With two positive performance-enhancing drug tests to his name, Manny Ramirez's baseball legacy is tarnished in the eyes of many observers. But the former Boston Red Sox superstar claims he wouldn't change a thing.
While speaking to reporters at a charity event in Boston on Wednesday, the 47-year-old revealed he's now at peace with his career and how his performance-enhancing drug use brought it to an end.
"I ask myself ... it was a good thing for me, because it make me grow up," Ramirez said after being asked if he reflects on his decision to use steroids, according to Tom Leyden of WFXT Boston. "Maybe a lot of people didn't get caught, and they doing maybe so many crazy stuff that they not learning from it. So I think everything happens for a reason, and everything is working for the good.
"I'm in a better place that I haven't been, even when I was playing, so I don't regret it because it make me grow up."
In 2009, shortly after he'd redeemed his superstar status with the Los Angeles Dodgers following a messy exit from the Red Sox, Ramirez received his first drug suspension of 50 games. The ban came as a shock given his superstar status, and it began his rapid fall from grace.
Ramirez's career came to a sudden end just five games into the 2011 season. After going 1-for-17 with the Tampa Bay Rays, he was handed a 100-game suspension following his second positive drug test. He walked away from the Rays instead of serving the ban, and despite a few comeback attempts in the years that followed, he never appeared in the majors again.
He left baseball having hit 555 home runs, good for 15th on the all-time list.
Baseball Hall of Fame voters apparently haven't forgiven Ramirez. Although regarded as one of the greatest hitters of his era, he's received limited support from the writers, garnering no more than 23.8% of the vote since debuting on the ballot three years ago.
Ramirez is nonetheless optimistic about his Hall of Fame prospects and believes he'll eventually make it within the next 15-to-20 years, according to Leyden. He also thinks it's time to forgive those implicated in baseball's steroid scandal and honor them with plaques in Cooperstown.
"It's the same thing like with Pete Rose (who is banned for gambling on baseball)," Ramirez said. "That's it. Let that guy get in. That's it, everybody makes mistakes. I make mistakes every day. Everybody make (mistakes). But we gotta keep moving, so what else can you do."
Ramirez has another six years of Hall of Fame eligibility remaining as long as he continues to receive at least 5% of the vote.