Last time I checked, Manny Ramirez hadn’t killed anyone. He wasn’t named in the Mitchell Report for pumping his body full of steroids. He didn’t cheat on his taxes or his wife. He never even rolled his vehicle over on the way home from the strip joint. So how did he become the most hated player in baseball?
In Boston, many members of the Nation seem to have the scorned lover syndrome. Manny was a big, goofy, lovable guy in a Red Sox uniform while courting Boston. Sure he forgot to take out the trash and sat on the couch too much, but that was just Manny being Manny. Then he got bored, got the 7-year itch, and moved on. And some fans just can’t get over that.
But how did the hateration spread so far and wide. Guys like Pettitte and Bonds are more respected than Manny. Sportsline give the play-by-play of Mannyisms (my comments in bold):
• September 2001: Missed last game of the year for “personal reasons.” In that game, the Red Sox honored Cal Ripken which was his last game at Fenway Park. (So?)
• December 2001: The Red Sox decide to build a separate room for media interviews because Ramirez says he’s uncomfortable in the locker room. Poor guy.
• May 2002: Lost his $15,000 diamond earring while sliding into third base. (How does this make him evil?)
• September 2002: Asks for song Good Times (I Get High) by Styles P to be played over the stadium loudspeaker when he bats. The song is an ode to drug use and full of obscene lyrics. Like idiots, the Red Sox oblige. (And he’s the only player to have inappropriate intro music?)
• September 2002: Hits a homer. Then, in ensuing bat, hits a ground ball, and doesn’t leave the batter’s box. Nice effort.
• August 2003: Says he would like to play for the Yankees. (If he stays with the Dodgers, Ramirez will say he wants to play for Anaheim). (I believe the comment was taken a bit out of context but I’m far too lazy to go look it up)
• August 2003: This is one of my favorites. Ramirez says he’s too sick to play in a big series against the Yankees. But he’s seen in a bar, hanging out with a friend who plays on the Yankees. (Drinking tea)
• Fall 2003: Refuses to pinch hit and is benched for the next game.
• July 2005: Takes the day off despite manager Terry Francona declaring Ramirez was needed. Oh, just Manny being … never mind.
• August 2005: Doesn’t hustle to first and is thrown out. (And when was the last time the beloved Captain Tek hustled down the first base line?)
• September 2005: Doesn’t hustle to first and is thrown out. (This could actually probably be repeated several hundred times).
• October 2005: Stories appear in the media, stating Ramirez demanded to be traded and would boycott spring training if he wasn’t. (Was this right after the Sox put him on waivers?)
• July 2006: Commissioner Bud Selig is agitated about Ramirez not coming to Pittsburgh for the All-Star Game because of a tender knee despite being the AL’s leading vote getter. “Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but if you are voted on the team, it’s a privilege,” Selig told the media. “You ought to be here. He’s the only person who did not participate this year. Everybody else has been here and has been terrific.” Reward the fans for voting him to the All-Star Game by showing up? Why so demanding, commissioner? (Bringing Bud Selig into the discussion just cost the writer any credibility)
• September 2006: Missed 22 of 30 games late in the year with alleged patellar tendinitis. (The same injury that cost John Valentine his career because he did play on it)
• June 2008: Gets into a dugout scuffle with Kevin Youkilis. Oh, just Manny being … never mind. (At this point, too late, the horse was out of the barn)
• June 2008: Shoves a 60-year-old traveling secretary to the ground.
• July 2008: Talks on a cell phone during a pitching change.
• July 2008: Sits out pivotal game against the Yankees, infuriating the Red Sox.
• July 2008: Tells ESPN, “The Red Sox don’t deserve a player like me.” They trade him to Los Angeles.
I can’t defend what Manny did over the last month of his tenure with the Sox, but I think the front office has to share some of the blame. They could have met with him before spring training (as they promised) to discuss his options. They could have told him at any point that they weren’t picking up his option. And for those who have rewritten history to where Manny quit on his team before the trade…he hit .347 with 16 RBI in 22 games in July.
A few things were left off the list. Like 274 homeruns. Like 868 RBI. There were a couple of other things…what were they? Oh yeah! Two World Series championships, one where Manny was MVP. Probably would have had a third ring if we had his bat in the 2008 post-season line-up.
Love him or hate him, just don’t forget everything he did while he was here.