What they’re saying about Manny Ramirez’s retirement

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You’ve already heard what we had to say about Manny Ramirez’s shocking retirement, but what about the rest of the baseball world?

From baseball writers to current players and former teammates and managers, here’s a quick sampling.

Bobby Jenks (via WEEI.com): “I look at it as this. You do it, you get caught, you’re an idiot. If you do it again you’re a dumbass. I mean, it’s sad to see. One of the greatest hitters, or one of them, to make the same mistake twice, same bad choice. And within a year and a half of each other? I don’t know, you know?”

Joe Posnanski: “But Manny — I don’t know how he did it. Some will say he did it with steroids, but that seems a copout to me … I suspect a whole lot more players than anyone will ever admit used steroids. How many of them hit baseballs like Manny Ramirez?”

David Ortiz (via CSNNE.com): “It’s crazy, man. That’s the last thing I was expecting was for him to retire, and go through all of that situation. I don’t know all of the details. I’m like you guys, and just hearing about it. I’m just waiting for all of the rest of the stuff to come out. But it’s sad, man, that a player with that much talent and an unbelievable career . . . to get him out of the game with all of the negativity.”

Buster Olney (via ESPN Insider): “Let’s be real about this: Manny Ramirez wasn’t the only one who cashed in on Manny being Manny. The Indians and the Red Sox and the Dodgers made money from his production and from that what-a-wild-crazy-guy image — Mannywood? — and the media feasted, as well; there were probably more words written and spoken about Manny in the past decade than any player not named Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens.”

Ozzie Guillen (via MLB.com): “That’s the first thing I told the players in the meetings: They’re not playing around. If you get caught, you should be punished, because now we know for the last five or six years they’re after this, and any players that do that, they’re taking a risk. They even check me, and I’m not even playing. That’s why I have this big belly.”

Nick Cafardo: “We always said Ramirez was oblivious to the world around him. But you just wonder if one day he’ll stop and think, what on earth have I done? He had it all. For a shy kid who grew up in New York City after coming to this country from the Dominican Republic, he made people say “Wow.’’ He did that when scouts first laid eyes on him and he did it again yesterday, but for the wrong reason. So long, Manny. You could have been the greatest.”

Andre Ethier (via the Los Angeles Times): “I remember watching him playing growing up. You never really think you’ll get a chance to play with him. It’s tough to see. It’s unfortunate. I guess when you’re at the top and you feel yourself slipping, you’ll find any way to stay there.”

David Schoenfield: “I’m going to miss him. Baseball is a long, slow grind, full of players often indistinguishable from one another. Manny made the sport more entertaining, and I don’t think you’ll find too many Indians or Red Sox fans who will tell you they wouldn’t have wanted him on their teams.”

Johnny Damon (via the St. Petersburg Times): “It’s unfortunate. I don’t know everything that’s been brought up. All I know is he was a great teammate and a great player, and I think the other part is just an unfortunate thing. It’s going to be sad not seeing Manny Ramirez around a baseball field.”

Young Blue Jays say they aren’t intimidated by top seed Rays

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) When the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays opened the pandemic-delayed season a little over two months ago, there was little to indicate the AL East rivals might meet again to begin the playoffs.

While the Rays launched the truncated 60-game schedule with expectations of making a strong bid for their first division title in a decade, the Blue Jays generally were viewed as an immensely talented young team still years away from postseason contention.

Tampa Bay didn’t disappoint, shrugging off a slow start to go a league-best 40-20 and claim the No. 1 seed in the AL playoffs that begin Tuesday.

Lefty Blake Snell, who’ll start Game 1 of the best-of-three wild-card series against Toronto at Tropicana Field, also isn’t surprised that the eighth-seeded Blue Jays earned a spot, too.

The Rays won six of 10 games between the teams during the regular season, but were outscored 48-44 and outhomered 17-11.

And while Toronto (32-28) lacks the playoff experience Tampa Bay gained last season when the Rays beat Oakland in the AL wild-card game before falling to Houston in the divisional round, the Blue Jays are building with exciting young players such as Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

“They’ve got a lot of young guys who can ball over there,” Snell said. “It’s going to be fun to compete and see how we do.”

Rays defensive whiz Kevin Kiermaier said Tampa Bay, in the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the second time franchise history, will not take the Blue Jays lightly.

“We know we’re playing a real good team,” Kiermaier said. “It’s not going to be easy, regardless of what a team is seeded.”

The Blue Jays, who’ll start right-hander Matt Shoemaker, aren’t conceding anything.

Bichette said he and his teammates respect how good Tampa Bay is, but are not intimidated by facing the No. 1 seed.

“I would say that we didn’t care who we played. I would say that we didn’t mind playing Tampa, that’s for sure. We’re familiar with them. We’ve played them well,” Bichette said.

“I think we’re confident in our ability against them. Our talent matches up well,” Bichette added. “We think if we play well we’ve got a good chance.”

NO FANS

The stands at Tropicana Field will be empty, leaving players to wonder what the atmosphere will be like for the playoffs.

Tampa Bay routinely rank at or near the bottom of the majors in attendance, but usually pack the stands in the domed stadium during the postseason.

“It will be different,” Bichette said. “Normally when you think of your first postseason you think 40,000, you think about not being able to think it’s so loud, stuff like that.”

The Blue Jays open the playoffs near where they hold spring training in Dunedin, Florida. It’s been a winding road for Toronto, which played its home games in Buffalo, New York, at the site of its Triple-A affiliate after the Canadian government barred the Blue Jays from hosting games at their own stadium because of coronavirus concerns.

CONFIDENT RAYS

Tampa Bay’s five-game loss to Houston in last year’s divisional round was a source of motivation during the regular season.

“It definitely lit a fire under everybody. It really showed us we belong. … We gave them a tough series,” second baseman Brandon Lowe said.

“We won the wild-card game. We belong in the postseason. I think that did a lot for us to understand that we should be in the postseason and we can go a lot farther. We know what to expect this time around. I think everyone in our clubhouse expects to be playing until the end of October,” he said.

CLOSE FRIENDS

Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash has the Rays in the playoffs for the second time. His close friend and former Rays third base and bench coach Charlie Montoyo is in his second year as manager of the Blue Jays, who last made the playoffs in 2016.

“Pretty special,” Cash said of his relationship with Montoyo.

“I really learned a lot from him being around him. The way he carried himself. His hand print is throughout this organization,” Cash added. “A pretty big impact and a positive one. … When they clinched I talked to him, we face-timed at 1:30 in the morning. I’m so happy for him.”