Manny Ramirez left Taiwan last week, one week short of completing his initial three-month contract with the EDA Rhinos in the CPBL, ostensibly because he “wanted to spend more time with his family.” While quite possibly true, no one was buying that as the main reason: reports soon linked him to Japan – though nothing has so far materialized – and now his agent has says he’s keen to return to the big leagues i.e. MLB.
Of course he is. But here’s the problem: as ESPN’s Molly Knight put it, Manny has “napalmed every bridge” he ever had in the US, possibly because, as former Red Sox teammate David Ortix put it, Manny is “a crazy motherfucker”.
So why didn’t he, at 41, just carry on playing in Taiwan, at least until another concrete offer came along? It’s a question the people of Taiwan have been asking and here – exclusively for my Sports Talk column – is a letter they wrote to the big man:
We have to admit the last few days have been tough for us. When we got the chance to see someone of your caliber – more postseason home runs and RBIs than any other player in MLB history, and 14th on the all-time list for home runs – come and play in our lowly baseball league in Taiwan, we could not believe our luck.
Everything was going so well: You were hitting it out of the park, attendance at games had tripled, and we – you and us together – were all having a ball.
And then, without so much as a “see ya later,” you were outta here.
Initial reports had you going to Japan for more money – even though we paid you everything we had and more. Now your agent says you want to return to the US – even though the experts say you’ve “napalmed every bridge” you ever had there. Meanwhile, here in Taiwan, we’re still mourning your loss.
We’ve been going through all the breakup stages. First there was shock. When we heard the news, we were stunned. Speechless. Numb. Some of us still aren’t eating.
Next came the fear. How will we spend our Saturday nights, now you’re gone? And our Mondays, and our Tuesdays…? If we can’t keep you, which stars will ever play here again?
Then came denial – it must be a joke. This is just Manny Being Manny, right? It’s not funny any more. Tell us you’ll be back! PLEASE!! And anger – after everything we did, this is how you repay us? No one wanted you, but we took you in and nursed you back to health, and you spit in our faces? Seriously?? May you never hit another home run.
Right now we’re in the crazy stage. We know you’re crazy, Manny, with your crazy hair and your crazy baserunning and your penchant for crazy substances. But we can be crazy too! We even held up Dallas Cowboys signs at your games! For no reason at all! Cos we’re just craaaazy!! We’re told that the peace stage comes next, but right now it’s just still too raw.
Wang Chien-ming is back in the majors with the Blue Jays, giving us Taiwanese people some pride again, but he’s so far away. You were right here – in our stadiums and in our hearts. And now you’re gone.
We’ll miss you Manny. Life will never be the same again.
The People of Taiwan.
It’s a shame he’s leaving before the end of the season – though no real surprise, as I wrote when he first joined. Another sad consequence of Manny’s departure from Kaohsiung is that the Manny Does Taiwan blog will have to either close or relaunch as Manny Does (….TBD). Stay tuned for a interview with the blog’s creator Brandon DuBreuil, who will reveal what it’s been like covering the surprise sports hit of the spring.