It was announced that Manny Ramirez will be joining the Chicago Cubs organization as a player coach for the AAA affiliate Iowa Cubs. That’s right. Manny’s back, and he’s working with Theo Epstein once again. This is good news for baseball.
Manny Ramirez is one of the great enigmatic superstars in the history of professional. He was lazy, yet also hard working, calling it quits in the middle of games, but spending long hours in the weight room and the film room, honing his craft, and studying every pitcher. Over the years, with the Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, and Tampa Bay Rays, Manny accumulated 555 career home runs and a .312 career batting average. He may have played the idiot card more than any of the other Idiots who won the World Series in 2004, but nobody puts up numbers like that, steroids or otherwise, by just sitting back and letting things happen.
While Manny’s tenure in Boston didn’t end well, he was still worth more than twenty million per year when they Dodgers re-signed him in the 2008 offseason. Although his Major League career ended with multiple PED suspensions, he still belongs in the Hall of Fame because lots of players took steroids, but very few were better in the batters box than Manny Ramirez.
Manny will always be a fan favorite in Boston, regardless of the way things ended. He was the MVP of the 2004 World Series, and had a monumental role in ending the Red Sox’ 86 year championship drought. The guy was just awesome. Now at 41, he probably doesn’t have enough left to mash at the Major League level, but he can still bring a lot to the Cubs organization. As a player coach, he can show Chicago’s young hitters how to hit, and pass his wisdom along to a baseball club that is committed to building through the farm system, and is even more starved for a championship than Boston was a decade ago.
He’s still away from Cooperstown, and his best moments in the batter’s box are behind him, but I’m glad Manny is back in baseball. There will never be another Manny Ramirez, and we should treasure him as long as he wants to be a part of the National Pastime. He’s not what he used to be, but it just makes sense that he’s still there. Baseball is fun, and Manny is a fun player. He keeps playing for the same reason the Rolling Stones still tour: they have a fun job, and as long as it’s still fun, they’re going to keep doing it until people stop paying them. Manny is a baseball player the way Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are rock stars. It’s what they do. They might not be as relevant as they used to be, but it’s still a way cooler way to live than what most people get to do.
Time will tell if the Manny Experiment works out, but in the meantime, the Cubs don’t have much to lose. The Cubs are horrible, but one of the most exciting personalities baseball has ever seen is helping out in AAA Iowa. It’s something.