“Man, I’m just happy to do something special like that. I’m not trying to show up anybody out there. I’m just trying to go have fun. If somebody strike me out and show me up, that’s part of the game, I love it. I like that. I like to compete, and when people strike me out and show me up, it’s all good. It’s not a hard feeling. I ain’t trying to go out there and show anybody up.”
Reggie Jackson spoke to a group of reporters in the Yankee dugout last week before Game 4 of the ALDS. Initially, he talked about Alex Rodriguez, but soon, he was talking about himself. He recalled how he used his large ego to help him succeed in the playoffs. He talked about how tough Fausto Carmona’s sinker was against the Yankees in Game 2, and then about how daunting it was facing Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman and John Matlack in the 1973 World Series.
Eventually, someone brought up Manny Ramirez, and Jackson smiled. “Did you see that?” said Jackson referring to Ramirez’s game-winning home run in Game 2 of the Red Sox series against the Angels. Jackson mimicked Manny’s celebration at home plate and cracked everybody up.
Clearly, Reggie admires Manny. He likes the chutzpah, he likes Manny’s flakiness. (“How can you be offended by Manny?” he suggested.) Mostly, he likes the fact that nothing fazes Manny and that Manny hits bombs. How much better can it get?
Ramirez, who has been ridiculously locked-in at the plate this October, pulled his usual home run schtick the other night even though the Red Sox were losing 7-3. Mike Lowell wasn’t sold on the routine, but most of the Indians didn’t seem to mind. Nobody really cares because it’s just part of Ramirez’s make-up, because showboating is an accepted part of the game, and because, like Reggie, most players simply admire Ramiez’s talent.
Yesterday, Manny told reporters:
“We’re not going to give up,” he said. “We’re just going to go, play the game and move on. If it doesn’t happen, so who cares? It’s always next year. It’s not like the end of the world.”
Now, how do you bother somebody with that kind of attitude? Perhaps you can’t.
I was talking to the baseball writer Pat Jordan the other day and suggested that CC Sabathia should brush Ramirez off the plate–not hit him necessarily, just give him something to think about.
“No, that won’t work. You can’t outsmart a dumb guy.”
Then Jordan, who pitched in the minor leagues for close to three years, told me a story.
“There was a game in the Midwest League, 1960, where I faced Jimmy Ray Hart, who was a dumb guy. There were two out in the first inning. I had walked the bases loaed and struck two guys out, which is the way it went for me. Hart comes up and he’s a dead fastball hitter. The count goes to 3-2. I’m throwing him nothing but fastballs. So I decide to throw him an overhand curve, figuring that even if it bounces in the dirt there is no way he’ll be able to lay off it. So I throw a curve, a good one. It falls right off the table and is at his ankles and Hart rips it over third base for a double. My manager comes to take me out and as I’m leaving I turn to Hart and say, ‘Hey, Jimmy, how the f*** were you sitting on a curve ball?’ And Hart says, ‘Curve ball? Hey, was that a curve ball?'”
“The secret to a dumb guy is that you can’t guess along with him. They are irrational and there is no way to predict what they are thinking. You can outsmart a smart guy because you can figure out a smart guy’s intelligence and then outguess him. But you can’t outsmart a dumb guy like Manny.”
Sabathia has been wild in both of his October starts this year. He didn’t want any part of Ramirez in Game 1. It will be interesting to see if he challenges Ramirez tonight. On thing seems certain though; he won’t get in Manny’s head.