by Ryan Almodovar
We gather here today to remember the career of a man who (on paper anyway) was one of the best Latino players to ever play the game. He spent the better part of 17 years in the majors, collecting a career stat line of .312/.411/.585 which, for those who are not baseball literate, is pretty darn good. He was an odd player, though, because while he was a threat to be reckoned with behind the plate, he was a total liability in the outfield. Defensively, he was a lackadaisical player, not necessarily lazy but never really there. He was entertaining nonetheless, and even though his career will forever be marred by controversy, it’s important to remember him as a player.
Manny Ramirez retired unexpectedly last week, after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs for the second time in his career. He tested positive in 2009 for human chorionic gonadotropin, a substance that was commonly used to mask steroid use – a substance which is also banned by Major League Baseball. It was not revealed what he tested positive for this time around. But rather than serve his sentence, a 100-game suspension, Manny opted to simply call it a career – leaving the sports world in shock and the already-hurting Tampa Bay Rays with a large hole to fill at designated hitter.
Let’s level here for a moment: Ramirez was a man who clearly played by his own rules, even if his rules weren’t necessarily the official rules of Major League Baseball. I recently read a story about his second major league game. He hit two homers, and on his third plate appearance, hit a ground rule double (a ball that lands fair and bounces out of play). Ramirez somehow assumed this was a home run, and simply trotted his way past second base – simply not knowing what was going on. Let’s also remember all of the dropped pop-ups, sending this man scrambling to the ground to find a ball that should have been caught for an out.
Despite his apparent lazy style of play, you can’t deny that the man was a master at the plate, but like so many other ballplayers, he will forever be marred by his steroid use. It’s my personal belief that the records he achieved should stand, because even though he was likely using steroids for most of his career (we may never know), you can’t easily distinguish how much was because of the steroids and how much was raw ability. I don’t believe that Ramirez should be a Hall of Fame inductee. Time will ultimately tell how the Hall will treat these players, but Ramirez is on record as the only player to get caught twice. Let him be remembered as a Latino player who, if nothing else, was entertaining to watch. Isn’t that the reason we watch sports in the first place?
Dreadlocks to dreadlocks, dust to dust.
For more information about Ryan, visit Awkward and Dangerous.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those
of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.