DONNIE DOES: JAPANNY RAMIREZ
Two weeks ago I made a last minute decision to fly to Japan so I could catch Manny Ramirez’s last 3 games with the Kochi Fighting Dogs. Two weeks later, I can honestly say it was the best impulsive decision I’ve ever made. When I first booked my trip, I didn’t know a single soul in Japan, let alone someone familiar with the Kochi Fighting Dog’s organization, but luckily, stoolies came through in the clutch. Within 8 hours of posting my first blog about my mission to see Manny play baseball in Japan, two stoolies had reached out and put me in touch with Zak Colby, one of Manny’s American teammates on the Fighting Dogs as well as the man responsible for bringing Manny to Japan in the first place (Big S/O to Nathan Dalena, Jake Colby, and @Schmeltzer34).
Thanks to those connections as soon as I arrived in Kochi, Zak picked me up from my hotel in the Manny-mobile, the Mercedes van normally designated for chauffeuring Manny around Japan as outlined in his contract, and we headed out to eat with Lars Anderson (another former Red Sox player on the Fighting Dogs), and Gary, a friend of Lars’s who had become Ramirez’s unofficial hitting coach/best friend in less than a week. Zak let me know he had arranged for me to have an all-access pass for the next 3 games and that’s how the above video came to be. I still have a bunch more footage from my time with the Fighting Dogs so will be putting out a second video next week which features never before seen footage of a Japanese 5th Inning Hoon break as well as Hideki Okajima FROM THE CLOUDS!
Couple notes and observations that didn’t make the final edit:
1. Didn’t talk much baseball with Manny but he let me know me he absolutely loved his time playing in Boston.
2. Manny nicknamed one of the assistant coaches “Chuckie” because he thinks he looks like the killer doll from Child’s Play. (that’s sneaky the funniest tidbit from this whole experience).
3. Manny was indeed granted unlimited sushi at a chain of local shops in Kochi so that part of his contract was indeed true. The rumor that practice was optional in his contract though isn’t quite accurate. It just stated that all he had to do was hit batting practice then could go home immediately. Although while I was there he decided to not go to the away game after their double header and no-one seemed to have a problem with that so it seems he could more or less make his own schedule. Luckily, he still LOVES playing the game of baseball so his coaches didn’t have to worry about his skipping out on too much. Which brings us to our next point…
4. If you’re scratching your head wondering why Manny has chosen to play minor league baseball in Japan at age 45 when he could be cruising jet skis with DJ Khaled back in Miami, it’s simple. Guy LIVES for baseball. According to Gary he would spend countless hours watching film and working on his game on and off the field. He’s a student of the game that never wants to stop learning.
5. Manny hasn’t always had the best reputation back in the states but you won’t hear me say a negative word about the guy (actually when it comes to professional athletes I think I’ve only said negative words about Stephon Marbury so that’s not saying much). He just gave off a very warm and vibrant energy. Apparently he found God five years back, doesn’t drink anymore, and has become quite the family man. Also, gotta respect that he’s willing to try new experiences like moving to Japan at an age when most people are pretty stuck in their ways.
6. Manny seemed very excited about a potential TV show that followed his exploits in Japan and Chernin Group would be stupid not to fund it. Grade A content 4 dayz. I’ll even let you guys use the promotional poster I just mocked up.