Print this story

Manny: A failure of a role model on, off and around the field

POSTED April 17, 2011
BY Patrick Tiscia
Twitter: @PatrickTiscia


Two weeks ago, the Torrington High School baseball team took a trip to New York to play a scrimmage against famed George Washington High School.

You mention the George Washington baseball program, you think about one person: Manny Ramirez. And now, unfortunately, the kids at that school will probably feel nothing but shame towards their most famous alum.

A week has gone by since Ramirez faced the decision to either retire or face a 100-game suspension due to another failed performance-enhancing drug test. Not surprisingly, he took the easy way out and ran, leaving his teammates and manager of all of five minutes in Tampa to answer for him.

As a Yankee fan, it made for some good-natured jokes towards the faithful at Red Sox Nation, but the baseball fan in anyone should feel nothing but sick over this situation.

Ramirez was one of the greatest right-handed hitters in baseball history, and arguably the sport’s most unique character.  Fans of any team, including the Yankees, appreciated the greatness he brought to the plate (not the outfield, of course).

If you told Boston fans prior to 2004 that Manny would eventually carry them to the title that always eluded them and win the World Series MVP in the process, they probably would’ve agreed that he’d get a free pass for any of the antics that he’d cause.

Wrong.

He quit on the team in 2008, got traded to the Dodgers and promptly found himself suspended for 50 games the next season thanks to a failed drug test.

He then quit on the Dodgers last season and went to the White Sox where he did nothing. We read throughout Spring Training how he was rejuvenated in Tampa and on the brink of a big comeback season. What a bunch of garbage that turned out to be.

Ramirez recorded only one lonely hit in 17 at-bats to start the season and then the bombshell started to hit the sports tickers: Ramirez to retire.

OK, it was a surprise, but Ramirez was struggling, making little money for him ($2 million) and playing for a team in Tampa Bay off to a terrible start. It was understandable why he may want to walk away.

Then the truth started to filter out that Manny was running from another drug suspension. And the reality that Manny will always be tainted set in.

I remember a Friday night in September of 1993 like it was yesterday. The Yankees were playing Cleveland on WPIX and the Indians had a New York product on the field in just his second major league game.

That player, Manny Ramirez, crushed two home runs, leading to wild celebrations in the stands from hundreds of his family and friends in the upper deck of the old Yankee Stadium. A star was born that night.

Now his star is dead. He will never make the Hall of Fame and fans will always shake their head when his name is brought up. And, more importantly, the kids at George Washington High School no longer have an inspiration in his story.

For more from Patrick Tiscia click here