LOS ANGELES – Manny Ramirez captivated Los Angeles when he arrived two years ago, lifting the Dodgers into the playoffs and beguiling the fans with his dreadlocks, his smile and his big swing.
It all ended Monday when the Chicago White Sox claimed the slugger on waivers from the Dodgers, who received nothing in return. In reality, though, Mannywood went into foreclosure a long time ago.
"It was time for us and it was time for him," general manager Ned Colletti said. "If he could've played a lot in the outfield, I would've kept him."
But the 38-year-old left fielder was on the disabled list three times this season, missing a total of 58 games because of two right calf strains and a right hamstring strain.
He landed on the DL a second time in just his second game back after being reinstated the first time this season.
"He wasn't faking it. He was banged up," Colletti said.
After returning from his latest injury on Aug. 21, Colletti said it was clear to him that Ramirez couldn't play the outfield even though the slugger said he wanted to play every day. Without a designated hitter in the NL, Ramirez became expendable.
"He wasn't going to do that here," manager Joe Torre said.
Torre didn't start Ramirez in his final four games with the team, choosing instead to go with recently acquired Scott Podsednik as the leadoff hitter.
"Podsednik gave us a different dynamic that seemed to give us more energy," said Torre, acknowledging that Ramirez isn't the defensive player Podsednik is.
"The lack of defense was part of his inability to keep his legs healthy, and that wasn't his fault."
Colletti said the White Sox rejected the Dodgers' offer of $1.5 million for a prospect. Chicago turned down subsequent offers of $1 million and $500,000 for a lower-level prospect. Colletti said Ramirez didn't ask to be compensated for waiving the no-trade clause in his two-year, $45 million contract.
Ramirez went to the White Sox as a straight waiver claim, making them responsible for the entire $3.8 million remaining on his deal.
That gave the cash-strapped Dodgers a break financially on the same day owner Frank McCourt and his estranged wife Jamie's divorce trial began in Los Angeles Superior Court. They are fighting over ownership of the franchise.
"It doesn't hurt," Colletti said of the savings, "and we'll be able to use it on the baseball side now and in the future."
Ramirez parted ways with his teammates after the team's flight from Colorado arrived on Sunday night. Some didn't get a chance to say goodbye, while others like Casey Blake gave him a hug.
On Monday, his nameplate was gone from his old locker in the clubhouse, with someone else's bag resting on the shelf.
But he was remembered fondly, with the consensus being that Ramirez's short stint was well worth everything it brought, both good and bad.
The good included helping the Dodgers reach the NL championship series the last two years before being eliminated by Philadephia one step from the World Series.
"He did a lot of great stuff while he was here," Colletti said. "He showed a lot of our younger players how to win and how to play. He excited the city and the franchise."
Matt Kemp and Blake disagreed with the public perception that Ramirez quit on the team.
"I don't think he quit, he was hurt," Kemp said. "Manny is a little older now and he can't do the things he used to do."
Blake added, "Some of the things he does in the public view people have looked down on. There's a lot of people out there who see and hear things and they want to judge. That's unfair. He's a different cat. He beats to his own drum. I have nothing but respect for the guy."
Ramirez hadn't talked to the media since the spring, when he said this was going to be his final season in Los Angeles. As a result, the fans hadn't heard much from him, either.
His final at-bat with the Dodgers ended after one pitch Sunday against the Rockies, when he was ejected for arguing a first strike. Some fans calling into sports talk radio shows felt Ramirez did it deliberately.
"I don't think the incident was premeditated," Blake said. "It just didn't look good."
Philadelphia's Charlie Manuel, in town for his team's series with the Dodgers, spent seven years with Ramirez in Cleveland as the Indians' hitting coach and later manager.
"Manny's definitely not a bad guy, and he definitely doesn't mean to cause trouble or get into trouble. But his nonchalant way — being funny and happy and the way he goes about that — I can see where at times it can hurt a team," Manuel said.
"The only time where I felt like he pressed was last year in the postseason. That's the first time I ever saw him have a lot of tension on him. I used to say that every day this guy is tension-free, and that's how he played the game. But I imagine as he's gotten older, it's hard for him to understand some of the things that really mean a lot to the team."
However, Torre said Ramirez maintained his professionalism to the end.
"He never was a malcontent or someone who was late coming to the ballpark," he said. "We just didn't play well and I can't drop it all on him."
A poster of Ramirez scheduled as the giveaway on Sept. 17 has been canceled, with the posters never having been printed.
Earlier this month, the "Mannywood" sign on the short fence in the left-field corner was removed after an insurance company purchased signage in each corner for the final two months of the season.
When he arrived from Boston in a deal at the trade deadline two years ago, Ramirez quickly won over the fans. Dreadlocked wigs and his No. 99 jersey began flying off the racks at Dodger Stadium.
He showed a flair for the dramatic playing near Hollywood, with a pinch-hit, tie-breaking grand slam that landed in "Mannywood" during a game in July 2009 on his own bobblehead night.
It came a few weeks after Ramirez returned from a 50-game suspension for violating baseball's drug policy. After that, he wasn't the same offensive player and injuries began piling up.
"2009 was a tough time," Torre said. "He was very embarrassed about it and it really ruined his whole year."
Back then, Ramirez had said, "I'm back, Part 2."
Asked if his second act would be better than his first, he said, "Remember, you always leave the last part for the best. So that's what we're going to do."
It never happened.