Manny Ramirez and I are buddies.
I was covering the Red Sox-Angels series (which the Angels swept) and by Sunday, Manny was introducing me to his teammates, talking about the good ol' days on Cleveland and talking about Salsa dancing.
I interviewed Julian Tavarez last week, who I had met two years ago through a friend and we started talking about the old days and a prank that Sandy Alomar played on him and Manny back when they were 19 or 20 year-old rookies playing for Cleveland. Sandy told Manny and Julian and another teammate that he could lift all three guys with one arm because he had voodoo powers and if he couldn't he would give them $3,000. The guys agreed, so they got tied up and instead of lifting them, the vets poured trash on them, took their clothes during the game and gave them hula costumes to wear as the typical rookie hazing.
"I said, 'All my family is waiting outside,'" Tavarez told me. "I was so little and so skinny and I don’t know what to say because my underwear was gone too and all I had was a skirt on and a bra and a hat and a purse. The manager told me if I don’t walk out side I don’t get my pay check. I said, 'Manny what are you going to do?' And Manny said, 'I’m from New York. I’m not going outside.' And I said, 'I need my pay check to support my family. I’m going out.' I went out. We’ve still got the tape."
Manny says he did end up going outside in the costume. Needless to say, they weren't pleased.
On Sunday, I told Manny that Julian had told me the story and he started cracking up and talking about how much he loved playing for Cleveland because of all the guys on the team. Now, Manny rarely does interviews, so I was a little shocked he was chatting me up considering they had lost the last two games. Then he started blaring some Salsa music in the clubhouse asked if I knew how to Salsa dance.
"Nope, never have," I reply.
"You should get lessons. See that guy over there. He is the best Salsa dancer," says Manny.
"Oh yeah?" I say.
"But you have to wear shorts like these," says Manny pulling out some of his long spandex shorts.
"I'll wear those shorts, when you wear the hula costume you and Julian had to wear."
Who knows, if the contract negotiations don't work out with the Red Sox, Manny just might end up in Cleveland or another ballpark soon.