Manny’s Still Manny
Someone needs to pass Manny the memo. You know, the one that tells him how not every long fly ball he hits is going out of the park, ending a game, and moving the Red Sox one step closer to a World Series.
Ever since his walk-off home run in Game 2 of the ALDS, Manny has found it necessary to watch the ball travel — even if it’s not traveling into four-bagger territory.
Since that bomb off Francisco Rodriguez, Manny has become Narcissus reincarnated. However, instead of falling in love with his own reflection, he falls in love with each deep drive he strikes.
Crack! goes the bat on the ball. Only then does he spring to life. His body language is as clear as the sky is blue. Oh the beauty! The power! The elegance! Oh Manny!
Manny’s eyes–with a little help from the arms usually raised over his head–say it all. He is in awe of, enamored by and totally smitten with his God-given and rediscovered stroke. He simply can’t get enough of it.
The opposition kind of already has, though.
Only four games have elapsed this season, and Manny has twice stood in the batters box to gaze at and admire not home runs. The trend began in Japan, when Manny launched a go-ahead two-run double in the top of the 10th inning against Oakland. Thing was, he thought it was destined to be a three-run homer, and stood in the batters box, watching as it … didn’t clear the fence. But hey, the hit still proved to be the game winner.
When he replicated the act in the final game of the same series back in Oakland, it wasn’t as well received. Mainly because the ball was caught. That’s right. Manny–standing proud and erect at home plate–watched a ball get caught.
Of course that finality only further fueled the ensuing comedy, as Manny trekked back to the dugout and, through giggles, tried to explain to David Ortiz et al how he really thought that one was gone. He gestured and illustrated and justified, while getting poked fun at by his teammates through it all. Anyone watching had a laugh.
You know who didn’t? The Yankees. Be assured that new Yanks skipper Joe Girardi is both aware of and not amused by Manuel’s antics.
The whole Red Sox-Yankees thing has become watered down the last few years, mainly because the intensity/hatred that festered between the teams during the 2003-04 heyday no longer exists. The relocations of Pedro Martinez and Gary Sheffield have had a lot do with that.
Remember the so called “market correction” of a few years back? Well I have a feeling that this year we may be in store for a “rivalry correction”.
Girardi has brought a new mentality to the Bronx — or brought back an old mentality perhaps. Whichever way you look at it, the Bombers are the one team that will not sit back and watch the Red Sox show them up. Joba Chamberlain proved as much last September, when he nearly shaved the beard off Kevin Youkilis’ chin with some high and inside heat. And this spring Girardi showed he was prepared to get down and dirty when he (likely) ordered Shelley Duncan to slide cleat-first into the nether-region of Rays second basemen Akinori Iwamura. The result was a classy Grapefruit League dustup.
Taking that into consideration, along with Boston beginning defense of its second title in four years, we may be looking at Sox-Yanks redux in 2008.
Plus there’s Manny. The guy’s loving life and swinging a sweet tune at the plate once again.
As for that memo? It could say a million different things, but all that really matters is Manny’s still Manny.