Monday, August 30, 2010

Manny Being Manny . . . Being Kind of Stupid

Manny Ramirez’s expensive and turbulent tenure with the Los Angeles Dodgers came to an end in rather embarrassing fashion on August 29, 2010, as he was thrown out of the game for arguing balls and strikes with the home plate umpire.

This is not, in itself, particularly unusual—rarely does a week go past without some player or another objecting a bit too loudly or too creatively about a third-strike call, and ending up getting tossed out of the game. What makes Ramirez’s last at-bat in Dodger blue odd is that he was thrown out for arguing about the first pitch.

Ramirez—for several years rivaled only by Adam Sandler as the nation’s favorite man-child—entered the game as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning, with one out and the bases loaded, down 8 to 2 against the Colorado Rockies, with both teams desperate for a win to stay relevant in the National League wild-card chase. Bernard Malamud could hardly have written a more perfectly crafted clutch situation for a potential Hall of Fame hitter, and the partisan Coors Field crowd, despite booing enthusiastically, recognized the moment as one on which the game may well have turned inevitably to the Dodgers’ favor.

Instead, approximately thirteen nanoseconds later, Manny “ManRam” Ramirez—one of the most respected hitters of the past fifteen years—was out of the game and replaced by Reed “Who the Fuck?” Johnson, who grounded into an inning-ending double play.1

Ramirez has earned a reputation both for being a prima donna and for lacking mental focus on anything but baseball (or, perhaps more accurately, anything but hitting). Some of his career highlights:
  • Remarked, upon learning that he had been claimed off of waivers by the White Sox, that he looked forward to playing with Big Papi again.
  • In 2009, was suspended for 50 games for violation of major league baseball’s drug policy, reportedly for taking human chorionic gonadotropin, a women’s fertility drug. He has consistently refused to disclose to the media the name of the father.
  • Considers peanut butter to be a mortal enemy.
  • On his first day with the Boston Red Sox, decided to walk to the ballpark to familiarize himself with the city; made it nearly three quarters of a mile out to sea before being informed by the Coast Guard that his map was upside-down.
  • Doesn’t finish his vegetables.
  • In 1999, after seven seasons and more than 800 games with Cleveland, announces to the press that he wished he’d played for the Indians. 
  • Once played an entire thirteen-game homestand with his head stuck in a plastic jar.2
    Ramirez’s ejection from a single regular-season game is far from a career-defining moment, especially for a hitter as accomplished, mercurial, and downright odd as Manny Ramirez. However, coming as it does at the very end of his Dodger days, it does provide a nifty summary of the end of his time there (and perhaps the end of his time in Boston as well)—as a tremendously gifted hitter who’s worn out his welcome; a guy selfish, spaced out, or indifferent enough to shoot his team in the foot on his way out of town.

    1. By my calculations, Ramirez made $111,111 for roughly five minutes’ worth of standing around. Good work if you can get it.
    2. In his defense, on that homestand Ramirez batted .363 with 6 home runs, 8 doubles, and 22 runs batted in.


    1. Dodger fans were reportedly disappointed to find out that this wasn't a swap for Juan Pierre.

    2. Juan who? Oh, wait, you must mean "Webster." I read that there was plenty of teams interested, but none of them could find a batting helmet small enough to fit him.

    3. I don't think it's accurate to say that Manny was thrown out for arguing balls and strikes (plural); he was thrown out for arguing strike. I've seen many ballplayers get thrown out for arguing a third called strike, but I don't recall ever seeing somebody run for arguing the very first pitch he faced. Good luck with Ozzie Guillen, Manny!