Day 4: 30 baseball books in 30 days of April, ’09: Getting to know Manny, the man

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The book: “Becoming Manny: Inside the Life of Baseball’s Most Enigmatic Slugger”

The author: Jean Rhodes and Shawn Boburg (authorized by Manny Raminez)

How to find it: Schribner, 304 pages, $25

Where we’d go looking for it: Powells’ online store has it (linked here).

The scoop: Apparently, it was easier for Man-Ram to authorize this book on him than it was to authorize Scott Boras to get a contract signed with the Dodgers.

Supposedly, you already know about “Manny Being Manny,” so this takes it a step further: How did he become Manny?

The interesting approach for this project — getting into Manny’s head — is that Rhodes, who has a PhD in clinical psychology and teaches classes on adolescent development and urban poverty, is the co-author. She lives in Boston and watched the whole mess take place last July that led to his trade to the Dodgers. With Boburg, a reporter at The Bergen County (N.J.) Record, who has a background in investigative reporting and spent a lot of time in the Dominican Republic, there’s another plus in how this story is told. They were given access to his family, teammates and friends to get this done.

You learn how Manny has needed a strong influence in his life from the start, where Carlos Ferreira, a gentle soul who coached him in Little League, made his impact. Ramirez grew up in some mean streets of Washington Heights area of New York City and it wasn’t so easy for him to trust people.

Then, you get to understand the Boston media, which takes itself, and Ramirez, so seriously that it was bound to explode in their faces and force him to ask for a trade. They didn’t “get” him. You can see how L.A. must be a better scene for him.

An excerpt from the chapter 30: “Mannywood”

On the day Manny left Boston, the Globe psoted a chart with his career numbers from 1993 through 2007: .312 average, .409 OBP and 510 homers. Next to it was the headline: “Manny Deal Was Necessary.”
On many levels, Manny’s song never played well in the Boston market. Exasperation surfaced with every trade request, lack of hustle, injury or gaffe. (Kevin) Millar once summed him up to the Globe: “He’s got a good heart, a heart of gold. But there’s also a gap there and he does things that (tick) people off. I don’t know why he does it.”
He does it, perhaps, because he lives on the moment, neither suffering regret nor calculating the consequences of his next move. … None of which excuses Manny’s meltdown in 2008. Still, he had reasons for his frustration. He had never come to grips with the intensity of the Red Sox fans. “I’ve got people waiting for me at 3 a.m. in my hallway,” he complains. … Still, he seemed surprised by the backlash.

How it goes down in the scorebook: A routine fly to left field, watching Manny circle around it, then ask Matt Kemp to come over and help him catch it, then pat him on the back for his teamwork. He then takes the ball out of Kemp’s glove and tosses it into the left-field pavilion. The book, like Manny himself, sure make things interesting.

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