Manny Ramirez

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.

Zack Greinke named the Dbacks’ Opening Day starter

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 21:  Pitcher Zack Greinke #21 of the Arizona Diamondbacks poses for a portrait during photo day at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on February 21, 2017 in Scottsdale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Not a surprise, but a news item on a slow news day is a news item on a slow news day: Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo has named Zack Greinke as the club’s Opening Day starter.

Greinke’s first season with the Diamondbacks is not exactly what the club hoped for when he signed a six-year, $206.5 million deal in December of 2015. He dealt with oblique and shoulder issues while struggling to a 4.37 ERA over 26 starts. Greinke hasn’t pitched yet this spring, but will make his spring debut on Friday. He and the club are obviously hoping for a quiet March and a strong beginning to the season.

Either for its own sake or to increase the trade value of a player who was acquired by the previous front office regime.

“La Vida Baseball,” celebrating Latino baseball, launches

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A new website has launched. It’s called “La Vida Baseball,” and it’s all about celebrating the past, present and future of Latino baseball from a Latino perspective.

The site, produced in partnership with the Hall of Fame, has four general areas of focus:

  • Who’s Now: Focusing on current Latino players;
  • Who’s Next: Focusing on top prospects here, in the Caribbean and in Central and South America;
  • Our Life: Off-the-Field stuff, including player’s lives, lifestyles and hobbies; and
  • Our Legends: Focusing on Latino baseball history, Hall of Famers and overlooked players.

As the site has just launched there aren’t yet a ton of stories up there, but there is one about Roberto Clemente, another about Felix Hernandez and some other stuff.

The site is much-needed. Baseball reporters for American outlets are overwhelmingly white, non-Spanish speakers. Reporters, who, generally, gravitate to the players who are the most like they are. Which is understandable on some level. When you’re writing stories about people you need to be able to communicate with them and relate to them on more than a mere perfunctory level. As such, no matter how good the intentions of baseball media, we tend to see the clubhouse and the culture of baseball from a distinctly American perspective. And we tend to paint Latino players with a broad, broad brush.

La Vida Baseball will, hopefully, remedy all of that and will, hopefully, give us a fresh and insightful depiction Latino players and their culture.