Manny Ramirez, Player-Coach. No, Really...Manny Ramirez, PLAYER-COACH!
If you were constructing a list of former (or almost former) Major League Baseball players who would go on to have a career in coaching young players, the list would probably have your requisite number of try-hard catchers, hard-luck pitchers and respected franchise icons.
Depending on how many hundreds of players you care to extrapolate the list out to, the names would continue to pile up and pile up and pile up some more.
Eventually you'd arrive at the end of the process, with virtually every name exhausted. At that point, buried beneath about 4,000 names, would be Manny Ramirez, former hitting savant, two-time World Champion, confirmed steroid abuser and all-around space cadet.
Well, you best begin gathering bottled water and canned goods, because we now live in a world where Manny Ramirez is instructing minor league baseball players.
Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, Ramirez's former general manager during his days in Boston and the GM who eventually traded Ramirez and his by-that-time bloated contract to the Los Angeles Dodgers, announced on Sunday that Planet Manny was joining the Cubs' organization as a player-coach at the Cubs' Triple-A Iowa affiliate, and coming to a Triple-A stadium possibly near you:
"This is not a PR move at all," Cubs president Theo Epstein told reporters Sunday. "This is purely a baseball move, specifically a player-evelopment move."
The 41-year-old Ramirez, who has not played in the majors since a five-game stint with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011, will take at-bats in extended spring training games at the Cubs' facility in Mesa, Arizona, before joining the Triple-A Iowa Cubs.
Ramirez played in Boston for several seasons under Epstein, and he was bitter after being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
That has changed, Epstein said Sunday, as Ramirez has shown a desire to "give back and impact young people."
"He's extremely accountable," Epstein told reporters. "Right now, he's extremely honest, and he has a lot to offer in part because of what he went through. You never know in this world. But I think there's a potential high impact here.
"If he can influence one player, make them a little bit calmer in the box, give them a little better approach to hitting, teach them something about how to approach the right-handed breaking ball the right way, if he can convince one player not to do PEDs [performance-enhancing drugs], if he can influence one player the right way and in a positive way, then it was worthwhile."
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All due respect, I would give anything to hear Manny Ramirez's version of "don't do what I did, do what I say." I imagine it being told with the Benny Hill theme song being played underneath it, and Manny losing his place in the speech because he gets distracted by a butterfly.
Honestly, if MLB TV is looking for programming, I would imagine the Twitterverse would have a field day with that one.
Honestly, and all kidding aside, I'm all for second chances, and Manny doesn't seem like a vindictive or "bad" person, although every clean pitcher whose ERA he ever inflated with a steroid-fueled round tripper would probably beg to differ. I'm just having a hard time reconciling the guy on this video telling young players how to take care of their business...
And I get the feeling that the things that made Manny great at the one thing he did transcendently ("see ball, hit ball") are either a) nontransferable, b) inarticulable by almost anybody, certainly including Manny Ramirez, and c) requiring a prescription from a physician.
But hey, Manny Ramirez is back in our lives. For those of us in charge of finding content, this was a good weekend. Hopefully, his stint in Iowa lasts longer than his five-game stint in Tampa Bay back in 2011.
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