As one office wise-guy said upon seeing SI's latest cover boy this morning: The one time you hope for the cover jinx to kick in . . .
It's funny, even though things are going swimmingly on the field, in some ways this is a puzzling time for Red Sox fans. Constants you could always count on aren't so automatic anymore. The Tampa Bay Rays, a perennial laughingstock in the AL East, are now lurking as a formidable foe in the ALCS. Expatriate Manny Ramirez is suddenly busting it around the basepaths like there's an $85 million contract waiting to be signed at home plate. And perhaps most surprisingly of all, Tim McCarver is actually making sense.
The Fox baseball analyst, who is always opinionated despite frequent forays into the inane, takes apart Ramirez during an interview with the Philadelphia Daily News published in this morning's editions:
"It's extraordinary - the dichotomy between what he was in Boston and what he is in Los Angeles," McCarver said. "I mean, talk about wearing out your welcome in a town, and it was a long welcome with the Red Sox. But some of the things he did were simply despicable, despicable - like not playing, refusing to play. Forgetting what knee to limp on. And now it's washed, it's gone."
Not gone in Boston, McCarver said, but he gives Ramirez his complete due for what he's done in L.A.
"A rejuvenated Manny, I think it would be fair to say," McCarver said, sitting in the Phillies dugout yesterday. "More than old Manny. Manny's doing things that even Manny doesn't do, [like] scoring on a double to right field from first base . . .
"It's a wonderful story in many, many ways, and from Boston's standpoint, it's a horrible story, I would imagine, because he could be doing that for Boston," McCarver said.
Fox is carrying the NLCS, so McCarver will be broadcasting the Dodgers-Phillies series. We have a hunch this won't be the last time he takes a few hacks at Ramirez.
During the Dodgers' workout yesterday in Philadelphia, Ramirez didn't respond specifically to McCarver's comments, but said:
"My teammates know what kind of guy I am. That's where I'll leave it."