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Manny Ramirez's Grand Slam Silences Critics




With his first swing of a bat last night Manny Ramirez laid

to rest the loitering demons of doubt and recrimination that have

followed his emergence from suspension. On July 3 he took the field

against San Diego after a 50-game hiatus for having used an illegal

performance enhancing substance. Catcalls and drunken jeers have dogged

him in every city the team has played in since -- and those are just from

the local sports writers.



Even at Dodger Stadium you could hear scattered boos from the stands

this week whenever he stepped in the batter's box. Yet the pinch-hit grand slam he smashed against Cincinnati into the left-field Mannywood seats wouldn't only win the game but

it silenced his critics and, as Vin Scully claimed, unleashed a roar

among Dodger fans that hadn't been heard in 20 years -- a reference to

Kirk Gibson's walk-off pinch-hit homer against Oakland in the 1988

World Series.

(According to L.A. Observed,

however, Westside and Valley Time-Warner Cable viewers on the Westside

experienced a different kind of silence when their game broadcast froze

or went to commercials.)