The critical consensus upon the return of Manny Ramirez to the Red Sox lineup was that the slugger could hit falling out of bed, or some other trite analysis. Such specious reasoning is what you get when someone, i.e. Manny, refuses to play nice with the folks that cover the team. Even when he did talk to the press, the likelihood that Manny would spend 30-45 minutes analyzing his swing and discussing his approach was not very high.
Thankfully, Rob Bradford is on the case.
The Herald’s baseball writer has long been a favorite because of his refusal to insert himself into the storyline, his penchant for non-hyperbolic prose, and his quaint insistence on asking people questions he doesn’t know the answers to.
The media, whose job it is to uncover every nook and cranny concerning each player’s makeup, is left living in the world of the fans for whom they write. This is the mystery of Manny, by all accounts one of the smartest, best-prepared hitters in the history of the game.
Bradford tries to get to the bottom of the mystery, detailing some fascinating insights into Manny’s workout regimen, including the hand-eye coordination drills and the fact that he works out nine hours before the game.
It’s hardly the image of the slugging idiot savant so many want to use to portray Ramirez.
The cliché about the guy who can fall out of bed and resume hitting as if he’s in midseason form? That would be Manny Ramírez, No. 24 in your program, savant slugger of the Boston Red Sox since 2001.
That, of course, was from a piece by Dan Shaughnessy penned the day after Manny returned to the lineup, but Shaughnessy is hardly the only one. If Sox fans are thankful that No. 24 is back on the field, they should also be thankful that Bradford has risen above the cynical nature of the baseball beat, an affliction that is not limited to Boston, and consistently provides interesting information.