Boston Red Sox: Manny Ramirez’s long shot at the Hall of Fame

Former Boston Red Sox outfielder Manny Ramirez will be a first-time nominee on the Hall of Fame ballot this year, but his history with PEDs may cost him.

Earlier this week, the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot for 2017 came out, and a familiar and controversial face made his first appearance on it. Manny Ramirez is eligible for the first time.

The former Red Sox slugger was an icon in Boston during the 2004 and 2007 World Series runs, but despite his Hall of Fame worthy numbers he has an uphill battle when it comes to becoming baseball immortality.

An issue that has run rampant over the last decade and a half when it comes to how worthy players are to be inducted, Manny has had a well known issue with steroids and other performance enhancers. Unfortunately, his repeated issues are going to affect his Hall of Fame campaign.

Just like former Sox teammate David Ortiz, Ramirez was on a leaked list of users from testing conducted in 2003 – but was never proven guilty at the time said list came out. Commissioner Rob Manfred has expressed his doubt on the accuracy of those results, saying that it is unreliable in the context of questions surrounding Oritz. Unlike Manny, Ortiz never failed a drug test.

Ramirez was suspended 50 games in May 2009 while with the Los Angeles Dodgers for using human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone produced during pregnancy that can also boost testosterone levels for men. A crushing blow to his likeness in the game, Manny was still Manny in the sense of his persona and who he was off the field. On the field, it was clear he was still trying to hang on and be the man he was in 2004 and 2005.

In 2011, Ramirez faced a 100-game suspension for more PED usage, but dodged the near season long suspension by retiring. At the time, he was with the Tampa Bay Rays and had only one hit in 17 at bats.

The arguments in favor of putting Ramirez in the Hall of Fame will center on the era Ramirez played in. An era that was seeing the end of Bonds and Sosa, steroids had started to run around in minor league camps and had started to get in the minds of those who were soaring to stardom. Manny isn’t alone in being a questionable case, and is a question that everyone has for new names on the ballot. “Everyone was doing it,” they say, which is a good claim but does not hold value unless it was written in script.

May 28, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox former player Manny Ramirez throws out the first pitch before the game against the Atlanta Braves at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

May 28, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox former player Manny Ramirez throws out the first pitch before the game against the Atlanta Braves at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

A claim in Manny’s case can be made in that he was only suspended near the end of his career. He was a Hall of Famer anyway, regardless of the incidents at the end of his career some will say.

What makes Ramirez’ case so much different, though, is the absence of speculation. He broke the rules, repeatedly. And did so knowingly.

But if there is some sort of breaking point for voters and PEDs, if there is a limit the most liberal voters have, Ramirez’ candidacy will let us know. Either now, or in future years.

It is only logical to believe that over time, PED users will make the Hall with a greater frequency. To erase an entire generation of baseball from immortality due to a blemish in their history and the games is an unreasonable decision. To believe that a player such as Casey Blake holds more Hall of Fame value over a player like Manny Ramirez due to his testing is preposterous. The first steps in writing a chapter of history that has been one of the most controversial sports is going to be made this summer when the voting process begins.

Whether he makes it or not, or even gets a vote or two, he’s going to set the bar for all convicted and suspected users going forward.

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