What a story.
Some say Manny was sandbagging in the month leading up to his trade. Sure, he made some bonehead plays in left field and wasn't hitting home runs at the rate he had been all season, but he was hitting around .400 in that month.
So there he went. Manny Ramirez does look fresh in his Los Angeles Dodgers uniform. He reps Wayne Gretzky, wearing 99 just like "The Great One" did for the Los Angeles Kings.
I'll lay some stats on you:
In 100 games for the Boston Red Sox this season, Ramirez batted .299 with 20 home runs and 68 runs batted in.
In 49 games for the L.A. Dodgers, Manny has batted .395 with 16 home runs and 51 runs batted in.
The stats suggest that Ramirez may have been laying low and not playing hard so he could receive the trade he apparently wanted so badly. But he will be the only one who could ever answer that question, so end all those rumors.
He brought the Dodgers back and catapulted them into first place in the NL West. The Diamondbacks did falter a bit, but Ramirez brought an energy to this team incomparable to anything I've seen in recent years.
He's liked by his teammates, ownership, the fans; but what's not to like? He's spring boarded his team into World Series talks. And I know, the NL West isn't the strongest division in baseball. If you think it is, just ask Hank Steinbrenner. But so be it.
Sure, Ryan Howard's freakish second half of the 2008 season is very impressive. Ryan Howard leads the NL with 46 home runs and 141 runs batted in. He is ninth in slugging percentage at .534 and 10th in runs with 101. He may only be batting around .250, but he comes through in the clutch when the Phillies need him to. ManRam, however, does the same thing in L.A.
It's sickening how good Manny Ramirez is. Just think if he spent the whole season in L.A. He would be on pace to hit 48 home runs and drive in 150 runs. He would be slugging around .680 and batting somewhere near .360 while his runs scored would total 102, as of today. Oh yeah, and his on base percentage is hovering at .500 right now, which means he gets to first base every other at bat.
It's not fair, but the Dodgers got a steal. I can't wait to see them reign victorious in a less-than-thrilling National League and see them test their mettle against a loaded American League. Whether it be the Dodgers interstate rival L.A. Angels of Anaheim, the new look Rays of Tampa Bay, the White Sox/Twins, or the Red Sox, it's going to be a great series.
Who wouldn't love to see Manny back in Boston, only this time wearing the opposing team's jersey. Dodgers-Red Sox?!? I'm salivating just thinking about it.
Dodgers-Angels? Vlad and ManRam compete in a "who can club the ball farther?" contest.
Dodgers-Rays? ManRam shows Evan Longoria what it's like to be a World Series MVP—again.
All I'm saying is, Manny being Manny is better than any other player being any other player. Let him grow his hair out, wear any number he wants, leave his jersey unbuttoned, hell, I'll shine his shoes.
He is the best player in baseball. Hands down.