Sports Commentary: Just Manny Ramirez being Manny

Never has one player captured the attention of baseball fans more than Manny Ramirez. Throughout the years, we’ve seen Manny take bathroom breaks in between outs, somersault in the outfield, and blatantly tank games, but we’ve also seen him have an illustrious career at the plate, as he is widely considered to be one of the best right-handed hitters of all time. He’s been on five different teams, yet he will always be remembered for his days in a Red Sox uniform, where he turned around a cursed franchise to help it win its first World Series in 86 years.

Unfortunately, it looks like Manny Ramirez’s storied career will come to end on a sour note, as he has decided to retire instead of facing a 100-game suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs for the second time in his career. The past few years have been extremely disappointing for the 12-time All Star, as he was shipped out of Boston because of his attitude.

At the end of his stay in Boston, he was better known for tanking than for hitting home runs. He made his way to Los Angeles, where he brought the Dodgers to the playoffs while posting a 1.200+ OPS. However, it was downhill from there. Although he signed just last summer with the Rays to a one-year deal that would make him the Rays’ starting DH, he soon tested positive for steroids once again.

Although he was a great hitter, many people will remember Manny for his on- and off-field antics. He is probably one of the most ridiculous players ever to play the game, and that reputation was definitely well-deserved. During a mound visit in the middle of an inning, Manny decided to take a bathroom break in the wall at Fenway Park behind left field, and only appeared as the next pitch was being released.

In another game, Manny inexplicably cut off fellow outfielder Johnny Damon’s throw into the infield. Normally, a cutoff is a good thing, but not when the person cutting the ball off is literally 10 feet away from you. Manny was always full of fun and laughs, but nothing he did ever surprised anyone.

Without Manny, the 2004 Red Sox, known as “The Idiots,” could have potentially taken on a different clubhouse feel and not been as loose throughout the playoffs to capture that historic championship.

So, what is the legacy that Manny leaves behind? Is it the player whom every pitcher feared, the one with the 555 career home runs, 1,831 career RBIs, and a .312 career batting average? Those numbers rank Manny near the top of the all-time leaders, among baseball greats such as Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Willie Mays. However, Manny also leaves a ton of doubt in the eyes of the fans and the Hall of Fame voters, as this is the second time he has been suspended for drug use, and more than the third time he has been accused. The 2004 Boston Red Sox championship run has been tainted by steroid use, and there are many who doubt that any of the home run hitters that dominated the so-called “Steroid Era” will even come close to the Hall of Fame. We have seen the likes of Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Rafael Palmeiro all miserably fail in the Hall of Fame voting, and at this point Manny will most likely follow in their footsteps.

It’s unfortunate that we have to remember this great player as a “cheater” and a “steroid user,” but that’s the way it goes in professional baseball today. Being a Yankees fan, I never liked Manny, but I always admired his abilities and his attitude toward the game, and it is sad that he will probably not become a hall-of-famer. Now, we move on from one of the greatest hitters of our era, and in about 10 years, he may just be forgotten.