If Manny Ramirez hadn’t been stupid enough to file retirement papers when he learned he was getting slapped with a 100-game PED suspension back in April, he would have been eligible to resume playing in the majors last month. That’s not to say anyone would have taken him — the Rays almost certainly would have released him, and it’s doubtful anyone would have been quick to pick him up — but eligibility wouldn’t have been an issue.
So, now Manny says he wants to play in the Dominican Republic, serve his 100-game ban and potentially return to the majors. Those last two things are new, but he was talking back in late April about playing winter ball, and no one from the commissioner’s office stepped up then and shot the idea down. It’s only now, with training camp opening in four days, that MLB has said Ramirez can’t play for Aguilas Cibaenas.
MLB doesn’t owe Ramirez any favors. He’s flaunted the rules and got busted twice. If he’s found cheating again, he’d get a well deserved lifetime ban.
The second suspension, though, isn’t supposed to be a lifetime ban. Only that’s what it is if MLB decides to enforce it now. Ramirez wouldn’t be able to play this winter, and he’d have to sit out until mid-July next year. His career would almost certainly be over at that point.
Which leaves me wondering if there’s some room for compromise here. Can filing those retirement papers when he wasn’t sure he was done by looked at as just another Manny-being-Manny moment? How about giving him partial credit for all of the time he’s already missed? Ban him for the first 20 games of the Dominican Winter League season and the first 20 games of next year, though allow him to play in the minors during that time if he’s able to find some team willing to take him off? Ramirez will still have paid a fair price, and maybe he’ll still have a chance to go out on a better note.
I’m not saying that’s the way to go. I’m not feeling particularly charitable to Ramirez right now. I’m mostly interested in what everyone else thinks.