Yeah, I knew I would have to check in on this topic for real. Manny Ramirez is first and foremost not one of the Theo Epstein/Larry Lucchino/John Henry players. He was inherited from the previous regime. Yes, he is exorbitantly overpaid, but then so is A-Rod, Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Jason Giambi, Kevin Brown, Chan Ho Park, Darren Dreifort, Albert Bell, Mo Vaughn, and countless others in baseball right. No one in their right mind is ever going to turn down the money offered by the team, and if they try, they have their agent and the players association there to strong-arm them into taking the cash.

The contract aside, how are these numbers? .304 33 HRs 104 RBIs? Not a bad season at the plate, but those are the lows for Manny while in Boston. The impact of Ramirez and Ortiz back-to-back in the lineup is stunning. The main reason the Red Sox are never out of a game is due to the threat of those two coming to bat in the eighth or ninth inning. There is no closer in baseball immune to the threat those two present late in games, and with good OBP hitters in front of them (Bill Mueller, Johnny Damon, and Edgar Renteria) and often on base, it makes them all the more dangerous.

Yes, I believe that Manny will be on the trading block again this off-season, but as the front office has repeatedly shown, they will not unload Manny for another payroll-busting contract: they will give him away for nothing, but they will not trade one headache for another. Personally, I think the headaches are worth the production. Forget about unloading Manny, instead focus on finding a 1B/DH to replace Millar next season (what will it take to get Justin Morneau away from Minnesota?) and see if Alfonso Soriano is available cheap from Texas to play second base.

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Hooray for hockey. I am not really sure if anyone really cares about hockey outside of the hardcore fans in Boston, but there are still enough of them around to put their anger aside and support the team. Of course, if the Mike OConnell/Harry Sinden/Jacobs family troika can convince Joe Thornton to be locked up long-term (my opinion: Jumbo Joe will not be happy until he is playing in an outpost like Atlanta, Florida, Anaheim, etc), and Mike Modano can be persuaded to center the second line, the fans will come roaring back into the Garden to cheer on the Black and Gold. A winning team cures many ills.

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Does this mean Big Al is back to number eight? Of course, Antoine was gone the moment it was leaked that Brian Scalabrine was being signed to be the part-time power forward to play when Big Al is in foul trouble. For all the excitement generated by Antoine returning to Boston, it was obvious at the time that Danny Ainge was trying to sell tickets per the ownership group and would rather have acid tossed in his face, wear pin-striped suits, flip a coin repeatedly, and battle Batman than bring back Antoine. Scalabrine is a good fit because he will not try to control the team like Walker, and will be content to play 10-25 minutes a game, throw his body around under the rim, shoot some threes (unlike Walker he can actually make them!), and dive around the court after loose balls and earn Tommy points.

I can just picture Heinsohn sitting at home trying to come up with a new catchphrase for Scalabrine:

I LOVE BRIAN! No, does not have a good ring to it.
SCALABRINE AND PASTA FOR DINNER! What does that mean? Dang it, what else can I shout?
LOOK AT THAT HONKY GO! No, might be offensive, besides, I think Charles Barkley trademarked that phrase.
SCALABRINE IS NO WEENIE! Yeah, that might work if I cannot come up with something by October.

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As far as I was concerned, Palmiero was already using performance enhancing drugs: spokesman for Viagra after all. Other than the NASCAR dude in the Viagra-mobile who at least is know only as the dude in the NASCAR Viagra-mobile to the general population, Palmiero talking about Viagra (it just needed an announcer saying: look at Palmiero waving his long stick as he stands in the batters box, Mel) was more painful than seeing Bob Dole telling everyone that Bob Dole knows that Bob Dole needs help getting Bob Dole Jr ready and at attention.

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Can you imagine the ovation at Fenway when El Guapo wobbles out of the bullpen in the seventh inning of a late August game? I am so giddy at the prospect that my kidneys hurt just thinking about it. Of course, I would still rather see every reliever brought into the game in a baseball-shaped golf cart, but that is probably just some weird quixotic quest for the purity of baseball of my youth, when the fields were astro-turf and the players were hopped up on coke and amphetamines.

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