Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ramirez the latest unlikely to taste Hall of Fame

The hope and anticipation of a fresh start to the 2011 Major League Baseball evaporated for Manny Ramirez almost as fast as one his trademark bombs over the outfield wall. The now-former slugger suddenly retired last Friday rather than face a mandatory 100-game ban for a second positive test for performance enhancing drugs.

Irregardless of the discomfort and embarrassment Ramirez must be feeling right now, I can't help but think of the millions of fans who watched him play and what their thoughts are right now.

Every fan who forgave his bad attitude, poor defense and contempt for authority because the man was an offensive savant has to come to grips that he/she may have been watching a lie. I feel particularly bad for Red Sox fans who watched their team overcome decades of futility to finally win a world series in 2004 in the most dramatic of ways.
AP Photo - Ramirez as a member of the Boston Red Sox

Now Ramirez, a central figure in many of those memories, has to be looked at in a different light. Was he the only conspirator or were there others? David Ortiz, Curt Schilling or even (gulp) Pedro Martinez??? None have been implicated and I am not accusing anyone, but the Ramirez retirement is the type of event that will cause diehard fans to tear their hair out.

Just like admitted steroid users (Mark McGwire) and suspected ones (Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens) there is the lingering question of Ramirez's worthiness for the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. His numbers and place among the elite hitters of his generations should make him a lock. The continued lifetime bans of "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, Pete Rose and recent poor voting results for suspected steroid users like McGwire suggest Ramirez will be one of the ones on the outside looking in for non-baseball related issues.

In the face of all these tough questions, here is a lighter take on the subject. The song is "Gamblin' with my Love (Pete Rose)" by Dan Bern.

Which players do you think should be in or out of the Hall of Fame?