Out in left field, Ramirez's defensive miscues are downright offensive

October 24, 2004|By PETER SCHMUCK

BOSTON - So, now there's one more reason why I don't like Manny Ramirez.

The guy doesn't even replace his divots.

Manny took up so much grass on that Larry Walker fly ball in the eighth inning, Ricky Williams wants to smoke his heel. The Red Sox made a total of four ugly errors and somehow it's the St. Louis Cardinals who find themselves in a hole going into Game 2 tonight at Fenway Park.

"That was not an instructional video," said Boston manager Terry Francona.

I guess not. Ramirez had three hits in five at-bats last night and made two errors in three chances in left field. Which means that he's hitting .600 in the 100th World Series and fielding .333.

Maybe everybody was a little frazzled after those two tense playoff series, or maybe they were just suffering from some World Series jitters, but Francona wasn't buying any excuses.

"I don't think the players were nervous," Francona said, "but they sure made me nervous."

Red Sox pitcher Derek Lowe is aware the Orioles weren't exactly rooting for him when he took the mound for his heroic turn in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series, but that hasn't hurt their chances of signing him when he becomes a free agent next month.

The Orioles weren't the only team hoping that Lowe would stay under the free-agent radar long enough for them to sign him for a reasonable price.

"I've had people from other organizations tell me, `We kind of hope that you keep struggling, so Boston won't have any confidence in you and we can get you,' " Lowe said.

No such luck. Lowe improved his chances of remaining with the Red Sox with his six-inning, one-hit performance against the Yankees and probably pushed up his market value, but the Orioles are expected to make a serious run at him anyway.

"We'll know pretty quick ... next month," Lowe said. "I could be staying here or talking to you in Baltimore. Who knows?"

Six hours before game time, a ladder truck pulled up outside Gate D at Fenway Park to hang a banner celebrating the Red Sox's 2004 American League pennant. The brackets were already in place on the side of the stadium, so it should have been a fairly simple process ... except that it didn't fit.

When the workman - who was wearing a New England Patriots stocking cap - tried to stretch the banner from one bracket to the other, it was slightly too short. The problem was solved with a pair of longer bolts, but an omen is an omen.

Nevertheless, the guy got a loud ovation from the hundreds of Red Sox fans milling around the ballpark in the early afternoon.

The national anthem was sung by prehistoric rocker Steven Tyler, who is believed to have consulted with Francis Scott Key on the original lyrics.

OK, maybe that was a little harsh, but shouldn't there be a mandatory retirement age for rock stars? This guy is so old his guitar needs a chin lift.

Soft rock legend James Taylor will sing the anthem before Game 2 tonight.

Though many of the merchants around the ballpark went out of their way to squeeze every dime out of the pre-game crowd, one generous street vendor proved that charity sometimes begins at home games.

"The Sausage Guy" gave away Italian sausage sandwiches for free from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sounds like a good way to go broke, but the promotion - which was understandably well-received - was sponsored by Boston.com.

I don't know what the big deal is. They'll give you a beer for free at Camden Yards or M&T Bank Stadium, as long as you tip the vendor at least $5.25.

Sign of the Day, spotted on the street where fans were camped out hoping to buy unclaimed tickets for last night's game: "I Waited In Line For 22 Hours So I Didn't Have To Listen To Tim McCarver Announce This Game."

Contact Peter Schmuck at peter.schmuck@baltsun.com.

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