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Manny and Johnny: “We’re back!”

Feb 1, 2011, 2:27 PM EDT

Johnny Damon, Many Ramirez

Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon were formally introduced by the Rays today. They had a press conference. It sounds like it was a  laugh riot.  Highlights, taken from this WEEI report and Marc Topkin’s Twitter feed:

  • At the outset Manny smiled and said “we’re back!”
  • Manny did not put on his Rays cap because he said it did not fit over his hair.
  • Manny called Joe Maddon “the coach.”  When asked about the lineup, Manny said he can hit anywhere because he had 5 triples in 1998.
  • Manny said that he was not at all about the money but rather he was out to prove himself now and that’s all the motivation he needed.  I want to believe him — and I am prepared to admit that even Manny has pride — but every single writer who has ever covered they guy is questioning his motivation with a low contract right now. Not just the normal hater-types.  This will be interesting to watch.
  • After being given number 24 by the Rays he said that he didn’t have a problem not being 99 because 99 is his National League number and 24 is his American League number. I’m actually going to suspend my disbelief about this and acknowledge that Manny may very well have thought this up when he was a teenager and that it was always his plan.  To do this, I’ll forget that he wore 99 with the White Sox last year.
  • Damon called Manny “one of greatest hitters of our generation.”  Manny said “thank you Johnny.”
  • Each player was asked about their physical shape. Manny flexed and pointed to his bicep. Damon said that they could either look in mirror and flex or “we can go in shower  and compete there.”
  • Damon said that the Rays are his “Dream Team.”  No word if he admitted that he really didn’t like that octopus up in Detroit last year or if his happiness winning World Series rings in Boston and New York was a big sham.  I’m totally convinced at this point that he could get signed by the Carolina Mudcats and he’d say “I always wanted to play here.”
  • Manny said he had been working out with Evan Longoria and that “I’m trying to help him find his cap.”
  • Joe Maddon said about Johnny and Manny: “I just want them to be themselves.”

They’re way ahead of you Joe.

  1. Jonny 5 - Feb 1, 2011 at 2:34 PM

    “Manny said he had been working out with Evan Longoria and that “I’m trying to help him find his cap.”

    I hate that commercial more than I hate Joe Buck. Everyone knows he would have never left that bus.

    • RickyB - Feb 1, 2011 at 2:38 PM

      Your Average Joe wouldn’t leave that bus. Evan Longoria doesn’t need that bus, plenty of other buses will come by.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Feb 1, 2011 at 4:52 PM

      With you 100% Jonny. That commercial makes me crazy, and my girlfriend wants to strangle the guy every time it’s on, mostly because he calls it a “cap.”
      It’s hard to hate anything sports-related more than Buck, but Evan’s commercial made it happen.

      • stichey - Feb 1, 2011 at 8:46 PM

        Please forgive me for admitting this, but given that it was a Manny quote, I couldn’t help but first read it as Manny saying he’s been working out with Eva Longoria. It being Manny, for whatever reason, it just kind of made sense… But again, I only state this after throwing myself on the mercy of the court.

  2. BC - Feb 1, 2011 at 2:55 PM

    Not exactly dealing with the two greatest minds in Western Civilization here….

  3. Jeremiah Graves - Feb 1, 2011 at 3:13 PM

    If nothing else, it should be a fun season to be a Rays fan. The vibe should probably stay pretty loose in that clubhouse.

    • indaburg - Feb 1, 2011 at 9:24 PM

      I can’t speak for all 100 of us Rays fans, but I am actually somewhat hopeful for the 2011 season, something I definitely wouldn’t have said one month ago. At the very least, this has made the Rays a little more interesting.

  4. sknut - Feb 1, 2011 at 3:40 PM

    I also suppose either guy could be flipped for more prospects if the Rays are out at the deadline, although I doubt they will be.

    • bigbbfan - Feb 1, 2011 at 5:28 PM

      Flipped where? The Toledo Mudhens? Manny will not be able to exist until then with no average, no power and abviously no defense. Johnny D could be a good pickup for them, but keep in mind who he is replacing….Carl Crawford he ain’t.

