Scared straight

First of all, I feel bad for Manny Ramirez. We go way back to when we were young players, Manny in Cleveland and me in Minnesota. He was two years older, one of the young superstar guys. We always got along, had a good relationship. There was mutual respect.

He’s one of those guys I’ve always respected, because I know how much work he’s put into the game. He’s one of the hardest workers in baseball, which is why this is so hard for me to understand. He’s never been a guy to take the easy way.

People look at how he is on the field, carefree, having fun, a character, and they think, Manny, no way he works hard. What they don’t realize is he’s always been one of the hardest workers, hitting the weights before and after games, working out like crazy in the off-season. I remember when he was with the Red Sox and I was with the Twins, watching him in Spring Training in Fort Myers, Florida. He worked his butt off and studied the game. He’s not just amazingly talented — he’s smart. Players know that.

I hate that this happened to him. I can only imagine how much it’s hurting him right now. He cares about the game, cares about his legacy. He’s always been a great player, and now there’s this shadow, like with Alex Rodriguez.

At the same time, it lets everybody know that the drug policy is serious. That’s how strong it is. This is Manny Ramirez, one of the greats of the game. There’s no covering up. Whatever it was, it was a banned substance, and it tells every player in the game that if you’re doing something, you better be sure to clear it with your medical staff. Even if it’s vitamin C, fish oil, whatever. If it’s something new to your system, take it to them and have them clear it.

You’ve heard about being scared straight. Well, that’s what we have here. Every player in the game, whoever you are, you’ve got to be careful about what you’re putting in your body. That’s a good thing. Awareness is always a good thing.

I understand how a lot of people are going to react to this. If you’ve got big-time guys like A-Rod, Manny Ramirez, Roger Clemens . . . what are other guys trying to do? They probably think we’re cheating. There are more guys doing it the right way, respecting the game, than not. Some guys cheat — just like in the real world — but most of the guys in the game are playing clean. It’s like the business world. You’ve got cheaters, doing anything they can to make money and climb the ladder, and you’ve got good people trying to do it the right way and be fair and responsible.

This is the real world here. Baseball is the real world, with real people. You’re going to always have somebody trying to beat the system. People forget we’re human. We’re bound to make mistakes. But I want people, all of you, to understand that by far there are more guys doing it right than cheating. That’s the truth.    

23 Comments

Nice to see an intelligent and well-thought out response from a major league baseball player.

Thanks for your insight, Torii.

Dear Mr. Hunter,
Thank you for your insight and thoughts… just when i was losing faith in players your blog made me rethink and realize that there are hard working people out there. Its disappointing when you are deceived like that though as a fan of the team or the game in general.

Well, best of luck to you (hope to see you in the all star game! lol i know its still early but seriously the angels would be a lot worse without you)

go angels!

Torii, why do you feel bad for Manny Ramirez? He either knowingly cheated the game or is just plain stupid, or both. And because of guys like him, Alex Rodriguez, and Roger Clemens, there is now a cloud of suspicion hanging over the heads of all MLB players, including clean players such as yourself. So he not only cheated the game, but he cheated you. Don’t feel bad for Ramirez. He got what he deserved.

Torriiii,whats up.you are playing with fire,keep up the good work.i as a fan i love the hustle,the passion,and the excitement for every catch however the body takes its toll and you got to take care of your body the best way you can,i just hope you make the right choice.Well about Manny,he made a choice and now he will pay the consequences.I just think that all this could have being look up long ago,but the league is using every chance its got to use you as bait,i mean how long will this drag on,Move on if it was very common,then the majority took it,but it wasnt banned!!!So whats the point of bringing up a new name every year!!!Anyway i dont feel bad or sad about Manny,cause we are just fans and whatever you do its your own decision.So keep playing hard but take care of yourself. and may Edenheart and friends rest in peace,god bless you.Go Angels.

***IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER***
Manny didn’t actually fail a test. His testosterone levels were so high, MLB looked into it and found enough evidence of him using hCG, they didn’t need to have him fail a test to suspend him.
Apparently, among dopers, hCG would only be necessary for people who have been using steroids for a sustained period of time.
My question then becomes – How was he using steroids for a significant amount of time without being caught? Especially given the fact that he never actually failed a drug test. There is an obvious hole in the drug testing policy. I think everyone is missing the real story: he used PEDs and has never tested positive in tests. I think the powers to be of MLB are getting a free pass here.
http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=4150133

I do realize that you can admire a player for his hard work and talents. I look at so many Angel players and I am in awe of their talent. We look at you and we see your imperfections as well as your perfections. But, to knowingly CHEAT, that is unforgivable. It’s sending a message out to the fans, to the children, that hard work and talent isn’t enough. I always told my children, “if you work hard and bust yourself” you can achieve anything. I do believe that you Torii and many of the Angels are not Cheaters. I do believe that we see your hard work and talent. Thats why the fans 40,000+ attend all of your games. We all Believe in the power of Honest, Hard Working Players!!! GO TORII!!!

I thank you Torii for give us, the fans the hope that there are a lot of players out there doing things how they have to be done. I was an admirer of Manny but know I think that is going to change. I love the game, and I thank God for lettin’ us have players just like you who gives his best every time without the help of anything else for your endurance and stamina. Thank you again and may God bless you and your family!

Torii you’re the classiest MLB player without a doubt. I’m really glad to have you in an Angels uniform. You work just as hard on the field as you do off within the community.You give so much back, God bless you. Keep up the great work Gold Glove Machine! GO HALOS!

Mr. Hunter,
I’m a long-time fan of yours and am especially glad that you now put on an Angels uniform when you go to work! While I appreciate your support of Mr. Ramirez, you must take into account what we, the fans see. We see a player who seems to be more interested in making a fashion statement with his Samson-like locks and his ridiculously over-sized uniform, who has shown disrespect to fellow players, the ball club that employs him and ultimately to the fans…all of this BEFORE today’s announcement. But just like any professional field, there are all types. I prefer to throw my support behind a player whose outward display acknowledges the good fortune and priviledge to play the best game in the world for a living. A player such as yourself. And while disappointed by today’s revelation, I will continue to give every player in MLB the benefit of the doubt. I am and will always be a fan of baseball and won’t allow this or similar incidents to turn me into a cynic. I have no doubt that for every Manny Ramirez, there’s 50 Torii Hunters. (Well, there’s really only ONE Torii Hunter, but you know what I mean!)
Lori
http://luckylori.mlblogs.com

I understand how difficult it is for major league players every time this happens. Every time someone in my field does something stupid it makes the news and then everyone talks about how horrible everyone in my field is; we’re lazy, we’re not qualified, we’re not committed. I would think there would be anger at players who bring you all down like that.

I have less respect for the players who claim they didn’t know a substance was banned and you hit the reason right on the head. As an athlete your body is even more important to your livelihood than for most of us. You should check on everything before you put it in your body. There should be nothing going in there without being extremely careful about knowing exactly what it is, what it does, what it could be used for, and whether or not it is allowed.

If I’m caught putting anything illegal in my body, I lose my job and can never allowed to do it again anywhere else. Manny can live with his 50 games.

Hey Torii,

“I READ TORII’S BLOG”

I really appreciate your blogs. You have great insight and I’m glad you display it through your blog. I do agree with you, that there are more clean guys than not. For those who think baseball is nothing but cheaters, you lead the group of the role models who work hard and play the game the right way. Thanks.

I was really excited when you became an Angel. I used to live by Anaheim, but now I live by Arlington, TX. I go to every Angels game when they play the Rangers in Arlington. So if you read this comment, watch out for me because I will be there May 15-17 with a sign that says:

“I READ TORII’S BLOG”

I would like to meet you Torii Hunter

– Jordan V.

