Manny Being A-Rod

So the first legitimate member (sorry, Eric Gagne) of the Red Sox championship teams has been tied to peformance-enhancing drugs.

Oh, was that not what you were expecting?

It's true, of all the players from which to choose as possible dopers (dopes) from the 2004 and 2007 teams, Manny Ramirez wasn't particularly high on my list. He was there, as any slugger should be these days if you're keeping such lists, but he didn't exhibit any of the signs that have cast suspicion on other big-headed, homer-happy sluggers from the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Kind of like Alex Rodriguez.

It's essentially impossible not to compare and contrast — mostly the latter — the sagas of these two men, baseball heroes-turned-pariahs, for nearly five years the formidable bedrock of a rivalry's opposng lineups.

Each entered this moment with an assumption by fans and media alike that he was clean. For the reasons stated above, they didn't match the profile of a PED user, so they were essentially given a pass. A-Rod's outing changed that idea forever, making it a far bigger story (never mind his being upheld as the potential "clean" home run king and that being a significant part of record-setting his contract), but until today, Ramirez seemed to float above the Steroid Era, in it but not of it — a convenient characterization undoubtedly fueled by his on- and off-field projection of nonchalance.

Once immediately tarnished, each issued an admission and a denial: A confession of what had been made public, a rejection of anything beyond that. The problem is their credibility is nonexistent — and unlike in the cases of Brian Roberts and Andy Pettitte, where the players' credibility was tarnished only by the accusations made against them — both these players have little basis from which to make any believable claim of limited use.

Rodriguez for his part lied multiple times during his admissions — first to Peter Gammons with the bizarre accusations against Selena Roberts, then to the New York press about the legality of the substances in the Dominican Republic. Beyond that, he had already lied to Katie Couric about steroid use at all and been involved apart from the steroid scandal in a number of incidents that, fairly or not, damage a person's credibility (the Arroyo slap, the third base "Ha!" play, the Toronto stripper).

Ramirez issued a brief statement and likely will say no more, as he is well practiced in doing. No previous statements about steroids or PEDs spring immediately to mind. Yet he too has significant credibility problems, apart from the failed drug test. Those problems begin and end with the way he forced himself out of Boston, pictured perfectly by his "injured knee" — which one he couldn't remember when the Red Sox called his bluff, and whichever one it was clearly didn't bother him when he tore apart National League pitching for the next three months.

Both men say they did not take performance-enhancing drugs while members of this rivalry. Frankly, neither has given us any reason to believe that.

So what does this mean for us Red Sox fans?

For this Red Sox fan, it doesn't mean much at all. Watching Ramirez's highlights was already difficult after he left — proving moreso as the realization of exactly how awful Ramirez's actions before leaving Boston truly were. Adding potential PED use isn't going to tip the scales much further.

Likewise, it's hard for me to imagine that Red Sox fans truly harbored the illusion that this team was free from the seemingly omnipresent taint of steroids, particularly in 2004. I frankly don't converse in circles where people are so willfully stupid as to engage in such ignorant delusions (at least I hope not), so I'll take Yankee fans at their word that there truly are Sox fans who called for asterisks on the New York titles of the late 1990s or believed steroids was something that afflicted only the Yankees.

I certainly harbored no such thoughts; I would not have been surprised to find Ramirez's or any other member of the 2004 Red Sox on that list. The surprise certainly is in Ramirez's testing positive now, not that he ever tested positive.

Yet, as unsurprising as it is, it's still sad. I'll never know what it was about Manny Ramirez that elicited such fondness for him. He was maddening for most of his nearly eight full seasons in Boston, yet he was likable, quirky, seemed to play the game because it was fun to play. Until his final days with the team, I was an ardent defender. I still look back at those Manny Moments with wistfulness, wishing everything could have turned out differently (even though they have inarguably turned out better for the Red Sox).

More than anything else, today marks the ignominous end for the legend of Manny Ramirez.

It came in small pieces, but one by one — signing with Scott Boras, fighting with the front office, feigning injuries when unhappy, resorting twice to physical violence when confronted, agitating his way out of town, and now testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs — we have been made to realize that Manny wasn't being Manny.

