Even on the day that Cee Cee arrived in the Bronx to inspect his new workplace…
all I could think about was him.
Everywhere I looked, Yankees bloggers were going completely bloggy over the possibility that the Manster might become a Bomber. Some were pro. Some were con. Some said Hank and Hal were pro. Some said Cashman and Girardi were con. Which reports were accurate? Which were pure speculation? It got to the point where my brain just exploded.
I’ve been all over the blogosphere letting it be known that I was firmly in the “con” camp. Manny, I acknowledged, was a gifted hitter who would, indeed, come cheaper than Teixeira, but the Yankees didn’t need a troublemaker, a malingerer, a guy who shoved traveling secretaries. Besides, we had enough aging outfielders to fill a hotel ballroom with DH-es.
I’d convinced myself that I knew what I was talking about…..until I had a conversation with my brother-in-law, the rabid Red Sox fan.
Geoff lives in Concord, NH. (“Live free or die!”) He was the photo editor at both the Concord Monitor and the Boston Globe, and now has a very successful photography business. But this is the thing about Geoff: He loves Manny. He misses Manny. He’s sure the Red Sox would have won the ’08 World Series if they’d kept Manny. And – here’s the biggie – he thinks the Yankees would be lucky to get Manny.
She-Fan: So what do you love about Manny?
Geoff: He’s one of the best right-handed hitters that’s ever played the game. Nobody works harder.
She-Fan: Excuse me?
Geoff: It’s true. You ask any manager, any player. Ask Joe Torre and Don Mattingly. No one works harder than Manny.
She-Fan (trying not to choke): What about his defense?
Geoff: It’s gotten better every year. He wasn’t a liability, that’s for sure. People underestimate him because he’s very young emotionally.
She-Fan: Are you saying he’s, um, developmentally challenged?
Geoff: No. He just plays like a kid. He has that kind of enthusiasm.
She-Fan: He didn’t sound very enthusiastic when he was sniping at the Red Sox.
Geoff: I think what he said was true. Whenever they want to get rid of someone, they vilify them. They did the same thing with Nomar and Pedro. They even did it with Mo Vaughn. There are two sides to every story.
She-Fan: They didn’t make up the fact that he got into a little tiff with Youkilis.
Geoff: Youkilis is an *******. He comes into the dugout after he makes an out and starts cursing and acting crazy. Manny just told him to cut it out.
She-Fan: And the traveling secretary? Didn’t Manny take the poor guy down?
Geoff (laughs): Nobody’s perfect.
She-Fan: So you give him a pass for that?
Geoff: No. But look at how much he brought to the Red Sox. Big Papi would never have been the hitter he’s been without Manny.
She-Fan: Do you have a favorite Manny moment?
Geoff: When he went inside the Green Monster to go to the bathroom during a game.
She-Fan: I can’t imagine him pulling that stuff with the Yankees. No way.
Geoff: Can you imagine him batting behind Alex Rodriguez? Do you have any idea how many strikes A-Rod will see? Can you live with the two of them hitting 50 home runs a year? Do the names Mantle and Maris ring a bell? Are you at all interested in a few more World Championships for the Yankees?
He had me there.
She-Fan: Let me ask you one more question, and I want you to take all the time you need to answer it. What will you do if Manny does sign with the Yankees?
Geoff (without missing a beat): I’ll become a Yankee fan.
Needless to say, I was stunned. Stunned!
Here’s a shot of Geoff and me at Fenway in ’07 when I was there for my book.
Doesn’t he look happy? Could this lifelong Red Sox fan really switch sides? Does Manny Ramirez truly have the power to convert someone to another religion?