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Why Manny Ramirez Deserves To Be In The Hall Of Fame

Last week, it was announced that Tampa Bays outfielder Manny Ramirez tested positive for a banned substance. Instead of serving Major League Baseball’s mandatory ban of 100 games (it’s 50 for the first failed test, 100 for the second, and a lifetime ban for the third strike), Manny announced that he is retiring from the sport.

Inevitably, “Should Manny Ramirez be allowed into the Hall Of Fame” has become the topic de’jour amongst baseball writers. Many will make the argument that his second positive test is grounds to keep him out of Cooperstown. “It’s desecrating the sanctity of baseball,” they’ll say. Oh no! How will poor baseball survive the fact that one of its premier athletes of the last 20 years has been caught juicing?

Whether you want to admit it or not, Manuel Aristides Ramirez deserves to be in the Hall Of Fame.

Before I continue, I should preface this by stating that I’ve always hated him as a player. I hated him when he was with Boston and, as a second generation Cubs fan, I hated him when he and the Los Angeles Dodgers completely obliterated Chicago three years ago in the NL Division Series. This isn’t going to be a Chris Crocker (the “Leave Britney Alone!” guy) type of defense.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s look at the facts. First of all, his stats alone are Cooperstown-worthy.  As ESPN sportswriter Jayson Stark points out (we’ll be getting back to him momentarily), only two people have have more than 2,574 hits, 555 homers, .996 OPS, and a career slugging percentage of .585. Those two individuals, of course, are Barry Bonds– who also deserves to be inducted, by the way– and Babe Ruth. Add to that his 29 post-season home runs (most ever), and he’s a no-brainer for the Hall Of Fame.

A no-brainer if you ignore those two failed tests.Obviously those numbers are tainted, but then again, so are Alex Rodriguez’s. Everyone seems to have forgotten that the New York Yankees third baseman admitted to using PEDs from 2001 until 2003. But what separates A-Rod from Manny is that the latter player never groveled to and begged for the mercy of baseball writers. Following his substance-use revelation, A-Rod spoke with ESPN‘s Peter Gammons and apologized profusely. Manny? Not so much. And this is what will prove to be the biggest obstacle for his induction into Cooperstown.

You see, in order for a baseball player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, he needs to be voted in by the Baseball Writers Association of America (the BBWAA). This organization is comprised of baseball writers for newspapers, magazines, and websites. The same people condemning Manny now will be in charge of deciding his HOF fate. It’ll be writers like ESPN‘s Jayson Stark, whose most recent article on Ramirez adopts the tone of “how dare you fool us for so long!” Stark writes the following about Manny:

“Too bad this guy couldn’t have let his work-of-art bat do all his talking. We’d have loved that tale. Instead, what we got was a man who sabotaged every happy story he wrote for himself.”

First of all, Jayson, Manny didn’t write those happy stories for himself. His image wasn’t self-created. People like you– people who oversimplify and put things into black and white with your shoddy writing (yes, sportswriters are amongst the worst when it comes to scribes)– were the constructors of Manny’s image. Those narratives were written by your ilk. That’s your job.

As per the “too bad” statement, I could see how you would feel that way. Why? Because he’s making the sportswriters who put Manny Ramirez on a pedestal look like fools for doing so in the first place. Sportswriters aren’t vilifying Manny because he’s ruining the sanctity of the sport. They’re throwing him under the bus for making their brethren look like idiots. Before the first failed drug test, baseball writers penned pieces on how Manny was just a fun-loving guy, the lovable a-hole, etc. Now? He’s the scum of the earth.

The Hall of Fame’s motto is “Preserving History, Honoring Excellence, Connecting Generations.” Members of the BBWAA will keep Manny out of Cooperstown under the claim that his steroid usage has desecrated the sanctity of baseball. That’s absurd. The ramptant usage of PEDs is no worse a stain than the legacy of racism and exclusion in professional baseball. If anything, Manny (and those like him) deserve to be first-ballot inductees under the “preserving history” part of the motto.

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