Manny was being just like any other spoiled baseball star. And now he's fallen just like them, too.

31 comments… add one

  • So what do you offer Bay? 5/85 or so? 6/108?

    Devine May 8, 2009, 12:24 am
  • Nice piece Paul.
    But on what basis does Pettitte have a “believable claim of limited use”? Who was his trainer? Who was his training buddy? Who was his best friend? With whom did he go from team to team?
    Of course, it’s easy to say Manny was a user (maybe he was) imply be’s a fraud (sure appears he is) always has been one (not so sure about that) Used a lot (no clue). But the “nice” guys, who share one trait (is it evangelicalism? Or something else?) are believable as limited users. I think this is insidious. Pettitte is as likely to have been a habitual user as Manny. Where’s the proof he wasn’t?
    We need to be way more careful about making assumptions about the past, in particular before we know more about the present.

    SF May 8, 2009, 12:36 am
  • Of all the confessions / apologies that have come out I find Pettites the least believable (A-rod is a close second).
    He was accused of using and came out and apologised to the media saying it was only that once, very sorry, hadn’t used before and never did again. Just like everybody else. Except a second instance came to light and he is caught in a blatant lie. So anything else from his lips simply cannot be believed.
    Back to Ramirez I suppose there is a small (to miniscule) chance that this is indeed a mistake. If it is then I expect him to go after his doctor for costing him nearly $8Million, reputation, (HOF?), though that isnt likely to happen is it? And if he has ever had a positive test before (or after) then he is right up there with Pettite.
    As it stands I see Manny as another of the big big names in the game who has been caught out and his (entire) career will forever be under that cloud (though it would have been anyway given the era he plays in – this is just a big confirmation of that).

    Dan May 8, 2009, 1:41 am
  • Don’t care.

    attackgerbil May 8, 2009, 2:15 am
  • It’s troubling. I never intellectually thought that steroid use wasn’t present on the Red Sox, but I certainly believe I was happy not to know about it. I wrote Manny off with his antics last year, and it’s easy not to be bothered when he’s playing for somebody else. But now I really wonder about Ortiz (struggling former slugger) and Drew (Boras client) and Youkilis (intense competitor).
    Heard an interesting interview with Brent Mayne (former ML catcher w/ KC, OAK) on LA talk radio today- he said that you can no longer play the corner outfield, 1st base, or other power-hitting positions without doing steroids. Not so much that it isn’t possible- certainly there are athletic freaks of nature that have the natural talent to do so- but that there are too many other players that will and are, so you will be at a disadvantage if you don’t. (The debate as to what the actual advantages are is meaningless; the perceived advantages are what matter to users- and now the top, hall-of-fame caliber players are being revealed as users). Of course, he went on to tell parents to encourage their kids to be catchers, as he felt that the catcher position was one where you didn’t need steroids to compete and have a job. Since he just wrote a book to teach the art of catching, there are other possible motives for his comments.
    Still, that sentiment mirrors what we seem to be finding out as more and more names are released. It probably shouldn’t surprise us to find out- and maybe we should just assume- that the vast majority players on both teams are composed of current or former users. Maybe all teams- but almost certainly in the high-pressure competetive environment of Boston and New York.

    jahfool-SF May 8, 2009, 3:35 am
  • Why is Pettitte’s name, or even A-Rod’s, coming up in this discussion? Unlike Manny, neither were ever suspended. Like it or not, their use was not controlled by the sport at the time they’ve been implicated (or else don’t you think Bud would have thrown them under the bus?). Furthermore unlike Manny, both came forward and admitted the obvious (intent and reasons) well before they had to (compare Clemens, Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, and now Manny). So less evidence to question their honesty with a different set of rules and a far different reaction means you still want to lump them all together under one tent? That’s not surprising but it is forced.
    I got chastised here when I tried to discuss Fenway relative to the New Yankee Stadium. It may make you feel better to discuss the outed Yankees in contrast to your formerly beloved Sox. But they have nothing to do with the current story (so far as we know). This is all about Manny. And somehow, I don’t think we’ll be seeing a press conference (or more unlikely – a lawsuit) any time soon from him.
    Big difference.
    Most relevant to me is whether Manny was on the 2003 list. He says he’s passed 15 tests over the last five years. Conveniently, that leaves out 2003. Also, conveniently, he was caught in Spring Training using a drug that corrects for side effects of PEDs. That evidence points to someone who had gotten good at cycling in the off-season.
    The other 103 names, please. This story is far from over. It disgusts me but we won’t move forward until the light hits all corners of this polluted closet.

