Manny’s Hollywood Moment


These Dodgers just cannot be stopped.

With the game tied 2-2 in the 6th inning, Bronson Arroyo found himself in a jam with the bases loaded and only one out. Chad Billingsley was due up and was pitching well, having fanned 7 batters and allowed just 2 ER on 93 pitches, but manager Joe Torre opted to go all in and let Manny Ramirez pinch hit. Ramirez was not in the lineup because of a bruised left hand suffered the previous night.

Dusty Baker then countered with his sinker-balling reliever Nick Masset in hopes of inducing a double play. Instead, Manny hit a laser beam into the left field stands, also fittingly known as the “Mannywood section”. Dodger Stadium erupted into a total frenzy. Ramirez ended up taking two curtain calls. It also just so happened to be Manny Ramirez bobble-head night.

Some fans and members of the media are already calling this as one of the greatest moments in Dodger history, going so far to compare this moment to Kirk Gibson‘s triumphant limp around the bases of Game 1 of the ’88 World Series. Yeah, I don’t think so, but there is a definite lesson here.

Sorry, self-righteous sports writers. Next time you feel like writing some high-horsed column about how steroids are the epitome of evil in baseball, go back and watch the Manny Granny and watch the fans go completely bananas. It is hard proof that the majority of fans really don’t give a rip about PEDs.

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Erik Manning is the founder of Future Redbirds and covers the Cardinals for Heater Magazine. You can get more of his analysis and rantings in bite-sized bits by following him on twitter.

24 Responses to “Manny’s Hollywood Moment”

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  1. Jason T says:

    I think I disagree a little with that last statement. Fans don’t give a rip about PEDs when the player is a) on their own team and b) one of the best players in baseball. I’d venture to guess Reds’ fans are calling Manny all sorts of names right now.

    Love your writing though, just an observation.

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  2. John says:

    Sucks that I had him on my bench thinking he wasn’t playing, and Hawpe went 0/4 instead.

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  3. BillG says:

    I’m betting the Red’s fans gave a rip. The fact that a small subset of baseball fans, Dodger’s fans who attend weekday games, loved his homer is hardly “hard proof” that fans don’t give a rip. Fan’s don’t care, or at least don’t care much, if it’s their guy who’s doing them, but from the polls I’ve seen, fan’s do care about PED’s; 64% care a lot, according to the linked ESPN/Seton Hall Poll. (I apologize in advance if the link doesn’t show up correctly. This board needs a preview button.)

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  4. metty5 says:

    Erik, tell that to Cinci Fans!!!

    Just kidding, I agree with you 100%. Great point.

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  5. Steve C says:

    Will he pass Gehrig?

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  6. WAL says:

    But do they give a rip enough to stop going to games, watching them on TV, or otherwise stop supporting their team (and, in turn, MLB)? Obviously not, because one of the other questions was something like “why would you go to fewer games” and only something like 6% of them said they would go to fewer games because of PEDs. So, basically, they talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.

    Also, these fans also seem to think (overwhelmingly) that the biggest problem with baseball is that “players make too much money.” You can’t see me but I am rolling my eyes at them.

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  7. aweb says:

    Here’s the poll question and the possible answers. Keep in mind that these were the only possible answers, and the non-responses aren’t counted here, which is improper for this type of questions (you know, those of us who don’t think any of these things are problems).

    Biggest problem with Major League Baseball?

    Players make too much money 40.3%
    Steroids 22.5%
    Too much money to attend 21.1%
    Games too long 8.3%
    Other 2.6%

    So based on the possible answers, this is probably a reasonable spread of replies. I’d put “public funding of private stadiums” above any of those. And “Bud Selig”. And “Jeff Loria”. And “the Yankees” of course.

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  8. Miles says:

    While it’s obviously not among the greatest Dodger moments ever, how about since 1990? Hideo Nomo’s no-hitter, Steve Finley’s Grad Slam, the four consecutive HR’s in ’06.

    What else other Dodger moments deserve mention? I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few from the 90’s.

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  9. ddupont says:

    Your conclusion does not follow from the evidence presented. At best it tells us that the Dodger fans in the stadium that night care less about PED’s overall than about whether they won or lost that game. And even that’s a stretch. Consider an analogy: Most people don’t pay extra for the most environmentally friendly products, even though they are for the environment. Does that mean they “really” don’t care about the environment? Does it even mean they “really” care about money MORE than the environment. Its not clear. It could be that as much as they care about the environment, they simply can’t afford to buy the better product.

    The same may be going on with the Dodger/Manny fans you cite. Many of them may love the dodgers winning and wamt PED’s out of baseball, but can’t have both things.

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  10. Dan says:

    I care. So do many of my frieds, some of whom are baseball fans and some of whom are not. The question is not, do fans of a certain team still want to cheer a player who got caught with PEDs on that team? The question is, does MLB want to become professional wrestling, a sport where PED use is accepted and expected? Sure, many hard core fans don’t care about PEDs. Many fans and potential fans, however, are really turned off by the idea that these players are using illegial means to enhanse their games, means that each and every one of them would discourage their own children from using.

    And for the record, I have read far more pundits like you saying basically ‘Nobody cares’ than I have “self-righteous sports writers” saying that many people do. Face the fact that, although you may not care yourself, that does not mean that most people don’t. Try to get the perspective of people who actually do care about such things, and consider them when dismissing the whole issue with a shrug.

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    • Wynn says:

      With some notable exceptions, the “self-righteous sports writer” is nothing but a straw man. Snarky internet cynicism like this is far more prevalent and annoying than the cries calling for PED reform. “/snicker snicker/ naive fools who care about fairness.”

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    • BIP says:

      Saying you care is irrelevant. If you’re not speaking with your wallet or how you spend your time, you’re not speaking at all.

