The Ongoing Saga Of Manny Ramirez

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Manny Ramirez, a former star of the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox, spent much of this season as a high-priced, but injured outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers. ESPN's Pedro Gomez talks to NPR's Robert Siegel about Ramirez, who debuted this week with the Chicago White Sox.


You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.


Even by the standards of his own colorful, eccentric and often brilliant career in Major League Baseball, Manny Ramirez - as in that's just Manny being Manny -inspired some serious head scratching this week. The former star of the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox is now 38, and he spent much of this season as a very high-priced but injured outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Dodgers let him go to the Chicago White Sox, and both his departure from L.A. and his arrival with the Sox were strange performances. In his last bat for the Dodgers, he took a pitch. The umpire called it a strike. Manny disputed the call, and according to the rules, got himself thrown out of the game.

Then, Manny joined the White Sox on the road in Cleveland, and when he gave a news conference, he insisted on doing it in Spanish with an interpreter.

Here's how he responded to a question about whether his relationship with the Dodgers had soured.

(Soundbite of news conference)

Mr. MANNY RAMIREZ (Professional Baseball Player): (Through translator) He didn't give too much thought because the checks are going to keep on coming. Blue ones.

SIEGEL: This is a player who speaks English, grew up in New York City, once interpreted for a Spanish-speaking teammate. Joining us to discuss this latest adventure in the annals of Manny being Manny is Pedro Gomez, who covers baseball for ESPN.

You were at that news conference. What did you make of it?

Mr. PEDRO GOMEZ (Reporter, ESPN): Well, it was definitely one of the more bizarre press conferences I've been to, only because I know that Manny Ramirez speaks English, and very capably he does as well. I know that he grew up in the Washington Heights area of New York City, which is a predominantly Dominican neighborhood. And I know having grown up in Miami that you can actually grow up in an area in the United States and rarely speak English, but we do know that Manny does speak English. And actually, it definitely was bizarre. But today, after the White Sox-Indians game on Wednesday, he actually did conduct post-game interviews in English.


(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. GOMEZ: We knew we were right.

SIEGEL: Did he explain what the point of doing it in Spanish the day before?

Mr. GOMEZ: You know, I spoke to somebody who said Manny enjoys getting attention. And really, when you think about it for a 24-hour news cycle, he was able to get attention because people were talking about him conducting a press conference solely in Spanish. So he was able to get the light on himself for that news cycle. And it - you have to admit that it did work to perfection in that sense.

SIEGEL: One possible next chapter in the Manny saga is his hair. I gather that the shoulder-length dreadlocks are not what the White Sox have in mind in their personal grooming standards.

Mr. GOMEZ: They do not. And it's actually - if it were shoulder-length, they might. These are midback-length dreadlocks.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. GOMEZ: So think more Bob Marley than, you know, maybe an NFL player, so...

SIEGEL: Well...

Mr. GOMEZ: But, yes, they are a topic of conversation. The White Sox do have a strict policy on length of hair. And because he just arrived on Tuesday, they had a day game on Wednesday, he was given a little bit of a reprieve. If he doesn't show up with shorter hair length on Friday when they play in Boston, I think that the club may actually take action against him. However, Ramirez did say after the game today that he would show up with shorter hair, and he's actually flying his personal barber in to Boston to cut his hair.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIEGEL: We will watch that space and that hair. Thank you.

Mr. GOMEZ: All right.

SIEGEL: That's Pedro Gomez of ESPN, speaking to us from Cleveland about Manny Ramirez being Manny Ramirez.

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