    Rob May 8, 2009, 5:57 am
  • Wow, and we still have Gammons utterly carrying the water for players (“thoroughly believe Manny”):
    Gammons: Positive Test Not Steroids
    http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=4149237&categoryid=2378529
    All excuses, no surprise there, but somehow he fails to ask even the basic questions (unlike A-Rod):
    1) Why see a doctor in Florida, for a female fertility drug, when you’re a playing in Arizona?
    2) If a doctor cost me $8 million because of negligence, why not:
    a) appeal through medical records? This wasn’t a GNC product. There is federal law that dictates how and why this drug was used and requires the supporting paperwork.
    b) sue the pants off the doctor?
    3) Finally, where’s the hurried sit-down with Gammons and with the LA local media? Where’s answering all of the questions?
    Most sad to me – Gammons is rapidly losing all of my respect when he used to be the most respected analyst in the game. Seriously, even after how Boras and Manny treated his favorite team, he still wants be their public relations man and uncritically report their side?

    Rob May 8, 2009, 6:18 am
  • Suggestion: don’t read him, Rob.
    I don’t read columns written by William Kristol, typically. Works out well.

    SF May 8, 2009, 6:32 am
  • Gammons certainly wasn’t a Manny defender when he left Boston.
    http://www.yfsf.org/2008/07/peter-gammons-h.html

    Nick-YF May 8, 2009, 6:55 am
  • Fair enough (though that’s a video), but Kristol’s smug idiocy I find amusing! Just a bit less so than Hannity and Malkin, though.
    I’m going the cognitive dissonance route with Gammons. Easier to trash a player on his way out of town than to recognize the seedy elements were also there on your watch. It’s just sad for me. Comparing Gammons to Kristol is like comparing Cronkite to Nancy Grace.

    Rob May 8, 2009, 7:03 am
  • Actually, comparing Kristol is unfair – Gammons earned his position and wasn’t a beneficiary of rank nepotism. Gammons is on the downslope while Kristol, an intellectual fraud, never even had an upslope.
    But enough politics…

    SF May 8, 2009, 7:37 am
  • I think the primary reason everybody held Pettitte in such high regard when he admitted his use is that it was in contrast with Roger Clemens’ decision to vehemently deny it, despite all the evidence against him. Clemens was dragging it out, and Pettitte’s admission (genuine or otherwise) was a welcome change from that.
    Also, Pettitte has always been a media-friendly guy who is generally well-liked around the sport. Same for Brian Roberts. Players like Clemens, Manny and ARod usually don’t get the same benefit-of-the-doubt because they’re so controversial. I’m not saying any of this is justified, just making an observation.

    Atheose May 8, 2009, 7:55 am
  • RIP, Dominic DiMaggio, a good and decent man; one of our greats, one of our fathers’ heroes.
    He was 92.

