The guy’s already a legend, and he hasn’t even thrown a pitch in the bigs. The Sox posted over $51 million for Dice-K. They courted him; tempered his piranha of an agent, and finally, signed him for another $50 mil.Since then they’ve knocked down walls in the Fenway clubhouse to accommodate his massive media contingent. They’ve morphed the mighty baseball enterprise that is the Boston Red Sox into a multinational and bilingual operation. They’ve even researched the finest Japanese cuisine the city has to offer. All this was done just in preparation of his arrival to Boston, and eventually, Fort Myers.
Now, he’s finally there. And it’s all about him.
So of course Manny has found a way to make headlines. Big shocker.
Who else, but Manny, could possibly report to spring training both late and early?!? Like all Manny side-stories, this one is murky. All that’s known for sure is that for the second year in
a row the team allowed Manny to arrive on March 1, approximately a week after normal position players are required to report. His mother may or may not be in the hospital. And Manny may or may not have known that he was scheduled to appear at a car auction in Atlantic City this past weekend.
Regardless, this morning Manny arrived at camp, big as life, a full three days before schedule, and about three days after position players living in the real world. You know how Manny likes to keep things on an even keel, right?
Well he also likes to be the center of attention. And since it probably only recently occurred to him that all those team mailings he’s been getting actually say, “Welcome to Boston, Dice-K!”, and not “Welcome back Manny!”, my bet is Manny’s had a lot to take in of late.
So he most likely deemed it necessary to arrive early. Or not as late. Whatever. What’s relevant is that Manny is now fully aware of Dice-K’s presence, which may or may not have pulled him away from whatever it was that he was allegedly doing. Get the drift?
What’s known is this: Manny upped on the scene today and wasted no time getting his first glance of Dice-K. Barely before he had a chance to show off his new doo to David Ortiz, Manny had a bat in his hand, and had stepped into the batters box during a session of live batting practice being thrown by the new guy himself.
He looked at three pitches Dice-K had to offer, without offering back at one. It was his so you’re the guy who’s been taking the attention away from me and I’m not yet sure if I like it or not moment with Dice-K. Which is why I’m officially excited about this season. The three-ring circus has gone international.
While the evolving dynamic of this Japanese infusion overlapping “Manny’s world” will undoubtedly produce some hilarious (and possibly awkward) anecdotes, I’m of the mind that Manny and Dice-K are really going to hit it off.
First of all, Manny can relate to Dice-K. He showed up in the spring of 2001 and had to immediately deal with a significant language barrier because he never really had to speak in Cleveland (English at least). It is his personality that has become larger than life in Boston, and when he does speak, it serves to merely enhance that Manny-mystique, as opposed to define it.
Dice-K strikes me as a similar breed. The guy is clearly a character. He’s played some “Lost in Translation” games with Theo and the Trio, as well as the media. His grasp of the English language is surely not fluent, but no one knows what his true level of proficiency is at the moment. And he seems to like it that way.
Aside from the fact that I think their personalities will mesh well together, the two have a lot to learn from each other. Manny’s approach to the art of hitting is unmatched in both ethic and implementation. Dice-K will definitely have questions. Manny, conversely, being the truest student of hitting, will be fascinated at the prospect of adding another dimension to his understanding of this innate and finely-honed skill of his.
In addition, they are both machines in their respective disciplines, which will be an immediate source of mutual respect. They also play a game that revolves around one guy using a piece of wood to try and strike a tiny round object being hurled at him by another guy who’s sole objective is to make him miss. Mano-a-mano.
Face it, these two are natural, primal adversaries, best at what they do, foreign to one another, and now teamed up. Anyone else get the feeling they won’t have to do a whole lot of talking in order to communicate?
No matter what, this is just the beginning. It will be interesting, and no doubt amusing, to see how this current conglomeration of spirits and egos mold together to form the 2007 Boston Red Sox. It will also be extremely well-documented so expect the bizarre, and watch as it is beamed back and forth over the Pacific. Who am I kidding, though? We’re a fan base that has become accustomed to putting our undying faith in circus acts featuring the likes of cowboys and idiots.
Manny and Dice-K? This year’s act just might become the main event.