03 February 2009


I miss the anticipation of a well hit ball.

I think anyone who has watched baseball on television for some amount of time has an intuition of what is a hit and what isn't right after contact is made. It's the speed of the ball reversed off the bat. You can tell it's going to be a hit. Where will it land? The ball has purpose. The batter has given it life. Anticipation. If a Dodger has hit the ball, I feel excitement. An opponent, dread. The moment of the well hit ball off the bat is a promise of action. Running, throwing. Tumbling and diving, if we're lucky.

And then reverse. Like the ball off the bat, the angle of view reverses abruptly, and we see what happens. Single, maybe double? Lineout? Sharp ground out? Find the hole? Over the fence? Into a glove? Reverse, and anticipation may become joy. Or regret. Or disbelief. ( How did he make that play? )

I remember all the times toward the end of last season when Jeff Kent promised safety and delivered dismay. A rip, a streak on the screen, a pulled bullet to the left, elation --- then reverse --- it's low, oh no, there is goes into the glove of the third baseman.

Now I know how this ends. This wasn't supposed to be about Manny. But it is. This is what Manny is. He's the feeling of the well hit ball, even before he makes contact. He comes up to the plate and it's like he's already whipped the bat around and created that sweet line drive contact with the ball. Even before he hits it we're wondering how far it's going to go. He's anticipation before there's anything to anticipate.

Look, I want the Dodgers to win as much as any other Dodger fan. I understand that Adam Dunn or some other slugging outfielder might be a better option for the cost than Manny. Or maybe that the money would better be used on pitching. Pick your argument, pick your writer, pick your formula, opinions vary. But winning is not why I want Manny back so desperately. It's the anticipation, the feeling of watching a legend. And the fans know it. We knew it the moment he stepped into Dodger blue. That's why we so desperately want him back.

And if he's not back? Well, then he's a memory. Like everything else.

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