Malcontent Manny prepared to move on…maybe

Dec 6, 2005 3:44 AM

A friend at Harvard wrote that he was moving from Cambridge across the Charles River into Boston proper, and I suggested he get in touch with Manny Ramirez of the Red Sox, who also is planning to move.

My friend did, but told me thought Manny’s digs were a bit pricey and a little large, and he thought Manny was suffering from major league syndrome in his asking price.

Manny currently lives in Penthouse 2B on the 37th floor of the Residences at the Rita-Carlton, and when he looks out his window he can see Boston Common, the Public Garden, the river, and perhaps New York on a clear day.

His apartment is not crowded. It is done in brown and cream tones, has four bedrooms, a gourmet kitchen, herringbone floors, a home theater, and a large balcony. It also has 4,500 square feet of space, larger than your house or mine, and he is asking $6.9 million for the condominium. He will consider selling you the furniture as well if you’re interested.

I often have wondered what it takes to make someone with unlimited money happy, given the fact that so many in that category, in Hollywood and sports and other endeavors, seem constantly unhappy.

Ramirez, for example.

He signed an eight-year contract five years ago, for $160 million. It has three years and $57 million left to run.

You would think that might buy happiness, but not in Ramirez’ case.

He has been moaning about Boston, about the constant scrutiny paid his private life, and about being traded, almost since the day he first showed up in Beantown in 2001.

He is 33 years old now, one of baseball’s greatest stars. He hit 45 home runs and had 144 runs batted in this last season, but for various reasons he is not wanted by everyone in the game.

The $57 million obviously has something to do with it, but there is more to it than that in a game where salaries have gone berserk and make no sense.

An example is the Chicago White Sox. When Ken Williams, the general manager of the World Series winners, was asked about Ramirez, he said, "We have a certain kind of chemistry. He’s not that kind of guy."

When Pat Gillick, general manager of the Phillies, was asked about him, he noted that he already had Bobby Abreau in right field and Pat Burrell in left, and then stuck in the dagger by saying, "Our corners are pretty good. In high school Ramirez played center, but I don’t think he can play center anymore."

Baseball managers were not the only ones to climb on Manny’s expensive back. The press, which can get catty at times, joined the chorus.

In Boston, Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa, writers for the Boston Herald, dug in their claws after visiting Manny’s digs. In an article they called Lifestyles of the Rich and Manny, they asked, "What other husband could get away with parking his red mountain bike next to the haute home theater in the living room? Or stashing his white shoes and filthy batting helmet on the dining room buffet? In Manny’s Clubhouse, anything goes."

The ladies said Manny is what the real estate people call a motivated seller. "The minute Moonshot is traded," they wrote, "he’s outta here, massage table and all. We can safely assume the artfully arranged bats, Pedro Martinez statue in the hall, refrigerator art, and an oil painting of Manny at the plate will be packed up. But those pterodactyl eggs piled in a bowl on the dining room table — ala Fred and Wilma Flintstone —may be up for grabs."

That might be expected in Boston, but similar chatter extended as far west as Phoenix. There Bob Young, writing in The Arizona Republic, had his own fun. In a column headlined "Whatever you want, Manny," he proposed the Diamondbacks woo Manny by promising him a day off for every 10 ground balls he actually runs out, and giving him complete authority over opening or closing the stadium roof, including a remote control to give him something to do when he’s bored by all the long balls going overhead.

It’s tough to have real money. Everyone, it seems, wants to pick on you.