Thought for a moment that I caught Manny Ramirez on TV last night at the men's giant slalom in Sestriere, bunkered down in a Roots beret and acting surprised there weren't any Dominican skiers to cheer for.
Caught an even quicker glimpse later in the evening on the local news of David Wells throwing some long-toss. Saw a little bit of Keith Foulke throwing the ball this morning, but I got bored pretty quickly and was forced to change the channel.
In case you've been in a cave the past few days, spring training has kicked into gear down in Fort Myers. We've already been presented with more storylines in three days than we should expect to receive during an entire season of Revolution soccer. OK, decade.
That's just the Red Sox being the Red Sox, of course, satisfying New England's appetite for all things baseball, 365 days a year.
One of the top stories thus far out of camp is, of course, Wells' continued presence on the field despite his well-publicized request (demand?) to be traded. Working out alone, a sort of baseball nomad, the burly lefty is a man without a team, but with a team, of sorts. Make any sense? Neither does this whole issue.
Then there is the always negative aura surrounding Foulke, who admitted the other day that baseball bores him. Bores him. Does the $7 million he's slated to make this season playing baseball bore him, too?
"Pitching is something I enjoy doing and I'm probably going to get a lot of people that are a little chapped at me for saying that, but just don't take it the wrong way,'' he said.
How exactly should the fans take that then when he's on the mound with a one-run lead and a runner on third in the bottom of the ninth? I mean, if he's bored with all that, why should they give a damn?
Oops. Sorry, forgot that Foulke remains a favorite son out there, immune to criticism despite saying and doing stupid things time and time again. But hey, we move along.
All that being said, can I express how much I am already enjoying the Manny saga?
There's always the possibility that, should Ramirez follow through with his threat not to report to spring training, this could get ugly. But until then, the drama and anticipation of his arrival are seconded to nothing else in Sox camp. We are officially on Manny Watch, and the entertainment has already begun.
Gordon Edes reports today that the Red Sox have in fact given Ramirez special permission to arrive on March 1. In a joint statement Ramirez and the team said today, "With the permission of the Boston Red Sox, Manny Ramirez will report to spring training in Fort Myers on March 1, 2006. Manny is in Florida completing an extensive training regimen, and is prepared to have an exceptional season."
Here we go again. So much for the Turin theory.
It was David Ortiz who said that Ramirez had told him during their one-minute phone conversation (anything longer costs too much for Ramirez's tastes, according to Ortiz) that he was headed to Italy this week, despite the fact that he's due to report to camp within days. Yesterday, Ortiz joked that it was maybe Brazil. I think the crack Red Sox marketing gurus might have their first popular item of 2006 on their plates -- the "Where in the world is Manny Ramirez?" board game.
"He won't surprise me anymore," Ortiz said. ''I'm telling you right now."
Ortiz was asked by reporters whether he expected Ramirez to be in the lineup on Opening Day.
''He might," Ortiz said. ''I don't know. That's a good question."
Gotta love Ortiz playing into the intrigue as well. Instead of your standard, "Manny will be here, not to worry," Ortiz happily gives us, "What, you think I can figure this dude out?"
Ramirez babysitter Kevin Millar has taken his act to Baltimore, so it's assumed that Ortiz is going to be Ramirez's spokesperson in 2006, a job he may tire of pretty quickly. I suppose FOM (Friend of Manny) Enrique Wilson could hold a "State of Manny" on a daily basis, but that's going to be difficult once the season starts and Wilson isn't on the roster. Maybe a daily podcast or something with a laundry list of Ramirez's likes and dislikes.
"Today is May 22. This morning, Manny said that due to its rising cost, he was becoming less fond of Gruyere…"
Heck, who WOULDN'T listen to that every single day?
Aside from the obvious argument that you couldn't trade Ramirez in the offseason without getting equal value in return for him, I'm of the thought that you can't trade him anymore for the material he gives us. He is now more an enigma than the day he arrived, truly a remarkable accomplishment.
It's just Manny being ... well, you know. As for the rest of us, we're on Manny Watch, and as always, prepared for anything, sure to get something else when it comes to Manny Ramirez.