    I'mBillMcNeal May 8, 2009, 8:00 am
  • I merely said Pettitte and Roberts entered their period of confession/denial with more credibility than A-Rod/Manny. People were more ready to believe them because they started from a more believable place. I didn’t believe Pettitte either (though I had forgotten he ultimately lied during his own press conference), but I wasn’t commenting on whether he told the truth — just like I didn’t comment on whether A-Rod or Manny told the truth, just on my feelings about their credibility in making those claims.
    >>So less evidence to question their honesty with a different set of rules and a far different reaction means you still want to lump them all together under one tent?
    The fact is A-Rod and Manny have always been linked in this rivalry. Since Bonds and Clemens have been forced into retirement, they are the two biggest active stars tainted with steroids. They both were considered to be clean sluggers because of the arcs of their respective careers, they both admitted the positive test once it became public, and they both denied using PEDs during the time when usage would most damage their legacies.
    They all have the same evidence — a confession of use. A-Rod and Manny also both have a positive test. And A-Rod and Pettitte both took substances that were banned by baseball at the time, even if no penalties were in place. So your efforts to turn this into a partisan game are the ones that are forced here. And this line — “in contrast to your formerly beloved Sox” — makes me think you either didn’t read my comments (“For this Red Sox fan, it doesn’t mean much at all.”) or decided to purposely ignore them in order to continue your one-note harangue.

    Paul SF May 8, 2009, 8:14 am
  • Rob, I’m not sure I can state this well; I just woke up: Give it time.
    All of it, with everyone. Even Gammo.
    A-Rod, Pettitte (any many, many more) have had the benefit (or hinderance) of time. Manny’s story is still new. We’re still chewing it, digesting it, waiting for more. In reality, we have very little information. We’re still rationalizing, trying to stop rationalizing, imagining the possibility of the ugliest (to us) truth. The context is still in its infancy.
    The speculation is out of control right now.
    There’s still much more to learn. Or maybe there isn’t. But we don’t know that yet.

    I'mBillMcNeal May 8, 2009, 8:18 am
  • Remember, these guys were conditionally traded for each other!

    SF May 8, 2009, 8:36 am
  • I agree with SF’s repeated cautions that we not speculate about so much information is partial and leaking out in dribs and drabs. At the same time, I don’t agree with an underlying theme that I have (maybe wrongly) picked up from a lot of commentators over the past 2 days on ths issue of PEDs and credibility.
    You can’t write off part of Pettitte’s credibility with a throw-away label like “evangelicalism”. Long before the PEDs controversy on everything from how he negotiated contracts to how he dealt with the media and fans when he performed poorly to how he dealt with tense situations, on-field brawls, etc. Pettitte built a reputation over a decade plus for possessing an almost Mr. Rogers-type simple honesty and integrity. If anyone is going to reference A-Rod’s slaps, “Ha”s, and strippers or Manny’s feigned injuries, shoving matches, etc. when assessing their credibility (which I think is perfectly legitimate to do), then you can’t simply throw away the lack of anything similar in Pettite’s long past prior to his failing the PEDs test when his credibility is being assessed.
    Until this PEDs fiasco I would have trusted Pettitte’s word over A-Rod’s or Manny’s any day. If you are enough of a fan that you follow these guys regularly you get a sense of them. You can’t forget that it is only a partial sense because it comes through the media filter – but you also can’t write it off as if they all have zero credibility.
    On the Yankees of the late 70s, would you have rated Willie Randolph’s credibility similarly to how you rated Mickey Rivers’? No. And if they both turned out to be doing something illegal, would you be more likely to believe Willie’s confession and explanation or Mickey’s? It would simply be BS to say that once they were caught they immediately fall to an equal level of credibility. If one started with a full tank of credibility and the other was always running on fumes, you would be in your rights to say they both lost a good deal by being exposed as PED-o-files (ha ha) but not to pretend that Willie now equals Mickey.
    Similarly, though I’ve lost repsect for Pettitte, I still don’t put him in the same category as Manny or A-Rod or Bonds or Clemens.

