Manny is my new best friend

KRIKORIAN: Manny is my new best friend

Long Beach Press-Telegram (Long Beach, CA)

By Doug Krikorian, Sports Columnist ([email protected])

It was Manny Being Manny – with me.

Honestly, we might now even soon be having shish kebab, pilaf, sarma,
keufta, dolma, cheese berag, lahmahjoon, basterma, tabooleh, paklava
and various other Armenian delicacies together if ol’ Manny keeps his
promise to me.

My New Best Friend was lolling around his Dodger clubhouse locker late
Sunday morning a couple of hours before his team faced the Florida
Marlins, and a few of us reporters were lolling around in the middle
of the room exchanging banalities and being totally oblivious to
Mr. Ramirez’s presence.

Since the others were Dodger Stadium regulars and I’ve been an
irregular one, I decided it was a journalistic imperative to say hello
to a gentleman who has inspired a passionate cult following in the Los
Angeles basin since arriving here under the darkest of clouds from
Boston last summer.

So, somewhat sheepishly in light of the less than glowing words I’ve
penned about Ramirez for his ignoble Red Sox exodus and for his
50-game suspension for violating major league drug policy, I went up
and introduced myself to Ramirez.

And Manny Ramirez immediately charmed me right out of my moccasins.

He couldn’t have been nicer, friendlier, or more gracious as we
discussed a variety of subjects, none of which included his alleged
dabbling with a female fertility drug, which he has stated repeatedly
to previous reporters he won’t discuss.

"I’m just blessed with what has happened to me out here. … I’ve
never been happier in my baseball career," he said. "The people out
here are more laid back than they are back East, much nicer."

He went on to say what you would expect – he likes playing for Joe
Torre, he likes all his teammates, he just wants to contribute in any
way he can to bringing the Dodgers a World Series title, etc., etc.,

I asked him where he now lives, and he told me Glendale.

"There are a lot of Armenians in Glendale," I replied. "Have you tried
any of the Armenian restaurants?"

"No, but I hear Armenian food is very good," he said. "I had a close
Armenian friend in Boston, and he always bragged about it. Do you have
any recommendations?"

"Sure," I replied.

"Look, write your phone number down," he suddenly implored to my
astonishment. "When I have an off day here, I’ll call you and you can
take me to your favorite Armenian restaurant."

So, I dutifully scribbled down my cell number on a piece of paper,
handed it to Ramirez, who carefully inserted it into his safety box.

"I’m going to call you," said Ramirez after we shook hands and I
started to walk away from my newest pal…

Isn’t it ironic that one of David Beckham’s minders at the recent
Galaxy-A.C. Milan match at the Home Depot Center was, of all people,
Long Beach’s very own celebrity bodyguard, Mike (The Hammer) DiMarzo,
who himself was quite a soccer hero at Mayfair High.

While Mr. DiMarzo never has quite reached the marital and financial
heights of Beckham – The Hammer never has even been married, for
crimneysakes! – he has reached a plateau not even Beckham will be able
to attain – mythical status at Joe Jost…

Joe Gordon was quite a major league second baseball who deserves to be
in the Baseball Hall of Fame, only not ahead of Maury Wills, whose
impact on the sport during his 14-year, 2,134-hits, 534-stolen bases
career – he played on four Dodger pennant winners and three world
champions – was far more compelling…

They keep saying Roy Halladay would be the perfect fit for the
Philadelphia Phillies, but I’m trying to figure out for which
contending team he wouldn’t be a perfect fit? Actually, the Angels
need him most…

Never realized that the second-story batting cage at Diane Lewis’
School of Softball in Signal Hill has been used in the off-season by
such major leaguers as Chase Utley and Garrett Atkins…

Incidentally, those in attendance for the recent workout of the
University of Florida All-American softball pitcher and Los Alamitos
High graduate, Stacey Nelson, included the retired and still quite
well-nourished Long Beach fireman, Craig (Five Bellies) Vestermark,
and the area’s most famous plumbing contractor, the well-cologned
Mankind Mark (Pretty Boy) Edmondson…

Honestly, saw a guy artfully twirling a baton at the northwest corner
of Willow and Cherry the other sweltering afternoon as an advertising
gimmick for AT&T…

I never trusted a guy with an initial before his first name until I
got to know the Boy Wonder Long Beach State president, F. King

Mike Scioscia was right and I was wrong – Kendry Morales has turned
out to be a better hitter than Casey Kotchman…

I usually always make up with people with whom I’ve had some sort of
falling out, so help me John Robinson, Isiah Robertson, Howard Cosell,
Reggie Smith, Tim Belcher, Steve Sax, Vic Cegles, ad nauseam. And now
I consider myself buds with Manny Ramirez. Who can figure?

Phil Trani spends at least 16 hours a day, seven days a week laboring
at his Long Beach Blvd. establishment. But on those rare occasions
when the famed restaurateur goes out on the town, he does it in style,
as he did last Friday night when he made the rounds in his limousine
with six lovelies in tow.

"Phil’s become the Hugh Hefner of Long Beach," cracked His Gray
Eminence, John Morris, fresh as ever…