Leaping catch, high five
This one's too easy. The greatest Manny moment happened right here in Baltimore on May 14, 2008, when he made a spectacular catch to rob former Boston Red Sox teammate Kevin Millar of an extra-base hit and then ran up the left field fence — guess that's why they wear cleats — and high-fived a Red Sox fan in the first row of the bleachers.
That would have made it one of the ESPN Web Gems of the year, but Manny wasn't done. He returned to earth and fired a strike back to the infield to complete one of the most impressive and entertaining double plays in baseball history. It was replayed all night long on ESPN and became a YouTube hit until MLB pulled it for copyright reasons, but it was even more special for me because I was one of the 800,000 people who were actually at Camden Yards to see it.
Los Angeles Times
Unless the Dodgers sign Diego Maradona, I doubt I'll ever cover anyone like Manny again. He was always up to something. I don't know where to start.
I suppose I could mention something he did in 2008 or the look on Times writer Bill Shaikin's face when I told him in the middle of a game that Manny was about to be suspended.
But when I think of Manny, I think most of unpredictability. No better was this illustrated than when he played for the Dodgers' Triple-A team in Albuquerque before returning from his suspension last year. He played in front of a sell-out crowd for two nights. On the third night, rain fell. Before the game even started, Manny left the packed ballpark without even acknowledging the fans. The team was forced to offer ticket vouchers for future games.
'I don't believe in curses'
One Manny memory? How can we possibly limit this to one — this guy's been providing unintentional entertainment for 15 years.
As a young player in Cleveland, he once asked to borrow $60,000 from a beat writer so he could buy a motorcycle. When the Red Sox were battling the Yankees in the 2003 pennant race, he told ESPN he dreamed of playing for New York.
There were the shows of insubordination, goofy moments and acts of joy.
Meanwhile, he's put up Hall of Fame numbers and has two World Series rings. For all the eccentricities, Ramirez has been among the best offensive players of his generation and Red Sox fans can't escape his role in changing the franchise.
So how about this: .412 in the 2004 World Series. "I don't believe in curses," he said after winning World Series MVP.
That was Manny being Manny.
Playing by his own rules
Manny Ramirez always played by his own rules in Boston, whether holding up a game with an impromptu bathroom break at Fenway Park or asking the Red Sox to play rapper Styles P's song "Good Times (I Get High)" as his intro theme (the song promoted drug use, and was quickly ditched).
In 2003, Boston senior adviser Bill James conducted a study for the team's owners in which he pointed out 53 instances of Red Sox players altering a game by not hustling. Manny was responsible for 29 of those incidents.
In the 2007 playoffs, he infuriated Red Sox fans by saying it wouldn't be "the end of the world" if they lost to Cleveland. Ramirez is a poster child for modern day athletes who believe the world revolves around them, as the White Sox will soon learn when he costs them a game.