Manny Ramirez is one of the best right-handed hitters in history, but that’s not how he’s going to be remembered.
Manny should be putting the finishing touches on a Hall of Fame career, but he’s never going to have a plaque in Cooperstown.
Ramirez has retired from the Rays after it was reported that Major League Baseball was suspending him for 100 games for violating the sport’s drug policy. Ramirez has already served a 50-game suspension with the Dodgers for using steroids.
Manny has a career .312 average with 555 home runs and 1,831 RBIs. But if past votes by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America are an indication, that Manny will not be in Cooperstown. The voters’ consensus: If a player is connected to steroids, he can forget the Hall.
The BBWAA has rejected Mark McGwire and his 583 home runs as well as former Oriole Rafael Palmeiro, who had 3,020 career hits and 569 home runs.
Who thought that Ramirez’s time with Tampa Bay would end well? The only thing that’s hard to believe is that he was there for only five games.
Manny, known for his baggy pants and dreadlocks, is a carefree spirit who loves to have fun and that rubs off in a good way in the clubhouse. But there was an unusual trend as well: Ramirez would play well, get bored and become reclusive. It took him eight years to wear out his welcome in Cleveland and Boston. He lasted three years with the Dodgers and 24 games with the White Sox.
The Rays, who were hoping Ramirez would be support for Evan Longoria in the lineup, got to see Manny being Manny. Yes, he showed some smiles, but he had mysterious absences and at times showed up late. He was booed and he had one hit in 17 at-bats.
It’s classic Manny, and that will be his legacy.
More thoughts on the early part of the season:
* No need to worry about the slow starts of Orioles first baseman Derrek Lee, or his Nationals counterpart, Adam LaRoche. Each is making good contact. Lee, hitting .182 after being out a good chunk of March, is in late-spring training mode. LaRoche, who hit a game-winning home run Thursday, is at .167. For his career, he’s hitting .201 in April and .257 in May.
* After two bad seasons with the Dodgers, catcher Russell Martin is making an impression on the Yankees with home runs, steals and handling the pitching staff well. Also, A.J. Burnett is 2-0, thanks to an improved changeup.
* Nationals manager Jim Riggleman moving Danny Espinoza into the leadoff spot, but changed his mind and stuck with Ian Desmond. Given the Nats might need help in the middle of the order, wonder if Jayson Werth will ever move from No. 2 to the middle?
* Perhaps those who jumped off the Phillies’ bandwagon because of their potential lack of offense jumped off too quickly. The best news for Philadelphia is that shortstop Jimmy Rollins is off to a blistering start, shaking off a bad spring. The bad news is that closer Brad Lidge (shoulder) is going to be out longer than they thought. With Ryan Madson and Jose Contreras, the Phillies don’t have depth for the closer’s role. The bullpen is the Phillies’ weakest link, but if their rotation is as strong as it appears to be, perhaps they don’t need a strong bullpen.
* The Tigers honored former manager Sparky Anderson, who died in the offseason, on opening day. Anderson lived in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and had one piece of baseball memorabilia in his house, a ball signed by Pope John Paul in Latin. He had two Tiger Stadium seats outside, painted brown to match his fence.
* Orioles pitchers Brian Matusz and Zach Britton are helping each other. Britton said Matusz has given him good tips on how to throw a changeup. In exchange, Britton has given Matusz tips for a two-seam fastball.
* The Red Sox had only one win entering Saturday’s game against the Yankees. Newcomer Carl Crawford is starting slow because he’s trying to make a good first impression, but the biggest question remains: Will Josh Beckett’s fastball velocity improve?
* The Twins, who thought they were going to be healthy this season with the return of Joe Nathan and Justin Morneau, will be without second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who is out with a broken leg. Niskioka, injured in New York after a slide by Nick Swisher, was a batting champ and Gold Glove winner in Japan and had an Ichiro-like flair in his stance.
* Geek conversation of the week: Phil Wood, my broadcast partner on “The Mid-Atlantic Sports Report,” and I were talking about what numbers we’d like to have if we were good enough to play baseball. He said 45 because April 5 is his wedding anniversary. I said 32, for no particular reason, but 26 is also good because, as a kid, that was the tag number for my dog, Rookie. Told you it was a geeky conversation.