Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I Still Love Manny Ramirez [Mondays with Gus]

Warning to all readers expecting a rational argument for why I love Manny Ramirez: it's not going to happen.

I'm sure all of us sports fans have the one thing that we argue that makes us sound like an idiot when discussing it with others, and this one is mine. I love Manny for the same reason many people hate him, I love to see “Manny being Manny.” In a sports world filled with cliché statements, public relations, and image consultants there is just something refreshing about how little Manny cares about any of it.

I had the great opportunity to meet Manny when I was 11. I was at a function where you could meet Cleveland Indians players. I ran passed Kenny Lofton and Eddie Murray and went straight for Manny. I heard Eddie Murray say to a kid “This ain't no time for autographs! Get out of here!” Ignoring his use of a double negative for just a moment, his behavior was irrational because he was at an autograph session. Hearing that, I still went to Manny who said to the same boy “I don't care. Gimme your card, kid.” I will never know if he really thought he was breaking the rules for that kid, or if he was just trying to make himself look good by showing what an ass Eddie Murray is.

When he left Cleveland to sign a similar contract with Boston, he was asked why he left for a few million dollars on a $100+ million contract. He answered that he would never spend that amount of money in his life anyway and that his agent told him to do it. Many hated him for that, but I loved it. His antics on the field were just as hilarious. While running down a fly ball to the warning track, Manny caught it while giving a fan a high five. He proceeded to continue the play and make an incredible throw to second to throw a runner out.

This is the definition of “Manny being Manny.” When fans talk about how players should play just for the love of the game, this is exactly what they're talking about. Ignore the public relations, cliches and sometimes even the rules of the sport. Just get out there and have fun. While I will never praise Manny for cheating (twice), I will say that it doesn't ruin the image I have of him. Frankly, I don't care if he cheated. I love Manny because he loves playing baseball. To hell with everything else.

I'll end by saying this: I wonder what the sports world would be like if everyone played like Manny.

-Gus Rafeedie

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