I was surprised. And I wasn't surprised.
I heard the other day that Manny Ramirez had a "personal issue" to deal with and miss the Rays game in Chicago on Thursday. And as I was checking the scores on my cell on Friday afternoon and the Red Sox were about to clinch their first win of 2011, I saw a blurb that said that Manny was retiring, because of a "drug issue."
Yes, Manny failed yet another drug test, and he was going to have to serve a 100-game suspension, due to fact he got nailed on one in 2009.
So the best way for Manny to avoid it was to hang it up. (Should he ever try a comeback, Ramirez would have to serve the 100-game suspension first. So I have to believe this is it for him.)
Over the next few days, there will be a plethora of articles about Manny, everything from his great accomplishments, crazy excesses to the real lowlights of what should have been a stellar career.
For me, I'll remember him being an integral part of the 2004 season and two Red Sox championships. High-fiving the fan in Baltimore. Carrying an American flag on the field at Fenway with him when he became an American citizen in 2004. Disappearing into the Green Monster and almost missing a pitch. Cutting off a Johnny Damon relay throw in the outfield in 2004. The great catch in Yankee Stadium in 2004, stealing a homer from Miguel Cairo, and the look on Cairo's face after he did it. The way he and David Ortiz terrorized Yankee pitching during the two championship years. Hitting a bomb off Francisco Rodriguez to win Game 2 of the 2007 ALDS. Hitting the first pitch he saw in a Sox uniform in 2001 at Fenway for a home run.
He leaves with an incredibly mixed legacy. Picking a fight with Kevin Youkilis in the dugout one night, and with the team traveling secretary over tickets. Deliberately striking out against Mariano Rivera in a critical game against New York. The many times he never hustled.
I can't help but think Manny has totally blown what should have been a Hall of Fame career with these two failed drug tests. But I wonder if the Hall of Fame really means anything to him.
Whatever. He's still One of The 25.
Thanks for 2004, Manny. And 2007.
And ten million other memories.