Fun while it lasted and over too soon, the Manny Ramirez era in Taiwan reportedly has ended.
Brandon DuBreuil, the engine behind the previously indispensable Manny Does Taiwan blog reports that Ramirez has been removed from the roster of the EDA Rhinos, his team in Taiwan, and might be looking for work in Japan. The Chiba Lotte Marines, others report, might be interested.
Is there going to be a "Manny Does Japan" blog? One can hope.
Ramirez's contract was to end June 30, but Focus Taiwan reports Manny is due to leave the country Friday. Homesickness has been cited vaguely as a reason, but then we have the Japan speculation. That's not Manny's home, of course. He's a good, old-fashioned, red-blooded North American by way of New York, Miami and the Dominican Republic. Playing here, or near here, apparently isn't an option right now. Regardless, the urge to play ball apparently still burns in Ramirez, who at 41 years old batted .352/.422/.555 with eight home runs in 206 plate appearances over 49 games.
Ramirez, who is being paid around US$25,000 per month to play in Taiwan, would make far more than that in Japan, if in fact he is heading there to play.
Aware that Ramirez was signed only to the end of June, the Rhinos did what they could to keep him happy during his time in Taiwan and try to persuade him to stay with the team to the end of this year if not into next year.
They gave him a raise in April and arranged for him and his uncle to live in the presidential suite of the hotel owned by the club's parent company, the E-United Group.
In its statement, the team thanked Ramirez for his contribution to the team and to Taiwan's baseball environment during the three months he played here.
And what a time it was, from the barely comprehensible if also energetic bilingual home run calls, to Manny being Manny on the bases, to a fan's photographic tribute to Manny using the image of Johnny Cueto of the Reds. His experience in Taiwan was as enjoyable to watch as anything in the major leagues so far — and that's not a slam at MLB. It's just that Manny being Manny, from a distance, can still be fun.
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