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      • Dan says:

        You seem to have missed my point about how there are potential fans who are turned off by this whole thing. People who would spend money in the future but who do not care to involve themsevles with a sport that embraces illegial and unethical activity. My own caring and not caring is indeed irrelevant. So, I suppose, is yours, and so is Erik’s. Will the future of baseball care? I contend that it will, and should today.

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      • ddupont says:

        This is totally begging the question. Why should it be that you must speak with your wallet to speak at all? I see no reason to believe that. I love baseball but I can’t afford to go to very many games and I don’t make it a special point to frequent sponsors or TV advertisers either. That doesn’t mean I love it less. The same goes for all manner of things; what you are willing to spend on X has as much to do with what else you must spend on as it has to do with how much you want to spend money on X.

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  11. kwk says:

    This is not new, of course, as SF supported the unlikeable Barry Bonds for years. I think fans honestly care about PEDs, they’d prefer that steriod use was wiped out, but most just don’t care enough to stop going to games or spending money. MLB baseball is often something that has been an enjoyable part of peoples lives since they were kids, and most seem to have decided to stick with their summer tradition despite it’s imperfection. We’ve been trained since we were young to cheer and celebrate when home team hits a dinger, and those tendencies don’t just vanish, even though we might have deep reservations about the morality of the victory.

    Also, don’t discount crowd psychology regarding these type of reactions. News Flash: Sports fans have been known to behave irrationally and uncharacteristically when caught up in the moment.

    Flawed heroes are always accepted when he/she is “one of us”. In other words, LA and ESPN going nuts over Manny != “hard proof that people don’t give a rip about PEDs.”

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  12. LD says:

    If you care about PEDs you are in the vast minority. His statement is absolutely correct. Don’t say that it is only Dodger fans at that game. Out of all the baseball fans I know, I would say 1 in 10 really cares about steroids.

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  13. Wrighteous says:

    it’s a good thing that pitch yesterday didn’t hit manny in his injecting hand

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  14. After being hit on the wrist by Homer Bailey the night before, Manny was scratched from last night’s lineup as a precautionary measure. And yet, he managed to hit a pinch-hit grand slam in the sixth inning — on Manny Bobblehead giveaway night of all nights (check out Manny’s opinions on the bobblehead here).

    Classic Manny being Manny, right? Not just the comments with regards to his bobblehead, but also his incredible clutchiness. Last night marked the 22nd Grand Slam of Manny’s career, 2nd all-time behind Lou Gehrig (23) on the career leader board. Only a handful of right-handed hitters — Albert Pujols, Jimmie Foxx, Joe DiMaggio, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Roger Hornsby — come to mind as being in Ramirez’s class of talent. Only nine hitters in the history of baseball have a career OPS above 1.000; Pujols and Ramirez are the only two active players on that list and while Pujols is utterly great, he is still in the prime of his career and nowhere near the “decline” phase, while Manny is more likely than not facing the final contacts of his illustrious career. Sustaining those kind of numbers over 17 seasons is no easy feat (not even Todd Helton, whose played at Coors Field, much pre-humidor, his entire career can rival Ramirez’s numbers).

    In 174 ABs this season, Ramirez has a triple slash line of .348/.475/.681 (1.155 OPS) with 11 HR, 32 R, 37 RBI and 33 BB. Last year with the Dodgers, Ramirez hit .396/.489/..743 (1.232 OPS) with 36 R, 53 RBI, 17 HR in 222 PAs. Pretty consistent, no? At 37, Ramirez has shown no signs of slowing down (perhaps because of steroids) due to age.

    You may think his outrageous 2009 numbers are bound to regress, but a lot of signs indicate otherwise. Take a look:

    * Manny has a career 22.5 LD%; this season, his LD% is 22.8%. A rough xBABIP metric is .120+LD%. Thus, a player with a .225 LD rate would likely have a .345 BABIP.
    * Speaking of BABIP, Manny’s career BABIP and speed score are respectively .345 and 3.0. This season, those numbers respectively clock in at .369 and 2.6, again, respectively.
    * Manny’s has a career .270 ISO (despite a horrible season in 2007, where he posted a .199 ISO over 569 PAs [6.2% of his career]); this season, that figure sits at .314.
    * Manny’s career HR/FB rate is 21.9%; this season, Manny is hitting more FBs than last year and is sporting a 21.3% HR/FB rate.
    * Manny’s HRs this season average 410.5 FT in distance; the league average home run this season is under 400 FT in distance.
    * Manny’s K rate is down almost 2.6 points (11.8%) this season against his career rate.

    So sure, the ISO, BABIP are most likely going to regress towards his career rates — perhaps a little lower due to aging — going forward on the season, but Manny is still nonetheless one of baseball’s premier offensive threats. His pure awesomeness is no news to ANYONE (27 ADP this preseason), but his continued success is incredibly impressive. Steroids or not, Manny is one of the greatest hitters of all time. I’d probably argue Manny is a top ten player in the game’s history, especially given the right-handedness, but I’m no expert on baseball pre-2003.

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  15. Alireza says:

    Miles – Russell Martin, who was one of the guys who hit the 4 consecutive home runs in the 4 + 1 game, said that this moment was at least as electric as that one.

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  16. Alex says:

    Well said Erik, that’s why I’d take FanGraphs over any sportswriter anyday

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  17. joser says:

    Actually, I think it’s almost certainly true that fans don’t care about PEDs in the moment. When I’m actually watching a game, cheering for my team, I’m not thinking about character issues at all. When a player hits a game winning home run, or pitches his way out of a jam, or catches a ball over the wall, I honestly don’t think about his DUI or his wife beating or his drug abuse or whatever. That all comes later, during the other 21 hours of the day when I can be objective and sensible and judgmental. But during a game? Forgetaboutit.

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