It's over. The fascinating, yet controversial career of Manny Ramirez
is done. After failing a MLB-administered drug test for the second time
in less than two years, Ramirez chose to end the music, rather than
face it. There was no press conference, no tearful good-bye. Just a vanilla
flavored press-release from Major League Baseball stating that Ramirez
Ramirez is the first player with Cooperstown credentials to call it
quits after a drug bust. I mean, a stone-cold, I' done, and never coming
back, surrender. Rafael Palmiero, who was a lead-pipe lock
for the Hall of Fame, finished out the season in 2005 after serving
a 10-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance. He was
essentially blackballed by the league, never finding another job,
despite having 3,000 hits and 500 home runs on his baseball card.
Are we surprised that Ramirez failed another drug test? Are we surprised
about anything that happens in sports or life anymore? No. Many are
wondering how Manny could be so stupid as to tempt fate once again.
But after watching his personality and performance develop over the
years, nobody can honestly say they are surprised this has happened.
Ramirez was one of the greatest right-handed hitters the game has ever
seen. He was brilliant in the box, capable of setting up a pitcher by
looking awful on a pitch in the first inning, only to drill the same one into
the Monster seats later in the 8th. Teammates and opponents alike were
awestruck by his near perfect mechanics, and a maniacal work ethic
that the public rarely saw.
But his antics and personality were so far removed from any player
with his stats or credentials, the game has ever seen. He, at times, was
the clown prince of baseball. A player who would cut off a throw in
the outfield from Johnny Damon, or run into the bowels of the Green
Monster to make a phone call or a mess after relieving himself.
The sideshow even had a name for it. It was "Manny being Manny."
The stuff of stupid, but tolerated as long as Ramirez could still rake
40 home runs and drive in 120 a season.
The stats, however, would eventually slip, as did his sanity. In 2008,
after making an all but an impossible ticket request to 64-year old
traveling secretary Jack McCormick, who said he'd try to make it happen,
Ramirez threw him to the ground. There was the dugout skirmish with
teammate Kevin Youkillis, and a defiant and selfish attitude that
became unbearable with his teammates.
Left little choice but to cut out the sprouting clubhouse cancer, Red Sox
GM Theo Epstein, did the unthinkable. He traded Ramirez, jettisoning
him to Los Angeles in a 3-time trade that shocked major league baseball.
Ramirez' "Manny being Manny" act, played perfectly in laid-back
Chavez Ravine. Hollywood, became "Manny-wood" and Ramirez
became the biggest thing to hit Tinsel-town since Wayne Gretzky in 1988.
The Dodgers even convinced Ramirez to wear number 99. He became
the new King of L.A, and the change of scenery did Ramirez good. He put
up mind-boggling stats in just over 50 games with the Dodgers, leading
them to the NLCS.
But in 2009, Ramirez would sit out that many games after testing
positive for a female fertility drug, which is used by many bodybuilders
to mask steroids. Despite being outed as a cheat, Ramirez didn't
incur the same wrath that A-Rod or Roger Clemens did. Maybe
it was the whole, "Manny being Manny" thing, which provided a shield
to all the negativity. There were some who felt that, despite the
failed drug test, Ramirez was still a Hall of Famer.
However, any hopes of the Hall for Ramirez went up in smoke with the
second failed drug test. How can Manny get a plaque in Cooperstown,
while Palmiero has become a pariah, with so few votes on his first
election try, it will be impossible just to get even close to making it.
How can Manny get in after failing two drug tests, while other players
who were only suspected of using steroids, will never even sniff the
required of number of votes earn enshrinement?
To the current Hall of Famers, and the caretakers of the game, Ramirez
is a joke, who not only disrespected himself, but the entire sport. He
thumbed his nose at everybody in baseball, challenging them to find him
guilty of defrauding the game. They got him not once, but twice, and
didn't need a third strike to make Ramirez leave for good.
Over the next few days, all these on-line polls will come out asking
if Ramirez belongs in Cooperstown. The debates will rage on
"Baseball Tonight" and MLB Network between players who were
at times, suspected users themselves. Isn't everybody under a black
cloud who played during that era?
Ramirez has NO shot at making the Hall of Fame. I have a greater
chance of starring in the next great infomercial for six-pack abs,
than Manny does of being immortalized in the game.
Sure, the numbers are staggering. A .312 batting average, 555 home runs,
more than 1800 rbi's. Incredible. Ramirez was lethal with the bat, and a
laugh a minute comic when he traveled to his own little planet. There's
no question, Ramirez was a talented slugger. Unfortunately, he is now