Back in the days of yore, Jon Lovitz had a Saturday Night Live bit in which he pitched himself to "single women in their 30s" with the plea "Lower your standards!"
Fast-forwarding several decades, the Oakland A's signed erratic, potential fortysomething, busted steroid-user Manny Ramirez to a $500,000 minor-league contract. A's fans, naturally, were intrigued: The franchise has one foot out the door; it's gone through starting pitchers like Henry VIII went through wives; and Kurt Suzuki is about as fearsome as it gets in the lineup.
Perhaps general manager Billy Beane signed Ramirez in hopes of assembling the most eclectic possible cast of characters for the forthcoming Moneyball II (whoever portrays Manny could borrow Mekhi Phifer's wig from 8 Mile; maybe Phifer could use the gig, too). Perhaps Ramirez is meant to play the Latino Crash Davis and show the ropes to young Cuban slugger Yoenis Cespedes.
Whatever the case, should Ramirez make the team, keep an eye out for the first instance of "Manny Being Manny." Some examples:
- In 1997, Ramirez managed to get thrown out stealing first base. After successfully swiping second, he inexplicably trotted back to first and was subsequently tagged out. He later said he thought the ball had been fouled off -- but no one is buying it.
- In 2005, Ramirez wandered through an open door on "The Green Monster," Fenway Park's massive left field fence. He was actually within the outfield wall while the next pitch was being delivered.
- In 2007, Ramirez broke a media blackout that lasted throughout spring training -- by selling his used grill on eBay. His message to the world: "Hi, I'm Manny Ramirez. I bought this AMAZING grill for about $4,000 and I used it once.... But I never have the time to use it because I am always on the road. I would love to sell it and you will get an autographed ball signed by me :-]"
In short, Ramirez's idiosyncratic personality could enchant Oakland. He could inadvertently occupy buildings such as the Kaiser Center
without having any idea of being part of any movement -- or, generally, what he was doing at all. He could climb Mt. Davis between innings. He could get lost in the Coliseum parking lot. He could ride to the stadium on BART in full uniform.
Hell, he could even flash a little power in the middle of the lineup. Whatever he's got, Oakland could use. Standards have been lowered.
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