    IronHorse May 8, 2009, 8:37 am
  • i just can’t listen to, or read, gammons anymore, so i don’t…i get a kick out of the assertion that the substance manny used wasn’t a steroid…so what?…whatever it was got him the same suspension a steroid user will get: 50 games…so, what difference does it make?…
    “…I got chastised here when I tried to discuss Fenway relative to the New Yankee Stadium….”
    yeah, me too rob…sf scolded me for suggesting that “new-fenway”, if/when it happens, will be heavily subsidized by taxpayers, and even provided some forensics to show him that this is a very common occurrence in all sports…the same item referred to a break the sox got from the city of boston on the rent for the use of yawkey way on game days…i think sf refers to this practice of making such comparisons as “zero sum”…bringing up the opposing team to diminish an argument, or provide perspective, is a no-no, depending on who’s doing it…for all my disputes with paul, i don’t think he was zero-summing this time…he made a relevant connection to some of the more recent exposures of players…what i find pointless is trying to determine the sincerity of apologies, who’s the worst fibber, etc…frankly, pettitte is and always has been likable, that alone gets him some slack…arod and manny are not likable, so they get no slack…but all of them are jerks [can’t call them what i really want to] for being part of what spoiled our game and the youthful naivety i enjoyed even into my adulthood…folks, it’s just not fun anymore…i’m not watching as many games, and when i do, i rarely get through an entire game…no, this feeling isn’t because the yankees aren’t doing well…i’ve become a hopeless cynic, and i will never look at the game or it’s players the same way again…winning a world series would be cool [whichever team does it], but it’ll now have that little dark cloud of doubt hanging over it…

    dc May 8, 2009, 8:44 am
  • but you also can’t write it off as if they all have zero credibility
    Image-wise, and perhaps how he dealt with the fans and press, Pettitte had credibility. But that’s the insidiousness of this PED shit – the credibility is being revealed as largely image-building, and the depth of the usage of PEDs now casts a great deal of skepticism on what really was, in effect, PR. The flags are all there for Pettitte: best friend Clemens. Moved from team to team together. Shared trainer. Admitted usage.
    The point here is not to say “Pettitte was lying, he was an inveterate user!”, but rather to ask for a bit of restraint in jumping to the conclusion that Manny was a habitual steroid taker and that this recent test is a revelation that indicates prior abuse. I have my own thoughts about whether or not Manny used previously, but I don’t care to make that the point or focus of the discussion. That’s my point. Not that Pettitte and Ramirez are equals, but that we just have no way of knowing they are equals, and therefore an assumption that they are one and the same is just as flawed as assuming that they are completely different. We simply don’t know.

    SF May 8, 2009, 9:14 am
  • Why is it not fair to say that Manny and Pettitte are completely different based on their behavior apart from PEDs? Sure, exposure of PEDs use puts them in the same category of people who used and tried to hide it (though let’s remember that only one of them appears to have used post-MLB-PEDs-policy).
    No one who follows the Yanks daily could imagine Pettitte – even after the PEDs revelation – would ever physically assault anyone or that he would ever feign injury. On the contrary, Pettitte has played through injury repeatedly to try to help his team, even when it hurt his personal stats, glory, etc.
    I am saying that it is exactly NOT simply a matter of image. Image is part of it, but it is too easy to simply say, well, he was proven to have used so now everythign else he ever did over his decade-plus career was just image. No – that reputation was also built on documented behavior on one fo the most public stages and most intrusive spotlights in sports. Manny (like A-Rod) has committed multiple credibility-harming acts during his career. Pettitte has committed one – and the other things you point to (hanging with Clemens and Clemens’ trainer) are all tied to that one.

    IronHorse May 8, 2009, 9:28 am
  • I liked watching Manny because he is/was one fearsome mofo at the plate. It’s a shame he was busted now, but i’m not going to dwell on if/when he began using, or what it means for his/the sox’s legacy, because for me it doesn’t have much meaning at all, given how little we know about their true effects, their ubiquity, and the fact that i’m basically not interested at this point. it does suck for the dodgers, though, and for dodgers fans and for joe t–and that’s all on manny. i have very little interest in making moral equivalencies between people i’ve only ever seen from afar and through the veil of television. there are so many unknowns, so many unpleasant factors, that i just plan to wash my hands of it, for the most part. i don’t watch baseball for headaches, but because it’s fun. and right now, mlb (and our lousy yankees in their overpriced ballpark) are making it very, very hard to have fun. my 2 cents.

    YF May 8, 2009, 9:46 am
  • >>let’s remember that only one of them appears to have used post-MLB-PEDs-policy
    Statements like this drive me CRAZY because MLB banned PEDs more than a decade ago — AND the use of HGH in the context Pettitte took it is illegal. (MLB probably has no policy against a player murdering somebody else either, but that’s not really a good reason to give a player a pass if he kills someone.)
    Oh, and welcome back, IH! We missed you.

