Manny was in shower when Game 4 went down the drain for Dodgers

Posted: October 21, 2009

It was the biggest moment of the season.

All over Philadelphia, in the stands at Citizens Bank Park, in both dugouts, people tensed as Jonathan Broxton, an out away from tying the series with the Phillies, fired a fastball to Jimmy Rollins.

In the Dodgers' clubhouse, the tension was . . . absent.

"Actually, I was here, taking a shower," Manny Ramirez said.

He did not witness Rollins' two-run double that won Game 4 of the National League Championship Series and gave the Phillies a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven competition.

He was devoted to hygiene and dependent on technology:

"I came out and saw the highlight on TV."

Ramirez was replaced in leftfield for the bottom of the ninth inning by Juan Pierre for defensive purposes, a common move for the Dodgers. Unable to re-enter the game, Ramirez excused himself from the proceedings.

At this point, the baseball world, with its arcane, unwritten rules, is supposed to recoil in horror. At this point, Ramirez is supposed to be vilified for not supporting his teammates, for being uninterested in the outcome, for thinking only of himself.

That might have happened in Beantown, but it isn't happening in Dodgertown.

In Dodgertown, world-weary manager Joe Torre is mayor. Savvy lefty Randy Wolf is an alderman. Ramirez holds the key to the city.

So Manny took a shower during the game.

So what?

It's Manny being Manny, as Manny once said.

"It's really nothing different than he's done before," Torre said. "I don't think it's disrespect of anything. He wasn't going anywhere until the game was over, and we can't put him back in the game."

In the light of the actions that sped his departure from Boston, Ramirez' most recent antic certainly adds a measure of sparkle to his checkered legend.

That legend includes years of requesting trades to leave Boston; repeatedly not hustling; occasionally declining to play; and, in 2008, criticizing Red Sox management, which sped his trade to the Dodgers that season.

With him, the formerly punchless Dodgers raced to the playoffs. They then re-signed him as a free agent for this season and next, though he missed 50 games this season serving a suspension for testing positive for a banned substance.

And now, on a huge stage, in a critical game, he's backstage, in a warm shower.

As he exited the shower room, he saw reliever George Sherrill, who had preceded Broxton on the mound. He snatched a quick view of the replay before teammates entered and turned off the televisions showing the elated Phillies and the rocking ballpark.

He remained in the clubhouse to share their gloom, even if he hadn't shared their deflating in person.

"I think, the way it turned out, it doesn't look good," Torre said.

Wolf shrugged.

"I love him," Wolf said. "He's Manny."

Ramirez also was seen during the game playfully gesturing with Phillies starter Pedro Martinez, with whom he played in Boston - another taboo in the baseball world.

Whatever, Martinez said.

"That's Manny for you right there. That's Manny being Manny," Martinez said. "That's how Manny is."

Clearly, Ramirez' irreverence plays better in the Pacific time zone than in the Eastern. Clearly, he still doesn't care.

After he spoke about missing the big hit, Ramirez gushed about Rollins' talent, about Rollins' heart, about Rollins' similarities to Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia, another smallish infielder whose great heart, Ramirez said, compensates for his small stature.

Then, as other Dodgers recounted their sleepless night as they relived the game's anguish, Ramirez said:

"I slept like a baby last night."

It was this sort of blasé attitude that rankled the ranks in Boston . . . but it also helped keep that clubhouse loose. Ramirez and the Red Sox overcame a 3-0 deficit against the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS, then overcame a 3-1 deficit to Cleveland in the 2007 ALCS, both times advancing to win the World Series.

Ramirez brusquely refused to talk about those series in detail: "That's over."

He pshawed any thought about returning to Los Angeles and the possible momentum swing that might accompany it: "We cannot think about home. We've got to think about tomorrow."

He seemed fully focused on Game 5 tonight.

He also seemed squeaky clean.

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