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Manny Ramirez signed with a Japanese indie team

Monday’s Say Hey, Baseball includes Manny Ramirez still playing baseball, Team USA in the WBC, and Hall of Famers at their worst.

Chicago Cubs v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

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Manny Ramirez last had an at-bat in MLB in 2011, with the Rays at age 39. It wouldn’t be the last time he’d play baseball in North America, as the Cubs signed him to a minor-league deal where he was a player-coach back in 2014, and then he went on to play in the Dominican Winter League where he batted .313/.409/.510 at the age of 42. Now, Ramirez is on the ballot for the Hall of Fame, but that doesn’t mean he’s finished playing baseball. Manny has signed a contract with the Kochi Fighting Dogs, an independent league team in Japan.

This isn’t his first foray into baseball in that hemisphere, as Ramirez also played for a team in Taiwan back in 2013. Say what you want about how it seems as if Manny doesn’t care about the game, but his teammates have often said that it’s an act, and his continuing to play baseball wherever he can well past the point of financially needing to is something else. It’s part of why Theo Epstein’s Cubs signed him to be a coach: there are few in his generation who think about hitting as much or as well as Ramirez did (and does), and putting him in a place to impart that knowledge is a smart move. Now, he gets another chance, at 44, to put it to use himself, even if he has to go to the other side of the world to do it.

Who knows if Ramirez will ever make the Hall of Fame, but that doesn’t seem to be at the forefront for him, anyway, given he’s out here preparing for another season of professional baseball. He might not be adding to his credentials for Cooperstown with the move, but hey, maybe it will help him: after all, there are always complaints about a lack of love for the game in players once they start cashing checks, and Manny is out here playing in a four-team independent league out in Japan even though he’s 44 and made over $200 million in his career.