal U-turn as he drove off), nobody knew much about Ramirez. He seemed happy that way. In 2000, he hit .351 and slugged .697. Then he signed the second-largest contract in baseball history, with Boston.

    “What Boston didn’t know,” one baseball executive says, “is that in every possible way but one Manny Ramirez is like a child. The only place he’s an adult is in the batter’s box. In there, he’s like the smartest man in the world.”

    “Talent does what it can; genius does what it must.”

    — Edward Bulwer-Lytton

    Bill James, a baseball writer (and Boston Red Sox advisor) who has spent much of his life knocking down baseball myths, believes that Manny Ramirez is such a good, hitter, he will purposely get into full-counts when there is a runner on first base. The reason? With a full-count, that runner will be running on the pitch and, as such, will become an RBI when Ramirez hits a double into the gap.

    “I’ve seen it too many times to doubt it,” Bill says.

    Allard Baird, a longtime baseball scout and executive (and Boston Red Sox advisor) believes Manny Ramirez is such a good hitter, he will sometimes swing and miss at a pitch in April so that the pitcher will throw him that same pitch in September. The idea being: He won’t miss that pitch in September.

    “When it comes to hitting, the guy’s mind works on a whole other level,” Allard says.

    These are a couple of guys who have seen Manny Ramirez play a lot. Then, with MannyBManny — unlike almost anyone else — it seems like the more you see him as a hitter, the more in awe you become. The more you know, the more of a folk hero the guy becomes.

    That’s genius. At the moment, there are four right-handed hitters in baseball history who hit 500 homers and 500 doubles. It’s only for a moment because Frank Thomas figures to limp his way to five more doubles, and in time Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols should put up numbers that will scramble the mind.

    For now, though, it is four. There’s Mays, of course. There’s Hank Aaron, of course. There’s Frank Robinson, who often seems forgotten in these conversations. What do you have with those three? With Mays, you have all-around brilliance, with Aaron a staggering consistency, with Robinson an unquenchable ferociousness. There’s a sturdiness about those three.

    What does Manny Ramirez — the fourth in the group — have in common with them? The answer seems to be: Nothing. This is a guy who jogs after balls in the gap, who has brought his iPod to the outfield, who so frustrated the Boston Red Sox they once put him on waivers. But he was faster to 500 homers and faster to 500 doubles than any of them.

    Yeah, he’s a goofball. But it’s different for him with a bat in his hands. During last year’s playoff series with Cleveland he famously said in reference to reaching the World Series, “If it doesn’t happen, who cares? There’s always next year. It’s not like it’s the end of the world.” Manny being Manny. Then, he reached base six of his next 12 times at bat and the Red Sox won three straight.

    On July 27, 2003, against the Yankees, Ramirez ran to the outfield with a giant water bottle jammed in his back pocket. The incident would be mentioned again and again as a way to describe the kookiness of Manny … that very same game, though, he hit a home run off of Mike Mussina.

    In Game 1 of the 2004 World Series, Manny made two of the funniest errors in the history of postseason baseball. He also went three-for-five with two RBIs. And he ended up winning the World Series MVP award.

    “You can’t judge Manny like you judge anybody else,” says one former big league manager. “Again and again, he will make you wonder if it’s worth it. But then you will watch him hit, and you will remember: ‘Yeah, it is.'”

    * * *

    “Genius is the ability to put into effect what is on your mind.”

    — F. Scott Fitzgerald

    Sure, that’s easy to say, F., but maybe what keeps Manny being Manny, is that nobody knows what’s on his mind. Kansas City pitcher Brian Bannister has had some moderate success with Manny. He has faced him six times and struck him out twice. And one of the two hits he gave up was an infield single, a Manny rarity.

    Still, Bannister admits to being entirely spooked by Ramirez. Bannister is probably baseball’s most cerebral pitcher — often, baseball men say, to his detriment — and as such it drives him nuts that he cannot figure out what Manny might be thinking.

    “He has such an ambiguous personality,” Bannister says. “He doesn’t give anything away. You have no idea what he’s feeling at the plate. He could be in the middle of a slump or the best hitting streak of his life, and he has that same blank expression on his face.

