In the days leading to the Hall of Fame announcement, Manny Ramirez managed to steal shreds of headlines once again. The former Red Sox slugger has reportedly planned to work out for teams later this month as he attempts to revive his career.
In 2011, Ramirez had 17 at-bats in five games for the Rays before receiving a 100-game suspension for a second violation of MLB’s drug policy. As the Baseball Writers Association of America reveals the new Hall of Fame class, it’s worth revisiting the debate on whether Ramirez will be bound for Cooperstown once he is eligible.
Despite the talent he flashed as a youngster, the two failed drug tests — in 2009 with the Dodgers and 2011 with the Rays — have stained his legacy forever.
This comes back to the age-old debate on whether alleged steroid users should be allowed into the Hall of Fame. The fact Ramirez is a two-time offender instantly destroys his chances.
“Every day that goes by, I regret the decisions I made by following bad advice,” Ramirez told ESPN.com. “We are human, we make mistakes, we are not perfect. Everybody deserves a chance to show he has changed.”
That’s fine, except Ramirez had a second chance. In 2009, he tested positive for a women’s fertility drug, a penalty that earned him a 50-game suspension. Then, two years later, he failed another drug test with the Rays that prompted his retirement.
Those are the only two positive tests on record, but The New York Times reported that Ramirez tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs during MLB’s anonymous survey testing nine years ago.
That’s essentially three strikes for Ramirez. By those standards, he should be out the Cooperstown discussion already.
Even if we look past the flunked tests, there are additional reasons to question Ramirez’s candidacy. Although he clubbed 555 career homers — currently 14th on the all-time list -– and 1,831 RBIs, the outfielder never reached his full potential.
After savoring success, he succumbed to laziness. He became a lackluster defender in the outfield. He couldn’t keep track of his “injured” knees and milked the attention. He strolled down to first base as opposed to hustling on ground balls.
Imagine if Ramirez had the work ethic to complement his talent. He could have been destined to reign atop the all-time home run list and would have shattered many more records than he currently holds. A true Hall of Famer should be looked upon with reverence. So it’s not worth rewarding a player like Ramirez, who didn’t treat baseball with that respect.