We all know what the question is going to be in the aftermath of today’s game: did Manny Ramirez purposefully argue with the home plate umpire with the bases loaded, knowing that such a move would get him immediately ejected, in order to make a statement to the Dodgers to move him? My initial judgment of the strike one call was “outside, but probably not egregiously so”, and Vin Scully noted that he can’t remember Manny ever speaking to an umpire when he disagrees with a call, though that of course can’t be verified.
That’s what everyone is going to want to know, and the answer is: it does not matter.
Look, who knows why Manny did what he did. Maybe he really is trying to get the team to trade him (though please, no comparisons to “doing the same thing” for the Red Sox in July 2008; he had a 1.060 OPS that month). Maybe he doesn’t want to be traded, but he’s just upset at Joe Torre that he’s been benched so many times in a row. Maybe he just really did think the call was a poor one. Maybe Gary Cederstrom, who’s been an umpire since 1989, called Manny out on a questionable call in 1997 and Manny wanted vengeance. Maybe Cederstrom’s in his fantasy football league, and he stole the quarterback Manny wanted. Maybe the little green alien that only Manny can see and hear told him to do it. Who knows? It could be any number of things, and no matter what you read – and good lord, this kind of scenario is just made for a Bill Plaschke puff piece – it makes no difference.
Why? Because Manny was already as good as gone, or at least he should be. I’ve been saying for weeks that the season is over and that they should be selling anyone they can sell; it was a week ago that I argued Manny should be moved. Today’s petulant outburst – if indeed that’s what it was, though it will probably be viewed that way no matter what – doesn’t really change that fact.
People can complain all they like that Manny’s act may have cost the Dodgers some runs today, and perhaps that’s true (though no one can say for sure). But today’s loss is on Ted Lilly, Ronald Belisario, and Octavio Dotel being unable to keep the Rockies off the board (and don’t even get me started on the inevitability of Lilly regressing as a Dodger). It’s on Torre (or those above him) refusing to put their best team on the field. It’s on Andre Ethier for striking out four times, and for he and James Loney combining to leave about thirty men on base.
Really, this team is exactly where we’d thought they’d be about a week ago. The short winning streak was nice, but don’t forget that three of those wins came against the hapless Brewers. They needed to turn that momentum into a sweep in Colorado to even have a prayer of contention, but instead the superior Rockies won the series, putting more distance between themselves and the Dodgers in the process.
It’s time to admit the obvious, stop messing around, and start making moves. They’re 5th in the Wild Card race, 6.5 games out, with Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Matt Cain staring at them this week. They’re 13-18 in the 31 games since the 100-game mark. Don’t let the 3% chance you still have in 2010 cost you in the years to come; it’s over. Today should be Manny’s last at-bat as a Dodger, regardless of the way he acted. It should be Lilly’s last game as a Dodger. It really ought to be the last we see of guys like Octavio Dotel & Hiroki Kuroda as well, but I’ll keep my dreams reasonable.
Sell, Ned. Sell.
Update! Dylan Hernandez reports that the Dodgers will allow Manny to be claimed by the White Sox tomorrow. He claims that no players will be involved, just Chicago taking on Manny’s salary. I’ll believe it when I see it.
Update #2! USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale is reporting that the Dodgers are choosing between dumping all of Manny’s salary on the White Sox by allowing the waiver claim, or accepting minor-league 3B Jon Gilmore while making the White Sox pick up only part of the money.
Gilmore, 22, was the #33 pick in the 2007 draft by Atlanta, and was traded to Chicago after 2008 as part of the Javier Vazquez deal. He’s hitting .318/.354/.400 for high-A Winston-Salem in the Carolina League, but has just 14 homers in four seasons and has committed 78 errors in just the last two. I think I’d rather just take the money.
Update #3! It seems to be official, he’s gone. I’ve got 2200 words ready on the Manny era, so be sure to check back tomorrow for that.