December 22, 2014

Manny turns in his Hall of Fame ticket

April 11, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Manny Ramirezphoto © 2008 Keith Allison | more info (via: Wylio)

The recent retirement of Manny Ramirez was more than just a pre-emptive strike on his behalf against having to serve a 100-game sentence for testing positive for steroids a second time.

The action all but eliminated him from any future consideration for the Baseball Hall of Fame. It’s all simple logic, straight from recent HOF voting results.

Rafael Palmeiro might still be on the ballot, but the 11% turnout on his first year of eligibility is much closer to the museum’s outhouse than any sort of consensus steering in his favor. From a numbers standpoint, you can’t argue that Manny would be much more deserving for enshrinement than Raffy’s 569 bombs and 3,020 hits. And Raffy tested positive for steroids just once to Manny’s twice.

Throw in the aloofness factor and things look so bad for Manny’s candidacy, he just might become the first Steroid Era giant with obvious HOF numbers to fall short of the Hall’s minimum 5% threshold needed to stay on the ballot. He could be one and out, relegating his otherwise prestigious career down to the level of the Lonnie Smiths and Danny Tartabulls of the baseball world.

Major league drug testing first flagged Ramirez in May of 2009 when he tested positive for a female fertility drug commonly associated with steroid cycle treatments. After several weeks and about 10,000 estrogen jokes, Manny returned from his 50-game suspension only to have his name leaked (along with David Ortiz) as being on the infamous list of “anonymous” positive steroid tests of 2003, as reported by the New York Times.

That brings us to 2011 and Manny’s second official infraction of baseball’s drug policy. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s three steroid strikes against Ramirez. With a little mental extrapolation, it’s quite reasonable to think that Ramirez could have used steroids his entire career. Remember, ‘Roids use was running rampant throughout major league clubhouses as early as—well, just around Manny’s rookie season in 1994. It would be another decade before baseball started taking steroid testing seriously. Does anyone have a logical explanation why Manny would juice throughout the ’00s while testing was in place, but not in the ’90s when steroids weren’t yet banned, or even acknowledged, by major league baseball?

This is by far the most severe strike against any steroid-linked superstar this side of the self-proclaimed godfather of steroids, Jose Canseco. And if this doesn’t influence your judgment in applying some level of skepticism to the integrity of the numbers Manny Ramirez has produced the past two decades as he became known as one of the “greatest right-handed hitters of all time,” there are a few internet spammers who would love to have your email address.

Yet, many a baseball writer and blogger will continue to echo the same sentiments for Manny that they’ve been uttering for other over-glorified steroid-juiced superstars by telling us that “you can’t ignore the numbers.” I don’t get it. I don’t understand why these baseball analysts have so much trouble connecting the dots of performance and steroid use. These two entities go together like Bonnie and Clyde. There is no other real reason for a player to take steroids aside from enhancing performance, which in turn fattens the numbers. With what we know now, why would anyone continue to fall to their knees in reverence of what Manny accomplished? To do so sounds a little like praising Bernie Madoff as a brilliant investor before mentioning two paragraphs later about how he scammed millions of innocent victims of their retirement money.

I’ve been there with Manny. I had my fingers on the DVR buttons, watching in amazement frame-by-frame as a 97-mph fastball made its way toward him, noticing how he somehow was able to wait until the ball was but ten feet away before he even started his swing, then clotheslining the ball to a lucky fan somewhere in home-run land 430 feet away. The freaky hand-eye response times; the phenomenal bat speed; the legendary offensive numbers. Do ya think, just maybe, there might be a connection?

Sportswriter Mike Lupica, George Costanza’s favorite author, said on ESPN’s recent edition of The Sports Reporters that one of the biggest mysteries of the Steroid Era is why players as hugely talented as Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, and Barry Bonds felt the need to tap the chemical world to complement their amazing skills.

To me, it’s more of a mystery why sportswriters keep asking this question.

Adios, Manny.

— John Cappello

To see more of John’s baseball research and postings, go to www.baseballengineer.com.

Comments

One Response to “Manny turns in his Hall of Fame ticket”
  1. stratobill says:

    Reading your post, I got the impression that you made
    your conclusion first, then looked for facts to support it.

    Take your statement that, “you can’t argue that Manny would
    be much more deserving for enshrinement than Raffy’s 569
    bombs and 3,020 hits”. You neglect to mention that :

    > Palmeiro played 529 more games than Manny. I’m sure that’s why
    you chose to use counting stats (HRs, hits) in your effort to
    show Manny wouldn’t be much more deserving. Palmeiro’s triple
    slash stats (.288/ .371/ .515) are very good, but pale compared
    to Manny’s (.312/ .411/ .585).

    > Despite playing 529 more games, Palmeiro had only 4 more career
    RBI than Manny.

    I see this so often in baseball analysis. Someone is comparing
    two players and selectively chooses to use rate stats or counting
    stats based on which would best support the player they are trying
    to elevate or denigrate.

    Now consider their relative performance in the post-season.

    > Palmerio batted .244 with 4 HRs and 8 RBI in 5 post-seasons,
    while Manny batted .285 with 29 HRs and 78 RBI in 11 post-seasons.
    That’s a huge difference, even taking into consideration the fact that
    Manny benefitted from playing most of his career after the
    playoffs were expanded to 8 teams. Throw out all of the division
    series stats and Manny still hit 17 post-season HRs, had 46 RBI,
    and batted .306. Rafael would be left with 1 HR, 2 RBI, and a
    .225 BA.

    Manny clearly performed at a very high level when it counted the
    most. And it’s no accident that Manny’s teams played in 8
    league championship series and 4 World Series, compared to
    Rafael’s two league championships and 0 World Series. I’d
    say it’s hard to argue that without Manny the Red Sox, Indians,
    and Dodgers would not have made it to the post-season as often
    as they did when he played for them.

    I also find it interesting how you use the fact that Manny failed
    more than 1 drug test while Palmeiro only failed one. You fail
    to mention the fact that by the time baseball started testing players
    Palmeiro’s career was almost over. It’s very disingenuos to
    suggest that Manny’s stats were more dependent on PEDs than Rafael’s.
    One has to wonder how many tests Palmeiro might have failed had
    his career started in 1995 like Manny’s.

    And then there’s your reference to Manny’s alleged aloofness factor.
    What does that have to do with anything? Personally, I found Manny
    to be entertaining and more fun to watch than many players, so if
    personality is going to be used as a criteria for HOF admittance, I
    think Manny’s personality works for him, not against him.

    All in all, this was a hatchet job on your part.

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