May 24, 2009

Been meaning to post on this for awhile but, well, you know how it is. It’s been pretty hard to find any sportswriter across the country supporting Manny Ramirez in the wake of the news that he has been suspended for 50 games by Major League Baseball after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug (PED) in his blood.

Keep in mind, I was always a Manny fan – if you had the ballgame on while doing housework or yard work you always stopped what you were doing whenever Manny came to the plate, not just because he was so unpredictable – which he was – but also because it was always a joy to watch a true craftsman ply his craft as a big-league hitter. Few had a flare for the dramatic during his days as a Red Sox as Manny did, but it was clear back in the first half of 2008 that Ramirez had worn out his welcome: Manny was dogging it and daring Red Sox management to either reward him for his years in Boston or deal him. It was both unprofessional and juvenile, but Sox fans had long ago gotten used to the “Manny being Manny” act.

When after he was dealt to the Dodgers and then turned on the afterburners, few, I think, were surprised. Even so, it was a shame to see how someone could be so selfish and self-serving as Ramirez revealed himself to be without any sense of shame at all. It is hardly a surprise, then, that after news of Ramirez’s suspension became public the Boston media let it all fly.

The Boston Herald’s Gerry Callahan nails just how loathsome a character Ramirez had been during his tenure in Boston:

The idea that there could ever be a moral line that Ramirez would not cross is funnier than “The Family Guy.” Here is a man who each spring refused to walk 50 feet to say hello to the young patients from the Jimmy Fund Clinic, who declined to meet with the wounded troops at Walter Reed and who stiffed the kids at his old high school in New York City. He hit a young clubhouse attendant in Cleveland and a 64-year-old traveling secretary in Boston. He slapped one Red Sox teammate last season and quit on all the rest, and perhaps now we can better understand his belligerent behavior in his final days in Boston. I believe the technical term is ’roid rage.

Callahan goes on to quote Curt Schilling as saying “I’m not surprised at all. I don’t think there are many people in baseball who will be surprised.”

Way back in those halcyon days of September 2007, Ramirez generated a lot of chuckles when he referred to himself as a “bad man”:

Q: So many times your partner in crime David Ortiz has come through in these playoff situations, how did it feel for you to hit a walk-off home run in the playoffs?

MANNY RAMIREZ: It feels great, man. It’s been a long time I don’t do something special like that. But I haven’t been right all year round. But I guess, you know, when you don’t feel good and you still get hits, that’s when you know you are a bad man.

Little did we know then just how “bad” a man Manny Ramirez truly was. There will be more than a few steroid guys who somehow slip through the cracks and make it into Cooperstown, but it’s hard to imagine few who will have turned out to be as arrogant, self-serving, and, frankly, stupid as Manny Ramirez has proven himself to be.

There’s no question Ramirez was equal parts joy and infuriating to watch as a Red Sox. And there’s also little question that they would not have won the two World Series crowns they did (2004, 2007) were it not for his talents. Unfortunately, all too often, rather than “Manny Being Manny”, it was always about “Manny Caring Nothing About Anything But Manny”. Ramirez was always about numero uno, and to hell with everyone else. But you take the bad with the good, right?

I always thought Ramirez was a home run as a baseball player and a bunt as a human being. How history will judge him and those like him still remains to be seen, but just like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Roger Clemens, he’s been revealed as a cheat and a disgrace to the game of baseball. That’s something he’ll have to live with the rest of his life, but somehow, given his track record, I don’t think his conscience is going to keep him awake at night much.

I guess it’s just Manny being Manny.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 21:23 | Comments Off on A Bad Man Gets His Due
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