I can't help myself. I know it's wrong, but there's something I really love about Manny Ramirez. I know he quit on the Red Sox. I know he likes to beat up 65 year old dudes. It's just that...well, I can't explain it. I think what I like most about him is that he genuinely doesn't give a fuck. About anything, it seems. I imagine that Manny Ramirez is a lot like Forrest Gump or a caveman or some such thing. At any given point in his head he's just thinking things like, "See ball. Hit ball." or "Food good. Eat food." or "Long hair cool. Grow hair long." Plus, I still contend that he made the greatest play in the history of baseball.
Anyway, this has been the week of Manny for two reasons. First was the ongoing saga of his re-donk-ulous contract negotiations with the Dodgers where they just went around in a big circle and the news media reported all of it for some reason. Second is that a book about his life has just recently been released.
All this reminds me of a story. The story is less about Manny than about a guy I work with, but it's pretty good. You've got to understand a little about this guy for the story to make sense. He's a Jewish conservative from Ohio. Translation, he's a walking paradox, and he's paranoid about everything. He's the type of guy who talks about conspiracy theories with genuine seriousness. He's also really into sports and betting on sports. A couple years ago he handicapped the Kentucky Derby to the first four places and won thousands of dollars. Anyway, once you get this guy started, he doesn't stop. If you bring up a topic that he's interested in, then the conversation is over and you have to listen to his whole conspiracy theory about Barack Obama or Jews from Brooklyn or the state of education.
So one day he was in the room when I was talking with someone else about baseball. Somehow Manny came up and that got him started. Here's his story: "I used to work at Goerge Washington High School (in Washington Heights. Manny's alma mater). And I really liked baseball, so I used to go to a lot of their games. One game, I was behind the backstop and I could see all the catcher's signs. So I started yelling out what pitch was coming. I'd go 'fastball' or 'curveball' on every pitch. After the game some people from the other team started chasing me and were going to beat me up. I ran all over and somehow got away from them (I forget the details here). Another time there was a playoff game and the other team was really good, so they had some scouts there watching the game. I started talking to a couple of them and they said they were there to see guys from the other team. Eventually I started talking to the scout from the Cleveland Indians and I said to him, 'You know we have this guy on our team, Manny Ramirez, who's pretty good. I think you should take a look at him.' He had never even heard of Manny before, but wouldn't you know a few months later he gets drafted by the Indians. And the guy had never even heard of him."
So there it is. This guy discovered Manny Ramirez. This guy is responsible for his success. Never mind the fact that Manny was an all-city player for 3 years and the player of the year in his senior year. Oh yeah, did I mention that he hit .615 in his senior year and had 14 home runs in a protracted high school season? Nope, it was all this guy.