Word that Manny Ramirez was “retiring” from baseball (after a 1-7 start with Tampa Bay) didn’t send shock waves through the land. After news leaked that he had a problem with drug testing again—one that could land him on 100 days suspension—Ramirez opted for the relatively easy way out.
Of course, Manny Ramirez has never been easy to figure out, but he helped the Red Sox win two World Series titles, has been seen as one of the most talented players in the game, and is certainly considered by many as one of the truly gifted hitters. His potential for an explosive bat that could lead a team to the crown always seemed to outweigh his penchant for wearing out his welcome.
Just looking at his statistics—career: 555 HR, .312 BA, and 1831 RBI—tells you the 12-time All-Star would have seemed to have been a shoe in for the Baseball Hall of Fame. But now, after this latest drug test, it is more likely his retirement will be seen as forced and the likelihood of his earning a berth in Cooperstown will be highly doubtful.
This happens as the jury in the Barry Bonds Trial deliberates his fate out in San Francisco, and this summer we have the Roger Clemens Show waiting to come to a TV screen near you. The steroid era is certainly coming into a new place in our consciousness, and is it possible that Ramirez thinks that by retiring that he sweeps the problem under the rug? The truth is he—and probably other big stars—will have their own dates in court in the future, and they have no one to blame (not the trainers, the drug dealers, Major League Baseball, the owners) but themselves.
If the whole thing were a Shakespearean play, The Steroid Era would most definitely be a tragedy, and those once highly respected and idolized are going to end up like most of the characters in Hamlet or other such plays in the end, but in this case they are being taken down by their own swords (in a sort of baseball hara-kiri). So now Manny can join a growing list in a Hell of Fame of their own creation, where something decidedly more dark than flights of angels will sing them to anything but rest.
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