It’s time for Baseball Hall of Fame to open its doors to steroids users — and it begins with Indians’ great Manny Ramirez
Former Cleveland Indians’ outfielder Manny Ramirez has all the credentials of a Hall of Fame player.
He was unarguably one of the greatest hitters of his time – or any time, maybe. Ramirez first appeared for the Tribe back in 1993 as a thin, 21-year-old kid from the Dominican Republic whose prowess as a right-handed power hitter enticed the Indians to take him with the 13th overall pick just two years prior.
Ramirez was the Miguel Cabrera before Miguel Cabrera.
He had gap-to-gap power. He hit for a consistent average, clubbed round-trippers at an impressive rate and drove in baserunners with the best of them. Ramirez was a consistent All-Star and frequented the end-of-season MVP conversation.
There’s just no denying the credentials. A .312 career average, 555 home runs and 1,831 RBIs is almost guaranteed induction in the Baseball Hall of Fame. He is a 12-time All-Star and a one-time World Series MVP (2004). Ramirez owns the eighth-best career slugging percentage (.585), the 14th-most home runs and 18th-most RBIs.
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According to Baseball-Reference.com, Ramirez’s statistics are most similar to:
- Albert Pujols (likely first-ballot Hall of Famer)
- Frank Thomas (Hall of Famer)
- Jimmie Foxx (Hall of Famer)
- Ted Williams (Hall of Famer)
- Ken Griffey Jr. (likely first-ballot Hall of Famer)
There is no denying his on-field greatness.
Yet, in Ramirez’s case, his status among the greats is in serious jeopardy thanks to his two late-career suspensions for performance enhancing drugs. It is a legitimate concern, as proven cheaters are most certainly deserving of their share of criticism.
But does that preclude them from being enshrined in Cooperstown? That all depends on your perspective of the real intent of the Hall of Fame.
According to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the museum’s mission is to “honor excellence within the game and make a connection between the generations of people who enjoy baseball.” While the BBWAA obviously introduces a human element that doesn’t always defend that mission, the hall should be intended more to honor great players – not great people.
Keep in mind, the Hall is already chalked full of guys with character issue: Former Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey worked tirelessly to keep baseball segregated; former Indians’ pitcher Gaylord Perry has openly admitted to doctoring balls (which is cheating, unless you’re a New England Patriots fan); and Babe Ruth was a regular womanizer whose behavior was among the worst in sports history. Heck, Hall of Famers across a number of eras have admitted to using now-banned amphetamines to endure the excruciatingly long baseball seasons.
At best, none of those players had the most air-tight moral character either. You want a Hall of Fame completely void of liars and cheaters? Well, you’ve already lost that battle. The Hall is full of liars, cheaters and everything in between.
What is it that makes PEDs a more egregious infraction than anything else already represented? What benefit is there anymore to keep history out of the museum whose sole purpose is to honor history? Not baseball players, but baseball history.
It’s time to get over ourselves and allow known (and supposed) steroids users into the Hall of Fame.
And it starts with Ramirez.