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Should a failed drug test wipe out Manny Ramirez's Hall of Fame chances?

I answer the question the same way every time it comes up: Nope, not surprised. Nothing surprises me anymore.

The question is the same. The name just changes.

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Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Miguel Tejada, Jay Gibbons, Brian Roberts, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez.

Now it's Manny Ramirez.

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Yeah, not surprised. Just a headshake and you go on. Maybe Manny Ramirez is a steroid user. Maybe he isn't. But he's now failed a drug test and been suspended 50 games.

More important, the legacy of one of the most feared hitters of our generation is further tainted. Further, because he took a major hit last year with the theatrics that got him traded out of Boston.

So now the pundits are tossing around the merits of Ramirez and whether this could screw up his once slam-dunk Hall of Fame chances.

Here's my educated and thoughtful response to that question: I don't know.

I have friends in the Baseball Writers' Association of America who have a no-tolerance steroid policy. You admit to being a user, you are highly suspected to be a user or you fail a test, you're out. Period.

Another friend is ignoring the issue completely, assuming most recent players used performance-enhancing drugs.

My thought is to look at a players' complete body of work -- offense, defense, character, longevity, steroid allegations -- and weigh it all before making a decision.

Manny is by far one of the best hitters I have watched. He's also absolutely terrible defensively. And an obvious clubhouse distraction who has shut it down at times.

But there are guys in the game who I trust -- Mike Hargrove, Kevin Millar and Danys Baez, for instance -- who would go to war with Manny.

Thursday I talked to Baez, one of the nicest guys ever to wear a baseball uniform, and he said when he defected from Cuba to be a member of the Cleveland Indians, Ramirez was one of the guys who helped him the most, taught him English, etc.

My gut reaction is that I would vote for Ramirez even with a failed test. The same goes for Bonds, Rodriguez and, yes, Palmeiro -- they weren't one-dimensional. McGwire and Sosa, I am not so sure. But the topic of the day is Ramirez.

Daily Think Special: Should a failed drug test wipe out Ramirez's Hall of Fame chances?

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