      • obo1892 - Feb 1, 2011 at 6:04 PM

        You realize Manny batted .300 and slugged .460 last year, right? Not what he was but still well above league average. Also, defensively he is the best at his position.

  5. Ari Collins - Feb 1, 2011 at 4:47 PM

    Damon: “Will I play 162 games this year? I doubt it.”

    Manny: “Let’s do this. You play 100, I’ll play 62, and we’re all set.”

    Maybe too close to the truth, at least in Manny’s case, but still amusing.

    As a Sox fan, I always loved Manny, even when he caused trouble. Guy was entertaining and unpredictable in a way no other baseball player is. They’re always all, “I’m in the best shape of my life, I’m taking it one game at a time,” and other generic PR bs. I’d rather they all be crazy and say random shit they think is funny.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Feb 1, 2011 at 4:54 PM

      Some of them maybe, as long as it was more crazy and silly then offensive.

      If 750 MLB players were all like Manny, it would make Animal House look like Ben Hur.

      • Ari Collins - Feb 1, 2011 at 5:55 PM

        Hah, good point. I should’ve said that I wish MORE of them were like Manny. But yeah… not all!

  6. pisano - Feb 1, 2011 at 7:12 PM

    I was told the Rays had a great minor league system, what I don’t get is what they want with a guy who can’t break a pane of glass with his throws and his old teammate the village idiot. Go figure.

    • bigharold - Feb 1, 2011 at 11:46 PM

      “… what I don’t get is what they want with a guy who can’t break a pane of glass with his throes..”

      Damon couldn’t throw when he was in his “prime” in Boston either. I didn’t get to watch a lot of him last season but until the day he left the Yankees he could still run down most things in the outfield and caught just about everything he ran down.

      Manny, i’m not so sure about but I’d wagers Damon will earn his keep.

    • Ari Collins - Feb 1, 2011 at 11:51 PM

      Maybe because those two things you said about them are nitpicks that have little to do with their performance on the field? And they’ll each be worth an extra win or two in a wild card race that could come down to a win or two?

  7. crashdog - Feb 1, 2011 at 9:40 PM

    Say what you want. But as a Rays fan, I am excited about these 2. Manny will be an improvement over Carlos “I refuse to take the bat off my shoulder” Pena in the lineup, and while you obviously cannot replace Crawford, Damon will afford Jennings another year of seasoning that he desperately needs. Do not discount the Kotchman and Lopez signs either, the Rays have a way of making seemingly washed up guys respectable again. While the pen still looks rough, I still see them challenging for the wild card with this lineup and rotation.

    • Ari Collins - Feb 1, 2011 at 10:22 PM

      Discount the Kotchman signing. He was never respectable in the first place.

      Agreed with everything else though!

  8. Elwood Larf - Feb 1, 2011 at 11:56 PM

    If nothing else, this should be entertaining. Damon still had 36 doubles last year and decent average and OBP, considering he played in one of the most notorious pitcher’s parks in the game, and I have no doubt Manny can still rake well enough to be one of the better DHs in the league. What really surprised me was that they gave more money to Damon than to Manny–a lot more money, in fact. I think Manny is much closer to being a sure thing in a DH role than Johnny Damon is as a left fielder.

    On a side note, did anybody else think Manny Ramirez was the perfect fit for the Ozzy and Kenny circus that goes on in the Southside of Chicago?

    • Elwood Larf - Feb 1, 2011 at 11:58 PM

      And yes, the big question remains–do either of these guys still care? They both have 2 rings, they’ve both done everything they’re going to do in their respective careers. They’re never again going to get a multiyear contract or get paid anything close to what they once did. Does being an OG on a young team inspire these guys enough, or do they just feel obligated to go out there and play because they know they can still contribute at some level? Time will tell…

  9. apbaguy - Feb 2, 2011 at 12:59 AM

    Keep in mind both those guys live pretty close to Tampa in the offseason, so their gardeners and maids and drivers will be watching them. They’ll want to do their best in front of the assembled help.

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