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Don't go away mad (just go away)

Posted by Gabe Kahn February 12, 2009 05:58 AM

They can't all be like Kevin Millar and Dave Roberts.

For every player who is unconditionally adored by teammates and fans even after leaving Boston, there's another who can't seem to get out fast enough. Manny Ramirez is the poster child for this bunch, doing anything and everything in his power to get out of town. It got so bad that even his teammates were whispering that he ought to be traded, often the surest signal that conditions have passed the point of no return. Although he is gone, he is surely not forgotten, and the shock waves caused by his exit still reverberate throughout Red Sox Nation.

Although the Manny debacle is particularly vivid in our minds, it is certainly not an isolated incident. Red Sox history is littered with players, coaches, managers, and front-office types who refused to go quietly. With the advent of free agency in 1976, the past 30-plus years have been particularly contentious.

Once the separation is finally complete, the parting words of the Red Sox are always clear and strong: Don't let the door hit you on the butt on the way out.

< 1B > Mo Vaughn The hefty Vaughn hit .326 with 44 homers and 143 RBI in 1996 but caused some trouble off the field, reportedly punching a man in a nightclub and getting into an accident on the way back from a strip club in Providence. After public feuds with Sox management as well as Globe columnists Dan Shaughnessy and Will McDonough, the 1995 AL MVP signed a six-year, $80 million contract with the Angels.

< 2B > Wil Cordero After playing in just 59 games for the Sox in 1996, Cordero was coming into his own in ’97 before it was reported that he hit his wife with a phone. Later, court documents showed that Cordero’s first wife also claimed he had abused her years before. Cordero was suspended for eight games and released the day after the season ended.

< SS > Nomar Garciaparra Nomar deeply resented the Sox’ attempts to trade for Alex Rodriguez and rejected a four-year, $60 million contract extension before the 2004 season. To display his irritation, he milked a wrist injury even longer than necessary and was shipped to the Cubs in a four-team deal at the trading deadline for Doug Mientkiewicz and Orlando Cabrera. You know the rest.

< 3B > Wade Boggs The Hall of Famer with a .328 career average went south in 1992, his final year in Boston, batting .259. Having garnered much off-field attention for his extramarital affair with Margo Adams, who later sued him, Boggs angered his teammates with his selfishness, including a much-publicized tiff with Roger Clemens. Boggs took his act to the Yankees the following season, further angering the Nation.

< OF > Manny Ramirez No introduction is necessary. Of all the stunts Manny pulled, his worst offenses were fighting with Kevin Youkilis in the dugout, knocking down traveling secretary Jack McCormick, and feigning injury to his knee — which one, even he couldn’t remember. All this to prevent the Sox from paying him $20 million to $40 million. Pretty weak.

< OF > Jose Canseco Before steroids became his calling card, Canseco found different ways to make waves. Baseball’s first man with 40 homers and 40 steals in a season was furious at GM Dan Duquette for jettisoning manager Kevin Kennedy after the 1996 season. Harsh words were exchanged, and the juicer was eventually traded to Oakland for John Wasdin.

< OF > Carl Everett Dan Shaughnessy nicknamed Everett “Jurassic Carl” after he denied the existence of dinosaurs. Everett in turn nicknamed Shaughnessy “Curly-Haired Boyfriend” and ruffled numerous feathers while in Boston. He head-butted umpire Ron Kulpa and called manager Joe Kerrigan a racist (and other choice words) shortly after Sept. 11, 2001. To no one’s surprise, he was dealt to Texas in the off-season.

< DH > Reggie Jefferson In 1996, he batted .347 with 19 homers and would have competed for a batting title with more at-bats. However, he couldn’t hit lefties, causing him to be left off the playoff roster in 1999 against the Indians. When given the news, he stormed off, alienating himself from his teammates and essentially ending his career.

< P > Roger Clemens Following four average seasons in which Clemens went 40-39, Dan Duquette said he wanted to sign the Rocket for the “twilight of his career.” The statement enraged Clemens, who cleaned out his locker after his final start in 1996 when the Red Sox were still in playoff contention. He signed a $40 million deal with Toronto and reignited his career.

< C > Carlton Fisk The major league leader in games caught with 2,226 has since made amends with the Sox, but his departure in 1981 was as bitter as they come. GM Haywood Sullivan may not have been interested in keeping Fisk long term and famously neglected to file some paperwork, making the Hall of Famer a free agent. Fisk signed with the White Sox, for whom he played 13 more seasons.

< MGR > Grady Little No, he didn’t have a hissy fit upon leaving, but everyone knows the circumstances of his exit. He kept Pedro Martinez in just a little too long in the fateful 2003 playoff game against the Yankees and secured his Red Sox legacy forever, even with the Sox’ redemption the following year. Few times have Boston fans clamored for a man’s head the way they did for Grady’s, and they got their wish.

