Despicable? Once we’ve wiped all the spit off the salad bar shield following Tim McCarver’s disarmingly delicious description of Manny Ramirez’s recent performance in Boston before he came to the Dodgers (see blog item linked here), we wondered if former Dodgers first baseman Eric Karros would use the same word to sum up the situation.
He didn’t have to since McCarver had already thrown it out there.
“He’s absolutely right,” Karros said of McCarver’s adjectivication over Ramirez’s lack of committment when playing for the Boston Red Sox before his trade to the Dodgers in late July.
“There is nothing worse as far as being athlete that you can do to a fellow player — not going out and playing, or pulling yourself out of a game — and that’s essentially what (Ramirez) did. And the guys on that team voted him off the island. That’s a fact.”
Karros is referencing, of course, the situation Ramirez had when he was accused of not running out ground balls, complaining about injuries so he could stay out of a game, even not remembering which knee was hurting him. None of his Red Sox teammates clamored for him to stay. On top of that, Ramirez had an incident where he pushed down and roughed up a 60-plus year old traveling secretary over a ticket dispute.
Karros, the season-long KCAL-Channel 9 Dodger pregame analyst who’ll be working for Fox’s coverage of Games 3, 4 and 5 in the L.A. studio during the Dodgers-Phillies NLCS starting Thursday, said he saw firsthand a similar kind of situation when he played for the Chicago Cubs in 2003 and how the team treated Sammy Sosa.
Is it up to a teammate to call out another player for dogging it?
“If I was a teammate of (Ramirez’s) in Boston, that’d be a tough call,” said Karros, a 14-year major-league veteran, 12 of those season with the Dodgers from ’91 to ’02. “I probably would have confronted him. But if I’d been a teammate of his for maybe seven or eight years and seen what he was allowed to get away with, it wouldn’t be my place to confront him, because it was the organization that had created the monster by then. My experience in Chicago with Sammy was, if you want him to be something else at this point, after letting him do all that for so long, then you’re the dummy.”
It’ll come a point in the next couple of weeks when the Dodgers have to rub the champagne out of their eyes and decide if Ramirez is worthy of a long-term, expensive contract — one that could be a poor PR move if it’s not executed, but one that could backfire based on his Ramirez’s history and his age — 36.
“Manny’s been great so far in L.A., but the big gamble is: Will he live up to that image,” said Karros. “That’s a roll of the dice that no one knows. Who am I to say he hasn’t changed?
“I’m just saying, if it was my money, would I give him a four or five-year deal? No. But if I’m spending the McCourt’s money, sure, as a fan, you want him to stay. Realistically, he’s a liability in the outfield, but by the same token, there hasn’t been this kind of buzz in L.A. or a presence in the lineup since (Mike) Piazza.
“Put it this way: Take him out of the lineup, and it’s a boring team. But over the last couple of months, what is the Dodgers’ record? Just a couple games over .500. For the life of me, I still don’t know how good a team they are. The way the Cubs played them (last series), they would have finished behind the Padres in the NL West.
“Rafael Furcal may have a bigger impact on the Dodgers right now than any other player. Manny is a threat in the lineup, but against the Cubs, he hit two home runs that I won’t say were meaningless, but they didn’t impact the victories.
“It’ll be interesting to see how Manny does in this next series.”
For the record, Ramirez went 4 for 11 with 5 RBI and a homer when the Dodgers finished off Philadelphia with a four-game sweep at Dodger Stadium from Aug. 11-14.
But when the Dodgers went to Philly, Ramirez was 2 for 14, leaving seven runners on base during a 5-0 loss on Aug. 25, which capped a four-game sweep by the Phillies.
“He’s going up against a guy who coached him in the minor leagues and knows all about him,” Karros said of Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “Manual knows Manny. That carefree approach may not work so well.
“Talk all you want about Manny, but for me, Furcal and the (Dodgers) lefthanders who haven’t thrown one pitch since the last Sunday of the regular season are the keys to this series. If it goes seven games, the Phillies will have the advantage. You can make arguments both ways, but the Dodgers will have to make two trips East to win it, while the Phillies could do it making just one trip West. That’s how close of a series it is to me.”