March 21, 2007

Talk About Entrepreneurs...

The great "Manny Ramirez Barbecue Auction" is barely over, and already e-Bay has sellers auctioning tee shirts memorializing, and parodying Manny's sale. None of them are particularly clever, and they seem hastily designed. But, this is America, and anything can sell for a buck or two. Just ask the folks who bring you fake vomit and plastic dog poo.

Hey, if you're as amused by Manny's barbecue as I was where I actually wrote about it, that's one thing. Also, if you're savvy enough to slap a phrase on a tee shirt to cash in on Manny's "fire sale", then God bless you. BUT, if you're stupid enough to buy a tee shirt about Manny Ramirez selling a barbecue grill, that's almost pathetic. I say almost because I'm thinking of selling boxes of Band Aids with Carl Pavano's picture on them. Order now.

Manny On The Grill

A fun little story which popped up is the one about Manny Ramirez selling a barbecue grill on e-Bay. How about that? A millionaire needing a few extra bucks? So, this grill he purchased for a measly four thousand dollars and change is now being auctioned off to ordinary folks such as me and you for whatever you have the nerve to bid, plus shipping and handling.

At first thought, I thought that Manny Ramirez would never dream of cooking for himself, let alone choke on barbecue smoke. This is a guy who once sneaked behind the scoreboard at Fenway Park to urinate between pitching changes during a game, and is also a notorious space cadet. Could you imagine him using fire?

The E-bay ad is actually quite normal in every respect, except that is being posted by a star Major League Baseball player.

Here is the actual text from the ad: "As most of you have seen: Ebay Item #120099426399 Hi, I`m Manny Ramirez. I bought this AMAZING grill for about $4,000 and I used it once... But I never have the time to use it because I am always on the road. I would love to sell it and you will get an autographed ball signed by me =] Enjoy it, Manny Ramirez This is an auction to tribute Manny Ramirez and his grill! The winner of this auction will receive the two photos shown here. Both will be personally autographed!"

You know, I'm not a huge Manny Ramirez fan, but I love the idea that he considers himself a regular guy, appreciates the value of an item he could pick up for mere pocket change (relative to his bank account) and he is willing to toss in some memorabilia to sweeten the deal. As of this writing, the current bid id up to $4,950. I'd bid myself, but I just bid $3.95 on an old 8-Track player from Jay Witasik.

A Gesture In Mourning: Honoring One Of Their Own

With all of the noise made at the start of Spring Training regarding the new hats Major League Baseball is making all of the teams wear, there is one uniform accessory which is getting little notice in the press. This is due in part because the regular season hasn't started yet. When it does, everyone will notice the black arm bands worn by all members of the New York Yankees in honor of the late Cory Lidle.

These arm bands, to be worn for the duration of the season are important because they illustrate the humanity that ultimately is the game. We all focus on the steroids, the payrolls, contracts, statistics, merchandising, records, rule changes, and assorted other subjects which smear the lens through which we view this beloved sport. At the end of the day, the men playing baseball are human beings. Cory Lidle died tragically, and he left behind a family. reports that negotiations are underway between the Yankees and Lidle's widow where she would throw the ceremonial first pitch on opening day. That’s a classy move on the Yankee's part. Lidle's number won't be retired, and he only played with the team for a few months, but his memory will be treated with respect and humanity by the team.

Baseball is a lot of things: a game, a business, a profession, and a part of history. When baseball loses one of it's own, gestures like the ones offered for Cory Lidle by the Yankees validates the goodness and innocence of this game which grows it's fan base from childhood, from when the first time a little kid puts on a hat and a glove and says "Play ball."

Key Performance for Kei

This is only Spring Training, I know, but look at my previous predictions and note that I already believe in Kei Igawa. Putting up five shut-out innings against the Phillies in last night's exhibition game, he looked a bit shaky (he looks to be still trying to figure out the strike zone), but Kei was confident.

Why shouldn't he be? With Ron Guidry patrolling the dugout, looking at his mechanics, his control, and his delivery, Kei has one of the best pitching coaches to take the young, successful pitcher from Japan, and mold him into a suitable number five starter for the most popular and successful sports franchise in history. Not too tall of an order, don't ya think?

At this point is Spring Training, the regular players are all but ready. The clubs are assessing their own minor league talent, making cuts and filling roster spots. But pitchers need more time than position players to prepare for the regular season. Igawa is using him time wisely, heeding the advice given him by Guidry through his interpreter, and making adjustments. Even between innings he can be seen with the Gator, nodding and listening, and going back to the mound to record outs.

The strike zone may be tricky for him, but it is not elusive. On the radar screen for young Igawa is an inaugural season with the Yankees which may begin with a couple of nervous starts, but ultimately will become a wise investment for the team, and the beginning a fine career for Igawa.