Are You Surprised By The Way Manny Ramirez Chose To End His Career?
Less than two weeks into the 2011 Major League Baseball season, Manny Ramirez—who signed a new $2 million contract in the off-season with the Tampa Bay Rays—chose to end his career late last week. Not because he wanted to. Not because he woke up one day and chose to. Not because his body gave up on him or his skills on the field had diminished beyond belief or because his family wanted him to call it quits.
Ramirez ended his career on the baseball diamond—reportedly forever—because he was allegedly facing a 100-game suspension from the game of baseball due to an unsettled issue involving steroid use. He’s already served a 50-game suspension in the past for the same reason and, presumably, the thought of sitting out another 100 games and seeing the media rip him a new one for putting his reputation and his legacy at risk was too much for him to take. So rather than fight the suspension or take it on the chin or even offer up some sort of explanation for it, Ramirez simply chose to walk away from the game in a cloud of controversy—which is something that’s surrounded him for years now.
It’s one reason I’m personally not particularly surprised that he’s doing it. Throughout the course of his career, Ramirez has never really pretended to care about what others thought about him. He hasn’t asked for forgiveness from anyone for anything he’s done off the field and he was never one to apologize for the way he played the game of baseball. So, why should I expect him to start now? At times, he came across as being a selfish player and looked like he was out to do what he wanted—not necessarily what was best for his team—but all of the franchises that paid him to play for them took his behavior with a grain of salt and let Manny be Manny in exchange for his superior skills on the field.
Did that act grow tired? Of course it did. Especially when he fizzled out in Boston and forced the Red Sox to trade him away. The same thing happened in Los Angeles when he served his suspension at the beginning of his days in Dodger blue. And the Rays were likely the last stop for Manny and he was struggling to get into a groove at the start of this season anyway, so to see him retire was something that was to be expected at some point. It just came a whole lot sooner than a lot of people thought.
In the end, Ramirez won’t be remembered solely for the way he left the game of baseball. Whether he used steroids to help enhance his skills or not—and, at this point, that sounds like a real distinct possibility—he’ll be remembered for doing things his way. He’ll be remembered for jumping into Fenway Park’s Green Monster to use the restroom between innings. He’ll be remembered for skipping the Red Sox meeting with then-President George W. Bush after the team won the 2007 World Series—just because. He’ll be remembered for flashing a smile at reporters after making blunders on the field and not taking himself too seriously. And, yes, he’ll be remembered from walking away from baseball without much explanation and without doing anything to try and make the final chapter in his storied career sound better than it really is.
It would have been nice to see him go out on his own terms. It would have been noble to see him serve out his suspension and go out on top rather than with an asterisk next to his name. It would have been admirable to see him own up to his mistakes. But I’m not surprised to see him go out without doing any of that. This is just the latest example of Manny being Manny. And love it or hate it, it’s just what we’ve become accustomed to when it comes to Manny Ramirez. So long, dude.