On July 31, 2008, there was doubt. Ramirez, one of the most prolific sluggers to ever don a Red Sox uniform, was rumored to be involved in a deadline-day trade. Given that he had shoved a 64-year-old team employee, possibly faked a knee injury, got in a fight with a teammate in a dugout and had increasingly become more and more of a distraction in the months previous, the thought certainly was a possibility.
But this had happened before. For much of his time in Boston, Ramirez was rumored to be a goner. Following the 2003 season, the team put him on irrevocable waivers, but no team was willing to dish out the $101 million it would take to sign him. Before the '04 season, he was supposedly going to Texas, making way for the arrival of Alex Rodriguez. That didn't happen. Shortly before the trading deadline in '05, Ramirez had been booed at Fenway Park and was expected to be moved, yet hours after the deadline passed, he delivered a pinch-hit, game-winning single.
That was Manny. Perplexing, bothersome and aloof, yet ridiculously reliable in the batter's box.
So when Manny was reportedly a part of a three-team deal with Pittsburgh and Florida that was eventually deemed "dead" that day in July, it seemed par for the course. Manny would remain with the Red Sox and continue to hit, despite the troubling behavior. As it happened so many times before, Red Sox fans would move on and celebrate the hits.
This time, of course, turned out to be different, as news came out after the deadline passed that a deal had been struck with the Pirates and Dodgers. As the word spread, it was hard to believe. Had the Red Sox actually pulled the trigger? Were Manny's days in Boston really over?
As hard as it was to believe, they were indeed.
Boston had no chance to say goodbye. The last sights of Ramirez were as unceremonious as could be, as a YouTube video surfaced, showing Ramirez pack up his SUV and hit the road. As was made clear by the trade, Manny's issues had become too much of a problem. So much so that they trumped his ridiculous July numbers (.347 average, four home runs, 16 RBIs). Those numbers would only get better in August and September, while the Red Sox did just fine for themselves in getting within one game of the World Series.
With years now past since the trade went down, it seems as if a divorce was simply necessary. For some, bygones are bygones, and what Ramirez did for the organization — both good and bad — is in the past. For others, the anger still burns. On Friday night, for the first time since that July, however, Boston will get a chance to see its former star.
Some will choose to remember him for his unforgettable play on the field, others will remember him for his off-the-field antics. All will likely find agreement, though, that both the Red Sox and Manny — two entities that were often worlds apart — are better off on opposite ends of the country.
Each day leading up to Manny's return to Boston on Friday night,
NESN.com has run through one highlight and one lowlight from his career
with the Red Sox.