Manny Ramirez was back at Fenway Park on Wednesday night as part of the 10-year reunion of the 2004 World Series champions, and the former Sox outfielder claimed to be a changed man.
His Red Sox career ended abruptly in the summer of 2008, when he was traded away after a series of ugly events — from shoving Jack McCormick to begging out of the lineup with a fake knee injury.
Yet time heals all wounds … or does it?
Tony Massarotti doesn’t think so.
“Nope, I don’t. I don’t forgive him in the least bit. The guy was a putz when he played here for eight years, and he’s still a putz,” Mazz said. “I regard him as a conniving, manipulative child. That’s how I look at Manny Ramirez. I have to admit to you that I am astonished that there has been sort of the vibe around the whole Manny return like there has been. I think that it’s like, ‘Oh, Manny came back, he found Jesus, isn’t this fun, he apologized to Jack, everything’s good, everything’s back to normal.’
“And I look at that and I say bullcrap. I don’t accept the apology. I don’t accept it for a second. No way. The guy quit when he was here — on more than one occasion, by the way.”
Mazz made it clear that the Red Sox obviously would not have won the ’04 and ’07 world championships if not for Ramirez.
“But once it ended, what was left? What did Manny give you beyond the bat? Zero,” Mazz said. “Headaches, ass pains, all of ’em. He just gave you one colossal headache after the next. So you know what? I look at that now and I say, six years later — six years! – he apologizes to Jack McCormick and everything’s OK? All good now? And [Manny says], ‘Oh yeah, by the way, I meant to tell you guys, I behaved badly while I was here.’ Really?? Oh, it took you six years. It’s easy to apologize after the fact, when you’re out of the game, you’re out of the spotlight, all of a sudden people have forgotten you and life has moved on, dude. That’s the way it works. You move on.
“Now all of a sudden it’s, ‘Geez, you know I did damage some of those relationships while I was there. I really should apologize.’ No. Screw you. You were a mercenary when you were here. They paid you, you hit, that’s how you wanted it, and ultimately that’s what they did. See ya later, done. I don’t see where the whole love affair with Manny Ramirez is coming from. I don’t have any emotional connection to Manny Ramirez. See ya later!”
Well then. Mazz’s feelings on Manny are clear.
Marc Bertrand, on the other hand, is willing to forgive Manny.
“Yes. Yes I do,” Bertand said when asked if he forgives Ramirez. “Because for the large majority of the seven and a half years that he spent here, he was awesome and he competed and he helped this team win a lot of games, and he helped them win and was a huge part if not one of the biggest parts of winning two World Series here. Including 2004, which is what they were celebrating last night.”
Bertrand entertained Mazz’s side of the argument, wherein Ramirez quit on the team and therefore had to be traded.
“I guess you could say, ‘Well, you could have had three [World Series].’ We’ll never know, because you don’t definitively know that answer,” Bertand said. “But when I remember Manny Ramirez, just your gut instinct, when I remember that guy, the last thing I get to on the list is that it ended badly for the guy. I think about ’04, I think about ’07, I think about all the home runs he hit, I think about how good of a player he was. He was terrific for the large majority of his time here.”
And what’s Mazz’s first thought when he thinks of Ramirez?
“Selfish,” Mazz said. “I think Manny was a selfish player. And all the things he did, he did them out of selfish motivations. It matters to me.”
Bertrand replied, “It’s an individual sport masquerading as a team sport.”
“I think about the times that he didn’t quit on the team and he won two World Series in a town that was desperate to win a World Series.”
“Yeah, he just took the selfishness to new levels, if you ask me. That’s all,” he said. “He was the most talented hitter in that lineup, but he wasn’t the best teammate, and he wasn’t the best guy. He wasn’t any of those things. So I’m not going to just sit here and all of a sudden six years later say, ‘Oh, it’s OK, Manny. You were a pain in the ass for eight years, and you quit.’ He didn’t quit the whole time — of course — but I’m not going to sit here and pretend none of that stuff never happened. He may have cost them a title in ’08.”
Where do you stand on Manny Ramirez?