For a while, "Manny being Manny" was just a fun little way to describe the odd little things that Manny Ramirez did on and off the field. Over time, though, the little things became big problems, and the patience of Red Sox fans wore thin, ultimately leading to Manny's unceremonious exit in the summer of 2008.
While there plenty of fond memories, there were just as many sour ones.
So, in anticipation of his return to Fenway Park this Friday night, we'll run through one highlight and one lowlight from Manny's Red Sox career each day. On Friday, fans can vote on their favorites.
Lowlight No. 5: Manny Being Manny
Manny Ramirez was a very likable person. He was usually smiling, giggling, having fun and, most importantly, getting hits.
While all of that was, for the most part, fine and dandy, there were too many "Manny being Manny" moments that rubbed the Red Sox and their fans the wrong way, and it was a big part of what eventually drove him from the organization.
Manny was never known for his hustle on the basepaths, but one lack of effort stands out among the rest. In late July (weren't the problems always in late July?) of 2008, John Lackey — then an Angel — nearly spun a no-hitter in Fenway. Dustin Pedroia eventually broke it up in the ninth, but Manny could have done so in the seventh, when he chopped a ball to third base. Chone Figgins' throw pulled the first baseman off the bag, but Manny had been in no rush to break up the no-no and was promptly forced out at first.
That incident came just a few weeks after a pinch-hitting appearance in New York that was the last straw for many fans. In a tied game against the Yankees, Manny stepped to the plate to face Mariano Rivera, with the go-ahead run at third base and two outs in the inning.
Rivera pitched. Strike one, looking.
Again. Strike two, looking.
Then, strike three. Looking.
It's impossible to jump inside the mind of one of the best hitter's in the game, but whether he was actively attempting to strike out or not, the at-bat became a symbol of Manny's final days in Boston.
There was no denying the entertainment value of having Manny Ramirez around for eight years. For too many people, though, the act got old. Manny would have to be Manny somewhere else.
Each day leading up to Manny's return to Boston on June 18, NESN.com will run through one highlight and one lowlight from his career with the Red Sox.
5. Manny being Manny
4. Tuesday, June 15: Manny hits No. 500
5. Manny being Manny
4. Tuesday, June 15: Manny fights Kevin Youkilis