For all the anguish he caused, there were moments when Manny Ramirez was a unique, irresistible, almost childlike force.
That would be the Manny who was electric at the plate, and jovial and carefree in the clubhouse. Not the drug-busted, non-talking, non-producing Manny.
But when he was going good, there was no one like him, neither via his baseball prowess or special antics on and off the field.
Ramirez, who turns 41 on May 30, is not willing to give up the ghost just yet. After failing to hook up with the Oakland Athletics last season, he is now playing baseball in Taiwan.
Ramirez is a member of the EDA Rhinos in the Chinese Professional Baseball League and, as a video posted over the weekend shows, he is still capable of those very special Manny moments.
In this one, he is on first base with none out and the Rhinos down by a run in the sixth when a bouncer is hit to the first baseman. Ramirez sprints for second, seemingly intent on breaking up the double play.
Except he slides and comes to a stop about six feet shy of the bag. As if he'd dropped anchor.
Worse, the throw to second was way off-line, pulling the second baseman several feet toward right field.
If Ramirez had been paying attention — just go with that premise — he easily would have been safe at second. He almost could have crawled.
Instead, with Ramirez looking tethered to the ground, the second baseman just calmly walked over and tagged him out.
Of course, because Ramirez is such a savvy baseball man, his ploy took so long to unfold that the second baseman had no time to throw to first. So Ramirez, having scuttled the double play as only he could, returned to the dugout, welcomed by high-fives.
In 26 games, Ramirez is batting .347, which is seventh in the league, and is tied for the league lead with five home runs and is second with 26 runs batted in.
He has also arrived for one game dressed like the Hulk — or was it a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle? — and taken plenty of time to admire his home runs. Meanwhile, his dreadlocks are heading to points never imagined by Joe Torre.
How can that not be missed just a tad?