Looking Back at Baseball – Manny Ramirez

"Looking Back" is a series of articles that review the history of Major League Baseball. Today, we are looking at the legacy of the newly retired OF/DH Manny Ramirez.

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This past week, baseball fans everywhere were shocked to find out that one of the biggest stars of the past 20 years was hanging up the cleats for the last time.  Manny Ramirez, one of the most feared sluggers in all of Baseball from 1993-2008, retired amid a flurry of controversy on April 8.  There was no celebration, no honors.  Manny simply walked away from the game because he did not want to face a possible suspension under the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment program.  Manny had failed a drug screen, testing positive for an unknown performance enhancing substance. 

That Manny Ramirez chose to walk away may seem odd to novice fans.  No less than 3 full years ago, Manny was considered one of the most talented players in the game.  Regardless of his antics – “Manny being Manny” – Ramirez always put up the numbers to help his team win ballgames.  As a Boston Red Sox from 2001-2008, Manny was a major piece of the puzzle in leading the franchise to its first World Series Championship in 2004, and again during their run to the crown in 2007.  During that time span, there may have been nobody in baseball better than Manny Ramirez in clutch situations.  During the 2004 World Series, Manny was a monster.  He hit .412 for the series, with a HR and 4 RBI.  The “Curse of the Bambino” ended, in a large part, on the back of Manny Ramirez.  In 2007, he led the Sox back to the World Series by hitting .296 with 20 HR and 88 RBI despite missing over 30 games due to injuries.  The 2007 Red Sox coasted through the postseason, with Manny dominating both the ALDS and ALCS series against the Angels and Indians, hitting a combined .394 with 4 HR and 14 RBI.  The Red Sox went on to win their second World Series title in 4 years, and claimed their place in history as one of the best teams of all time. 

The Manny Ramirez story wasn’t always controversial, however.  From 1993-2000, as a young slugger in the middle of the Cleveland Indians powerful lineup, Manny quickly became one of the games premier sluggers on the best young team in baseball.  As part of a group of talented young studs all brought up to the Major Leagues by Cleveland in 1993-94, Manny teamed with Jim Thome, Carlos Baerga, Albert Belle, Kenny Lofton, Charles Nagy, and Sandy Alomar Jr. on a team that won the AL Central title every year until 2000.  Manny was the main cog in the offensive powerhouse, making 4 All Star teams and winning 3 Silver Slugger awards.  His 1998 and 1999 seasons put the exclamation point on his young career, as he hit over 40 HR in each season and drove in an astonishing 310 RBI between the two seasons, finishing in the top 10 in the AL MVP voting both years.  Manny Ramirez had arrived as one of the best players in all of baseball.

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