Since we already know that Manny Ramírez was using steroids, let’s engage in a little open and gross speculation. For all we know, Ramírez had been juicing for years. But there is circumstantial evidence to suggest that he began sometime around the end of the 2007 season.
You may recall that he put up some rather un-Manny-like numbers that year. He hit just 20 homers and drove in a mere 88 runs in 133 games. In 2006, by contrast, he hit 35 homers with 102 RBIs, despite playing in three fewer games. Moreover, in ’07 Ramírez occasionally looked as though his bat was slowing down. Yes, he came alive in the post-season, and he was a key to the Red Sox’ winning the World Series. But he was no longer the Manny of 1998-2005, when he averaged nearly 41 homers and 130 RBIs.
Then came the ’08 season. We were told that he was happier than he’d been in years. The power was back. But his once-harmless antics took a nasty turn. He assaulted Kevin Youkilis. (Yes, Youk can be pretty annoying, but his other 23 teammates somehow manage to restrain themselves.) He assaulted a 64-year-old clubhouse guy. And he sulked his way out of Boston. As Gerry Callahan writes in the Boston Herald, perhaps we were looking at “‘roid rage.”
I am not sure why the Boston Globe’s Bob Ryan wants to give Ramírez any benefit of the doubt.
In one sense, I disagree with both Callahan and Ryan. Ramírez is not stupid. Rather, he is supremely self-centered. The rules have never applied to him, and he knows it. When you consider what he’s gotten away with over the years, why would he think it would be any different this time?