Bob Ford: Dodgers' Ramirez washes away loss

Posted: October 21, 2009

This is that precious swatch of the endless season when baseball players lean forward and absorb the nuance of every pitch. Even if they aren't in the game, whether in the dugout or the bullpen or even in the clubhouse, there is nothing more important than what happens next.

Unless you're Manny Ramirez, of course.

What was Ramirez, who had been removed from Monday's game in the bottom of the ninth for a defensive replacement, thinking when Jimmy Rollins doubled into the gap to score the tying and winning runs and beat his Dodgers?

Well, it was something like: "Mmmm, this warm water feels wonderful and it will be good to go out and have a nice dinner tonight and . . . hey, what's all the yelling about? And now why is it so quiet?"

Yes, Manny Ramirez, that inspirational leader of men, didn't really get a good look at the hit that put Los Angeles in a three-games-to-one hole in the National League Championship Series. He might not have seen it yet. Not that it mattered much to Manny. Nothing he could have done about it, after all.

"I was out of the game, and I went in and showered," Ramirez said. "When I came out, they were coming in and turning off the TVs."

I'm sure they were. The rest of the Dodgers might have thought it was a filthy way for the game to end, but Manny was squeaky clean and unperturbed.

"What can you do? It's baseball," he said. "A team gets the right hit at the right time. What can you do?"

Charlie Manuel, the Phillies' manager, said it took him quite a while to get to sleep after he got home and tried to unwind from the game. Not so much for Manny, though.

"I slept like a baby," Ramirez said yesterday.

One more loss - it could arrive as soon as this evening - and all the Dodgers can get as much sleep as they like. For Manny, though, it's all the same. You leave the game, you get a shower. October is the same as April to him.

"He's always done that, so . . . last night wasn't going to be any different," Los Angeles manager Joe Torre said. "As we say, Manny is Manny. He's a cool customer. But he certainly doesn't have any lack of respect because of that. I think the way it turned out, it probably doesn't look good. But it's nothing different than he had done before."

Good for him, one supposes, and maybe if the rest of the Dodgers adopted his attitude, it wouldn't hurt as much if the Phillies bounced them out tonight or in any of the final three games.

The other Los Angeles players said all the right things yesterday, harking back to the examples set recently by the 2004 and 2007 Boston Red Sox, who came back from 0-3 and 1-3 deficits, respectively, in the league championships. Ramirez was on both of Boston's comeback teams, but wasn't interested in reliving the past.

"I don't know," he said. "2004 is over."

Maybe he didn't see the ends of those games, either, but was ashamed to admit it. He might have had shampoo in his ears every night.

Dodgers infielder Doug Mientkiewicz, who was hurt most of this season and isn't on the active roster, was with the Red Sox in 2004, and he apparently watched the games.

"Everybody thinks we must have gotten some magical speech in Boston," Mientkiewicz said. "We didn't get a magical speech. We were just too dumb to realize what we were up against."

He looks around the Los Angeles locker room and thinks there might be a little useful stupidity there, too. Down by 3-1, facing Cole Hamels tonight, then potentially, if they survive that, Cliff Lee on regular rest in a Game 6 in Los Angeles, it might help to not fully comprehend the situation.

"In that regard, we've got some youth here. Sometimes, knowledge, not having it, is a good thing," Mientkiewicz said.

Not to be too harsh, but Manny, even though he isn't young, might lead the league in that category.

"I'm just going to play the game, and whatever happens happens," he said.

It must be a nice way for a baseball guy to go through a stressful time like the playoffs. The Phillies, with all that serious stuff, and all that pulling-together nonsense, they might really be missing the boat.

"That's not something I thought was unusual, since individuals are all different anyway," Torre said.

Few are as different as Ramirez, though, and let's hear it for individuality. But any baseball player who would take a shower in the ninth inning of a postseason game with a one-run lead in the balance is probably all wet even before he does.


Contact columnist Bob Ford

at 215-854-5842 or bford@phillynews.com. Read his blog at http://philly.com/postpatterns.

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