I'm listening to the Dodgers-Cubs game last night when this happens: Dodgers are leading 5-1 at the time. With a man, on Dodgers outfielder Jim Edmonds comes to the plate. Before he became a great hitter with St. Louis, Edmonds was primarily known for his spectacular outfield play with the Angels, often, in fact, injuring himself by running into walls and such. In other words, he's known for playing the game hard.
Well, Edmonds, a lefty, hits a slicing fly ball down the left field line. Assuming it's foul, he doesn't bother to run it out. (Note: running out hits until you're absolutely sure they're called foul is something we stressed to 8-9 year-old players on our Little League team this year.) Well, the wind being what it is Chicago this time of year, the ball's slice is held up and it nearly drops fair. Manny Ramirez, yes, that Manny Ramirez who was traded by the Red Sox this year pretty much for loafing, hustles over, makes a nice play on the ball off the wall and gets it back into the infield quickly.
Now, the ball was foul so it really didn't matter, but my point is, that on this play, in a hugely important playoff contest for both teams, Manny was huslting, and Edmonds, who was quite willing to break his butt for fifth-place Angels teams back in the day, was not. Oh yes, the Dodgers won 7-2, with Manny getting two hits, scoring twice, and taking one out of the park.
No matter what you want to say negative about Manny, and most of it is probably true, he's a pro. No doubt about it. When the chips are down, he's not scared to step it up. (an alternative cliche: He really knows how to take the bull by the horns.) This is one of the things that makes him so great. He may eschew responsibility for many things, but when it comes to baseball, Manny's not afraid of the big moment. (Maybe we should put him in charge of Congress until we get this bailout thing passed.)
On a related note: Jason Bay, who has always been one of my favorite players because of the way he played and handled himself when he was with that awful Pirates franchise, had a homer to push the Red Sox past the Angels last night. Bay, whose personality is practically a polar opposite of Manny's, was the main piece the Red Sox got in return when they traded Manny. He's been solid. And his personality fits in much more with what the new Red Sox management (since the team was sold in 2003) is trying to achieve. Could this be one of those trades in which both teams benefit? It sure will be interesting if the Dodgers and Red Sox meet in the World Series.