Thursday, August 7, 2008

Long Before Manny was Being Manny...

Thanks to GM Theo Epstein, Red Sox Nation has been cleansed of the subversive element that was Manny Ramirez, whose antics were no longer worth stomaching, even if he is one the game's righthanded hitters, perhaps the third best to don a Boston uniform behind Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski. Many faithful Sawks fans, knowing full well the impact Manny had on their ballclub over the life of his contract, were glad to see the game's most sophomoric personality switch coasts. Know that he has made some Los Angeles Dodgers fans ecstatic, we need to pay homage to the men who put Manny's tomfoolery to shame. Presented here are some of baseball's most lewd, crude, and downright foolish personalities.

5. David Wells suffered from a mild case of gout.
David Wells, he of perfect game fame (hurled against the Minnesota Twins in 1998), was said to have been drunk for the entirety of his pursuit in leaving an impression on baseball's history books. Apparently, not even a drunken stupor could compromise his assault on an achievement only reached in Yankee history by David Cone (one year later against the Montreal Expos) and Don Larsen (who hurled his perfect game in the 1956 World Series, an event commemorated on the same day that Coney threw a gem of his own). Prior to this historic season, in which Wells finished third in Cy Young voting, Wells developed a nasty case of gout, a disease normally associated with laziness and boozing; essentially, gout brings on immense swelling and pain to a sufferer's extremities, sometimes resulting in amputation. Think gangrene of a lesser degree. Although this condition deprived Wells of a large portion of spring training sessions in 1998, Wells would later miss starts during stints with the Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox, and San Diego Padres, clubs blessed to have a control pitcher who contrarily epitomized the lifestyle of a fatso. Like Manny, Wells was never truly known for rigorously training in the offseason.

4. Reggie Jackson was the self-proclaimed 'straw that stirs the drink.'
Our man Reggie, an import from the Oakland Athletics, was the Yankees' first million dollar man. Jackson, in many ways, defined the very idea of a big free agent signing, taking the Bronx by storm and pissing off the likes of manager Billy Martin and owner George Steinbrenner with his flashy accolades. In an pre-season interview conducted by SPORTS Magazine's Robert Ward, Jackson made a comment he thought was off-the-record, stating that he was 'the straw that stirs the drink,' a quip that enraged current Yankee catcher Thurman Munson, whose abilities earned him a title not given since Lou Gehrig last retained it: Yankee captain. And like Reggie before him, Manny remarked in an interview that he could play baseball anywhere and be happy, even if that place were Iraq; this sit-down was said to have been the final straw that resulted in Manny's 'amiable' exodus to LA.

3. John Rocker swore off the Number 7 train.
While at his apex as Atlanta Braves closer in 1999, John Rocker produced media fodder quintessentially associated with rags of the National Enquirer mold. While sitting down to a Sports Illustrated interview, Rocker eloquently summed up the city of New York by stating, "It's the most hectic, nerve-racking city. Imagine having to take the 7 train to the ballpark, looking like you're riding through Beirut next to some kid with purple hair, next to some queer with AIDS, right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time, right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It's depressing." And if that weren't enough, the bigoted lout called his black teammate Randall Simon (who once took a bat to a racing bratwurst in Milwaukee years later) a "fat monkey." Sure, Rocker had every right to blast New York; after all, Met fans at Shea Stadium once threw batteries at him, resulting in a hocked loogie into the stands from a rankled Johnny Boy. Although the rage may be somewhat understood, Rocker truly revealed himself as a neanderthal in the interview and his legacy was supplanted as a man who tarnished the Braves franchise, not helped it with his fire-hurling capacities. Although not as disgusting, Manny once opened a door to the scoreboard in Fenway's Green Monster and relieved himself inside, all in the midst of an inning that was still in progress.

2. Rickey Henderson declared himself 'the greatest of all-time.'
Rickey Henderson holds the records for most stolen bases in a year (130) and a career (1406), runs scored in a career (2295), walks (2129), and games led off with a homerun (81). After breaking Lou Brock's long-standing stolen base record, the game in which he broke it was suspended so that Henderson could deliver a speech. Ever the attention whore, Henderson gave thanks to Billy Martin, his favorite manager and close friend, and emphatically touted himself as 'the greatest of all-time.' As far as what he was the greatest at (sure, the aforementioned remarks were outstanding, but he DID play 25 seasons in order to obtain them, the most in major league history), baseball fans aren't entirely sure. One thing is for certain though: Rickey's selfish ways were only met in baseball history by one Manny Ramirez. In the same interview about hypothetically playing in a war zone, Manny proclaimed, "The Boston Red Sox don't deserve a player like me."

1. Roger Clemens took the first half of the season off on numerous occasions.
In a moment that defined Yankee radio personality Suzyn Waldman's career, the Yankee organization welcomed Roger Clemens back for his second stint in pinstripes with a hero's welcome in May of 2007. This acquisition reportedly cost the Yankees an astonishing $28 million, a figure that was pro-rated to pay Clemens for his efforts throughout the second half of the season. Prior to this undertaking, Clemens performed this stunt only a year before for the Houston Astros, who allowed Roger to stay home on days he was not scheduled to pitch. Call it the "Clemens Precedent" (better yet, call it the "Brett Favre Precedent"); Roger, on two separate instances, held an organization hostage, knowing that the franchise in question was pining for his services and each was at his will. Now that we know where Clemens is heading, we can only wonder where Manny's is heading now that he will effectively be a free agent in the offseason; although teams will gauge Manny by his skills at the plate, teams should REALLY be looking at Manny for giving up on his team on a number of occasions, even blaming a phantom knee injury for not appearing in a portion of his last series against the Yankees in Fenway. Then again, that's only 'Manny being Manny;' why forsake him?

Honorable Mentions:

  • Mike Piazza called a press conference to state that he was not gay.
  • Babe Ruth performed on a diet of beer and hot dogs.
  • Mickey Mantle was a Hall of Fame boozer.
  • Pete Rose once ruined a catcher's an All-Star Game collision.
  • Ty Cobb, the game's dirtiest player, received criminal charges for...*ahem*...murder.

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