Red Sox manager Terry Francona had no desire to comment on Manny Ramirez and his retirement in the face of a failed drug test. It’s another player for another team and another issue that Francona doesn’t need to be involved with.
However, the specter of steroids still hangs over his game and is once again on the minds of many after the situation with Manny. That will always bother the Boston manager.
“I think it’s almost unfair to hold baseball to that,” he said when asked if the game will ever get past the steroid issues. “Will life ever get like that? You, football, people on the streets? It’s probably something a little larger than baseball.”
Francona was managing in the minor leagues when the steroid era began to bloom in the 90s. Because of that, he was not entirely aware of how big the problem was at the major league level. But since returning to the big leagues to guide first the Philadelphia Phillies and then the Red Sox, he has seen a massive transformation in how the game handles the issue.
“Way better [now than then],” he said. “I think the general public would be somewhat shocked, in a good way, with how hard these guys work, and I do get to see that. The younger players coming up, they’re contesting it pretty stringent, and I think that’s good.”
As for what Ramirez’s odd retirement, and the circumstances under which it came, will do for his Hall of Fame status, that’s another question better posed to someone other than Francona.
Still, he knows that this situation will only add to the attention the sport gets for its relationship with performance-enhancing drugs.
“I don’t think there is an answer,” Francona said of how the Hall of Fame should handle players who doped. “I think what it is is our game is being penalized for maybe putting our heads in the sand…It’s never going to be fair to everybody and we’re paying the price for what happened, in general, and that’s a shame.”
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