    “It’s freaky. Sometime he will just let a good pitch go by, like he doesn’t care. If you’re lucky enough to strike him out, he will just kind of walk back to the dugout like it didn’t even matter. And you’re on the mound thinking, ‘What’s going on here? Is he setting me up? What’s going on in that head of his?'”

    In July, 2007, faced Manny Ramirez for the first time in his life. First at-bat, Manny had cracked a deep out to right. He shrugged in his disinterested way. Bannister was suitably freaked out by the experience.

    The second time, Bannister pitched carefully, worked to a 2-1 count. Then he felt a bit stumped. He had watched Manny video and it had been like some math puzzle he could not figure out. He decided to throw a fastball low and away, but he made a mistake. He got the ball up and watched with horror as it it tailed back over the plate. Bannister knew instantly that it was a bad mistake. He could only hope that Manny would miss.

    Manny didn’t miss. Manny doesn’t miss. Bill James would later call it the hardest ball he has ever seen hit in his many years of baseball watching. Manny’s home run was crushed to center field, one of those natural wonders so awesome that afterward you didn’t want a distance estimate as much as you wanted to know how fast it was going. Bannister watched it go and realized, almost immediately, that Manny had beaten him, somehow, some way. Genius.

    “I think, in the end, you can’t help but admire it,” Bannister said. “It doesn’t happen every day. You realize that that are only a handful of people in the entire world who can hit a baseball that far, that hard. Maybe not even a handful.”

  71. dodgereric

    jungar, there will be people who will want to pass up that article. Hopefully, they will read THIS and GO BACK AND READ IT! Thank you. Marvelous.

    Referring to the Allard Baird theory that he misses a pitch on purpose in order to set something up later, it’s not so far-fetched. Ty Cobb used to do this sort of thing. One example was this:
    There was a first baseman for the old New York Highlanders (later to become the Yankees). I think his name was Hal Chase, but don’t hold me to it. Cobb used to go from first to third on a sacrifice bunt (really!) and round third really wide. Chase would throw across the diamond to try and get him, but Cobb would dive back in safely. He was setting him up. One game, late in the season and important, Cobb never stopped. Chase was in the habit of throwing it across. Cobb scored. From first. On a sacrifice bunt.

  72. junkyardjamie

    jungar ~ That article was fabulous. The video yesterday and the article today – you are on a roll, sir!!!
    eric ~ your memory is amazing – I know photographic -lol! 🙂

    Amy ~ about the Ethier (either) issue. I have actually read it that way when reading a chapter book after lunch to my students. They haven’t caught it, but I do smile every time I see the word, and I really have to make myself say it the right way.

  73. dodgereric

    LOL June Darlin’! I can remember something out of Cobb’s autobiography that I read 35 years ago, but I can’t remember where I put my coffee cup this morning!

