Manny Ramirez abruptly ended his baseball career on Friday (April 8), opting to retire rather than face a lengthy suspension following a dirty drug test.
According to ESPN.com, the Tampa Bay Rays slugger tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug during spring training, and informed the MLB that he would be retiring rather than face a 100-game suspension.
The specific drug was unknown at press time.
“I’m at ease,” Ramirez told ESPN, via phone, from his home in Miami. “God knows what’s best [for me]. I’m now an officially retired baseball player. I’ll be going away on a trip to Spain with my old man.”
Manny was suspended for 50 games in 2009 for violating the league’s drug policy while playing with the Los Angeles Dodgers. That was his first “official” offense, his second would have been doubled, so that would be the 100-game penalty we just mentioned.
According to ESPN, he would have become the first player to be suspended twice for a performance-enhancing drug violation since the program went into effect in 2005. That is, had he accepted the suspension.
In 2009, Manny initially planned to appeal his first violation, but dropped those plans and accepted his suspension. This time, however, after being informed of this violation, he notified the commissioner’s office that rather than appeal or serve another suspension, he was simply announcing his retirement.
By announcing his retirement, he avoided the league formally announcing his violation of the drug policy. Instead, the MLB issued a release that stated only that it had informed Ramirez of “an issue” under that program, and he had chosen to retire.
“Major League Baseball recently notified Manny Ramirez of an issue under Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program,” the statement said. “Ramirez has informed MLB that he is retiring as an active player. If Ramirez seeks reinstatement in the future, the process under the Drug Program will be completed.”
The New York Times reported in the summer of 2009 that Ramirez also tested positive for performance-enhancing substances during MLB’s anonymous survey testing in 2003, but it was never official.
Manny, now 38, leaves baseball with 555 career home runs. He was a 12-time All-Star, a 9-time Silver Slugger, a 2-time Hank Aaron Award winner, and a World Series MVP in 2004 during his MLB career.
His baseball dreams started in the streets of New York as a kid, before being selected 13th overall by the Cleveland Indians in the 1991 amateur draft and rose quickly through the minor leagues. He finally entered the majors in 1993 and played his first full season the following year, finishing second to the Kansas City Royals’ Bob Hamlin in voting for rookie of the year. Through Manny’s career in baseball, he established himself as one of the game’s most feared hitters.
In 2000, he signed with the Red Sox as a free agent. Four years later, Manny helped the long-suffering franchise win their first World Series since 1918 in 2004, and again in 2007.
When Manny was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the summer of 2008, he became an instant fan favorite. L.A. fans dubbed the city “Mannywood” upon his arrival, and helped the team earn the NL West title. He played in L.A. until 2010, then joined the Chicago White Sox for a season, before ending his career with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Despite all the accolades, many wonder if his career will be tainted by drug use. What do you think?