Former Red Sox star Manny Ramirez still hoping for Hall of Fame induction

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 02: David Ortiz
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 02: David Ortiz /

Manny Ramirez opened up about his troubled past and the former Boston Red Sox slugger remains hopeful that he’ll be in the Hall of Fame one day.

He’s arguably the greatest right-handed hitter to ever wear a Boston Red Sox uniform yet Manny Ramirez seemingly has a long way to go to earn his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. That doesn’t mean he’s given up hope.

Ramirez has a resume as worthy of Cooperstown as almost anyone else on the ballot. His 555 home runs are the 15th most in MLB history. He’s a 12-time All-Star, 9-time Silver Slugger, a batting champion and a World Series MVP.

Despite all those accomplishments, Ramirez garnered a mere 22.8 percent of votes on his third year on the ballot. He has first-ballot credentials but has remained buried on the list of election results the last few years due to a reputation marred by controversy.

This goes beyond the Manny being Manny personality quirks of the affable Ramirez that jumped unpredictably between endearing and ridiculous. The legacy of Ramirez is tainted by two failed PED tests leading to separate suspensions at the tail end of his career after he left Boston. Being branded a cheater is the only conceivable reason for voters refusing to put Ramirez on their ballot.

Manny made a rare appearance at Fenway Park for the ring ceremony prior to Tuesday’s home opener, carrying the 2004 trophy onto the field and posing for photos with his fellow World Series MVPs. During the game, Ramirez made an appearance in the WEEI radio booth where he opened up about his mistakes and acknowledged that he’s still hopeful that those transgressions won’t keep him out of Cooperstown forever.

"“We (are) praying,” Ramirez told WEEI. “But, you know, I think (in) life, everybody makes mistakes. You know, Nobody’s perfect. But I think with time, I think if it’s God’s will, we’re going to be (in Cooperstown). If not, hey, we’re just happy that we got the opportunity to play the game that we love.”"

How to treat suspected PED offenders is the greatest challenge facing the Hall of Fame voters. Ramirez falls in even more of a grey area. We have strong suspicions about Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens but neither was suspended for a failed drug test during their careers. Manny got caught – twice. Some voters may be able to justify voting for Bonds or Clemens by reasoning that they were products of the PED era when MLB chose to look the other way. Ramirez got caught after MLB cracked down on PEDs with a strict testing policy. He knew the rules and the penalties yet he did it anyway.

More from Red Sox News

In my personal opinion, the Hall of Fame is a museum of baseball’s history. The PED era, for better or worse, is part of that history and can’t be ignored. Put an asterisk on their plaques if you must but enshrine them nonetheless. Baseball has always been a game of numbers and guys like Bonds, Clemens and Ramirez put up some of the best numbers we’ve ever seen. Each of them had the talent and production to warrant Hall of Fame consideration before they turned to PEDs. Anyone who believes otherwise is a bigger fool than Manny.

That being said, I have no problem with punishing Ramirez by making him sweat it out for a decade before finally getting the call in his last year of eligibility. PED suspensions don’t last forever and neither should the penalty of being omitted by a large pool of the Hall of Fame voters. Ramirez deserves to get in. He also deserves to be kept waiting a bit longer.

Prospect Watch: Start of the MiLB season. dark. Next

Manny’s comments during the home opener reveal that he feels remorse for his crimes. While other suspected offenders continue to lie about what they did, Ramirez has owned up to it, apologized and taken responsibility for his actions. That has to count for something.