It has been five years since Manny Ramirez has graced a baseball field as a player, but the former Dodgers outfielder has reportedly indicated that he is interested in returning to play in the Chinese Professional Baseball League, according to The Taiwan Times.
That’s right folks, Mannywood is looking to move across to the Pacific Ocean to Taiwan! Again!
The land of empty stadiums, cardboard fans, and live cheerleaders seems like an inauspicious situation for the return of live baseball. However, it serves as perhaps the most conventional of landing spots for one of baseball’s most unconventional stars, where his quirky, enigmatic persona will play right in line with what has become the only spectacle in town.
Ramirez last suited up in a Major League uniform for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011. He would appear in just five games for the Rays, collecting just one hit and one RBI before abruptly retiring from baseball. It was revealed in the process that Ramirez had received a notice of suspension from MLB after testing positive for performance-enhancing substances for a second time, resulting in a 100-game suspension. Manny opted for retirement rather than carrying out that suspension.
Ramirez would eventually acquiesce to the suspension and serve a shortened, 50-game ban before attempting comebacks with both the Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers. After failing to make minor league comebacks with either team, Manny made his first journey across the ocean to the CPBL in 2013. In 49 games for the EDA Rhinos (now the Fubon Guardians), Ramirez hit .352/.422/.555 with eight home runs and 43 RBI.
Manny Ramirez is well known around these parts. He came to the Dodgers as part of a blockbuster trade in 2008 and made an immediate impact with the team. Ramirez’s play down the stretch, where he hit .396/.489/.743 with 17 home runs and 53 RBI through his first 53 games in Dodger blue, helped carry the team into the postseason and instantly made him a star in Los Angeles. However, elation would quickly wane, as he received his first suspension under the league’s anti-doping policy on May 7, 2009, and quickly fell out of favor in Los Angeles due to his eccentricities. The team let him walk on a waiver claim to the Chicago White Sox in 2010.
Manny Ramirez’s suspensions, and inevitable end of this MLB career, mask what was an otherwise brilliant career. Long considered one of the best right-handed hitters to ever play the game, Ramirez retired with a career wRC+ of 153 (tied 21st all-time) and a WAR7 of 39.9, which would rank his best seven-year stretch as 12th best among MLB left fielders. His 555 home runs (15th), 1831 RBI (19th), and .273 ISO (14th) also rank him among the all-time leaders. If not for the suspensions, he would already be enshrined in Cooperstown, and even with those, he still manages to hang around on the ballot, collecting 28.2% of the vote in 2020 in his fourth year on the ballot.
We’ll have to see if Mannywood makes a new home in the CPBL in 2020, but it could add just a little bit of flavor and familiarity while we await further word on the MLB season.