As Boston hand-wrings about what it all means, the New York papers have a clear message to now-former Red Sox and current Los Angeles Dodgers left-fielder Manny Ramirez, and that’s “don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” The back pages of the Post and the Daily News both exclaim “GOOD RIDDANCE” to the thorn in the Yankees’ side who, along with designated hitter David Ortiz formed what Yankee (and former Red Sox) Johnny Damon referred to yesterday as “the best 3-4 [hitters] in the league since 2003 when Ortiz finally started more. They were pretty deadly.” The combo was so deadly it had its own nickname in the dirty-water city: “Manny Ortez,” a term co-opted from a 2004 gaffe in which Massachusetts Senator and then-presidential-candidate John Kerry answered that his Red Sox player was the nonexistent Manny Ortez.
But that’s enough recent Red Sox history. This isn’t Red Sox Soapbox, after all. The reason this story is getting so much play in the sports section (it even garnered a mention on the front page of the Daily News) is because there are several proximity factors in play.
The most obvious is that the Red Sox are the Yankees’ big rivals. The conflict sells papers, puts the butts in seats at the ballpark and garners large TV ratings. The Sox losing one of their most popular and clutch players, and that has to be good news for the Yanks. Even Derek Jeter and Jason Giambi admitted as much when asked about the trade yesterday.
Next, despite how beloved he is in the land of lobster rolls and clam chowda, Ramirez is ultimately a hometown boy who grew up in Washington Heights. A friend of mine who is a die-hard Yanks fan would always complain about the Washington Heights folks at the stadium who would cheer for Ramirez. But there’s still a case of “local boy makes good” that makes news of his shipping off to the west coast a big deal. Plus, there’s another part of this story that makes it almost as local as it is for the Boston Herald. As Daily News columnist Mike Lupica points out:
In one of those delicious ironies that sports gives you sometimes on a day like this, he goes to Los Angeles to play for Joe Torre, who was in the other dugout when the Red Sox were coming back on the Yankees the way they did in October ’04, the worst defeat in Torre’s baseball life and the worst defeat in all of Yankee history.
Maybe it is a perfect baseball union, even if it lasts only three months. Manny is desperate to make another big score, which is why he has made himself more of a hideous nuisance than ever before, to the point where Ramirez’s own teammates finally voted him off the island. Torre? He’s desperate to show that he can win without all that Yankee money behind him. So they need each other.
That “nuisance,” however, makes for great headlines and copy: remember the times he disappeared into the Green Monster during a game? How about that crazy catch from earlier in the season where he caught the ball, high-fived a fan and then turned a double play? And yeah, it was time for the Sox to let him go as his lack of desire to play for Boston was turning him into a clubhouse pariah. The Daily News reports that 23 of 24 Red Sox voted in an informal poll to send Ramirez packing. The one holdout? David Ortiz.
Los Angeles, enjoy the headlines.