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Sports Then and Now

Manny Ramirez’s Legacy Comes With a Black Cloud 4

Posted on April 09, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Manny Ramirez is retiring after a week in the lineup of the Tampa Bay Rays.

On some fronts the news that Manny Ramirez is retiring from baseball to avoid his second suspension under the banned substance policy is shocking. However, given the combustible nature of his personality, you had to know that he wouldn’t exit baseball in a conventional manner.

Now, with the reality that this player with unquestioned Hall of Fame credentials has failed not one (during the 2003 anonymous testing), not twice (50-game suspension in 2009), but now three tests for using a substance related to performance enhancing drugs, the debate begins about whether he is indeed worthy of being in the Hall of Fame.

In some ways, the case of Manny Ramirez is going to be significantly more difficult to judge than that of Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens.

In the cases of all four of these players you have a significant body of work before you know that they started taking steroids that either shows that using steroids took them from being pretty good to great (McGwire, Sosa and Palmeiro) or from great to immortal (Bonds and Clemens).

Because Manny Ramirez was great from the day he got to the minors (.315 batting average in three minor league seasons with 31 home runs and 115 RBI in 1993) and his numbers were remarkably consistent for his first 14 full seasons in the league, it is much more difficult to get an understanding of when Manny started using steroids than it is for any of the players I just mentioned.

In many ways, Manny’s situation is most similar to Alex Rodriguez, who also was a superstar from the day he got to the majors.

When he was confronted with his own steroid use two years ago, Rodriguez attempted to mitigate the damages by putting a defined period around his steroid use. Even though are enough irregularities to believe that his steroid use went beyond the years he has admitted to, for the most part Rodriguez has put the situation behind him and the belief is that he will eventually get in the Hall of Fame. Read the rest of this entry →

Recent Stories Putting Black Eye on the Face of MLB 3

Posted on August 30, 2010 by Don Spieles

For as much as Bud Selig tries to make sure that Major League Baseball always puts its best foot forward, sometimes people just can’t seem keep from tripping him up. Here are four recent stories that make baseball look less then wonderful, one that centers on Selig, himself!

Nationals Handling of Steven Strasburg

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg throws against the Florida Marlins during the fourth inning of MLB National League baseball action in Washington in this August 10, 2010 file photo. According to the team's website, Strasburg has a significant tear in his ulnar collateral ligament will likely require Tommy John surgery, the team announced in a conference call on August 27, 2010. Picture taken August 10, 2010.  REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)As a friend said to me recently, “Well, that was short-lived.” He was, of course, speaking about Strasburg’s time on the MLB stage. Many (including your truly) predicted that Strasburg would not see the big show this year at all. Now that the young ace is scheduled for Tommy John surgery and will be missing possibly until the 2012 season, perhaps the Nationals brass is wishing that those predictions had proven accurate.

You certainly don’t have to look far to find success stories related to what is perhaps the most well known surgical procedure after a tonsillectomy. Some notable names who have made the papers after the procedures include Kenny Rogers, Tim Hudson, Chris Carpenter, John Smoltz, and Mariano Rivera. There is no reason to be overly pessimistic about Strasburg’s furture.

The bottom line is that his career need not have started with this setback. They monitored his pitches, innings, and all of that. But what was not taken into account (or so it would seem) is that there is a huge difference in throwing in front of 5,000 fans in a minor league game, and then throwing in front of 50,000 fans on a national stage. Especially when the pitcher in question throws as hard as Starsburg does. Read the rest of this entry →

How “Manny” is Manny Ramirez These Days? 2

Posted on October 16, 2009 by Don Spieles
NLCS Game 1: Philadelphia Phillies at Los Angeles Dodgers

Since his return from a 50-game suspension, Manny Ramirez has struggled to regain his offensive form.

Manny Ramirez has had a long strange trip on the way to this year’s postseason.  The question on many lips then is: “Is Manny still Being Manny?”

Boston fans and media coined the phrase “Manny Being Manny” as a gentle, catch-all euphemism many of the things that the slugger did while playing for the Red Sox.  There was his outfield play that sometimes bordered on the comical.  There were is strange behaviors with the press, putting forth a sort of “I’m shy” affect where reporters were concerned.  When he had to answer nature’s call (or a call on his cell phone) he was known to disappear in the Green Monster to… well, do whatever he needed to do.

All of Manny’s quirkiness was tolerated with a smile and a shake of the head for one reason: He hit a ton.

Well, to be specific, he hit a ton when he wanted to.  Read the rest of this entry →

National League Playoff Preview: Cardinals vs. Dodgers 0

Posted on October 07, 2009 by Dean Hybl
Milwaukee Brewers vs St. Louis Cardinals

Albert Pujols will look to power the Cardinals past the Dodgers.

For much of the 2009 season the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals appeared to be the two best teams in the National League. However, a late slide by the Cardinals suddenly pits these two traditional contenders against each other in the opening round of the National League playoffs.

In Albert Pujols and Manny Ramirez, this series features two of the best known players in the game. However, while Pujols is at the peak of his game, Ramirez has struggled to regain top form since missing 50 games due to a positive drug test.
Read the rest of this entry →

Enough Already: It Is Time For Baseball Execs To Tell The Full Truth 2

Posted on July 30, 2009 by Dean Hybl
The New York Times is reporting that David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez are among the 104 players that tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in 2003.

The New York Times is reporting that David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez are among the 104 players that tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in 2003.

Okay, enough already with this slow leak of the names of Major League Baseball players who reportedly tested positive during the infamous 2003 performance enhancing drug testing program.

First it was Alex Rodriguez, then Sammy Sosa and now the New York Times is reporting that two sluggers from the 2003 Boston Red Sox: Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz also were among the 104 players who tested positive during the period.

Of course, fans of the rival Yankees are already saying “told you so” and claiming the two World Championships claimed by Boston in 2004 and 2007 are now tainted.

Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Rusty Staub: A Man For All Ages
      April 8, 2024 | 1:26 pm
      Rusty Staub

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former major league baseball player who came into the game as a teenager and stayed until he was in his 40s. In between, Rusty Staub put up a solid career that was primarily spent on expansion or rebuilding teams.

      Originally signed by the Colt .45s at age 17, he made his major league debut as a 19-year old rookie and became only the second player in the modern era to play in more than 150 games as a teenager.

      Though he hit only .224 splitting time between first base and rightfield, Staub did start building a foundation that would turn him into an All-Star by 1967 when he finished fifth in the league with a .333 batting average.

      Read more »

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