This is Hell Freezing Over



Here are a couple things I never thought I would hear or see in my lifetime --

“Red Sox World Series Champion"

"Boston College football ranked #2 in the AP and ESPN polls."

“Randy Moss, New England Patriots, captain.”

“Good alert base running by, Manny.” – Dick Stockton, third inning Game 3 – 2008 ALDS v. Cubs

-- but yet I did hear these words and was taken a back by them.

Wasn’t this the same guy that failed to run out a plethora of infield ground balls during his time in Boston? The same guy who hit a towering fly ball in Game 5 of the 2007 ALCS and wound up standing only on first base because he was caught admiring his long single, thinking it was a homerun?

In the third inning of Game Three of the Cubs-Dodgers ALDS at Chavez Ravine, right fielder Andre Ethier hit a deep fly ball to Jim Edmonds at the base of the warning track in center. Due to Dodger Stadium’s vast, symmetrical outfield, Rafael Furcal easily cruised into third on the sacrifice fly. But wait what was this? Manny Ramirez tagging and going to second on the play? Wow! Now, matched with a Sox World Series victory when I was 18 (2003), that is something I never thought I would see.

Two innings earlier when the Dodgers took the lead in the top of the first, Ramirez followed a Russell Martin one-out, double to left with a single to the same field to set the table for Ethier and James Loney. After the former Sun Devil struck out, Loney lined a double to right and the hustling Manny came all the way around from first to score the second run of the game. As he popped up from his slide into home, Ramirez had child-like expression of excitement written all over his face that I never once saw during his time in Sox uniform.

Not since the day he put on the Red Sox uniform top at his December 20, 2000 press conference after finalizing an eight year $160 million with Boston, did I see even a glimmer of a smile on Manny Ramirez’s face. But in two months in Los Angeles, Ramirez brought a much needed spark to the Dodger line up, excited the clubhouse and granted interview requests to the waiting media. Something in Boston that was the equivalent to pulling teeth for the Boston media. I like to think it would be easier to get Patriots information relating to injuries out of Bill Belichick than to get two words out of Ramirez during his time in Hub.

Ramirez hit some monumental, moon-shot and milestone homeruns, brought two championships to the City of Boston and was elected to the All-Star team every year he wore a Sox uniform. But one thing was clear; Boston was not the place for Manny. Boston is not a city for the mellow and laid-back and getting traded to Los Angeles was the best thing that ever happened to him.

In a city that cares more about what Paris Hilton did now or which celebrity is in trouble with the law, Ramirez can leave his work at the park and hide in relative anonymity. It is something that he was not able to do in Boston due to how engrossed Red Sox Nation is to their team. This is essentially part of why Ramirez why he is 74-for-187 (.396) in a Dodger uniform with 17 homeruns and 53 runs batted in and is now Los Angeles’s leading man in the 2008 post-season.

"When you're in a place that you like, it is easy," Ramirez told TBS field reporter Tom Verducci after the Dodgers swept the Cubs to move on to the NLCS to face either the Phillies or Brewers. (Also point to note he thanked Ned Colletti and Frank McCourt for bringing him to L.A.)

Many baseball commentators and columnists thought Ramirez would never oblige to Joe Torre’s request to cut his five-year-old dreadlocks but Ramirez surprised us again. Ok so it took him two weeks to trim his hair but in the words of our good friend Bob Wiley, “baby steps.” Change takes time and patience but with Ramirez finding a new comfort zone I suspect we will be seeing more things we thought we would never see out of the RBI King.

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