Boston Red Sox: Manny Ramirez and 10 Craziest 'Roller Coaster' Careers Ever
The Boston Red Sox are arguably one of the most storied franchises in all of sports, let alone baseball. In their illustrious history there have been a slew of characters to pass through Boston and spend time on Yawkey Way.
The Sox have had their share of legends as well as goats, but through it all fans have enjoyed a rich history with their beloved team. If you are a Red Sox fan it is more than just being fanatical, it is almost a lifestyle or a relationship.
Jimmy Fallon's character, Ben Wrightman in the 2005 film, Fever Pitch said it best:
That's right. I mean - why? Because they haven't won a World Series in a century or so? So what? They're here. Every April, they're here. At 1:05 or at 7:05, there is a game. And if it gets rained out, guess what? They make it up to you. Does anyone else in your life do that? The Red Sox don't get divorced. This is a real family. This is the family that's here for you."
As silly or menial as it may sound, many fans look at the Red Sox in that manner. It is hard to explain unless you live it, but it is true.
With that in mind, let's take a look at some past "family" members that fans loved, then hated; teammates loved, then hated and overall drama queens from the annals of Red Sox history.
George Herman "Babe" Ruth
It is only fitting to start with the most infamous name in both Red Sox and New York Yankee history, Babe Ruth.
Ruth spent six seasons with the Boston Red Sox, from 1914-1919. During that time he was beloved in Boston. Why not? The Red Sox had won three World Series with Ruth on the roster in 1915, 1916 and 1918.
Cheers from the Royal Rooters could be heard loud and proud alongside the joyful singing of "Tessie" the Sox unofficial fight song of the time.
Then, during the offseason of 1919-20, Red Sox owner and backer for many musical productions of the time, Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. While the popular belief is that Ruth was sold to finance the musical "No-No Nanette," the funds went to several productions including Nanette, however that particular musical did not go into production until five years after the sale of Ruth to the Yanks.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Ruth went to the Yankees and has gone down as arguably the greatest baseball player to ever play the game. The Red Sox went on an 86 year drought, no seeing any hardware on their shelves again until 2004.
If you were to start a conversation in Boston by asking the question: "Who are the five greatest baseball players of all time?" The likelihood that Teddy Ballgame is the first name answered is about 100 percent.
Red Sox fans love, loved and will continue to love The Kid.
Red Sox media on the other hand, were not as fond.
As a caveat, you can read many articles that state Williams was uncomfortable with Red Sox fans as well as the media. That is understandable. It is a passionate fanbase. If a player makes a couple of errors in a game, they'll let you know. It doesn't mean they don't love you any less.
The media on the other hand earned a special nickname from Williams. He dubbed them "knights of the press box" and often believed that they were out to get him.
Some were, some were not.
After winning the AL Triple Crown in 1947, Williams barely won the MVP award in a vote where one midwestern newspaper writer left Williams entirely off his 10-player ballot.
For fans, true, Williams stopped tipping his cap after hitting home runs. This was his way of dealing with what he believed to be fickle fans: those that would boo him for booting a ball, then cheer him for belting a home run. During his playing time, he never would do so again.
Then, in 1991 while making an appearance at Fenway Park for "Ted Williams Day"—he pulled a cap out of his jacket and tipped it to the crowd to show his appreciation.
Jim Ed has been given a reputation of being uncooperative with the media and therefore disliked by the media. He was loved by fans especially after being thrust into the role of power-hitting left fielder for the Red Sox.
He had some pretty big shoes to fill. Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski and then Jim Rice were sequentially, arguably the three best generations of left fielders any team has ever seen, let alone the Red Sox.
Rice typically had a quiet, humble demeanor with the media. Though there were times in which he erupted. For example, Sports Illustrated points out:
"The Hall of Fame outfielder's adversarial relationship with the media was on display in 1987 when he ripped the shirt of Hartford Courant reporter Steve Fainaru during an altercation. An on-deadline Fainaru, his shirt in tatters, returned to the press box to finish his story. The next day, Rice shook Fainaru's hand and offered him a new shirt (which the reporter declined)."
