Almanac Baseball: Mannymania

Source: Wikipedia


The Australian Baseball League (ABL) season starts on Thursday night when the reigning champions, Melbourne Aces, travel to Sydney. While most eyes will be fixed on the opening day/ night of the test series against the Indians, there will be a great moment in local sport history happening at the ballpark in Blacktown, home of the Sydney Blue Sox.


In a Covid-truncated season, just the six teams will be playing this season. Auckland and Geelong were unable to meet the preconditions to compete. There won’t be full four game series most weekends either, just to add to the disappointment. There will be one megastar, however.


Manny Ramirez will be playing for the Blue Sox this season. Manny is a revered figure in the game. When the Red Sox broke through for their first World Series title in 86 years, it was Manny who was the MVP. The highlight reel of his inspirational efforts in that series are on high rotation for many fans in the worldwide Red Sox Nation, including the author.


Many would be familiar with the way Tom Brady has come to mean so much to Bostonians via his dazzling performances in Superbowls for the Patriots or the way Big Papi (David Ortiz) was the MVP in the 2013 World Series and the face of Boston Strong after the bombing in the same year.


But Manny’s big moment eclipsed them in my view. The Curse of the Bambino inflicted deep scars on the psyche of that city. So when this precocious slugger from Santo Domingo emerged as their shining beacon, he was embraced and subsequently revered.


Manny left the Red Sox after the 2008 season, adding the 2007 ring to his CV. He moved around the majors for a few more years but never came close to the dizzy heights of his stint at Fenway.


For the last few years, he has combined playing and coaching roles as he entered the journeyman stage of his career. And now, at the ripe old age of 48, he is in Australia.


It would be natural to doubt what he can bring to the table. Nonetheless, I am confident for die hard fans that the chance to see this legend in the flesh will bring quite a few punters to the ballpark. I will take any opportunity I have to see him when I get to Sydney or when they come to Melbourne in mid January.


The quality of the rosters for all teams this season is reasonably high, thereby giving every chance it will be a good competition. Manny may in the end just be the icing on the cake, but that icing is already tasting so damn delectable.



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Grew up playing the rugby codes in suburban Sydney. Moved to Melbourne during the Carey era so becoming a Shinboner was the natural call. Still love the game they play in heaven. Took an interest in MLB a few years back and have become infatuated with America's pastime.

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