Tuesday, January 2, 2007
As I watched my 3 year old run, bounce, jump, fall, and generally act like some demented tree monkey on acid for the last three hours, I found myself thinking, man, what a character. And as I typically do, I started thinking about baseball. Do you remember when the sport was FILLED with characters? Back in the 70's, 80's, and early 90's, they were everywhere.
Guys like Sparky Lyle, who for some reason liked to jump buck naked onto cakes. (He played for the Yankees, so that may explain his fetish for icing.)Or Steve Lyons, who once, in the middle of a game, dropped trou in front of the paying customers. Guys like Oil Can Boyd, Mark Fydrich, and Rick Dempsey.
Turk Wendell was a character: He used to eat black licorice and brush his teeth between every inning. Bill "Spaceman" Lee, after Don Zimmer accused him of smoking marijuana told Zim "I just sprinkle it on my cereal every morning". These guys, and many others, were CHARACTERS.
In the 90's, baseball lost the characters, little by little. As the money grew baseball became more "corporate". The owners did not want to pay a guy millions of dollars a year and have him act like a idiot. Piece by piece, baseball lost a little of the wackiness that had always been woven into the fabric of the game.
Now, in 2007, there are a few characters left but not many. The Boston Red Sox have led MLB in characters the last few years, culminating with the "Idiots" of 2004. Kevin Millar, David Ortiz, O.C., and Johnny Damon among them. But the biggest character of all, who is still with the team? Manny Ramirez.
When you do the following, you are THE character in today's game:
Take the field wearing an IPOD and you have a water bottle in your back pocket. Or if you eat pudding in the dugout, mug like Paris Hilton for the camera, and point like someone with Tourette's syndrome at everyone and everything in sight.
Characters go into the Green Monster to take a leak in the middle of the game. Characters go into said Green Monster and retrieve signs that say "Manny being Manny". Characters, upon dropping a lazy pop fly, return to the dugout and say "There goes my Gold Glove"
With Manny, you get the yearly trade request, lollygagging down to first on a ground ball, and defense that makes Charlie Brown look like Ken Griffey Jr. You also get 40 HR's, 130 RBI's, a .300 avg, and about 50 laugh out loud moments a year.
And Manny's proof.