Ramirez's Departure A Disappointing Ending





DENVER—So Manny Ramirez fails another drug test, faces a 100-game suspension, and instead decides to do what he should have done four, five years ago—he retires.

So what?

Manny Ramirez wore out his welcome some time ago. Making $19 million a year, he pouted his way out of Boston because he felt he was being disrespected. He made it clear in Los Angeles that he was not a player the Dodgers could count on, because when he played and how he played centered on what he felt like doing that day.

And then he left Tampa Bay high and dry, a week into the regular season, showing that he had no respect for the game, much less himself, when he violated baseball's drug rules, again.

The Rays general manager Andrew Freidman and manager Joe Maddon have been an organization that has done a great many things right. So even those who questioned Ramirez tried to justify Tampa Bay's decision to bring in the living distraction last winter.

Guess the Rays were bound to make an error in judgment at some point.

Tainted Career

During his career, Ramirez compiled impressive numbers:

• Twelve all-star appearances, nine finishes in the top 10 for American League MVP, nine Silver Sluggers.

• .312 lifetime average, 86th all-time; .411 on-base percentage, 32nd all-time; .585 slugging percentage, ninth all-time.

•  ,574 hits, 84th all-time; 547 doubles, 24th all-time; 555 home runs, 14th all-time; and 1,831 RBIs, 18th all-time.

But the number that has scarred his career forever is the number two.

That's two as in two failures of baseball's drug-testing program.

It was Manny being Manny two years ago when he got caught the first time, and endured a 50-game suspension with the Dodgers for a violation that he said stemmed from his use of a female fertility drug.

But in the opening days of the 2011 season, when it was learned that he had failed another drug test, it was Manny being Casper the Ghost and disappearing into the night, telling the Rays he had personal matters he needed to attend to.

Turned out, he was sneaking off, avoiding a mandatory 100-game suspension by retiring, leaving a Tampa Bay team that had counted on him with an empty spot in the middle of its batting order.

At least there were no excuses for his ignorance this time, other than a belated report from ESPNdeportes that quoted Ramirez saying, "I'm at ease.''

Maddon handled it with typical Maddon class, explaining that he finally did get a call from Ramirez.

"He was very kind in his comments. He expressed disappointment in himself but also had high praise for us as an organization so I felt good about that," Maddon said. "I am not a judgmental person by nature. I took him for his word. In the future, if we cross paths, I want to consider him a friend."

Short Goodbye

But no answers to the lingering questions were offered.

Not even Johnny Damon, a former teammate in Boston who arrived in Tampa this spring along with Ramirez thanks to some maneuvering by their agent, Scott Boras, admitted disappointment in the actions of his friend.

"Manny is the one who can answer these questions so much more than I can,'' Damon told the Boston Globe. "I couldn't believe it. You get busted one time, you're not going to get busted again. It shocked us all.

"We thought it was a different personal matter than what came out. It's sad. I feel bad for Manny that his career is ending this way. I hope he has a great rest of his life. I'm sure I'll catch up with him in the future.''

Let's not feel too bad, though. This wasn't a case of Kirby Puckett suffering a vision loss or Lyman Bostock being shotgunned to death by a jealous ex-husband.

Manny did himself in.

Whether it was ignorance or arrogance, a combination of both, or merely a simple disregard for rules and regulations, Ramirez has nobody but himself to blame for the ugly ending to his playing career.