Manny Goes to Hollywood

Manny Ramirez has signed a two-year $45 million deal with the LA Dodgers.  This is a perfect signing.  Come on, who’s more Hollywood than Manny Ramirez?  He’s comedy (catching a fly ball while high-fiving a fan in mid-jump), drama (threatening to leave the Red Sox every year he was in Boston), tragedy (tanking it in 2008, and parting bitterly with the Sox), hero’s journey (going to LA last year and leading the Dodgers to the playoffs), and sci-fi (have you seen his hair lately?).  And LA’s it’s-all-good attitude meshes perfectly with Manny’s go-with-the-flow philosophy.
Manny doing his Bobby DeNiro.

Manny doing his Bobby DeNiro.

And it’s perfect for the Dodgers.  Without Jeff Kent, they need that veteran, right-handed bat to take the pressure off young studs like Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp.

It’s also good for baseball.  Now, no one’s playing any tiny violins for baseball, the game is stronger than ever based on record attendance in 2008.  However, it’s hard to ignore the low TV ratings that any team not named Red Sox or Yankees get on national broadcasts.  Even the World Series, which Sports Illustrated accurately described as a “purist’s classic,” lost the ratings game.  As a result, the national baseball broadcasters (ESPN, Fox) tend to show more Red Sox and Yankees games than any other team.  If you watch SportsCenter, and knew nothing about baseball, you would think they were the only teams in the league.  The distribution of ex-Red Sox or Yankees players may be the only way to combat this trend.

When Pedro Martinez went to the Mets, they got more TV time.  When Joe Torre went to the Dodgers, the networks took notice.  Kevin Millar signed a minor league deal with the Blue Jays as a non-roster invitee this Spring, yet his at-bats are featured on SportsCenter every night

Lifetime .277 hitter.

Lifetime .277 hitter.

like he’s Albert Pujols (who seems to get far less coverage despite his .334 lifetime batting average).

Who knows what future transactions can help small market teams, desperate for a financial and on-the-field boost?  David Ortiz to the Pirates?  Derek Jeter in Washington, D.C.?  Can you picture Jonathan Papelbon in a Mariners uniform, or Jorge Posada on the Royals?  How about A-Rod to the Rangers…oh, right…never mind.

As frustrating as it can be for the rest of the league, to the casual fan, Major League Baseball is ruled by the Red Sox and Yankees.  But as their players move on, maybe the rest of the league will finally get some publicity.  Maybe even Cincinatti Reds highlights can return from the exile that is the last few seconds of filler after SportsCenter’s Top Ten.

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