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‘Manny’ bio drops the ball

Red Sox by the Numbers. Bill Nowlin. Coaching the Mental Game. Scholastic Year in Sports Ryder Edwards. Todd Cambio. Out of My League. George Plimpton. This is an authorized inside look at the roots, development, and career of an individual and player on his way from Washington Heights to the Hall of Fame. Who is Manny Ramirez? Reduce Manny to a series of stats, and it's easy to see who he is: one of the best batters in history. A twelve-time All- Star and nine-time Silver Slugger, Manny ranks seventeenth in career home runs and eighth in career slugging as of this writing.

Manny is also second all-time in gram slams, behind only Lou Gehrig, and has hit more postseason home runs than anyone in the history of professional baseball. He still appears to have several years of baseball ahead of him. But if you skip the stats, the question "Who is Manny? A favorite target of reporters and talk show pundits, Manny's every misstep is exhaustively analyzed and then reduced to "Manny being Manny.

The history of the phrase "Manny being Manny" in the popular press provides a series of thumbnail portraits of Manny at his most bizarre and intriguing, and a catalogue of the baseball world's struggles to understand him. Its first mention in a major publication came in , when Cleveland Indians' manager Mike Hargrove was asked about the young slugger's carefree-bordering-on-careless approach to money.

And what about forgetting a paycheck in a pair of boots he left behind in the Texas Rangers visiting clubhouse? But the phrase became less clearly defined after Manny moved to the Boston Red Sox in , and its use grew with the city's fascination and ultimate disillusionment with their star slugger. It has been invoked in print and online tens of thousands of times since as a shorthand explanation for Manny's mysterious injuries, his absences, his tardiness, his indiscriminate use of other players' bats and clothing, his silence in the clubhouse, his quiet acts of kindness to friends, his choice of an expletive-riddled song to play over Boston's Fenway Park sound system, his childlike playfulness, his midinning break inside Fenway's left-field wall, his failure to show up at the White House to meet President George W.

Bush after the Red Sox won the world championship, and, yes, his towering home runs and unparalleled work ethic. Manny is partly to blame for the mystery. So, with little to go on but fielding miscues, baggy uniforms, flowing dreadlocks, big hits, and tired anecdotes, the public is left with caricatures of Manny as a carefree goofball and spoiled superstar.

Yet the question of who Manny really is endures, baffling his most ardent admirers and even some of his teammates. In fact, it was never more pressing than during the season, in the days before the Boston Red Sox traded Manny to the Los Angeles Dodgers, his third team in seventeen years as a professional. The day after the trade, Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell told the Providence Journal , "For me, he's a sure first-ballot Hall of Famer, and when he gives his speech, he'll probably give it via satellite because he'll be in Brazil.

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That's him and that'll be perfect. He'll be wearing a Brazilian National Team hat when he does it. On many levels, Manny and Boston were a mismatch from the start. Nothing excuses Manny's shoving of sixty-four-year-old traveling secretary Jack McCormick, and perhaps Manny didn't give the Red Sox his best in Still, there were reasons for his frustration.

And one could argue that if Manny had behaved this way in , the Red Sox front office, not yet emboldened by two championships in four seasons, would have found a way to weather the storm. That may sound farfetched, but Manny's comments in advance of his exit are comparable to those of Red Sox legend Ted Williams, whose name graces the recently constructed highway that runs under Boston Harbor.