Prior to Wednesday’s game against the Atlanta Braves, the Boston Red Sox held a special ceremony to honor the 10th anniversary of their 2004 World Series Championship. As a result, many players from that defining championship attended the ceremony including Curt Schilling, Johnny Damon, Kevin Millar, Tim Wakefield, Pedro Martinez, Jason Varitek, Keith Foulke, David Ortiz and, of course, Manny Ramirez.
As part of the festivities, Ramirez joined the NESN booth consisting of Steve Lyons and Don Orsillo. Naturally, because of the way Ramirez left Boston, Lyons and Orsillo asked him a series of questions about his time playing for the Red Sox and his antics. Surprisingly, Manny seemed very embarrassed and regretful about the way he behaved in Boston. When asked about this, he said the following:
“To be honest, sometimes now that I’ve been in church almost four years now, me and my wife, now I realize that I behaved bad in Boston. And the fans, they were great. I also really realize that I behaved bad and I apologize for that. I’m a new man. That’s what Jesus said. That’s what I believe. Now that I came back and see David, and see the guys, I wish I could have done better. You never know.”
Ramirez also addressed the famous altercation that transpired between him and traveling secretary Jack McCormick in 2008. When asked about it, he said the following: “Yes, yes, yes, I went and spoke to Jack, I apologized to Jack; I told him, Jack, I want you to forgive me because it was my fault. I behaved bad here with everybody. I want you to forgive me. He said, Manny, thank you, I was waiting for that.”
Perhaps most importantly, Ramirez talked about how he has changed as a man, and in doing this, he sounded very sincere. He divulged that after he went to jail for a few months because of an issue with his wife, he took a hard look at who he was as a person and decided that he needed to change. He then started attending church and now believes that God has helped him to change and become a better man.
Whether you believe him or not, which as a Red Sox fan, you would have every right to be skeptical of him, it is nice to see that Ramirez is at least saying all of the right things. I believe that he regrets how things ended in Boston and even then, I always viewed him as a somewhat misunderstood character who needed some guidance in the right direction in his time there. Some might argue that he is saying the right things just so he can get a chance at playing again, but if that is the case, he at least has learned how to be politically correct, which is a start.
As a lifelong fan of Ramirez, I am happy to see that he is at the very least attempting to turn over a new leaf. If I had a vote, he certainly would have a place in the Hall of Fame with all of the other MLB greats. He is still one of the greatest hitters in Red Sox history and nobody can ever take that away from him, whether he gets the call to the hall or not.
Manny will now have an opportunity to make things right with the Chicago Cubs in a player-manager type of role. If he can truly convince others that he has changed his old ways, a place in the Hall of Fame could still be in the cards for the slugger, provided the voters can look past his history of steroid use.