New England probably isn't the target audience for a such a piece at this point - we can just picture legendary sports radio caller Curt Schilling grunting to himself as he reads this - but a great read is a great read no matter who or what the topic, right?
(Right. And besides, it is indirectly related to the Sox. So there.)
So this afternoon, we offer you this column, written for SI.com by Kansas City Star columnist and blogger extraordinaire Joe Posnanski, titled, "The Genius of Manny Ramirez."
Yup . . . "genius." Right off the bat, Posnanski acknowledges the pros and cons of such a word choice to describe baseball's most maddening slugger:
The following column is dedicated to the admittedly bizarre proposition that one Manuel Aristides (Onelcida) Ramirez, sometimes known as Man-Ram or Manny Being Manny or just plain Manny, is a genius. Now, it's not an easy case to make that a man who tries to run to third on a ground rule double, who sometimes disappeared into the Green Monster during pitching changes, who gets pulled over by police for having overly tinted car windows is a genius.
Then, nobody is saying Manny Ramirez is an all-around genius.
Posnanski offers paragraphs of fresh insight on the sometimes tired topic of Ramirez, particularly regarding the quirks of his early days in Cleveland. He also offers this interesting point of view from a certain Red Sox adviser:
Bill James, a baseball writer . . . who has spent much of his life knocking down baseball myths, believes that Manny Ramirez is such a good hitter, he will purposely get into full-counts when there is a runner on first base. The reason? With a full-count, that runner will be running on the pitch and, as such, will become an RBI when Ramirez hits a double into the gap.
"I've seen it too many times to doubt it," Bill says.
Not to give too much away from the column -- seriously, read the thing already -- but we can't resist this telling quote:
"You can't judge Manny like you judge anybody else," says one former big league manager. "Again and again, he will make you wonder if it's worth it. But then you will watch him hit, and you will remember: 'Yeah, it is.'"
Actually, we can think of a few people on Yawkey Way who might disagree.