With all the talk about “Manny being Manny” (Ramirez, that is . . . from the Boston Red Sox), I started wondering where and when the phrase originated. Using a Lexis-Nexis search of all major newspapers, I discovered that Manny started being Manny when he was in Cleveland, his first baseball team.
On May 7, 1998, for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Bud Shaw wrote:
If there’s anyone who should be careful not to invite dumb blond jokes, it’s Manny Ramirez.
But that’s what he’s done with a combination of his tinted locks, sluggish bat, shaky glove and curious case of sore calves.
It is possible that Ramirez strained his calves while lifting weights, as he says. He ran as if he carried ankle weights and a 20-pound backpack. But Manny being Manny, there could be any number of explanations, short of him moonlighting with the Rockettes. Not his kind of music.
Manny being Manny is usually part of the problem in the field and on the basepaths. But his offense outweighs the frequency of his trips to outer space on Hale-Bopp. The competition isn’t even close.
Three years later, just after signing a $160 million contract with the Boston Red Sox, Manny started being Manny, again. Steve Buckley, writing for The Boston Herald on March 3, 2001, knew it was bound to happen:
A couple of months ago, when the Red Sox introduced Manny Ramirez to New England baseball fans via a Fenway Park press conference, the event was a joyous and very, very gabby affair.
Manny answered questions. Manny did live shots. Manny did radio interviews. Manny posed for pictures.
Put the uniform top on?
We all knew it wouldn’t last. We knew there would come a day, Manny being Manny, that he’d clam up and ask to be left alone, that he’d find himself a little hiding place in the clubhouse, a place that would be off-limits to the knights of the keyboard.
In the last Manny Ramirez being Manny Ramirez reference I’ll quote here, Michael Holley, writing on September 14, 2002 in a column in The Boston Globe titled “Manny Mishaps Nothing New,” gives us a hint as to how this phrase became attached to Manny Ramirez:
You can debate the package and if it’s worth an average of $20 million per season, but the contents of the package are essentially the same. Manny has played for five managers – Mike Hargrove, Charlie Manuel, Jimy Williams, Joe Kerrigan, and Grady Little – and all of them have accepted, reluctantly, the fact that they need to massage the rules for the man with the Hall of Fame bat.
Hargrove, currently managing the Orioles, was asked about his former slugger. “Manny has a big heart,” the manager said. “I wish Manny was with us.” Hargrove acknowledged he used the popular phrase “That’s Manny being Manny” several times in Cleveland.
I just thought I would add one more reference to the phrase, but it does not concern Manny Ramirez, but rather a high school basketball player. This time, Manny being Manny is a good thing for the team. Writing about a game in The Washington Post on January 10, 2004, Tarik El-Bashir quotes the coach: “What you saw tonight was Manny being Manny,” St. Albans Coach Bob Brown said. “There are just some guys who refuse to let their team lose. And he’s one of those guys.”
See, Manny being Manny doesn’t have to be a negative thing, or an excuse for a poor attention span.