Reimer: Manny Ramirez' apology tour should induce forgiveness for his sins

Alex Reimer
April 10, 2019 - 10:07 am
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I have a blindspot for Manny Ramirez. In my eyes, his sweet right-handed swing and larger than life persona outweigh his multiple drug suspensions. I would rather remember Manny diving to cut off Johnny Damon’s throw in the outfield than shoving down an elderly traveling security who failed to procure him tickets. There is no excusing his domestic violence charge, but I want to believe Manny when he says he’s changed since the regretful episode

The Manny Ramirez redemption tour hit Fenway Park Tuesday, just as Chris Sale was in the midst of a mid-game meltdown against the lowly Blue Jays. Ramirez held court with the media, taking responsibility for his illicit PED use and expressing hope about his fading Hall of Fame candidacy. Despite his place as maybe the best right-handed hitter of his era, Ramirez only garnered 22.8 percent of the vote in his third year on the ballot.

“We (are) praying,” Ramirez said, via WEEI.com’s Nick Friar. “But, you know, I think (in) life, everybody makes mistakes. You know, Nobody’s perfect. But I think with time, I think if it’s God’s will, we’re going to be (in Cooperstown). If not, hey, we’re just happy that we got the opportunity to play the game that we love.”

Manny’s Hall of Fame chances appear minuscule, due largely to his two suspensions for positive PED tests. In 2009, Ramirez was sidelined for 50 games months after smacking 17 home runs in just 53 contests for the Dodgers to conclude the previous campaign. It was one of the most blistering late-summer spectacles that any hitter has ever put on, and it may have been a farce.

Two years later, Ramirez failed another drug test with the Rays, setting himself up to serve a 100-game suspension. Rather than try to return, Manny opted to retire at 38 years old. He spent his ensuing years playing minor league baseball for the A’s and Rangers and professionally in Taiwan. Then Theo Epstein, who had a front row seat for all of Manny’s dastardly antics in Boston, hired him as a consultant for the Cubs. The reviews were glowing. 

"If you had asked me a few years ago, I never would have believed that we would voluntarily put Manny in a position to impact our most important players – and that he would come through,” Epstein said in 2014. 

Ramirez’s mentorship work in Chicago with young sluggers such as Kris Bryant and Javier Baez indicate his mea culpas for prior transgressions are more than lip service. It’s apparent Ramirez has done some heavy soul-searching in recent years, beginning in the aftermath of his 2011 arrest for allegedly hitting his wife.

"When I went to jail with that problem with my wife, they didn't let me see my kids for two or three months, and one day I woke up and looked at myself in the mirror and I said I needed a change,” Ramirez said in 2014, per the LA Times. “I started going to Bible studies, I saw it was good. God helped me to change my life.”

Ramirez has done more apologizing since, including to Jack McCormick. Manny expressed similar contrition at Fenway, waxing poetically about his love for Boston in the WEEI and NESN booths. In an apparent moment of candor, he explained on NESN his regrets about taking his time with the Red Sox for granted.

“This is the best place ever to play. Too bad that I haven’t gotten to realize that until now,” Ramirez said. “Most of the time when I was here, sometimes I took for granted everything I had.”

Though things ended bitterly for Manny in Boston, it seems like the majority of Red Sox fans have forgiven him. He’s received rousing ovations at Fenway in recent years and could someday be honored in the team Hall of Fame –– an accolade that seemed unimaginable when he watched three straight pitches from Mariano Rivera sail down the middle of the plate at Yankee Stadium.

In eight years with the Red Sox, Ramirez clubbed 274 home runs and posted an OPS of .999. He remains the best free agent signing in franchise history, and one of the best in the history of the game. Nearly a full decade of elite production eventually outweighs isolated stretches of volatility and tardy Spring Training arrivals.

Manny Ramirez is a Red Sox legend. He may never be enshrined in Cooperstown, but it’s about time he takes his rightful place as one of this region’s universally beloved sports heroes. 

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