I’ll be the first person to admit how great a hitter Manny Ramirez was from his rookie season in 1994 with the Cleveland Indians through his last great season 2008 which he spent with the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers. Since the end of that great half season Manny has become more of that Manny being Manny persona than the great hitter who once had more Runs Batted In than games played, 432 RBIs in 418 games, from 1998-2000.
Since that incredible half season in Los Angeles (.396/.489/.743 with 17 Homeruns & 53 Runs Batted In) in just 53 games played, earning himself a 4th place finish in the MVP vote, Manny the great hitter has vanished from baseball and has been replaced by the Manny being Manny persona. During the off-season between 2008 and 2009, Manny’s then agent Scott Boras, seemed intent on landing a long term contract for more dollars than his previous 8 year $160 million deal with Boston. After a long negotiation with his only suitor, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Ramirez finally signed for 2 years $45 million.
Since the beginning of the 2009 season Manny no longer has put up the numbers the Manny of old did, the one that justified having Manny Being Manny on your roster. The decline in his offensive numbers has almost matched the incline of his positive drug tests. From 1993-2008 Manny’s average 162 season consisted of a .315 Batting Average, 41 Homeruns and 133 Runs Batted In. From 2009-2011 the average 162 game season has dropped to a .284 Batting Average, 24 Homeruns and 84 Runs Batted In. On the drug test side Manny tested positive on May 7, 2009 and received a 50 game suspension and then again in during the 2011 spring training tested positive on both his A & B samples resulting in a 100 game suspension. Instead of accepting his penalty Manny Being Manny “retired” from Major League Baseball.
This past January while trying to land a Major League job Manny told Pedro Gomez of ESPN “I want to show people that Manny can change, that he can do the right thing…and to show people that I still can play. I don’t want to leave the game like I did. I also want to show my kids that if you make a mistake, don’t quit. Just go back and fix it. And if you’re going to leave, leave the right way.” In the same interview with Gomez he also said, “A bunch of guys are going to look at me and say hey, this guy made a mistake but he didn’t quite. Look how he finished. He did the right thing and came back.” The new Manny also claims he wished to be a role model and that his family is his Hall of Fame when asked of his chances to enter the Hall of Fame.
These statements are all noble but when you consider the source they seem very insincere. The comments are further out of left field than Manny’s defensive abilities. Then there is the whole role model thing and his family is his Hall of Fame. If Manny is talking about being a role model for his children he could start by not shoving 64 year-old traveling secretaries down and not being charged for domestic battery of their mother. If Manny is talking about being a role model for his Major League squad, the Oakland Athletics, then he should have come into camp with as a whole new Manny, without his long hair similar to Ricky Williams un-retiring in football.
That being said baseball was perfectly fine without Manny being Manny in 2011 and baseball would be perfectly fine if Manny Ramirez never makes the Oakland Athletics roster and decides to “play in Japan or anyplace else” as he stated to ESPNdeportes.com’s Enrique Rojas in October 2011.