Hi Torii !
We all appreciate your honest appraisal of Manny. It is really pathetic that he worked so hard to achieve what he had and then be so ignorant to “supposedly” take erectile dysfunction meds without a waiver? Why would you put anything other than advil in your mouth without a waiver? Why would you risk your career, unless your dirty? and then put the blame of your dirt on the Dr.? AND that is not the first drug of choice to treat ED, but to treat gonad shrinkage after steriod use? I don’t agree with the Manny show, look like a ball player, no hair, no baggie uniform, NO DRAMA! AROD & Manny are done…Act like our Torii ! a team player, professional who loves the game, and appreciates everyday what he has in his life! We are so happy you are an ANGEL!!! Your a rockstar Big TOR!!!!!
GO ANGELS!!!!!
Kim H., HB

What up ‘my ninja’? You are like a ninja out in center and are the class of this team. We love you Torri, not only do you say the right thing, you mean it.

Kenny K.
La Verne

Hey Torii …

I’m a huge fan of yours and I couldn’t have been happier when we (the Angels) signed you to a long-term contract. That being said, this didn’t “happen” to Manny, he did it to himself the same as any other players who chose that route. It makes me sick that baseball is in this state right now and getting so much bad PR because a percentage of its elite and fortunate, albeit hard-working, membership has made bad decisions, Manny being one of them. I understand the relationships you most certainly have with fellow players, but let’s not tip-toe around what happened and who caused it. It’s demeaning to the fans.

Thanks for listening. Take care and have a great season.

Tim

I don’t know what banned substance Manny was taking and I don’t know whether he knew what he was getting into or not. But I do respect the fact that he is taking responsibility for what happened. I haven’t heard him throwing a temper tantrum over his suspension or anything else. Unlike many others in the game who’ve been caught cheating, he apologized immediately and is taking his punishment like a man.

I’m not a fan of Manny Ramirez, but I do admire that.

Hi Torii,

Sorry for the pain this news brings to you and your fellow players. It unfairly makes you all look bad. Just remember that there are fans who know better and will never doubt you. Your integrity is obvious to us all. You wear it on your sleeve.

I also take exception to your comment that “this happened to” Manny. He clearly did it to himself. I hate that it happened to you. And to me. And to fans of the game everywhere. Just when we’re starting to get past this stuff, he has brought it back with a CURRENT violation. I only hope that this example will prove MLB is serious about removing it from the game by suspending such a big star.

I love Manny Ramirez as a ball player. And Barry Bonds and AROD too. And I still do. But they cheated and that tarnishes everything. They will forever have that asterisk by their names. I pray that this is the end of these heartbreaks and we never hear anything tying steroids to another great superstar like Pujols or Vladdy. I already know that will never happen with Vladdy though. He isn’t capable of it. Doesn’t need it. Wouldn’t do it. I’ve never seen a more natural hitter.

Torii, nobody should feel more cheated than you and players like you that are absolute All-Star caliber but perhaps not SUPERSTAR caliber like Manny, Arod, Bonds, Clemens, et al. Their cheating set them on a level above and made your talents look less impressive. Every time one of them is exposed, your legacy improves. Keep up the amazing play. You guys are going all the way this season and I will openly mock anyone who thinks you can’t still win the division after the hard-luck April you all endured. You might even be in first place again before Santana and Lackey even get back next week! You’ve carried this team with your leadership and talent. Thank you Torii.

http://halosfan.mlblogs.com

Torii, I can respect where you are coming from. But I also have to take a lot of your statement with a grain of salt. Since the league suspended Manny for 50 games (that is a monstrous penalty – about a third of the season) then you must have concluded that the violation was severe. In a world so troubled with the problems we face today, we look up to you and fellow players to be our heros…our stars…our benchmark for goodness. I have been a fan of Manny’s for a long time, and it troubles me to see someone at that level of the game tarnish a very illustrious career with a banned substance violation. As a favor to all of us fans, we ask the players to pay the game straight. Avoid the temptation to enahnce abilities artificially. We know the reasons players do it – money. But I think that the players also have an obligation to their fans to keep a clean image, and keep the bigger picture in mind as well.

Randy – “bummedinoc” (when the Angels self destructed last season). exposureperfect.com

Mr. Hunter, you say, “I hate that this happened to him. I can only imagine how much it’s hurting him right now. He cares about the game, cares about his legacy. He’s always been a great player, and now there’s this shadow, like with Alex Rodriguez.”

