Whether you like him or not, whether you think Tim McCarver and Curt Schilling were right about him, Manny Ramirez, one of the top 10 hitters ever (yes, ever) has done more for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2 months than he has in the 8 years he was in Boston. I know, I know, you probably think I'm crazy for saying such a thing, but hear me out.
Boston's fan base was already set in stone. They sold out nearly every home game and despite their consistent failures before their 2 World Series titles, they were lovable losers similar to the Cubs and their fans couldn't emotionally detach themselves from attending the landmark that is Fenway.
But the same can't be said for the Dodgers. Actually, it can't be said for any team in California except for the Angels who have a solid fan base on a consistent level. Statistically, the Angels fill 91% of their stadium, while the Giants fill 85%, and the Dodgers 82% which ranks them as last in California. But that was over the course of the whole season, it doesn't take into account the spike in everything the Dodgers produce besides tickets since the Ramirez trade. Take a look below at the numbers compiled by the LA Times since the Ramirez trade:
"In accounting for revenue increases in ticket sales, parking, food, drink and merchandise, Ramirez generated an estimated $7.6 million. The Dodgers' average attendance jumped by 4,288 in the Manny Era. At an average ticket price of $29.66, according to Team Marketing Report, that's an additional $3.2 million in revenue. With fans spending roughly $17 a person on food, drink and parking, that's another $1.8 million.
The Dodgers also sold 14,000 Ramirez T-shirts at $29 each, 6,000 dreadlocks at $25 each and 500 authentic jerseys at $280 each. That's another $700,000 in revenue, strictly from stadium sales. We haven't even counted the revenue from their 4 playoff games."
In addition to all the revenue they've generated, remember, the Dodgers haven't paid Manny a cent this season. The $7 million he was owed for the rest of the season was picked up by the Red Sox.
In the last two decades, there hasn't been one player since Fernando Valenzuela to grip the Dodgers base and generate as much excitement like Manny has. The one common thread between Fernando mania and Man-Ram are that they are both Latino.
Los Angeles' Latino population sits at 48% and the Dodgers have already made inroads with the community by having an annual "Viva Los Dodgers" festival which draws close to 10,000 attendees yearly. The Dodgers Latino fan base was quoted at 45% by the end of 2006. With the addition of Manny Ramirez, the casual Latino baseball fan, if there is such a thing (most Latinos love baseball), will come out to support their Dodgers with Manny representing them.
With the Dodgers it will never be about money, or at least it shouldn't be. This isn't a case of C.C. Sabathia in small-market Milwaukee. This is Manny Ramirez in the city of dreams, the city of entertainment, and just like the Lakers have a superstar at guard, the Dodgers need a superstar in their clubhouse. Because if they don't re-sign Manny, it won't be because of his attitude or Boras' contract demands, it will be because they just don't want to - and baseball observers will term the Dodgers fans' bandwagons when attendance plummets next year, but I wouldn't use that word so quickly. Granted, LA is a casual sports market, but when you're main base is Latinos and they finally got someone who they can identify with and is a magnetic superstar, I think of the word betrayal before bandwagons.
It's not a money issue and if their worried about "Manny becoming Manny" again next year and not behaving as well as he did this year, you are gravely underestimating the abilities of Joe Torre. Joe Torre is the Phil Jackson of baseball. He can handle the Dennis Rodman like personality of Manny Ramirez and he's dealt with plenty of ego's and annoying ownership in NY and still managed to win 4 titles.
Mr. McCourt, you have one of the greatest managers of all-time in your organization, your young players love him, you have a talented young pitching staff, and you haven't seen this much interest since you bought the team in 2004. LA probably hasn't seen this much excitement since the Shaq/Kobe era. Do your fans, players, and coaches a favor - loosen up the wallet and give Manny his ransom. It's well worth it.
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