While listening to the Red Sox-Yankees game on the radio this afternoon, I learned that Manny Ramirez had abruptly announced his retirement. Ramirez had signed with the Tampa Bay Rays this off-season.
In five games with the Rays, Ramirez had gone 1-for-17 with one RBI. Major League Baseball announced that Ramirez had failed a drug test for a performance enhancing substance during spring training. Ramirez could have faced a 100-game suspension. In 2009, while a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Ramirez was suspended for 50-games for a positive test.
In 19 big league seasons, Ramirez collected 2,574 hits, had a .312 lifetime batting average, hit 555 career homeruns, and collected 100 or more RBI a dozen times. Ramirez also won an American League batting title in 2002, named to a dozen AL All-Star teams and played in four World Series - two with the Cleveland Indians (1995 & 1997) and two with the Boston Red Sox (2004 & 2007). He was named the 2004 World Series MVP.
But Ramirez also had a history of mercurial behavior, unreliability and disrespect towards the teams for whom he played. The very worst of this were his actions during his final days with the Red Sox during the middle of 2008 season which I wrote about in great detail.
Will Manny ever see Cooperstown? A lot of it will depend on how the baseball writers treat Barry Bonds when he becomes Hall of Fame eligible next year. Some argue that Bonds "pre-steroid" offensive output are sufficient for him to warrant inclusion. The same argument could probably be made for Ramirez. But if Bonds doesn't get in then Ramirez won't either. And even if the baseball writers do vote Bonds in one could also make the argument he, unlike Ramirez, never tested positive or at the very minimum tested positive when steroids and performance enhancing substances were banned by MLB.