How does a team go from breaking a major league record—-13 straight home victories, a record that has stood since the days of the players wearing those “Flintstone” three fingered gloves……to sadness?
The news of Manny’s suspension hit the Dodgers and all our fans right out of left field, so to speak. And it wasn’t anger, or fear or even disappointment that I felt—after the shock. It was sadness.
Let’s say right up front that what Manny did is a big no-no it the world of pro sports. And the only person that has to live with those consequences is Manny, himself.
How will he be perceived? His career numbers, his legacy and place in the game—-the Hall of Fame. Is it all gone except the money?
I’m not mad. I’m not disappointed, because I’ve come to realize that this is a very common “mistake” that many players have made. And I will stand and cheer loudly on July 3rd when Manny steps into the batters box again for the first time after the suspension.
But now, I’m just sad.
Maybe it’s because I work for the Dodgers or because I got the chance to watch Manny play everyday and hang out with him occasionally, but like many of you, I love the guy. I like the enthusiasm he brought to the entire team. I like his carefree attitude combined with fierce concentration at the plate. I like that he got paid 25 million dollars to play the game but acted like he was 12 years old all day long.
In less than a year, Manny did things that Dodger fans had never seen before. He was finally a player that brought the kind of excitement when he came up to bat that had been reserved for Cardinal fans watching McGwire and Pujols. Or Giants fans with Bonds.
There hasn’t been a hitter to come close to compare to him in Dodger Blue since Piazza.
I’ve even heard the whispers that in this short period of time, Manny may be the most popular Dodger…..dare I say….ever!
Let me be sad. I know you all are too. We’re gonna miss him.
But only for one day, because there are 49 more games that have to be played without Manny and nothing will change that. And the team that is still on the field, led by O-Dog and Raffy, and the emerging stars that are “The Tinkle Guy” (Kemp), Loney, Ethier and Russell have learned how to play hard and have fun at the same time.
Billingsley is on the mound tonight. Your Ace is supposed to get a big win after a loss. Sure he’s pitched in playoff games but this will be one of the biggest starts of his career because tonight he’s going to be asked to go out there and begin the healing process….and make the sadness go away.
— Steve Lyons