This didn’t happen to Manny by mistake. It was a choice Manny made and now he’s got to live with the consequences. The same goes for A-Rod. I cannot feel sorry for cheaters. They’ve forever tainted the game of baseball, along with managers and owners who turned a blind eye while fans cheered for more home runs. Mr. Selig should also be held responsible for letting PEDs get out of control to get more people in the stands and for the sake of making money.

Fans of baseball aren’t stupid. They know their favorite players are probably cheating or have cheated in the past. It’s just part of the game, now. Personally, I’ll cheer louder for the next PED suspension-victim who actually acknowledges the charge and stands-up to say the drugging needs to stop, for the sake of our national pastime.

Not only are major leaguers working hard everyday to stay in the game, but they’ve worked hard their whole lives just to get there. Reading Zack Hamples’ book ‘Watching Baseball Smarter’ helped me to remember that. As a baseball fan, and in life, it is so easy to make snap judgements and condemn others without taking things into consideration or seeing the full picture. Let him who is free of sin cast the first stone. Manny did wrong and is now paying for it regardless of any comment I or anyone else makes. Who am I to make demeaning remarks about him? I think my time would be better spent wishing him well and praying for him. I also completely agree with Baseball being the real world. There is always bad…and good! It is true for every country, every organization, every group of people, and each individual person. If there wasn’t anything at all wrong with Baseball it would be because a) we’re blissfully ignorant or b) we’re in heaven. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging the bad in the world- but if one spends too much time and energy doing that, one misses out on all of the good. Thank you Torii, I very much appreciate your positive and thoughtful entry on this subject.
http://diamondsareagirlsbestfriend.mlblogs.com/

As a former player I whole heartedly agree with Tori. There are far more guys playing the game the right way than not. What is appearing to be evident is that more and more stars of the game are the ones who seem to be cheating the most. We are seeing a list of all stars and future hall of famers starting to appear. As a player who never used performance enhancers, I myself wonder what kind of player I may have been with a lil help. I do believe that with the new testing standards for steroids that if you cheat you will be caught. Just ask Manny. The two problems that need to be addressed now as the game moves forward is finding an adequate test for HGH, as I believe there is no way of detecting elevated amounts without blood samples, and a better testing program for amphetamines, which is a far bigger problem now than steroids. I, however, feel sorry for no one that gets caught. I played my entire career in the steroid era, and played it the right way. I strongly believe that other players who are playing the right way would feel the same. An even playing field needs to be created for those who chose not to break the rules. Unfortunately life is not fair, in baseball, and many other respects. All you have to do is look at the shape the economy is in. Many laws and rules have been broken to make the rich a whole lot richer, while the every day hard working sixty year old has to go back to work because they lost half of their retirement because of greedy CEOs and Advisors. All we can do is try an make our voice heard and do the right thing, and hopefully people will follow. Nice blog Tori. I plan on keeping up with your post. Hope this adds a lil insight as well.

hey torii,

Im a yanks fan but a fan of baseball first. Found your blog by accident but ive admired your talent for years. Much respect as you are a class act , but one thing i dont get is how are more players not angered by this? i mean if talents like A-rod and Manny are doing it , it must feel like such an uphill battle for everyone else. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this blog. Would love to hear more from you about the subject.

O.k., I’m sorry but I’ve been a baseball fan for 35 years now, since I was a pre-teen. Anytime I see someone either defend or try to get sympathy for someone who cheated the game and us fans, I start then questioning if that player is doing the same thing. I think of the guy in Triple AAA who didn’t cheat, who never got a shot at the majors because some scumbag with less talent took a shortcut. I think if you players were sincere, you would convince the players union to allow the release of the 100+ names who were caught. Remember cheating isn’t a mistake, it’s a decision.

Mr Hunter…I’m 61, a lifelong baseball fan and a faithful Texas Rangers follower. Your comments are classy. They do you service….they do your team service and they do baseball service. Thanks for making them!

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