  74. crzblue2

    Oh Wow!!! Josh mentioned me!! I love road trips! I checked off two more ballparks off the long list of ballparks that I have yet to see.
    I hope to see you also at the homestand. Are you going to the “Viva Los Dodgers” prior to the game? I hope to be there early for this but I will also be at an interview before this event for a documentary being done about the Dodger fans for the 50th anniversary Long day/night but like the MLB logo says “I Live for this”. Wow! Game is sold out!. .
    You know it! Got to support our boys in Blue! sad only 6 home games left. Next week I am taking a co-worker that has never been to a game. I love introducing people to the game.
    Had a great time at Yankee Stadium. I sat in the Right Field bleacher. I took several subways to get there. When I got off one and saw the Washington Heights sign,I got excited ’cause I remembered hearing Vin Scully say he grew up in that area!! The atmosphere on Sunday outside the stadium is great.
    When the Yankees took the field I started hearing this bald guy named Vinny yelling the player’s name and the crowd in the bleachers yelling back and clapping. The guy was one aisle over my aisle (141). . I had been warned to watch for him as he starts roll call. He yells out the outfielders name, and crowd in the bleachers clap and chants his name until the player turns around and waves his glove or does some kind of gesture at the bleachers… then its on to the next player. I joined in. I thought it was very cool to do and to watch the players acknowledge it. . I was telling my brother about it when I got back and he said in soccer (he is a big soccer fan _we were born in Honduras) they do the same thing. During the 5th inning, the Yankees ground crew does a routine to the YMCA song while raking the dirt infield. Is funny watching this. Also the two guys sitting to our left were Brooklyn Dodger fans. They liked my 50 year anniversary shirt of the 1955 WS when the bums finally won. The shirt’s pic includes the Brooklyn bridge. We talked about Joe Torre . One said “Tell Torre, all is not forgiven). We also talked about old Brooklyn Dodgers and L.A. Dodgers. They were not like some Brooklyn Dodger fans that do not like the L.A. Dodgers. My friend Linda wore the 50 year anniversary Dodger shirt while I wore 50th anniversary of 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers winning th World Series. It was VERY HOT sitting in the bleachers that day. I kept drinking lots of liquids and pouring some water on me.
    PNC _love the view from that park! but still my beloved Dodger Stadium is # ! with me! During BP, I spotted Josh and said hi to him and told him I was at Yankee Stadium the day before. I also spotted Loney and I went to ask if his father had mentioned to him that in Arizona we sang the Loney Song. He said “Oh yeah, he said two Dodger fans had done that. I said “yeah, two crazy Dodger fans”. Loney said “he didn’t say crazy”. lol. The Dodger pictures that they post on the big screen in Arizona and PNC are better than the ones at Dodger Stadium. I am going to tell John Soo Hoo next time I see him. I missed talking to him at PNC.
    At PNC I sat behind the visitor’s dugout in the infield seats row D. Nothing was available in the dugout seats. Met many people. One guy was wearing a “Think Cure” shirt. We had gotten those shirts at the WIN event so I asked him if he got from there. He said “Yes! I attended the event. He has season ticket in the field level. Met a long time Dodger fan from the Brooklyn days. He said he used to attend the games back when he was 10 years old and the Dodger Bleacher fans took him under their wing. Met some very nice Pirate’s season ticket holders there. We talked with them about Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargel. Jim Tracy, Jim Coulborn and other players. Prior to the 9th inning I asked one of the ladies if the usher would let us sit in the dugout seats (just a couple of steps down to get there) and she went to talk to him and he let us sit there. We sang “I Love LA” while some fans there watched us with amusement
    Saw a few players after the game. Beimel was outside for the longest time waiting for other players (Loney, Russ, Penny, Andy LaRoche, Kemp) talking with friends and or family. He was very accommodating signing autographs or posing for pictures. All players mentioned above left together. I was able to get a picture with Beimel and Loney. Kemp was the last one out and the guys had already started walking so he ran to catch up with them.
    p.s. Oh I forgot that while at PNC park, I saw and met TroyfromWest Virginia. You just can’t miss him with those long side burns. I yelled his name when he went by while at my seat but he did not hear me. I spotted him in the dugout seats by the end of the visitor’s dugout. by the latter innings he was gone. Later I heard that he got tossed out but it was not from that area. I ran into him at a bar and he told me he got tossed out close to the bullpen area. I told him he is giving us Dodger fans a bad name and to behave. He said “but I love the Dodgers and I love drinking”. I told Troy to think of his wife and kids.
    Funny that on our way to the ballpark (we headed that way very early), a homeless guy started talking to us and we stayed there a few minutes talking to him. He is from Inglewood, CA. He said he thought that L.A. was bad but that Pittsburgh shelter system is worst. On our way back from finishing watching the Eagles Cowboys game, we ran into a different homeless and he started talking to us. He was born in the area but was trying to clean up his act. He had this very tired look on his eyes and he had clean clothes on that the shelter had given him. He said he had an interview the following day at the shelter. He was telling us of the different places where he sleeps but was trying to gather a few more dollars to find a place so he could be presentable for the interview. I don’t know how these people do it once it starts snowing back there.

    I miss your posts! I hope you are OK. We love to hear from you.

  75. crzblue2

    Rats, dirty rats! I lost last week in the ITD baseball league semifinals. Zambrano just had to be that good. Number 5 (Alex) beat me (number 1) in the semifinals. Congratulations to Alex and RonCey. Scott: is you or me for 3rd place.

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