After three months as the single most popular person in Taiwan, Manny Ramirez will leave the EDA Rhinos by week's end. Weep not, Manny fans, because he's probably headed for the greener, more lucrative pastures of Japan.
We're still struck by how fully fans embraced Ramirez, even if they initially couldn't tell him from another dreadlocked Dominican ballplayer. But it couldn't last. The Rhinos had only signed him to a three-month contract (expiring June 30), one that allowed him to break it in order to sign with at team outside Taiwan.
The Rhinos' statement on his leaving the team says only that Ramirez has been "homesick." But according to the indispensable Manny Does Taiwan blog (which hopes to keep operating under a different name), Ramirez has been pursued by the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan's NBP. And Chiba can pay him a hell of a lot more than the $25,000 a month he was making in Taiwan.
We'll always have the homers. In 49 games, Ramirez hit .352 with 8 HR and 43 RBI. And every single dinger was accompanied by indecipherable joy from the broadcasters, and a stadium going bananas. Some of our favorites:
Zài jiàn, Manny. Konnichiwa, Manny.