Yankees need to sign Manny -- now!
Originally Published: December 23, 2008By Stephen A. Smith | ESPN.com
The last time the New York Yankees won a World Series, Bill Clinton was president, nobody outside Chicago knew of Barack Obama, the Boston Red Sox were considered a cursed franchise and then-Yankees manager Joe Torre had a full head of hair.I think! A lot of things have changed since this millennium began, but the Yankees have been fairly consistent. Basically, winning around 97 games per season, spending significant chunks of money to do it, making annual visits to the postseason -- before departing without the world championship most presumed they'd already bought and paid for. Over and over and over again. From losses to Anaheim, Boston and Detroit in the playoffs, to more losses at the hands of Arizona and Florida in the World Series, many native New Yorkers -- of which I am one -- wouldn't hesitate to admit those defeats are entirely too painful, too vivid, to recall or discuss. Well, here's a thought: Maybe this championship futility will change if the Yankees come to their senses and sign Manny Ramirez. It's no secret the Yankees went out and spent $246 million on CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. And now that they've reportedly added another $180 million over the next eight years to their payroll to keep Mark Teixeira away from the Red Sox, the catcalls of "Enough is enough" will come screeching through the franchise's ears. But since the Yankees don't know how to win unless they spend money, that's just not an option. Yes, Teixeira's in New York. Yes, he can hit. Yes, he's an upgrade from Jason Giambi. But he's not Manny Ramirez. Besides, the Yankees never worried about dollars before, so there's no need to have an attack of conscience now. It's bad enough there hasn't been a title in the Bronx or an October Broadway ticker tape parade since 2000. But the fact that Boston has celebrated two world titles in that span, erasing an 86-year curse in the process, is downright blasphemous and needs to be addressed. Particularly since the first of those championships came courtesy of a historic Yankees collapse. So desperate times call for desperate measures. In this case, "desperate" could be defined as bringing aboard a deplorable outfielder with a suspect work ethic. To that, I say, let's watch Ramirez saunter into the new Yankee Stadium and smack 50 home runs in the cleanup spot. Then come tell me what issues New Yorkers should have with a combustible attitude that, quite frankly, mirrors their own.
ESPN's own Buster Olney's usual crack reporting on all things baseball has determined there's no truth to rumors that the Yankees have entertained pursuing Ramirez at a price tag of three years for $75 million. Meanwhile, venom is being aimed at anyone publicly advocating investing in Ramirez, treating him like he's taboo, persona non grata. Call the Yankees flat-out fools if they pay a speck of attention to a word of this nonsense. This is about winning, folks! And I'm not talking about the stretch of seasons from 2001 to 2007 when the Yankees won a minimum of 94 games, before settling for 89 wins this past fall. I'm talking about the world championships those Red Sox captured this decade. The titles they would not have captured were it not for a few of those 274 homers Ramirez hit for them over the course of his eight seasons in Boston. If Ramirez's production after being traded to the Dodgers on July 31 -- .396 batting average, 17 homers, 53 RBIs and .743 slugging percentage in 53 games -- wasn't enough, perhaps it's worth paying attention to what the Yankees' offensive output was this past season. They were 10th in the majors in runs scored (4.87 per game), tied for ninth in homers (180) and tied for sixth in batting average (.271). And they missed the postseason for the first time since 1996. Now, imagine if Ramirez and his .314 lifetime batting average were lumped into that lineup. Backing up Alex Rodriguez. Acting as a catalyst for Robinson Cano. And Hideki Matsui, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada. Imagine, for a moment, the run production. The fear it would instill. And before anyone even thinks about it, let it be said that defense, for once, is not paramount in this equation -- even with the potential of Ramirez in left field and Johnny Damon, Xavier Nady and their water-pistol arms making up the rest of the outfield. The Yankees just went out and got aces CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett to assist Chien-Ming Wang and buffer the rotation. And they didn't do it just to move Joba Chamberlain back to the bullpen to set up Mariano Rivera.
Harry How/Getty ImagesEven with all the antics that come along with Manny Ramirez, the Yankees should absolutely sign him.