I have always been an unapologetic Manny Ramirez apologist.
I always felt there was nothing to apologize for!
Yeah he was nuts... but he also came through.
And while Manny being Manny was a little less fun this year (pushing 60 something guys to the ground will do that) I was still hoping it could work out...
I was still hoping that cool heads will prevail.
I was hoping that someone could tell Manny "Hey, you get to play for a great team, potentially win a third World Series ring, be worshipped and make $20 million a year."
I was hoping that Manny could look at the above scenario and say "That isn't completely terrible."
But alas, like Luis Tiant, Carlton Fisk, Bruce Hurst, Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, Mo Vaughn and Nomar Garciaparra before him... it ended, and didn't end the way it should have.
Unlike those Sox players, Manny has a pair of World Series rings, and earned them both big time.
And of course now the Manny smearing is going on in full force in Boston.
But before he is completely thrown under the bus, let's remember every great thing he did in Boston.
1. He put up AMAZING numbers.
Whether you like tradition HR, AVG, RBI numbers or you are an OPS guy... Manny made you salivate.
He won the 2002 batting title and was a consistent .300 hitter.
He won the 2004 home run crown and was a lock to knock in 100 runs a year.
In 6 of the 7 full seasons he played in Boston he finished in the top 4 in AL OPS, finishing first in 2004.
In 2003, 2004 and 2006 he led the AL in On Base Percentage... almost unheard of for a power hitter.
2. His flair for the dramatic
How many late game rallies featured a big Manny hit?
How many game tying shots, or homers that put a game away did he hit?
More than any of us can remember.
Seriously, in the years since he arrived... if it was a close game in the 9th with Manny coming up, didn't you always think somewhere in the back of your head that something cool was about to happen?
3. He was a Yankee killer.
Ever since he broke in with the Indians in the early 1990s, he loved hitting in Yankee Stadium. But when he became a Red Sox, he plugged himself right into the rivalry in a big way.
The first ever Red Sox/Yankees game he ever played in was on April 13, 2001.
He hit a 2 out, 2 run single in the bottom of the 10th off of Mariano Rivera to give the Red Sox an extra inning win.
He seemed to come up big time and time again over the years.
4. The tandem
Can you name a more fearsome duo than David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez?
Can you think of a recent pairing of disciplined power hitters whose very prescience can change the complexion and managing of a game?
If you did come up with a duo... were they more fun than Papi and Manny?
Didn't think so
5. The Post Seasons
Let's look at every post season series that Manny played in a Red Sox uniform
Manny's home run off of Barry Zito put the Red Sox up for good in the final game of the 2003 division series.
Manny batted .310 with 2 homers in the 2003 ALCS against the Yankees.
Manny drove in 7 runs in 3 games against the Angels in the 2004 ALDS.
Manny batted .300 in the ALCS win against the Yankees.
Manny was the MVP of the 2004 World Series... remember the World Series that we were waiting our whole lives for... by batting .412 and hitting a key first inning, take the crowd out of the World Series homer in game 3 in St. Louis.
Manny batted .300 with a pair of homers in the 2005 Division Series against the White Sox.
Manny hit 2 homers, including the magical game 2 walk off homer against Frankie Rodriguez, in the 2007 Division Series.
Manny drove in 10 runs and batted over .400 in the 2007 ALCS against the Indians.
Manny only batted .250 in the 2007 World Series, but went 3-4 driving in 2 and scoring 3 in the game 1 blow out that set the tone of the World Series.
Those are some seriously good October numbers...
Ask A-Rod how fun doing poorly in October can feel.
6. Manny was funny!
The peeing in the left field wall, the insane defense, cutting off Johnny Damon's cut off throws, bringing a water bottle out into the field, high fiving the fan after a catch, selling his stuff on ebay, the hair...
The fact that he seemed to be either a Man Child or insane... but still put up the numbers and was hilarious.
Name one other player that crazy who could back it up on the field.
Can't do it, can you?
So now he's gone.
And the Sox will go on too.
Nobody loved Pedro more than me, and seeing him gone still hurts.
Winning another World Series however eases my pain.
And Theo has a knack for letting go of players just before the decline happens.
That being said, I'm going to miss Ramirez badly.
Good luck in LA, and like those other Sox who were dumped, I will root for Manny to succeed.
Now in his honor, please enjoy the greatest moment in Manny's Red Sox career