Before the days I religiously followed baseball, I knew who Manny was. Manny played for the Red Sox. Manny wouldn’t run to first base if he knew he wasn’t going to make it. Manny would show up late to spring training. Manny would pee inside the Green Monster while the baseball game was going on. “Many was just being Manny” He was famous for his big ego and attitude, and even the Red Sox fans, who also have big egos and attitudes, grew tired of him. Manny won world series titles with the Red Sox, but that was not enough to stay with the Red Sox. Through several trades over the years, Manny arrived at the Rays’ doorstep in January.
The Rays lacked big shot players with big attitudes and egos- the player with the biggest attitude on the team was Bj Upton, and his biggest crime was not hustling to first base a few times and getting into a public fight with his BFF Evan Longoria. Its hard to forgive a guy who has disrespected baseball for years and has been caught 2x with steroids (2003 & 2009)*. But over time, the Rays accepted him. He showed up early to batting practice, had discussions with Maddon, and wanted to sign up for away games. Manny seemed to be wanting to prove to everyone that he changed and loved the sport of baseball over the love of money.
Then the day before opening day, Manny took a personal day. Over the next few games, Manny, who was batting over 300 in spring training, went 1 for 17. On Thursday, Manny took another personal day. On Friday, my father texted me “Manny quit rays, drugs.”
Manny tested positive for prohibited drugs and instead of trying to fight the claim or serve the 100 day suspension, he
quit retired from baseball. Manny- a guy with numerous records and world series titles and even a MVP world series champ- went down like a loser. His big last year of proving to everyone and himself that he was still one of the best baseball players in history, was over before the season began.
The Rays will move on (Though they aren’t exactly winning at the moment). Johnny Damon will move (has already passed Manny on the hit list). Baseballs Hall of Fame voters will move on and cast their votes to someone who did not strike out. Baseball will move on.
*Manny was on the 2003 list of testing positive for steroids bu was not punished. In 2009, he was suspended for 50 games of the baseball season for testing positive for a female fertility drug used to cover up steroids.