I guess that's the difference between "mężczyzna" and "mężczyzną". Welcome to cases. "mężczyzna" is Nominative - it's the basic, dictionary form, mostly used as the subject of the sentence, as here. "mężczyzną" is Instrumental. Apart from usages like "with a man" (z mężczyzną), it's used in sentences like "On jest mężczyzną" = He is a man.
I didn't know that... especially as the older voices used to clearly pronounce the Ł in words like jabłko, jabłka, jabłek (etc).
I kind of knew the rule about ę at the end of verbs in particular, like lubię and gotuję, kupuję (etc)
Are there any other weird gotchas where Polish strays from its normally very rigorous rules on pronunciation ?
I'd say that it's like that with a few numbers.
"pięćdziesiąt", "sześćdziesiąt", "dziewięćdziesiąt" (50/60/90) - you can ignore the 'ć' part.
"pięćset", "sześćset", "dziewięćset" (500/600/900) - sound more like "pięcet", "sześset" or even colloquially "szejset", "dziewięcet".