Manny done being Manny in baseball

After signing a $2 million contract and getting only one hit before his abrupt retirement, Manny Ramirez has reason to laugh all the way to the bank. (US Presswire)

Take a good look at this RBI single by Manny Ramirez against the Baltimore Orioles.

That was Manny’s only hit in 17 at-bats this season as a Tampa Bay Ray before he abruptly retired Friday. Given the $2 million contract that he signed with the Rays in the offseason, I figure that makes this the most expensive single in Major League Baseball history.

From MLB.com, here’s why Manny is no longer being Manny on a baseball field:

Ramirez had “an issue” under MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and informed the league he is hanging it up rather than “continue with the process under the program.”

The statement, in full, reads as follows: “Major League Baseball recently notified Manny Ramirez of an issue under Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment program. Rather than continue with the process under the program, Ramirez has informed MLB that he is retiring as an active player. If Ramirez seeks reinstatement in the future, the process under the drug program will be completed. MLB will not have any further comment on this matter.”

The New York Times, citing two sources, reported Ramirez tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug during Spring Training.

If the issue involving Ramirez was a drug violation, he would be facing a suspension of 100 games.

In the wake of the news on Friday, SI.com’s Tom Verducci wrote that “a drug test is not a drug test at all. It’s an IQ test.” Manny failed miserably because he was too stupid, arrogant or selfish (or some combination of the three) not to put anything near his body that would get him suspended for 100 games.

Any chance Manny has of making the Hall of Fame is also done. Oh, sure, he’s got the numbers. Jeff Bagwell has the numbers, too, and he’s never failed a drug test or been directly linked to taking performance enhancing drugs. Bagwell barely cracked 40 percent of the vote in his first time on the ballot because a lot of voters merely suspected he used PEDs. Think Manny’s got any shot with three failed tests?

As the St. Petersburg Times’ Marc Topkin wrote today, the real losers in Manny’s PED-induced retirement are the Rays and their fans.

Tampa Bay is a team that operates with a thin margin for error in the toughest division in baseball. In the offseason, they were already facing a tall task after losing the franchise’s best player ever, a power-hitting first baseman and beloved team leader and most of their bullpen to free agency. When the Rays signed Manny (one of the best hitters of his generation) to a relatively cheap deal, it seemed like a low-risk way to generate some offense — until Friday.

I sure hope the Rays had a clause in Manny’s contract that lets them get a refund on that $2 million they committed to him. They certainly could have found a better way to spend it than on one hit.

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