As sports fans, we all have our moments; Mine came in 1983 and I’ve been hooked on the Red Sox ever since. It was during “Yaz Day” when fans celebrated Carl Yastrzemski’s career as the man jogged around the field, shaking hands with fans. That is how every storied career SHOULD end.
But, another great Sox outfielder has retired and it couldn’t feel any different. Some of the fondest memories I have as a sports fan are forever linked to a bad man; Manny Ramirez. And I’m mad about that because I cheered along even when I should have known better.
It was easy to get sucked in considering his performance; For his 8 seasons in Boston, Manny averaged 35 HR and 108 RBI with a .312/.411/.588 line and was instrumental in two World Series Championships.
This made it easy to overlook the peculiarity that was “Manny-Being-Manny”. His disappearances into the Monster, the inexplicable cut-off of a Johnny Damon throw, and his high-five of a fan that came just before he turned and doubled-up the runner at first base were all excused as part of his aloofness, a quality that in many ways made him more likable.
But, there was some serious stuff too; Manny was granted permission to miss the first days of Spring Training in 2007 so he could tend to “family matters”. The Sox later learned of his paid appearance at an car auction. Then, things got ugly; In 2008, shortly after a physical confrontation with teammate, Manny shoved to the ground the team’s travelling secretary, Jack McCormick.
His plight since is well documented. Outside of a remarkable finish to the 2008 season after being traded to the Dodgers, Manny’s career was marred with slumps, drug suspensions, and now, an arrest for domestic battery. I’m not sure at what point I should have stopped looking at Manny through crimson-colored lenses, but I know now I am way too late.
I was once a fan of the Red Sox, at least in part, because of Manny; I remain a loyal member of the Nation in spite of him.
**Statistical Data obtained from www.baseballreference.com, player pfofile.