I’m bummed. The guy was deadly effective, goofy, and a lot of fun to watch. I like my athletes out on the fringe. Bill “Spaceman” Lee. Bill “Deadhead Walton. Manny was …. just too great a package to ignore. The pine tar crudded batting helmet, the dreadlocks, the white Mickey Mouse batting gloves, that he held up, fingers splayed, after whacking the snot out of a homer, bat dropping out of his hands as if to say, “Take that!”
And now he’s gone, melted down and sent packing. Surviving Grady has, as always, the best requiem:
Since then, he went on to be one of the most productive, beloved and befuddling players of this century. After a string of players who “should hit the tar out of the ball at Fenway”–including the likes of Jack Clark, Andre Dawson, Rob Deer, Nick Esasky, et al–Manny was a legitimate menace. The type of batter who could change the course of mighty rivers with one swat of the bat. And, even better for folks like me who enjoy players with character, there were those “Manny Moments.” Losing his earring on the field at Pawtucket during a rehab stint. The water bottle in the back pocket. Martini time with Enrique Wilson. Ebay Hucksterism. That bizarre dance maneuver in which he seemed to demand a trade every season, then back off, saying he couldn’t be happier here. Cutting off Johnny Damon’s throw to the infield. Saying that he’d like to play for the Yankees–which, in these parts, is like saying “I enjoy kiddie porn and poisoning rabbits.” High-fiving that fan in Baltimore. But the production spoke volumes; when the game was on the line, there was no one I’d rather see up at the plate than Manny Ramirez.