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Manny being Manny

April 9, 2011
Weirton Daily Times

"Manny being Manny" will no longer be pertinent to everyday baseball vernacular. The slugger retired Friday instead of serving an upcoming 100-game suspension due to testing positive for banned substances a second time in his career.

With his departure, the aforementioned cliche, which was so often spouted describing both the play and character of a unique athlete, will not be uttered with any resonance until he is eventually inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum.

Yes, Ramirez should eventually be counted among the greats in the halls of Cooperstown.

All of this comes on the heels of Barry Bonds' perjury trial quickly coming to a close earlier in the week. Bonds, the posterboy for the "steroid era," will be eligible for first time induction into the Hall of Fame next season. The league's all-time home run leader should be a shoe-in for the prestigious honor. Yet much like other known steroid users such as Mark McGwire and Raphael Palmeiro who have already been blacklisted, Bonds will likely be taught a lesson by those who do not have the right to do so.

Forget the snobbery of the baseball writers who vote to define a player's legacy. It's not about whether journalists liked a certain player's attitude or agree with the actions those athletes took. It's about preserving the game in its entirety.

When anyone takes the time to visit the Hall of Fame website certain key words become readily apparent and establish the credibility of its existence.

First, the very name of the organization is the National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum. Two key words are quickly established purely through its title.

National opens the wording. Hall of Fame is not preceded by Major League Baseball, thus the Cooperstown staple does not have a direct affiliation to America's official professional league. This can be evidenced by 35 Negro League players who are already inducted. Each played the bulk or all of their careers outside of the predominant baseball league in this country. Yet, they are honored as peers with those who were in the MLB's during the same time frame.

The title ends in museum. It collects the history of the game. Historians are not trained to dictate history. They are trained to correctly interpret history based on available sources. As such, the most prudent decision isn't to keep those who are perceived as "cheaters" out, but rather include with them a wing that clearly defines their era.

These key words connect to the final three priorities which are emboldened at the top of the Hall of Fame's website: preserving history, honoring excellence, and connecting generations.

To preserve history correctly, all of it must be included. Each of the potential blacklisted players, despite their shortcomings, displayed excellence on the field. The museum cannot properly connect future generations, if the ballplayers from a certain era are not included.

No one has the right to completely exclude a generation or group of players simply because they are suspected or found guilty of certain actions.

If that is accomplished, the museum is not properly doing its job to preserve all which has proceeded.

Baseball's all time leading hitter, Pete Rose, has been the unfortunate example for decades. His transactions were no greater or less than those being discussed. In fact, his transgressions were away from the field. Yet because of a declaration from a governing body that has absolutely no affiliation to the the Hall of Fame, Rose has been unfairly cast out of consideration. This is unacceptable.

At its heart, the National Baseball Hall of Fame is a museum. A museum just like any other.

If the Nazi's were excluded from any War World II museum, it would not be complete despite acts which were beyond contemptible. Obviously this is an overstatement for effect, but it simply proves the point that any who wishes to preserve those acts which predated simply cannot tell part of the story.

When it's all said and done, the National Baseball Hall of Fame must make the proper decision to eventually include names like Manny Ramirez, Barry Bonds, Rapheal Palmeiro, Rogers Clemens, and the list could go on and on. It's simply the proper way to detail the full history of a game with layers and layers of tradition, even its black marks or asterisks.

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