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Sports


Former Indian Manny Ramirez wants back in baseball's good graces
Commentator Terry Pluto says after years of a bad attitude and positive tests for steroids, Ramirez has a lot to prove to fans
by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ


Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
 
Manny Ramirez began his career in Cleveland. Now 39, he's shopping around for teams after abruptly quitting baseball.
Courtesy of Keith Allison
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One of the best players in Cleveland Indians history, and in recent years one of the most controversial, wants back in the game. Manny Ramirez abruptly quit baseball last year rather than serve a 100-game suspension for his second positive steroid test. He’s amassed 555 home runs and earned $200 million over a career that began in Cleveland in the early 1990’s.

To many, he’s known as the bad boy in a baggy uniform and long dread locks. Now, he says he wants to show teams that he’s changed. WKSU commentator Terry Pluto talks to Amanda Rabinowitz about whether Ramirez can win back fans.

Terry Pluto on Ramirez wanting back in baseball

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Terry Pluto: The Cavs, good or bad, are exciting

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TP: Manny always tried to kind of have things in his own program and in his own way. And like a lot of people who are prodigies, what happened with Manny, though is that he became a cartoon. And that is he decided that ‘I don’t have to run hard I don’t want to play the field.’ I remember people saying, well that was just Manny being Manny. That was always the thing. Well Manny being Manny sometimes was a way of being selfish with a smile. And that’s what he would do. And because he kept hitting 300 and he kept hitting 30 homeruns, teams would put up with it.

AR: You know, when you talk about him, you shake your head back and forth. Is that why? Because he’s such a puzzle?

TP: But here’s what happens Amanda, as you get older, the shortcuts you took, the people you alienated, the times you didn’t hustle, the managers you didn’t pay respect to—it does come back on you.

AR: Well here’s a quote. He told ESPN, “I don’t want to leave the game like I did. I also want to show my kids that if you make a mistake, don’t quit. Just go back and fix it. And if you are going to leave, leave the right way.” Do you think he can rebuild his image?

TP: No, not really. It isn’t just the fact he blew steroid tests. It was that he wouldn’t work on his fielding. He didn’t run out pop-ups. I’m not really sure you really want the guy around. So I don’t see, the Indians said they don’t want him and that’s a good move there. I do think that when he left the Indians and went to the Red Sox and later played for the Dodgers. You know, playing in the bigger markets, he became a huge celebrity, and I don’t think that helped him at all because it just built into the sense of entitlement.

AR: Well, while Manny Ramirez spends these next couple of months shopping around for a team to pick him up in the midst of this comeback that he wants to make, the Commissioner of Major League Baseball Bud Selig who’s been at that helm since the early 1990s just got a contract extension through 2014. That puts him on track to be the longest serving commissioner in history.

TP: Bud Selig started as a car salesman. When I first met Bud, he put together this group of owners in Milwaukee. There’s a team called the Seattle Pilots. He brings them to Milwaukee. He was always glad-handing. He was like a car salesman in a good way, but he was always selling, you know. ‘Hey, we’ve got great hot dogs’ and this and that.

AR: In 1970 they became the Milwaukee Brewers. And, Terry. Commissioner Selig over the years…what has he done right in baseball over the years?

TP: He brought more divisions into baseball.

AR: Right.

TP: At first I didn’t like the wild card and now I love it. But the one thing that he really set out to do that he found as commissioner was kind of even out the playing field for the haves and have nots. I mean, my goodness, he’s in Milwaukee—he knows what it’s like to lose players.

AR: And he hasn’t been successful in that.

TP: And hasn’t been successful. He’s added some revenue sharing, and some things there. The only way he evened it out was kind of creating this playoff system so more teams can get in.

AR: Adding the wild card.

TP: Adding the wild card. He added inner-league play, which I don’t like. He wasn’t afraid to try things, but I think he also found that the Steinbrenner family and some of the people in the bigger markets, these owners he played a lot of ball with them. And even though they let him do some other things that were good, the fundamental change of a real salary cap was never seriously considered. Because there’s too many teams with the back bud that don’t want one. So he’s never really pushed hard for it.

AR: So that’s not good for teams like the Indians.

TP: No, or the Brewers. I believe his daughter has a vested interest in that club. But he argues with the fact, and there’s some merit to this, Amanda. Teams like Tampa, and Minnesota, and others are now making the playoffs under the system, in which are in the playoffs. And who knows. He made deals. It’s a car deal.

AR: Terry, thanks for joining me.

TP: Thanks, Amanda.


Related WKSU Stories

Indians sign Grady Sizemore to one-year deal
Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Big heart vs. big paycheck
Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Terry Pluto on the Indians' dramatic season
Wednesday, September 28, 2011

'Grumpy nostalgia' about baseball's All-Star game
Wednesday, July 13, 2011

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