Manny Ramirez is in the best shape of his life

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This is a bit of a stretch. Neither he nor his agent used those words, and that’s normally what triggers this kind of post.  But this is fun anyway: Marc Topkin, who covers the Rays for the St. Pete Times, waited for Manny Ramirez as he arrived at the Tampa airport last night:

He was pleasant enough as photographer Kathleen Flynn and I approached him as he stepped off the tram after flying in from Phoenix, and actually asked if I was there to pick him up. When I told him I’d seen a limo driver waiting for him downstairs, he laughed and said he didn’t need a limo, that was just a “humble” guy.

Ramirez was polite in a short chat as he rode the escalator, saying he “feels great” about playing for the Rays, talking about how he was in tremendous shape after extensive workouts at the Athletes Performance Institute in Arizona, and smiling when reminded of his exceptional numbers at Tropicana Field (48 extra base hits, 72 RBIs and 1.003 OPS in 77 games).

Ramirez played in the AL East for a long time. Topkin has covered the Rays forever, and is a very distinctive looking guy.  Ramirez has likely been in Topkin’s presence scores of times, and has almost certainly been asked questions by the guy.  In light of that, it cracks me up that Manny thought that Topkin was there to pick him up.

Someday I’d like to live in a world as magical as the one in which Manny Ramirez lives.  I bet everything there is fresh and new and wonderful all the time.

And then there’s this.

Athletics and Mariners to begin the 2019 regular season in Tokyo

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Oakland A’s and the Seattle Mariners will begin the 2019 regular season in Japan, in the Tokyo Dome.

The series will mark the third time that the A’s will begin their season in Japan, first doing it in 2008 against the Red Sox and then again in 2012 against the Mariners.

This is just the latest of Major League Baseball’s moves to expand the the game internationally. In addition to those previous series in Japan, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks opened their season in Australia in 2014 and the Dodgers and Padres will play a series in Mexico City this May. There has likewise been talk of the Mets playing a series in London, though those details have not yet been worked out. Obviously the World Baseball Classic represents the league’s effort to broaden the global scope of the once national pastime.

Get ready for early morning baseball, folks.