Right when Barry Bonds expected a verdict in his federal perjury trial earlier this month, Ramirez, who was playing in Tampa, decided to retire instead of serve a 100-game suspension after testing positive for using a performance enhancement drug for the third time in his lackadaisical career.
His retirement comes just two years after he was suspended for 50 games as a Dodger after being caught using a banned enhancement drug. Like most who get in trouble with banned or illegal drugs, Ramirez was subject to even more testing, as his career went on. Knowing this, he decided to take a risk after signing on with Tampa Bay for a year, and continued to use the banned substance, whatever it was. Well, guess what? He got caught again. This time, Major League Baseball handed down the even more severe penalty of a 100-game suspension. Instead of sitting on the bench for 100 games and wasting the Tampa Bay Rays' time, as well as having to face the media scrutiny, Ramirez called it quits.
I admire Ramirez for simply calling it quits, rather than holding a press conference to tell the world that he had no idea the cough syrup he was using was banned, or that his sports drink was spiked by his trainer, or his brother-in-law blew a bong hit in his face, or he ate a poppyseed bagel just before his urine test, or he thought his trainer was injecting flaxseed oil, or…you get the idea. While it may have been entertaining to hear what his excuse was for failing another test, I am glad he spared us from having to hear it.
I must admit when I first heard Manny had failed another urine test, I thought he was a complete dumb-shit. He knew he was going to be tested, tested and tested again. Did he really think he was going to get away with it?
After a little more thought, though, I think his decision to keep using the banned substance was a calculated move. Maybe Manny isn’t so dumb.
After Ramirez was busted in L.A. in 2009, according to The New York Times, he hit just nine home runs in 2010, and was only one for 17 at the plate this season as a Ray. His huge hitting days were definitely behind him. He needed something to keep his numbers up as a Ray, or he would never get another contract offer.
Manny took a calculated risk. He gambled with using the banned substance to boost his average this season, in hopes of signing on with another team next year. If he gets caught, well, he’ll hang up the spikes. It’s probably better than playing through a slumped 2011 season in Tampa where he hits a few homers as a DH and slowly fades into oblivion.
If this really was Manny’s gamble, I can’t say I blame him. Many of you will ask if Manny’s decision to cheat and retire will keep him out of Cooperstown. That very well could be the case. Manny’s multiple failed drug tests may keep him from being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The real question is, do you think Manny cares? I doubt he gives a rat’s ass about whether or not he’s in the Hall of Fame.
Just like he shrugged off being busted the first time, then the second time, Manny will shrug off not being inducted into the Hall of Fame and go back to Manny being Manny.
If you were to take his use of banned substances out of the equation, Ramirez hit .310 with 525 home runs and 525 doubles. Only Lou Gehrig hit more grand slams than Manny, who hit 21.
For players like Manny, perhaps baseball needs to add a wing to the Baseball Hall of Fame that’s dedicated to the players who have the statistics and baseball heroics to get into the Hall of Fame but can’t, because of minor or major screw-ups with drugs, steroids and gambling. I think this would certainly draw needed attention to those who couldn’t quite keep themselves clean on their climb to fame. Call it the Pete Rose Hall of Baseball Outlaws featuring Charlie Hustle himself (gambling) along with the likes of Darryl Strawberry (coke), Dwight Gooden (coke), Jose Canseco (juicehead, sleazeball), Bob Gibson (road rage), Mark McGwire (liar), Dave Winfield (bird killer), Barry Bonds (likeability issues, convicted felon), and Manny Ramirez (being Manny).