Manny’s gone, but Dodgers still a mess

Divorces can be such ugly affairs.

Take the one Frank and Jamie McCourt are going through right now

in a Los Angeles courtroom. Just a few days into their trial, there

have already been tales of tears and fears as they battle for

control of what turns out to be one highly leveraged baseball


There’s a lot at stake there, namely the future of what used to

be a proud franchise. Once portrayed as the saviors of the Dodgers,

the McCourts are now being exposed by their own lawyers as a

dysfunctional couple with dreams of grandeur.

Thankfully, the child was spared all of this. Little Manny was

sent off to spend the rest of the summer in Chicago, where uncle

Ozzie promised to protect him from nasty things people were saying

about him at home.

”You treat Manny with respect and he’s fine,” Ozzie Guillen

said, somehow resisting the urge to playfully rub the dreadlocked

head of his newest charge.

Ah, respect. Such a magical concept that Manny Ramirez can talk

about it in English and Spanish.

Give Manny some and there’s an outside chance he may respond by

leading you to a World Series. Don’t give him any, and there’s a

very good chance he’s going to leave you with a broken heart and a

busted wallet.

The White Sox obviously hope they’re getting the good Manny, not

the one who apparently was so disrespected by manager Joe Torre

that he got himself ejected after only one pitch in what turned out

to be his last at bat with the Dodgers. And maybe they did, at

least for the month or so that he has to make his case for conning

his new team into giving him a new contract.

Ozzie and Co. certainly aren’t risking much, essentially renting

Ramirez for the rest of the season. The Dodgers did the same thing

two years ago and he responded by hitting .396 with 17 home runs in

53 games to carry his new team to the National League championship


Indeed, Ramirez almost had the chance to be a hero in his first

two games with the White Sox. He was in the on deck circle Tuesday

night when A.J. Pierzynski hit the game-winning three-run home run,

and was there again Wednesday when Paul Konerko did the same thing

in Cleveland.

But White Sox fans shouldn’t start sporting fake dreadlocks at

the ballpark just yet. Because the reality is that Manny simply

isn’t Manny anymore.

One look at this year’s numbers certainly seem to indicate that.

Ramirez was on the disabled list three times, missed 58 games, and

had a meager eight home runs to show for his $20 million


He’s finishing like many players of the steroid era, breaking

down frequently as he ages, swinging late on fast balls, and

hitting balls to the warning track that used to easily carry the

fence. He’s pretty much been that way ever since he was suspended

for 50 games last year for using a fertility drug that masks

steroid use, and there is no real reason to believe going to

Chicago will change that.

But the White Sox remember the big home runs and the clutch

hits. They’re desperate for a bat that will help them catch the

Minnesota Twins and hoping that the pairing with Guillen will

somehow rejuvenate Ramirez.

Best of all, the deal didn’t cost them anything other than some

salary. With the McCourts burning through cash with expensive

lawyers, the Dodgers were equally desperate to dump Ramirez and the

$3.8 million left on his contract.

In court on Wednesday, Frank McCourt was on the stand, trying to

explain that he really never meant for his wife to have any

ownership of the Dodgers despite the fact he was married to her and

she was the team’s chief executive officer.

Just a few miles from the courthouse the Dodgers were going

through the motions in an afternoon game at home. The former

Mannywood section now advertises an insurance company and there

wasn’t a set of dreadlocks in sight among the few fans still

interested enough to show up.

While Torre insists the Dodgers haven’t given up on the season,

it’s clear that by dumping Ramirez they have indeed. Soon Torre

likely will be gone, too, if only because the team that brought him

to the West Coast with so much fanfare is not about to pay the

going rate for a manager of his stature.

Torre may be happy to get out, and not just because one of his

teams will miss the postseason for the first time in 15 years. Even

working all those years for George Steinbrenner couldn’t prepare

him for the mess that is the Dodgers today.

Manny being Manny was bad enough.

But for the Dodgers the McCourts being the McCourts is turning

out to be even worse.


Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated

Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)