I do not like Manny Ramirez.
I think he’s lazy. I don’t like his persona while playing the game. He’s greedy in my opinion. And now, he’s a cheater.
Two weeks ago, Manny and the Dodgers came to Coors Field to take on the Rockies. I had the privilege of sitting in the left field bleachers, directly behind Manny’s defensive position. I enjoyed nine innings of heckling the slugger and cheered thoroughly after each of his three strikeouts.
Ramirez is a great hitter. He is the quintessential slugger, but he is far from what a baseball player should be.
Despite my dissatisfaction with Ramirez, I was not one of the hundreds, probably thousands of gleeful anti-Manny baseball fans Thursday morning.
In February, during the wake of the A-Roid incident, I wrote a piece in which I hoped for baseball innocence. I said it’s the only way for baseball to get over the infamous “steroid era.”
I’m getting pretty tired of the “I didn’t know what I was putting in my body” excuses. We know you’re stupid, Manny, but are you really that naïve?
Although I don’t believe Manny, nor any other suspected users (Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, etc.), is innocent, it’s sad that all of the top players are ruining the great game of baseball–our nation’s pastime.
These players are tarnishing the game and hurting the reputation of all other players. When players perform well, they will no longer be innocent until proven guilty, but instead guilty until proven innocent.
Despite my stance against Manny, I was not excited to hear the breaking news Thursday morning.
Indeed, today is a sad day for baseball.
This article is also featured on Bleacher Report.
April 5, 2009.
One-hundred and fifty-eight days of withdrawal between Brad Lidge’s strikeout to win it all at Citizen’s Bank Ballpark on Oct. 29 and the opening pitch in the very same stadium.
It starts tonight at 8 PM ET where the reigning champs play host to the Braves.
It begins in Philadelphia, but where will it end?
Magic begins. Miracles happen.
The sound of the wood bat striking a 98 mile per hour fastball. The feel of your hand inside a freshly-oiled glove.
The days start getting a little longer. The weather a little warmer. Springtime is here.
25 men, nine coaches, a front office and an entire stadium full of fans all pulling together.
Baseball is America’s sport. America’s pastime.
There’s a feeling of optimism within each of the 30 teams today.
A fresh start. A new chance.
An opportunity to prove that their transactions over the winter have put them in position to be the best team in baseball. This could be the year.
The pennant will be raised in Philly. The Rays will try to prove last year wasn’t just a fluke. The Yankees are in a new home, and will try to make a comeback after not being invited to the playoffs for the first time since 1993.
Will money prove to win championships? Or can Kerry Wood’s new home take the Indians to the top? Will Francisco Rodriguez be the answer to the Mets’ late season chokes?
The dirt has been watered. The lines are chalked. The smell of the freshly cut grass lingers in the air. Pine tar is spread up the first 17 inches of the bats.
Tell Fenway Park to strike up “Sweet Caroline” after the sixth inning again and “Tessie” after a win. Wrigley fans can join in the infamous “Take Me Out To The Ballgame,” singing during the seventh-inning stretch.
Maybe year 101 will be the lucky year for the Cubs to finally break their curse.
Each jersey is pressed. Each light and each seat in the stands has been checked as the scoreboard lights up for the first time.
Contracts are finalized. Lineups are penciled in. But the road to the postseason is anything but certain.
Summer nights will soon settle in where there is no better place to be than at the ballpark. Fans of all ages will soon fall asleep to the voices of Peter Gammons, Harold Reynolds, and Kurt Ravech on Baseball Tonight.
The boys of summer.
Inside the stadium, concession lines will form as hot dogs are cooked. Ketchup, mustard, and all of the condiments of your choice.
Sunflower seeds, peanuts, and crackerjacks.
Fans willing to shell out $11 for a hot dog and soda, and not ashamed to do so–just for a chance to witness something great. The chance to see someone great. The chance to witness history.
A towering 450-foot home run. Hustling around first base and sliding into second for a double down the line. Taking one step too many and getting caught in a pickle which turns to be a 1-3-6-1-4-3 out to end the inning.
Stains on the jersey from a diving catch deep in the outfield. Collisions at the plate.
Infuriated managers. Ejections.
Catchers giving pitchers signs. Pitchers shaking off the catcher’s sign.
A suicide bunt to score the tying run. A grand slam. Hitting for the cycle.
Extra innings. Game-winning walk-off hits. Fireworks. Excitement. Celebrations.
Grown men dog piling on top of each other.
Baseball brings euphoric emotions to each of its fans.
Dreams begin for children today. Dreams for their team. Dreams of playing someday.
Dreams for adults. This game allows them to become kids. Fathers and sons enjoying their first glimpse of the new season while playing hooky from work and school.
We witnessed extraordinary events in 2008: two no-hitters, Manny Ramirez’s 500th career home run, Ken Griffey Jr. hitting his 600th, a phenomenal showing by Josh Hamilton in the Home Run Derby, the longest All-Star Game, and two historic stadiums hosting their final games.
What will be in store for 2009?
Gary Sheffield’s 500th career home run? Randy Johnson’s 300th career win?
An unassisted triple play? The game’s 18th perfect game?
So button up your jersey. Tighten your newly-polished cleats. Adjust your cap and get ready. The boys are back in town, ready for a 162-game dogfight for the chance to be crowned the world’s greatest.
Baseball is back.
This article is also featured on Bleacher Report.
Manny continues to be Manny.
The slugger turned down the Los Angeles Dodger’s fourth offer Thursday night, this time refusing a two-year, $45 million deal with an option for Ramirez to decline the contract after the 2009 season.
The $25 million he would have earned in 2009 would have made him the second highest paid player this season.
Despite being two days into Spring Training already, Ramirez is still without a team.
The only other team actively pursuing Ramirez is the San Francisco Giants, who have reopened discussion with Ramirez’s agent, Scott Boras, after talks faded over the past week.
Ramirez’s behavior that he showed in Boston is already kicking in after a half season in Los Angeles. No matter how good of a player he is, teams and fans alike are starting to realize the type of distraction he could be in the clubhouse.
Ramirez hit .396 with 17 home runs in 53 games for the Dodgers after being traded from the Red Sox midseason.
He played well there. The fans loved him. So what’s making him hesitate before signing?
The Dodgers obviously want him. Even with the struggling economy, they have increased their offers to accommodate Boras’ negotiations.
But now the fans in L.A. are starting to get upset. They’re starting to see why Boston was so eager to get rid of him. To me, it doesn’t matter how good he may be, I wouldn’t want him on my team.
Yes, he’s a phenomenal baseball player–but only when he chooses to be. Only when he chooses to run out a hit or attempt to make a catch in the gap. Only when he chooses to play.
Does he just not want to return to L.A.? Is it greed? Does he just want attention?
It doesn’t matter what it is. He’s a distraction to the clubhouse and his latest offer decline shows that he’s not committed to start preparing with a team. It’s not fair to the rest of the ballplayers who left their homes several weeks ago to begin preparing for the upcoming season.
It’s time for teams to stop pursuing him and show that they won’t take his antics anymore. They need to show him that they have moved on from him. Otherwise, he will continue to manipulate them, squeezing every penny out of Ned Colletti and the rest of MLB’s general managers and owners’ pockets.
It doesn’t matter what type of player he is. Manny will always do things his way.
Manny will always be Manny.