I certainly hope it's not anyone with the Boston Red Sox, for it was the Red Sox who raised Manny to be what he is: self-entitled, self-centered, and prone to random idiocy, bullying and unenthusiastic strolls to first base.
The cost was incidental when the Red Sox won a couple World Series. Because Manny hit. And he helped the rest of the lineup hit. And long before he was a distraction, he was "colorful." It sounded so much better that way, which is just the way they sold him.
They were OK with him being Manny as long as he was their Manny.
Now he's not. And a little more than a week later, Manny has 13 hits in 23 at-bats. He looks happy. He runs hard some of the time, and not just when he smells a hit. Weird, I know.
Not only that, but Andruw Jones is smiling again and – who knows – might possibly start hitting. Hey, it's possible. Manny's influence, indeed, might be Jones' last hope. Weird, I know. But, you gotta see this Manny. You might want to hurry.
And a lineup of kids with the names of Martin and Kemp and Loney and Ethier get to see what a big-league hitter in his prime looks like, what an opposite-field double looks like. And a clubhouse short on hope has energy again.
Maybe this rubs somebody wrong in Boston. Last they saw of Manny, he was stumping for a trade. He was crab-walking to first base. He was griping about where he fits in the legacy of wronged Red Sox superstars, alphabetically behind Roger Clemens and Johnny Damon and Nomar Garciaparra and Pedro Martinez. He was trying to remember which knee hurt.
So a story in Boston announces the commissioner's office will investigate the circumstances surrounding the three-way trade that relieved the Red Sox of Manny and the flat-bed truck that hauls Manny's baggage. And it's true, Bud Selig asked lieutenant Rob Manfred to ask around, to see if Manny's agent, Scott Boras, meant to suggest Manny would play hard or lay down depending on the outcome of the trading deadline and possible amendments to his contract.
Reached in his Milwaukee office, Selig declined to comment. So did Manfred. But baseball sources said they expect nothing to come of what is less an investigation than a method of placating the complaining parties, in part because Manny's play didn't look any different than usual, because Manny just had his best offensive month of the season, and because proving something like that would be next to impossible.
When Manny didn't care all the time, the Red Sox typically responded by batting him cleanup. Now it's possible they're responding by claiming – what? – foul play?
"I wish I could get players to hit .347," Boras said Friday night, referring to Ramirez's July batting average. "I wish I could get them to lead their teams in on-base percentage and slugging percentage. If I could do that, have an impact on that, I'd proudly take credit for it."
Boras wouldn't say so, but if he manipulated anything, it was Ramirez's no-trade rights. He knew – we all knew – the Red Sox simply had to trade Manny, because they decided it was time to trade him. There was no turning back, so unlike the 2006 deadline.
What Boras orchestrated was Manny in L.A., not Florida, and not Philadelphia. He brought Manny to a team starved for a big bat and a little charisma. He brought Manny to a place where the grocery store lines have bigger stars than him, two years after Manny complained to Red Sox executives the Boston fishbowl had become too confining for him. He brought bilingual Manny to a bilingual town, far away from turmoil and hurt feelings and utter exhaustion from Manny's whole act.
Boras would not be paid unless Ramirez became a free agent at the end of the season, which is what happens now. So, as many things do, this worked out just fine for Boras. There is some question as to whether there is a market out there that will bring Ramirez $20 million a season, which is what he would have made had he played hard and been productive for the Red Sox. Ultimately, he didn't play his way out of Boston; he sulked his way out, and talked his way out, and forced his way out.
Manny will turn 37 early next season and if $20 million doesn't sound like too much now, it might in a year or two. Especially if he's still having those knee problems. Now, if he could just recall which one is bothering him.
The Red Sox will remind him. They've seen it all before. They should. They created him.