(Photo: Albuquerque Isotopes)
In classic Manny Ramirez fashion, he walked past reporters and avid fans at Isotopes Park and quipped to the cameras in a very nasal voice.
"Eh, I'm glad I made that left turn at Albuquerque", drawing laughs from the reporters, but not Governor Bill Richardson. Richardson was still deaf from the noise at the spaceport groundbreaking earlier in the week.
Before the game started, some fans were puzzled, but realized it was likely one of Manny's usual mental lapses when he signed a few baseballs as "Bugs Bunny."
The joke was made even more appropriate when outfielder and Dodger prankster Jason Repko made like an eight-year old while Ramirez was being interviewed, putting his index and middle fingers in a V shape behind Ramirez's head.
As Manny fanned Manny in the bottom of the first (the recently demoted Manny Parra of the Brewers that is), infielder Blake DeWitt attached a pair of gray rabbit ears to Ramirez's cap on the bench—with superglue.
Fortunately, Ramirez had no trouble getting his incisors sharp chewing on carrots out in the field in the top of the second inning as nary a fly ball headed his way.
Meanwhile, in the left field picnic area, one 45-year old father of three was in year eight of his hunger strike.
The mostly bald man had lost most of his beer gut staging his hunger strike, and no one approached him except to give him a hot dog with both red and green chile on top that made him incensed upon his reading of the Albuquerque Isotopes logo on the wrapper.
He sighed and ate it as he realized the Calgary Stampede was not going to return, despite his efforts.
He had little choice as four and five-year old kids ran around with black dreadlock wigs and tiny gloves. One of them actually caught a foul ball down the line Manny Ramirez didn't even realize had been hit his way.
"Homer" was eventually wheeled out of the most gorgeous park in all of the minor leagues when he spazzed out and didn't realize Dee Brown took over for Manny in left field in the fifth inning.
He knew something was up because the ears and dreads were gone, and Dee Brown actually caught a baseball after running to catch it.
It was Dee Brown's line drive single in the eighth that scored Luis Maza with the only run of the game—a rare low-scoring affair in the rarefied, mile-high air along Avenida Cesar Chavez and University Boulevard.
As soon as Bugs Bunny took his seat on the bench, the game was over—in the minds of about 1/3 of the fans on Tuesday night.
Only about 10,000 of the record setting crowd of 15,189 was still in the stands when the immortal Met himself Scott Strickland struck out the first two hitters in the ninth to preserve the 1-0 win.
As he left the field, Manny hung a sign with "Duck Season" over his back, and kissed the old usher (who did look a bit like Elmer Fudd) smack on the lips to celebrate the victory.
No word if Daffy Duck will be playing center on Wednesday, or if Marge and Bart came to help Homer get home.