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.