It was from this reputation that led Jim Rice to almost miss being elected into the baseball Hall of Fame. Though he finally was in 2009 with 76.4 percent of the ballot.
The irony is that Rice is currently a member of the Boston Media, acting as a analyst for the New England Sports Network (NESN) covering the Red Sox.
There are a small handful of names that when spoken in Boston come in a pretty standard format: First Name - Expletive - Last Name, followed by a sigh and a shake of the head. Here are some examples:
Bucky - F'n - Dent, *sigh* (shaking of the head...)
Aaron - F'n - Boone, *sigh* (shaking of the head...)
Bill - F'n - Buckner, *sigh* (shaking of the head...)
While Buckner has also been referred to as "F'n Bucknah" (respect the Boston regionalism) he became a goat when allowing a ground ball to pass through his legs in the 1986 World Series.
Red Sox fans weren't over the moon for the man, but they liked and respected him. After all, he was as large a reason as any other member of the team was in the World Series that year. He hit eight home runs in September and drove in 22 runs while providing solid defense at first base.
After that missed play, Buckner was loathed in Boston for many years. Only after "The Curse of the Bambino" was erased in 2004 was Buckner forgiven by local fans.
Now, the man is almost iconic in Boston. Odd how that works out. There were even rumblings of Buckner joining the Red Sox coaching staff under Bobby Valentine for awhile.
As a native Brocktonian, I was content with him coaching the local minor league affiliate in 2011, The Brockton Rox.
In the unwritten commandments of being a member of the Red Sox, there is just one rule that you must strictly adhere to: don't ever wear the pin stripes, especially if you were a beloved figure in town.
Wade Boggs broke that commandment and earned himself a scarlet letter among Sox fans for many, many years.
In his defense, 1992 was Boggs' last official year with the Red Sox and he posted his worst statistical season of his career. The otherwise lock .300 hitter only managed a .259 batting average and appeared to ownership to be on the decline of his career (though only 34 years of age and having been an All-Star.)
In the winter of 1992-93 there were only two teams strongly pursuing Boggs: they were the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Boggs ultimately chose to play for the Bronx Bombers. The hearts of Red Sox fans were crushed.
From 1993 on, the Red Sox would see a rotisserie of players at third base, while for the next five years, Boggs would man the hot corner for the Yankees, making four more All-Star selections, winning two more Gold Gloves and winning one more Silver Slugger.
While The Rocket didn't go directly from the Red Sox to the Yankees, he did make a stop in between at another AL East rival, the Toronto Blue Jays.
In his 13 seasons with the Red Sox, Clemens won 192 games while making the All-Star team five times, winning three Cy Young Awards, placing in the top six in Cy Young voting an additional three times and was the 1986 AL MVP. In short, he had a Hall of Fame worthy Career a stone's throw from Kenmore Station.
From 1994 to 1996 Clemens' production appeared to be on the decline. So thought Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette. Duquette decided to let Clemens walk after the 1996 season.
From here, you can make any arguments you so like about steroids, however, the point is Clemens went on to the Blue Jays and then finally to the Yankees. During the next 11 years, Clemens would play for the Blue Jays, Yankees and Astros amassing 172 more wins, four more Cy Young Awards, finished top six for two more Cy Young Awards and made the All-Star team six more times.
While Red Sox fans will lead the charge saying that Clemens did all of this juiced up, they're lying to you if they say they wouldn't have wanted those accolades to come for their team.
For one day back in 2003 Boston Red Sox fans rejoiced thinking that stud shortstop Alex Rodriguez from the Texas Rangers, along with left fielder Magglio Ordonez from the Chicago White Sox would be coming to Boston at the expense of Manny Ramirez and Nomar Garciaparra.
Sports talk radio in Boston was all abuzz with the idea of sending Manny Ramirez to Texas in exchange for Alex Rodriguez. This was supposed to be the deal that put the Sox over the top.
Every single person in Boston was an Alex Rodriguez fan for 24 hours.