< GM > Dan Duquette As good as he was at finding bargain-basement players, Duquette seemed to lack certain people skills and was known for antics like informing players they’d been released through answering machine messages. The Duke fought public battles with Roger Clemens, Mo Vaughn, and others, as well as managers Kevin Kennedy and Jimy Williams. After Duquette was fired, his representative released current GM Theo Epstein’s personal phone number on the internet.

< Bench > Mike Greenwell The Gator cleaned out his locker and left before the end of the ’96 season when told he would be a part-timer in ’97. Johnny Damon: A hero from the 2004 postseason turned Benedict Arnold, Damon signed with the Yankees – after promising he would not – and fired various parting shots at the Sox.

< Bullpen > Bill Lee Spaceman didn’t get along with manager Don Zimmer and once walked out on the team before being traded to Montreal following the disastrous ’78 season. Jeff Russell: After saving 33 games in 1993, he was traded to Cleveland the next season and said, “It’s tough playing where you weren’t appreciated by the fans or by the town.”

< Coaches > Mike Easler The hitting coach argued with GM Dan Duquette over a number of issues. His dispute with pitching coach Al Nipper, his refusal to coach replacement players, and his salary led to his being fired. Joe Kerrigan: The successful pitching coach was seen as a micromanager and fought openly with Derek Lowe, Manny Ramirez, and Carl Everett during his short stint as manager in 2001. Don Zimmer: Nicknamed “The Gerbil” by Bill Lee, Zimmer oversaw the collapse of ’78, partially because of his refusal to play the many players he disliked.

Gabe Kahn is the assistant editor at OT and can be reached at gkahn@globe.com

8 comments so far...
  1. great article- interesting tidbits on some of my former favorite/least favorite bosox

    Posted by Ben Lopkin February 12, 09 12:19 PM
  1. Fisk is the only one i regreat for. all the others may they be forgotten.

    Posted by KIDS OF 75 February 12, 09 12:31 PM
  1. Very interesting insights. I wonder if Tommy Harper - who left while calling the Red Sox a racist ballclub - should also have been included.

    Posted by Jim Porksteinal February 12, 09 12:43 PM
  1. A Gold Glover and Rookie of the Year his first full year with the Sox he holds the record for most triples in a year by a catcher with 9. It was so disappointing to me when Carlton Fisk left Boston for Chicago. There is no doubt that Haywood Sullivan wimped out by allowing Carlton to become a free agent in the first place. For that, I will always cringe when I hear or read sullivans name. Boston's loss was Chicago's gain. It's a shame that Fisk didn't play his entire career in Boston. What a wonderful player #27 was and a great man he still is.

    Posted by jingle_ballz February 12, 09 02:26 PM
  1. Players come and players go, but if your point is to regard Manny as 'just another player who could not get along with management', you sweep one very important fact under the rug. Unlike ALL of the others mentioned in your writing, Manny is the only one who quit on the field. Even those who left the team prematurely through a walkout did so knowing that they would be fined or suspended for their actions. Manny did not have the integrity to do this. Rather, he tried to have his cake and eat it too by attempting to feign injury, standing with the bat on his shoulders during a critical at bat, and generally trying to disrupt the team. Mr. Kahn, try refusing to write your next assignment, or better yet, mail in a copy of someone else's work, and see how long OT will keep you on staff. Manny was fortunate that he had a union that refuses to face evidence of misconduct behind him. Good grief, if owners had the option to suspend players for deliberate non-performance, Major League players might just be like the rest of us.

    Posted by pennstatedad February 12, 09 03:56 PM
  1. Tommy Harper should not be included because he was right about the racism of the management. Yawkey was a racist and so were many of the people he hired. Harper had the guts to call them out on it. Spike Lee was absolutely right when he responded to a question about the "Curse of the Babe" by saying that the Red Sox suffered from the curse of eighty-six years of incompetent and racist management.

    Posted by Rgbyref1 February 13, 09 06:23 AM
  1. How did Jose Offerman's departure get let off this list?! Or Shea Hillenbrand?! Wasn't it Offerman who found out after traveling to California against the Angels, heard it at some crazy hour in the night, and reportedly trashed his hotel room or something? And how about Shea getting on the radio and publicly calling Theo a "f*gg*t" for all of Boston fans to hear? I think those were certainly some memorable break-up moments!! (Almost as bad as a girl-friend I had in high school who didn't want to bring in her mom's groceries so instead brought in a giant snowball, planted it into her mother's face full-force, and I peeled out of there without ever turning back!)

    Posted by misplacedSOXfanNJ February 13, 09 04:54 PM
  1. Your facts are wrong. Nomar had an injured Achilles in 2004, not a wrist. He was not offered $60million prior to the 2004 season, it was 2003. He did not turn it down, he made a counter offer. The FO reduced the offer to $48million after 2003 even as they pursuing the trade for PayFraud. Given these errors, why should readers believe your assertion that Nomar was milking his injury?

    Posted by Margaret Crowley February 16, 09 11:31 AM
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