Baseball lets Manny Ramirez Down

Manny Ramirez retired on Friday after he tested positive for performance enhancing drugs.  He would have faced a 100 game suspension, but at 38 years of age, sitting out the entire season was not in the cards for him.  This is not the first positive test for Manny, he was suspended 50 games in 2009 when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Everyone by now knows the baseball history of performance enhancing drugs.  When I was in the clubhouse of the Baltimore Orioles in 1999, steroids were openly discussed and on display in lockers.  The blind eye that baseball turned to the players taking these illegal substances has apparently not kept players from stopping this behavior now that baseball is paying attention.  For veteran ballplayers it pays to take the risk that Manny did.  Manny Ramirez signs a one year agreement, takes PEDs, hopes he does not get caught and he earns one more year’s worth of paychecks.

I am confident Manny is not the only one doing this either.  I also am confident baseball is not the only sport where this happens.  Whether it’s an athlete returning from injury, or an aging athlete wanting to stay competitive they are going to look for an edge.

The odd thing about this situation is that for the professional leagues, continuing to turn a blind eye still prevails for certain players.  These former superstars hanging on are great for leagues, for the television networks and endorsements.  See Brett Farve, Barry Bonds, Ray Lewis, and many others (not to say these players used PEDs, but these are veteran athletes who have hung on for an extraordinary long time).

I think Manny will be a foot note in history in baseball.  I am skeptical that he will be voted into the hall of fame.  Baseball let down Manny Ramirez, they did not take seriously the issues of PEDs years ago, and the way they reward players and the amount of money they reward players creates a culture in which players want to take a chance at cheating.