NEW YORK â€šÃ„Ã¬ Nope. He wouldnâ€šÃ„Ã´t bite.
â€šÃ„ÃºIâ€šÃ„Ã´m not smart enough to try to dissect whether Iâ€šÃ„Ã´m happy or sad,â€šÃ„Ã¹ Brian Cashman said, and somehow he held a straight face.
Manny Ramirez was off to Los Angeles and gone from the American League â€šÃ„Ã¬ ding, dong, the witch is dead! â€šÃ„Ã¬ and Cashman, the New York Yankeesâ€šÃ„Ã´ general manager, was at his composed best, even if everyone in the room knew that heâ€šÃ„Ã´d have spent the entire day cart-wheeling around the Bronx were his true feelings on display.
â€šÃ„ÃºThis game will break your heart when you think you can get ahead of it and figure it out that way,â€šÃ„Ã¹ he rationalized, and maybe heâ€šÃ„Ã´s right, and â€šÃ„Ã¬ oh, who the hell is he kidding? Cashman spent all of July making moves to strengthen his team, trading for Xavier Nady and Pudge Rodriguez and Damaso Marte, and with one move, his teamâ€šÃ„Ã´s greatest rivals, the Boston Red Sox, did more for the Yankees than Cashman could.
Gone, at least for the next two months, is their greatest foil. Take David Ortiz and his dramatics if you will, but know that there was no one â€šÃ„Ã¬ no one â€šÃ„Ã¬ Yankees pitchers feared more than Manny, and the feeling of horror that once came along with the facing the middle of Bostonâ€šÃ„Ã´s lineup exists no longer.
Whether Boston traded Manny because it feared he would channel Derek Bell and pull an Operation Shutdown or because the Red Sox went against their style and valued the personal side over the business side, the fact remains: Boston, in all likelihood, weakened itself in the throes of a three-way race with Tampa Bay and New York, and the vivisection was remarkable to watch.
Once word leaked around Yankee Stadium at 4:30 p.m. that Ramirez was headed to the Dodgers, prospects to the Pirates and Jason Bay to the shadow of the Green Monster, players approached one another to see if theyâ€šÃ„Ã´d heard the news. The conversations were spiked with glee. Batting practice turned giddy, if only for a moment.
Not just from the idea of Manny playing for Joe Torre, the longtime Yankees manager now in Los Angeles. Itâ€šÃ„Ã´s difficult, really, to qualify how thoroughly Ramirez hit the Yankees, other than to say: He wasnâ€šÃ„Ã´t a thorn in their side. He was the whole rose bush.
In 200 games against them, Ramirez hit 55 home runs, the most against any team. No one knew how to solve him. Mike Mussina? Nine home runs in 101 at-bats. Andy Pettitte? A .416 batting average. Chien-Ming Wang? Even better: .536.
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Jeff Passan – Yahoo!Sports