Manny set to spark ripple effect
When baseball comes up around dinner tables, barbecues and swimming
pools this holiday weekend, the first subject everyone will want to discuss is Manny
I can almost hear the script playing out across America now:
“Should he be forgiven? Can Manny keep being Manny (which is to say, delivering
Most Valuable Player-caliber numbers and creating some sort of controversy in
The conversation will be no more exciting than two co-workers
exchanging thoughts about the weather.
Because nobody will address the most important question of all: How
will Manny’s return affect Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Casey Blake, Russell
Martin, James Loney, Orlando Hudson and Rafael Furcal? You know, the rest of
the Dodgers lineup.
As things stand, the Dodgers have baseball’s best record and their
offense hasn’t exactly shriveled up into a little ball without him.
That’s especially true of Kemp and Blake, who’ve come into their
own as forces to be reckoned with in the National League.
Before returning on Friday and going hitless in three at-bats,
Manny’s last game came on May 6. Since then, Kemp is hitting .317 with seven
homers and 12 steals and Blake is batting .316 with six homers and 33 RBIs.
Now that Kemp and Blake have had to fend for themselves without
Manny, without seeing as many pitches to hit or special treatment from the
opposition, how helpful do you think it will be to have one of the game’s
all-time best hitters as protection?
The same can be said for every other Dodgers hitter, particularly
Martin, Loney, Ethier and Furcal. All three have delivered their fair share of
clutch hits, but overall, their production has suffered in Manny’s absence.
Martin, especially, can use all the help he can get amid the most
disappointing season of his career. And Ethier, for all his big games in June,
still hit just .221 while Manny was gone.
So when the subject of Manny is brought up around the dinner table
over the next few days, feel free to inject a little purpose in the
And if nobody wants to hear it, ask yourself this: Just how good
can a burgeoning star like Kemp be with Manny back in the picture, after
fending for himself for two months?