With “Jesus” at his side, Manny to be Manny in Tampa Bay

Multiple reports tonight citing unnamed sources say that Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon will be reunited this season as members of the Tampa Bay Rays. While the news isn’t quite as big in 2011 as it would have been a few years ago, it’s still worth a “wow.”

Manny and Johnny, the former with his dreads and the latter with his Jesus beard, we’re at the core of  the Damon-dubbed “bunch of idiots” who ended Boston’s 86-year World Series drought with their championship in 2004.

They are so closely associated with Boston that even though they’ve both changed clubs and caps several times in recent years, I still can’t think of them as anything but Red Sox.  The New Yorker magazine in 2007 did a profile on Ramirez, who lived in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Boston. After a blistering start with the Indians, Ramirez just seemed right in Fenway Park. It didn’t go as well in Dodger blue, where his reputation was tarnished and his performance diminished.

Damon turned coat to the Yankees, a move that still jars me, and played last year with Detroit. He and Ramirez will be welcome in St. Petersburg, where the Rays have had notable defections from Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena.

The signings of Damon and Ramirez will help Tampa Bay recover in part from those losses, and they should make the Rays a much more entertaining story this year.


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