My Sportsman Choice: Manny Ramirez
Posted: Wednesday November 17, 2004 3:33PM; Updated: Wednesday November 17, 2004 3:33PM
By Lisa Altobelli
If professional sports are essentially just games for grownups, there's no sportsman who knows that better than Manny Ramirez. After he was placed on waivers at the end of the 2003 season, Ramirez could have pouted his way through '04. Instead, he turned to his wife before spring training and said, "Hey, baby, this is going to be my year."
With a constant goofy perma-grin on his face, Ramirez was impossible to stay mad at. When he dove for a chest-high ball hit by Larry Walker in Game 1 of the World Series, even the most die-hard members of Red Sox Nation (including yours truly) had to stifle their laughter and keep the Sam Adams from coming out their noses.
When Ramirez later sheepishly jogged to the dugout with grass stains across his jersey, there were those in denial (like my brother, who insisted he fell in a hole the groundskeeper missed) and others in disbelief (like my father, who just shook his head and muttered, "Does this guy take anything seriously?"). But not taking things seriously is the point.
This is a guy who sings in the clubhouse shower, squeezes into a one-person hot tub with Papi and Pedro, and gives his playoff tickets to a Denny's host and waitress. This is a guy who while Barry Bonds was giving his acceptance speech for winning the 2004 Hank Aaron Award, leaned back in his chair to give a confused looking Aaron a fist knock. And this is a guy who after being named the MVP of the World Series said, "I don't believe in the curse. I believe you make your own destination."
Point the way, Manny.
Sports Illustrated will announce the 2004 Sportsman of the Year winner on FOX on November 28. Check back every weekday until then to read more Sportsman picks from SI writers.