Manny Ramirez did a lot of damage to a lot of people over the course of his MLB career. Ramirez once did something so offensive to his hotel room in St. Petersburg that the hotel staff had the Red Sox leave the hotel in the middle of the night. He once physically accosted Jack McCormick, the Red Sox’s traveling secretary, because McCormick couldn’t deliver Ramirez a slew of tickets to a game at the last minute. He spent the entirety of the summer of 2008 refusing to compete for a playoff contender because he so badly wanted to leave Boston. And lastly, days after Ramirez signed a lucrative contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he was suspended for PEDs, finishing out his huge contract as a mere fragment of the player he used to be.
Especially in terms of his 2008 season, it would be no surprise if Theo Epstein, then the general manager for the Red Sox and now for the Cubs, held some sort of grudge against Ramirez. It was Epstein, after all, who saw the very worst of “Manny being Manny” and who dealt with the repercussions; it was also Epstein who arranged for Ramirez to go to LA, giving up money and watching one of the premier players in the league leave his Boston clubhouse.
That, however, is in the past, and Epstein insists that he holds no grudges, and that he’s not making the move for publicity’s sake. Were Epstein interested in publicity stunts, he would likely not be in the midst of a multi-year rebuild that has caused much fan agitation and dwindling (for Wrigley Field, anyways) attendance numbers.
No, this move is strictly a business one, and if one sticks to the business spectrum, it makes a lot of sense. In Ramirez, the Cubs get a career .312 hitter who recorded 2,574 hits and 555 home runs. More than that, however, they get someone who understands the game and the approach to hitting exceptionally well.
They are not hiring Manny for his bat; they are hiring Manny for the brain behind his bat.
Epstein once remarked that Ramirez was the best person he’s ever heard explain how to hit a breaking ball and how a right-handed hitter should approach their swing. Hanley Ramirez once said that Manny knew more about hitting than anyone he’d ever been around, citing the duo’s 7:00 a.m. batting cage sessions as evidence for his claim.
Simply put, you don’t get one of the top 100 career batting averages in baseball history without an immense amount of work and understanding of the game. The purported saviors of the Cubs franchise, young stars such as Javier Baez and Kris Bryant, could especially use to hear from someone like Manny as they ascend the ranks of the Cubs. And that’s exactly what Theo Epstein is after.
At the end of it all, if you’re blessed enough to be a Cubs fan, you simply have to put your faith in Epstein. There’s no way he’s going into this blind, and there’s no way he’s doing this without forgiving Manny himself.
So if the man who arguably has the greatest right in all of baseball to be mad at Manny can give him another chance, it’s imperative that the remainder of Cubs nation gives him one, too. For now, it is about baseball, and that’s what Manny knows best.