There are several different ways to describe Manny Ramirez during his fun, entertaining, aggravating, and tumultuous 19-year Major League Baseball career. After the way he exited the game for good on Friday, there are only two ways to characterize his legacy: Manny Ramirez was a cheater and a quitter.
Ramirez of course was informed by MLB of his second drug-related offense in spring training, and rather than sit out 100 games which is the penalty for a two-time offender, Manny decided to retire. The Tampa Bay Rays had invested in him, given him a spot in the lineup and clubhouse, and built a few marketing campaigns around him. All that had to be scrapped after Manny unceremoniously dumped the team, and now they are left with a hole in the lineup.
It doesn’t matter that Manny was struggling to start the season — with plenty of reason as we now know. The man who faked injuries several times and faked a knee injury to force his way out of Boston did what he has done throughout his career — put himself first over the team (a charge for which he later admitted). The consummate “I guy,” Manny decided to take the year off and run away from baseball after his second positive test instead of apologizing, going clean, and trying to help the Rays like the “leader” they made him out to be. Nope, Manny is walking away from the game, likely to be heard from sparingly throughout the rest of his life.
What’s really sad is that most of his accomplishments in his otherwise storied career have to be discounted. After his first positive test we had to wonder how much of what he had done throughout his career was legitimate. Given the way he played before and after his positive test with the Dodgers, only the most optimistic (or ignorant, your choice) fan could believe what he did was done without the aid of performance-enhancers.
We’re talking about a guy who clubbed over 40 home runs five times in his career, who once drove in 165 runs in a season with Cleveland, and a guy who led the league in slugging and OPS three times. The accolades tell the same story as the production — 12 All-Star Game selections match the 2004 World Series MVP honor.
Perhaps the area Manny stood out the most was the postseason where he bashed 29 home runs and 78 RBIs in 111 career playoff games. When most players struggled against the best arms in the game, Manny showed his elite ability as a hitter to smack line drives and deep bombs off any opposing pitcher. Ramirez was a certified slugger, and he only cemented this fact with his postseason play.
But let’s think about how legitimate he can be. This is a guy who denied his first positive drug test and appealed the suspension. This is a guy who used PEDs AGAIN despite knowing he was facing a 100-game suspension if he got caught, and somehow he was. If Manny showed such blatant disregard for the rules of the game while there was drug testing, how on earth could you possibly think he wasn’t cheating when baseball did not test for drugs?
Through his actions, Manny has admitted to us twice now he could not play the game at a high level without cheating. That fact, coupled with his decision to retire, leaves his permanent legacy as that of a cheater and a quitter.
As for the Hall of Fame argument, he’s permanently a man of shame, but he belongs with all other stars from the era in the Steroids Wing that should be constructed. It’s the only fair way to handle the whole mess.Google+