Should former Red Sox Manny Ramirez join the Hall of Fame?
Boston Red Sox fans have long awaited the year David Ortiz receives his first votes towards the Hall of Fame. It gives Sox fans a little more to brag about when they know that somewhere along the line, in the next ten years, another Boston hat will be worn in Cooperstown. However, a player many Red Sox fans wish to join Ortiz is former partner-in-crime left-fielder Manny Ramirez.
Ramirez posts similar statistics to Ortiz. The dynamic sluggers for the Red Sox were a force in the mid 2000s, putting up a combined 388 Home Runs from 2003-2007. During this stretch the two would become one of the most dominant duos in history and a case can be made as the best duo of the 2000s.
Along with 555 career home runs, Ramirez also posted a career batting average above .300, an OBP over .400 and an OPS at a phenomenal .996. In comparison, one of the greatest players to ever lace ’em up (and Hall of Fame member) Ken Griffey Jr. had a career OPS of .907. So, this leaves the question, why has Ramirez been overlooked compared to Ortiz?
For many Sox faithful and baseball fans, you already know the answer. Ramirez is one of the infamous names who have been caught using performance-enhancing drugs. Not only has he been caught, but twice has he been under speculation of PED-use. Once in 2009, after failing a test completed in spring training, and again in 2011 (which he didn’t accept, he just retired to avoid suspension).
Ramirez not only failed drug tests (something Ortiz never did) but he did so well past the date MLB started suspending players for using PEDs. His first being a 50-game suspension, and his second would have been 100 games before retirement.
Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are also names associated with steroids. Their steroid use has been under scrutiny for years since their name appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot. With 2022 being their final year of HOF eligibility, the debate between if they should or should not be elected to the HOF is common conversation in the baseball world.
As a kid growing up in the 2000s and 2010s, the steroid era was over. I saw what MLB and its media wanted me to see in the players they made out to be “cheaters”. Players like Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, and McGwire are commonly referred to when talking about steroids.
Throughout baseball history, players have always strived for the competitive advantage. Whether that is Mike Schmidt and his suspected use of amphetamines, throughout the game there has always been a want for the next best thing. Even before steroids, cocaine was a problem throughout baseball with the Pittsburgh Drug Trials and even Hall of Fame member Tim Raines being a name associated with the narcotic. Raines never slid feet first to keep the vial of cocaine intact in his back pocket. It has been around the game for decades and in the late 1990s and early 2000s, MLB turned a blind eye towards the amount of steroid use in the game. They didn’t care because it was bringing baseball back to life.
Personally, I was always against the steroid users joining Cooperstown. I believed it was against the etiquette of being a baseball player. Baseball players should be well-adjusted people that are role models dedicated to their craft of being a ballplayer.
So, for Bonds and Clemens, I now find it is a case of whether we accept that in that era of baseball, allegedly 85% of players were juiced (according to Jose Canseco’s “Juiced”). Bonds and Clemens were the best out of the bunch and that is why they get slandered. They were the best. You wouldn’t slander a player who hit .200 and slugged .350 if they used steroids, you wouldn’t care.
Before I finalize my opinion, I want to ensure people know these opinions and accusations are simply formed from public allegations and reports widely known in the baseball community. Many players have been under fire for using a substance, and the players I mention are just an example of how the game of baseball can be perceived despite what it really is behind the doors of the locker room.
Carrying on, despite my opinion on Bonds and Clemens, Manny sadly should not be in the Hall of Fame. I wish he could be. I will forever remember loading MVP Baseball 2005 and seeing the special animation he got walking up to the plate, but he tried to cheat, and he did so twice. Ramirez has all the qualities to be elected into the hall, the personality, the flare, and the love from the fans. Before his first suspension, he already established a first ballot resume. It would be amazing to walk into Cooperstown and see Manny on a plaque, but for me to say he should belong is also saying Alex Rodriguez should join him.
A-Rod has not only admitted to steroid-use before random testing in 2003 but faced two suspensions for steroid use later in his career. Having one of the greatest HOF resumes in all of baseball, Rodriguez would have to go in as well.
For Manny’s case, just like Rodriguez, he knew what he was doing. It became a new era of baseball where it is not accepted to try and increase your advantage with a substance. Compared to the steroid era players, Manny did not have a disadvantage when stepping into the box. I assume he couldn’t accept the decline of his play and looked for an advantage that was against the newly formed rules of baseball. If he did not know he was taking illegal PEDs, then it simply becomes the argument of why he didn’t know what he was taking.
“Manny being Manny” just isn’t the same when talking about steroids. His name is one of those names, despite a career many will remember for ages to come, that will be an example of how steroids changed baseball forever.