Just as soon as the rumors began, they came to an abrupt halt on December 18, 2003. With the players union shutting down the proposed trade, Rodriguez would remain in Texas and the swap of baseballs two highest paid players was not going to happen.
Just about two months later, on February 17, 2004 Rodriguez was a New York Yankee. Thus began the utter hatred for the man in Boston.
Ironically, Rodriguez had no control over the deal falling through with Boston, however, your typical Red Sox fan has no problem holding him responsible nonetheless.
Johnny Damon was one of the lovable "idiots" of the 2004 Boston Red Sox, the team that ended the 86-year drought in Boston.
Damon was not only a hard nosed player for the Sox, he was loved by everyone in town. Fans idolized the beard and long hair, making Jesus references all around. He was the beloved caveman of the "Cowboy Up" crew.
After the 2005 season, the honeymoon was over. General manager Theo Epstein attempted to bring Damon back, however his offer was for less money and years than the competition. That competition being... you guessed it, the New York Yankees.
Damon joined the Evil Empire, got a haircut, shaved his beard and earned the nickname "Johnny Demon" to Red Sox Nation.
I was fortunate enough to have attended his first game back at Fenway Park as a member of the Yankees. I can honestly say that I have never heard a crowd booing a player louder than that one occasion in my entire life.
Red Sox fans were immediately enamored with Matsuzaka when the news broke of the Sox being the top bidders in the posting fee auction from the Seibu Lions.
Fans started talking about him like he was the second coming of Jesus. All you heard about locally was his "mysterious" sixth pitch, the "Gyro-ball" which really is nothing more than a change-up. However, at the time, the 'Nation bought into the hype.
With Daisuke came a bunch of baggage. He immediately was considered somewhat of a diva in town. In his contract frivolous concessions were made for him such as lodging and flight accommodation for himself and family from Japan.
The marketing locally went Dice-K crazy. Shirts, posters, stickers and hats... you name it, they sold it.
Suffice to say, Matsuzaka has not lived up to the billing. While he has been serviceable, many fans view him as a $100 million pitcher (neglecting to separate the posting fee from his actual contract.)
From the initial frenzy to now, a collective ticking in the heads of Red Sox fans waiting for his contract to expire; Daisuke Matsuzaka definitely deserves a spot on this list.
An interesting dynamic still exists in Boston regarding Manny Ramirez. Some fans, inexplicably, still love a deep love for and adore the man. Others find him despicable and despise him.
Apparently there is no middle ground.
Fans loved the offense he would put out in Fenway Park. True, he did have one of the prettiest swings in all of baseball and whenever he came to bat, it was essentially must-see-TV. However, on top of that, he made some boneheaded plays and did a lot of shameful things that are often overlooked.
For example, in 2004, Manny made a ridiculous play in the field as he cut off a throw from center fielder Johnny Damon, which allowed a runner to score with an inside-the-park home run.
Countless times Ramirez would disappear inside the Green Monster in left field. He had been seen using a cell phone inside as well stating that he would "urinate in a cup" while hidden by the scoreboard. Often times he would barely be back on the field in time for the first pitch of an inning when pulling this stunt.
One of the funnier Manny moments came on May 14, 2008 at Camden Yards. Ramirez took time to high-five fans in the middle of a double play. He climbed the wall to rob Kevin Millar of a home run, had a little fun with the crowd and still relayed the ball to the infield in time to double the runner off first.
There were also other incidents, like in 2008 when Ramirez threw down Sox traveling secretary, 60-year old Jack McCormick over a situation where McCormick was unable to fill a ticket request of Ramirez's.
Let alone any and all steroid scandals.
While many Sox fans rejoiced when the team pulled off a three-team trade deadline deal that sent Manny to the Dodgers and in turn the Red Sox received Jason Bay, others were still upset to see the man go.
Since leaving Boston, Manny has been a circus act all his own. Between being run out of Los Angeles, the steroid scandal, retiring and as of late, expressing his desire to make a return to baseball (while swimming with the elderly), Ramirez has been busy.
Then again, maybe it's just Manny being Manny.