Jobu examines the rumored Manny Ramirez comeback
That’s right, readers. Manny Ramirez is apparently applying for reinstatement by Major League Baseball. Back in April, when news of Manny’s retirement (aka his fleeing baseball to avoid a second drug suspension) first hit the wire, I wrote a piece called “The Four Faces of Manny Ramirez” (it was pretty great, you should re-read it). In it, I detailed the ever deteriorating legacy of the once surefire Hall of Famer. He went from being one of the most feared sluggers in all of baseball, to being the lovable clown, to basically being a cancerous quitter and then a steroids abusing cheat.
With rumors that he has applied for reinstatement swirling around cyberspace, the natural question to ask is the one in the headline. Does baseball miss Manny Ramirez? I can tell you flat out that the Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays don’t miss him. Manny poisoned the Red Sox clubhouse before completely quitting on the team midway through the 2008 season. He eventually quit on the Dodgers too, and the White Sox didn’t have him for long enough to really care one way or the other. The Cleveland Indians might miss him, but that’s only because they had him in his golden years, before his personality disorder really derailed his career.
Why does Manny even want to come back? He certainly doesn’t need the money (I hope). Could it be because his life after baseball has been even worse and more embarrassing than his last days in the sport? Manny seemingly disappeared the first few months after his stunning announcement, slinking back to the Dominican Republic and completely avoiding the media. Then, in September, Manny was arrested in Florida for allegedly striking his wife with an open hand, causing her to hit her head on the headboard of their bed. Frankly, I didn’t even know Manny was in the United States until that happened.
In September, Manny basically kicked off the rumors that he was interested in coming back by stating his desire to play winter league baseball in his native Dominican Republic. He was set to begin training with the Cibao Eagles (the team he played for in 1993-94), when word came down from Major League Baseball that he would not be allowed to do so. I didn’t know this, but the MLB’s Winter League Agreement gives it the power to block a player from playing in the various winter leagues often used by major league teams to develop young talent.
In October, after being shunned by his home country, Manny tried to go east. He had a tryout for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Nippon Baseball League. The team walked away overall unimpressed. They weren’t as unimpressed with his baseball skills as they were with the controversy surrounding the much maligned slugger. The steroids allegations, his newly found criminal record and his reputation as a total non-conformist (aka clown) cost him a shot at playing in Japan. Also, in my opinion, it was a bit of a weak move trying out for Japan in the first place. He was obviously just doing that because he didn’t want to contest or serve the 100 game suspension from MLB. Weak
That raises a very important question. If Japan didn’t even want Manny, is anyone in the United States going to want to sign him? I mean think about it. Let’s say he does apply for reinstatement. Let’s say Bud Selig lets him come back. He can’t play the first 100 games of the year. It is my understanding that Manny has to be signed to a team to serve his suspension, otherwise he would have already served it. Who is going to sign a player knowing they can’t have him for the first 100 games of the year, and probably more if you consider that he’ll probably need some time in the minors to shake off that rust. When you’re looking to rescue a possible impact bat from the scrap heap late in the season, you usually just sign him late in the season. You don’t sign players in March or April hoping they’ll come through for you in August and September.
Even if you forget about the suspension, Manny is now 39 years old. By the time spring training comes around, he won’t have picked up a bat in almost a year. During the five games he actually played last season he only had one hit. Some were saying he was already done by the time the White Sox traded for him at the end of 2010, so what could he possibly bring to the table in 2012?
The fact of the matter is that Manny probably cost himself his shot a big comeback when he used steroids in order to try to facilitate one last spring. His age, declining skill-set and future suspension have combined to end his career, and that’s the way it should be. He cost himself the chance to ride off into the sunset with pride when he turned tail and ran like a coward last April. No Manny, baseball doesn’t miss you, and it doesn’t need you either.
Feature image courtesy of: http://www.crimsonbloodnredsox.com
Mugshot image courtesy of: http://undergroundsportsnetwork.net
Final image courtesy of: AP Photo/Charles Krupa
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