Is anyone really surprised? Really? It almost feels as if this is how it's supposed to be.
After parts of 19 seasons in which he accumulated 555 home runs and over 1,800 RBI, the former Yankee-killer we know as Manny Ramirez has called it quits. We've seen the last of his cell phone conversations in left field between innings, and no longer will his critics be able to accuse the 12-time All-Star of not playing hard.
Fans in New York can sleep well knowing that Manny retired nine home runs shy of passing Yankees legend Reggie Jackson on the all-time list, but no one will ever be able to take away what Manny accomplished on the field. Simply put, Manny was a winner, and regardless of how his career is looked at from this point on, he will always be a winner.
Steroids or no steroids, Manny was a great baseball player. People assume that any "Average Joe" can take steroids or Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs), and then suddenly they will be a great athlete. It doesn't work that way. Just ask some of the players on this list.
Out of the 129 total MLB players who were either listed on the Mitchell Report, have admitted to using PED's, were suspended by MLB for using, or were otherwise implicated as being users, you can only pick out 25 to 30 players who are or were household names. The rest were the "Average Joes" who wanted to be in Manny's class, yet, most of them never were.
Many people are wondering why he even risked it at this point in his career. Maybe he was struggling with the fact that he's almost 39 years old and his career was winding down? Or maybe he never cared about the Hall of Fame in the first place? One never knows with Manny.
The good thing is, in the end, none of it matters. In 11 of his 19 seasons, Manny took his team to the playoffs. He helped the Boston Red Sox win World Series championships in 2004 and 2007, and won the World Series MVP in the first one. He even led the Cleveland Indians to the World Series in 1995 and 1997.
Altogether, in 111 playoff games, Manny belted an MLB record 29 home runs and drove in 78 RBI with an on-base percentage near .400. He was a nine-time Silver Slugger award-winner and even won the Hank Aaron Award twice, which is given to the top hitter in each league. He has been the AL batting champ (2002) and he has led the league in home runs (2004).
Steroids and PEDs did not give these awards to Manny. It may have helped prolong his career, and maybe it helped "pad" his stats, but Manny was of a rare breed. He had the kind of talent that no PEDs can provide.
Without a doubt, Manny Ramirez had a Hall-of-Fame career. Whether he ever gets there remains to be seen. He was never the kind of guy that would ride off quietly into the sunset, but with his retirement signaling a clear end to the steroid era, his legacy will always live on with infamy.
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