Since he joined the team in 2001, Manny Ramirez has been our lovable oaf. Sure, sometimes he asks out of games or goes to visit imaginary relatives or starts thinking he’s in the dairy aisle of the local Stop & Shop when he is, in fact, in left field at Fenway. But when he knocks a game-winning home run or shows up on the Tonight Show to say how lucky he is to be playing for the Sox or kicks off the 2004 Rolling Rally by stating that it is us, the fans, who make Manny happy, well, then, it’s easy to overlook a few peccadilloes. I’ve never been shy about my manlove for Manny. And neither should you.

The stories that we’ve seen surfacing over the last couple weeks, though, are another matter. Scufflin’ with the Hillbilly in the dugout and allegedly shovin’ traveling secretary Jack McCormick don’t fall under the typical Manny Being Manny banner. And folks like the Shaughn are having a field day with it.

Myself, I just find the timing a little odd. There’s been nothing in the past — at least nothing I’ve read about — that would imply an angry streak in Manny. Yet, suddenly he’s painted as something of a loose cannon. Is it a coincidence, a part of his personality he’s buried all these years? Or is this the first salvo in management’s “Why We Can’t Possibly Re-sign Manny” propaganda campaign?