Since this is the sports section’s inaugural week here at The Rock, I thought I would do an article on my favorite baseball player Manny Ramirez. After abruption retiring two weeks into the 2011 season following a second failed drug test, Manny is looking to make a comeback with the Oakland Athletics. While Manny won’t have a full opportunity to make a comeback to the days of 20+ home runs and 100+ RBI’s since he must first serve a 50 game suspension, I’m still looking forward to seeing how much gas Manny has left in the tank.
Manny is certainly one of the most polarizing athletes to ever play the sport of baseball. You either love his carefree attitude and clutch, natural swing, or you hate his childish antics and frequent links to performance enhancing drugs. In addition to his two failed drug tests, Manny has also been named as one of the 104 players who tested positive back in 2003 in an “anonymous survey” to see how many players were using steroids.
It’s hard to hate Manny for cheating in the same fashion that exists for Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds. If Manny cared enough to cheat, he never really led on to it. Steroid use doesn’t really fit in line with Manny Being Manny. I’m not justifying his steroid use, but it’s hard to be mad at the guy after all he did for the Boston Red Sox.
My love of Manny was seriously put to the test in the summer of 2008. David Ortiz was injured, J.D. Drew was practically carrying the team, and Manny was as unhappy as ever. I don’t think anyone can count the number of times Manny wanted a trade out of Boston but what he did in 08 was simply unacceptable. Manny had “knee problems” that seemed to go away once he was traded to the Dodgers and there was one game against the Yankees where after being asked to pinch hit, Manny took three straight strikes from Mariano Rivera. Had the Sox not come within a few outs of the World Series that year, Manny probably would have been dead to me. I probably would’ve gotten rid of my signed picture of him up on my wall. That would’ve been a shame as it always brings a smile to my face.
But that’s what it boils down to. Manny may be a prima donna at times, but I can’t hate him for those times. He’s was a crucial member of the 04 and 07 World Series teams. Without him, the curse might still be going. I miss seeing Manny’s strangely great plays such as when he high fived a fan in the outfield in the middle of recording a double play. Or his truly awful ones like his cutoff of Johnny Damon’s throw which allowed an inside the park home run.
For the Red Sox at least, Manny brought his best when it mattered most. Not many other teams have won World Series in such a short time frame. While Manny’s antics may have been a bit frustrating, it all adds to his memory.
Manny may not add much more to his memory with the 112 games that he’ll be allowed to play in for Oakland. With the Rangers and a revamped Angel’s team in the division, the A’s probably won’t make the playoffs. Unless Manny gets traded, and unless he’s hitting over .300 I doubt he will, Manny’s postseason days are over. The Manny being Manny moments are likely over as well since his playing skills no longer justify his attitude. But I’m still happy to see Manny back in MLB. He has, and probably always will be, a big reason why I grew to love the sport of baseball.