"It's just Manny being Manny."
That is the excuse Red Sox fans and media members have used for Manny Ramirez's antics over the years. Whether he's going to the bathroom between innings, not showing up for training camp on time, showing up pitchers after home runs, or hilariously cutting off a Johnny Damon throw to the infield, Ramirez has always been a different kind of player.
Despite all his antics, he was harmless. His actions sometimes hurt his own team a little, but more often than not, they amounted to nothing. His prodigious slugging ability more than made up for his strange ways, especially once Boston won the World Series.
After all, it was after the previous season when the Red Sox decided enough was enough and put Manny on irrevocable waivers. Did they expect anyone to sign their best hitter? No, as his contract was exorbitant, but their point was made.
Winning cured all faults, and winning the 2004 World Series was more than enough for people to forget Manny's quirks. His production also did not wane. Manny's numbers remained high until 2007, when both his contact and power percentages fell.
However, despite the drop in numbers, Manny is still doubtlessly one of the most feared hitters in the game. But the 2008 season has been a major disappointment for Ramirez. His numbers have improved on last season offensively, but Manny's off-field behavior has returned, and worse than ever.
Forget about his slapping of teammate Kevin Youkilis less than four weeks ago. Youkilis's whining about the strike zone irked Manny, so he slapped his teammate, and they had to be separated.
Saturday afternoon, Ramirez shoved Red Sox traveling secretary Jack McCormick to the ground. One of McCormick's jobs is to place orders for tickets players want to reserve for games. Ramirez asked him for 16 tickets for the night's game.
When McCormick told him that 16 tickets might be too many for him to obtain on such short notice, Ramirez shouted, "Just do your job!"
After an argument ensued, Ramirez pushed him to the ground. Ramirez deserved some benefit of the doubt before this season, since he had never done anything particularly malicious, but this story is a sad reflection on him.
Just four days ago, Houston Astros pitcher Shawn Chacon was released for choking general manager Ed Wade. Obviously, choking someone is on a much more severe plane than pushing someone, and Manny is clearly more valuable to Boston than Chacon was to Houston.
But the Red Sox need to at least suspend Ramirez for a game.
The definition of "shoving" could certainly vary, especially with a strong professional athlete like Manny. He has also since apologized, and McCormick seems to think it's over.
But there is still no excuse for what he did, especially since he was making a near-outlandish request on gameday. If the Red Sox don't at least suspend or fine him, then they condone his actions.