    Paul SF May 8, 2009, 9:48 am
  • >>i don’t watch baseball for headaches, but because it’s fun.
    I think this more and more is becoming the attitude among baseball fans, including myself. It’s a lot easier to say, “We’ll never know the effects or the extent, so let’s just let the records stand, elect the most talented players to the HOF and enjoy watching baseball again.” This isn’t torturing people in CIA prisons. It’s baseball.
    But I’m also analytical by nature, and when big news happens like this, it’s very difficult for me to ignore it as much as I’d probably like to. Heh. Go figure…

    Paul SF May 8, 2009, 9:51 am
  • Thanks fro the correction Paul – quite right – and for the welcome back. And yes, I think YF’s assessment of the “fun” many of us fans are having these days is right on.

    IronHorse May 8, 2009, 10:02 am
  • What’s worrying to me about the Manny thing is now everyone seems to be saying, “Look! The system Works! Even the top players are not exempt and will be snared. What this fails to grasp is that in all likelihood Manny had a steroid sophisticated enough to beat the drug test – everybody in the media seems to be glossing over this. He got busted by taking a related banned supplement after cycling off – (to say nothing of stuff like HGH which is totally undetectable) and even that, according to TJ Quinn on ESPN last night, only maniested itself in high testosterone levels in his system. When MLB investigated the matter further, they found paperwork that indicated he had purchased HCG – it wasn’t a test that actually busted him. So no, I don’t really have true confidence in the testing policy yet.
    As for Gammons: He gave Clemens the benefit of the doubt, too, when the Mitchell Report was first released.

    Mark _YF May 8, 2009, 10:27 am
  • Good point, Mark.

    SF May 8, 2009, 11:03 am
  • >>What this fails to grasp is that in all likelihood Manny had a steroid sophisticated enough to beat the drug test – everybody in the media seems to be glossing over this. He got busted by taking a related banned supplement after cycling off –
    A great point, exacerbated by the fact that the supplement wasn’t banned by MLB until last year. So 15 passed drug tests mean nothing when talking about this particular prodcut.

    Paul SF May 8, 2009, 11:39 am
  • exactly . he hasn’t been cought doing steriods.

    WAY...SF May 8, 2009, 1:09 pm
  • Well, if your title is correct then we can expect a press conference on Monday (following the Gammons sit down, of course).

    Rob May 8, 2009, 7:11 pm
  • As a Sox fan, I’m naturally disappointed. I mean, I’ve had no illusions about Manny. His antics had grown tiresome long ago. That said, he was and is a truly gifted hitter. I’m just sad to see that a strong possibility exists now that his natural God-given abilities were enhanced by PEDs. I was hoping he was clean just as I was hoping AROD was clean – not because I liked either, but because I wanted these two supremely gifted players to live up to the legacy of Ruth, Cobb, Mantle, Mays, Williams, Musial, DiMaggio, Robinson etc.
    As for the effect on the Sox legacy? It has none. I’m sure the Sox had other cheaters on their team and I’m sure the teams they played had cheaters. So the playing field was equal. And besides, the Sox legacy in this decade has a much more to do with how a sad sack organization completely transformed itself into a brutally efficient, wonderfully dynamic winning enterprise. The Sox aren’t the Sox of this decade because of the achievements of any one player; rather, they’ve become one of the most fearsome organizations in sports because of their ownership, managment, players, minor league system etc. It was a total tranformation in their approach to this game that has gotten them to where they are; not the at bats of one still great, though deeply flawed slugger.

    Craig SF May 9, 2009, 6:31 am
  • … pictured perfectly by his “injured knee” — which one he couldn’t remember when the Red Sox called his bluff…
    *****************
    I did some research on this alleged incident and came away believing it was BS:
    http://joyofsox.blogspot.com/2008/10/origins-of-manny-forgot-which-knee-hurt.html

    redsock May 9, 2009, 10:07 am

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