If you’re not fond of the above headline, how does “.059 Hitting DH Eulogized” strike you? While stuck in Los Angeles traffic today, I didn’t get to listen enough of Boston’s 9-6 Fenway home opener defeat of the Yankees to note whether or not the news of Manny Ramirez’ sudden retirement received an ovation or simply laughs from the assembled mob. I do know, however, that based purely on his ridiculous offensive output he’d be a first ballot Hall Of Famer, were it not for the oh-so-tiny details of being widely disliked whenever he’s not hitting a ball 500 feet two drug busts in 3 years (that we know of). In the eyes of Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan, it’s the greatest waste of talent since Rod Stewart (apologies to the late Lester Bangs for stealing the line). “Manny’s legacy could have been as the most pure and accomplished right-handed hitter since Joe DiMaggio,” sneers Passan. “Instead, his legacy is trying to get pregnant as a 38-year-old male.”
It is easy to damn him for his bad decisions. He made them with the frequency of someone one-tenth his age. It is easy, too, to savor his 555 home runs, no matter how many contaminated by drugs, because, like Bonds, his talent was pure, if not his results.
And now Manny’s gone – from the game today and almost certainly from Hall of Fame consideration. As much as the inclination might be to wish good riddance to Ramirez, baseball will miss him.
There are only so many preternatural talents like Ramirez; and even fewer personalities to match his. The dreadlocks and imitators in Mannywood, the outfield bungles, the bathroom breaks inside the Green Monster – all are part of the Manny Ramirez tableau, a bright, bold, complicated one with the brightest of flames and dullest of fizzles.