Three years on the Red Sox beat (and the last two covering about 15-20 games per year) have left me with plenty of Manny Ramirez stories. I was thinking of some of the best last night, after watching Manny go MIA for the start of the ninth inning out in LA, and here's what I came up with
***My first spring training down in Fort Myers in March, 2004, a bunch of writers and broadcasters were sitting around the dugout talking about Manny. One of them tells the story about how Manny and his agent (presumably Jeff Moorad, at the time) had recently gone looking to buy a condo at a very, very high-priced condo complex in south Florida.
While looking around the complex, Manny kept saying no to each condo.
"Got to live within my means, man," he kept saying.
"Manny," his agent finally replied, "you could buy this entire complex, if you wanted to."
***During a night game at Fenway during the '04 season, Manny was about to catch a routine flyball in left field for the final out of the game. But he slipped, dropped the ball, and the game continued (the Red Sox eventually won anyway).
The next day the Sox were in Toronto, and Manny walks through the visitors clubhouse carrying a jar of vaseline.
"Look what I found in my shoe!" he exclaimed numerous times as he walked by.
***At the workout day prior to the start of the 2005 ALDS in Chicago against the White Sox, I walked by Manny and he asked me if the AL MVP had been announced yet.
"Umm, no, Manny," I said, not quite getting the nerve to tell him that it was Oct. 2, and the results wouldn't be released until mid-November.
"Who do you think should win it?" I asked.
"Me!" he replied. "I should be the MVP!"
I'm pretty sure he was serious. Manny had had a tremendous final couple of months and was one of the key reasons the Sox made the playoffs. But it was clear at that point to nearly everyone that either David Ortiz or A-Rod would win the award (A-Rod eventually won).
***Perhaps the most unfortunate memory came during the 2005 season in Baltimore, when Manny and (now-deceased) teammate Jeremi Gonzalez were taking cell-phone pictures of each other's ... um ... how do we put this for a family newspaper/blog ... body parts?
As disturbing as that was, what was truly hilarious was that Manny kept running over to Kevin Millar to show him the pictures. Millar, almost always a clown, was in the midst of horrific slump and was actually engaged in a serious conversation with Boston's hitting coach at the time. And to his credit, he tried to continue the serious talk as best he could despite Manny running over to him with said pictures on his cell phone.