This afternoon, Manny Ramirez decided to retire as a result of a “new issue” relating to the drug policy of Major League Baseball. The Rays were actually notified of his retirement by MLB. And thus, seemingly, ends the wild ride that was “Manny being Manny.”
There is no doubt that Manny could hit. From his first season in the bigs, Manny was able to swing the bat and was an offensive force. He retires with a lifetime batting average of .312, 555 home runs, and 1831 RBIs. What happened between 1993 and 2011 was often scatter-gun in effect.
Ramirez broke hearts when he left Cleveland for Boston. He was certainly a major cog in the Red Sox’ World Series Championships in 2004 and 2007. He left Boston with half the team and Red Sox Nation holding the door for him on the way out. Ask Curt Schilling and any number of BoSox how they felt about a guy who could make any lineup better with his bat. Comments on Manny’s time in Boston were, sadly, as cold as a New England winter.
Manny headed toward the Left Coast where the Dodgers immediately forgot what their hair code was. Then came his 50 game suspension for failing a drug test, numerous injuries, and a ticket to Chicago. He wasn’t in the windy city long enough to make a Manny-like impression. Finally, of course, he made his way to Tampa Bay.
I wasn’t interested in the Rays picking up Manny last season. It didn’t seem that he offered them the ingredient they needed to win a World Series. I was concerned that he could negatively influence team chemistry. However, when he joined the Rays this past off-season, I felt like maybe a new start, with a new team, at the start of the season might work out. Six losses into the season, he is gone, in a very un-DH/hitter-like whimper, rather than bang.
Throughout a career as colorful and ever-changing as a kaleidoscope, Manny not only hit for average, he had a physical confrontation with an elderly traveling secretary for the Red Sox. He got into a dugout scuffle with Kevin Youkilis, who, unlike Manny, plays the game with grit and tremendous passion. He dogged it on ground balls, and claimed to be injured, only to have MRIs return negative. He was sent packing during his Dodger tenure for testing positive for a women’s fertility drug in his system, and seemed to have no true explanation for the potential steroid masking product.
Over the years, Manny was considered to have a child-like demeanor, and a laid-back, fun-loving approach to the game. The question now is whether he was more the class clown or village idiot. Either way, the manner in which he left the Rays doesn’t sit well with me. He let down a fan-base that looked forward to his lighter side and expected something from his once lethal bat. But more importantly, he left behind his teammates. It’s hard to look past a player letting his club down. It’s easier to forget the game-winning hits and RBIs. Maybe the Manny/Rays marriage can be annulled. » Continue reading “Manny Moves On/Making a Case for Kotch”