2004 World Series MVP and former Red Sox great Manny Ramirez decided to hang up the cleats yesterday after learning that he has failed his second drug test from MLB. If he had stayed, he would have had to sit out 100 games, and for someone his age, that is just not worth it. Manny always was and always will be one of my favorite Red Sox. I think now is a good time to go on my rant about steroids, and what I feel Manny's legacy will be.
Let me start this off by saying that I would much prefer to watch a pitchers duel than a high-scoring game. With that being said, I don't mind the use of steroids. I know that they are illegal and everything, and I am not saying that they should take steroids, but I think it is unfair to withhold a guy from Cooperstown because of alleged past steroid use. There have been numerous former players that have come out an said that well over half of the players in the game used steroids. It was part of the culture, just like amphetamines were a part of the game in the 80s. To say they weren't playing on a level playing field is ignorant. If more than half of the players were using steroids, it was a level playing field because it was likely that the pitcher you were facing were juiced to. Barry Bonds is the face of the steroid era, the home run king, a 6-time MVp, and one of, if not the, best player of his generation. However, because of his highly publicized alleged steroid use, there is a distinct possibility he will not be enshrined. That would be a crime. I understand that he used steroids, so many people think there should be an asterisk next to his record. If you're going to do that, then you have to put an asterisk next to Babe Ruth's name, because he never had to compete against black hitters or face the best Negro League pitchers. To me, that is a far less level playing field than the one from the steroid era, and no one would dream of removing the Babe from Cooperstown. So while steroids definitely did taint the game, I do not believe players should be held out of the Hall of Fame because of it.
That is the reason I will be extremely saddened when Manny doesn't get in the Hall, which is all but a guarantee after his 2nd failed test. Manny was the best right handed hitter of the late 90s and early 2000s.From 1998 to 2008, Ramirez never hit below .290 and hit at least .300 in 10 of those years. In that same span, Manny failed to hit at least 30 home runs and knock in 100 runs just one time. It saddens me to hear that people in Boston no longer like the guy who led the Sox to their first World Series in 86 years. I understand, because he often acted like he didn't care, but he was, by all accounts, one of the hardest workers in the bigs. He perfected his craft and was one of my personal favorite players to watch hit in my life. When I eventually have children, I will show them how Manny swung a baseball bat, because he has maybe the prettiest swing I have ever seen. So today, instead of focusing on the failed tests, let's remember how much Manny brought to Boston.
P.S. I will admit that you have to be as dumb as a box of rocks to fail just one drug test in today's baseball culture, never mind two. However, no one ever accused Manny of being Einstein.