EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


July 29, 2008

Resolving the Ramirez issue will go a long way

On Baseball

Alan Siegel

BOSTON — Manny Ramirez looked at the thinned-out group of reporters looking for pre-game chatter. He dropped no verbal bombs, instead waving sarcastically and disappearing behind the clubhouse curtain.

The slugger has become like Heath Ledger in "The Dark Knight". Your eyes are glued to the man, whether you think he's crazy, frustrating or brilliant. Manny is a must-watch character.

But in reality, Ramirez isn't the Joker. He's far from deranged.

You just wish his drawn-out movie would end already. Trade him or keep him.

If the matter was resolved, it'd be easier for the Red Sox to concentrate on the pennant race, which isn't exactly swinging in Boston's favor. Not after last night's 7-5 loss to the Los Angeles Angels in front of 37,830 at Fenway Park. The Red Sox have now lost six of seven meetings with the Halos this season.

While Ramirez's situation plays out, his team remains in limbo. The Red Sox (61-46) are still a game back of the first-place Tampa Bay Rays (61-44) in the American League East and lead the Wild Card race by two games over the third-place New York Yankees (58-47).

"It would've been nice to pick up one," outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury said after he was told that both the Rays and Yankees lost. "You know, I wasn't aware of the scoreboard during the game, but if that's the case, then it's too bad."

The Red Sox, now 4-6 since the All-Star break, are struggling to pull ahead.

So how can they build momentum? A peeved Kevin Youkilis has an answer.

"Winning," he said. "Winning is always big momentum. You have to win."

That's the goal, obviously. And Ramirez, at least in the short term, will help the Red Sox win.

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