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Election '08

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this is the test body

I was working for "Jimmy Kimmel Live" in April 2003, our gregarious executive producer, Daniel Kellison, convinced a few notable Red Sox players to be our guest announcers before a three-game series in Anaheim.1 This wasn't a ratings ploy, just a way for the show's New England transplants to hang out with as many Boston players as possible. When we learned Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez were coming, we were infinitely more excited than for Britney Spears' appearance six months later.

"And we're going out afterward!" Daniel predicted gleefully. "We're taking them out!"

Manny Ramirez in 2004 World Series
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
These facts remain indisputable: Manny is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and one of the big reasons The Curse is no more.

To Daniel's disbelief, I made myself a game-time decision. See, I think like a fan, write like a fan and try like hell to keep it that way. If I went drinking with my favorite players, I might see things that couldn't be unseen. That was verified right after the show finished, when everyone poured into our legendary green room and I caught one of my heroes eyeing three scantily clad bimbos like a starving cheetah stalking a herd of grazing deer.2 That was it for me. In retrospect, I should have gone out because my buddies passed along every upsetting nugget anyway. Like the player who yanked his wedding ring off with an exaggerated pull while dancing with one of our attractive co-workers, the implication being, "Tonight, I'm single, baby!" Every time I watched the Sox from then on, when Wedding Ring Guy came to bat, I thought of him hitting on our 22-year-old talent assistant and jamming that ring in his pocket. And you wonder why I never want to drink with my favorite players.

Daniel wasn't nearly as bothered, even gushing the following day, "This was one of the great nights of my life." I made my exit stage right as he was herding a swollen group of players and co-workers to a nearby Hollywood club in two stretch limousines. Sadly, I missed David Ortiz pulling out an AmEx card in Daniel's limo, waving it with his signature gap-toothed smile and announcing happily, "I got Manny's credit card tonight!" Everyone cheered like they'd just won the pennant. With Manny riding in the other limo, they started telling "Manny Being Manny" stories, like how Manny routinely stuffed uncashed paychecks in the top shelf of his locker. Seems he rarely got around to cashing them. The checks were for $978,000 every two weeks during the season. (Big Papi knew the exact number because he made a team employee show him one.) Manny lived in a one-bedroom condo outside of Boston until Ortiz joined the club and made him relocate to the presidential suite at the Four Seasons. Daniel thought Manny's teammates made him sound like Tom Hanks in "Big," a little kid trapped in an adult's body. Everyone got a sincere kick out of him. Or so it seemed.3

They arrived at the club and Daniel started ordering drinks left and right. After all, Manny was paying! Three fun hours that I'm a fool for passing up ensued. The check arrived. Papi pulled out Manny's card, felt an unexpected twinge of guilt and confessed.4 And Manny -- the alleged idiot savant with uncashed checks spilling out of his locker, the so-called dummy who stumbled into a record contract and should have been conned into paying for everything by his much, much, much smarter teammates -- was laughing and saying, "Nononono, I'm not paying" before grabbing the card after a friendly tussle. Manny might have been dumb enough to lose his AmEx card, but he was also smart enough to get it back.

The check sat there. And it sat there.

You know who ended up paying? Daniel. Quite possibly the poorest guy there. Five years later, he remembers the exact figure: "860 dollars." Only in Hollywood.

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