The mistake Manny made was getting caught when baseball doesn't test for HGH. Why risk suspension by taking a masking agent when almost anyone who looks for the edge goes for HGH or designer steroids that aren't detechable. The excuse that a doctor gave you something that's banned doesn't fly when it's woman's fertility drug.
Having said that, I've got a newsflash: It doesn't matter!
We have become too accustomed to players testing positive or being caught with PED's and since it's quite clear that a sizable amount of players used steroids at one time or another, it has evened itself out. Talent is talent and the good players who did/do PED's are talented baseball players. The scrubs who used steroids and did almost nothing in his career were supposed to do nothing.
The biggest argument I hear when people want to kill these players who used PED's say they "tarnish the game" because Babe Ruth didn't use them and Sandy Koufax didn't use them. Well, Babe Ruth never faced black players, and Sandy Koufax pitched on a taller mound that was a benefit to pitchers. They claim steroids is bad, but when Gaylord Perry used spitballs and Phil Niekro would scuff the ball, no one cares and they get put in the Hall of Fame.
What also hurts for those who vilify all the steroids users is the fact that most fans don't join in. Yes, fans will turn against PED's user, but rarely ever for their own players. Barry Bonds was hated throughout the league, not just for steroids mind you, but in San Francisco, he was an icon. Yankees fans still loved Jason Giambi after he tested positive and have defended A-Rod much more than I thought they would, crystallizing the love-hate relationship Rodriguez and Yankees fans have. It helps that the Yankees are struggling without him, though. And if you ask Red Sox fans today, now knowing Manny's possible steroid use in 2004 and 2007, if they would do it all again, I'm certain 99 percent would. Finally, when he comes back with the Dodgers, he will most likely maintain their support, making them just like their archrivals in San Fran.
Failing a drug test for Manny is more serious than the A-Rod's, Roger Clemens' and Mark McGwire's of the world because baseball didn't have drug tests and suspensions when they are alleged to have used and Rodriguez, Clemens and Bonds never failed a drug test. Personally, I've always said in the past that those who did steroids and caught before 2003 played when there weren't rules against it. Manny unfortunately knew the rule and he's paying the price. However, you look at the NFL, they have had plenty of players test positive for steroids, yet no one cares. For example, Shawne Merriman in the year he failed a PED's drug test ended up third in the Defensive Player of the Year voting and made the Pro Bowl (though the league made a rule banning in-season drug test failed players in the future).
The main reason that people care about the baseball steroid users is because of the records. Stats matter in baseball than any other sport. 61 and 755 are important to baseball fans. Emmitt Smith's rushing record and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's point total aren't to the standard fan (hence I don't give a number). But now that we have seen so many players test positive, it's about time we stop treating the latest PED user as a huge story and a chance to easily demonize an individual who makes a mistake.
These players shouldn't live with a scarlett S for the rest of their lives when football players get to hide behind their helmets. Manny Ramirez shouldn't miss out on the Hall of Fame any more than A-Rod or Barry Bonds because they were talented enough in the first place to be in the Hall of Fame. In Bonds and Clemens case, steroids lengthened their career's, while A-Rod and Manny are great hitters who may have hit more home runs than they probably would of.
What I wanted to do was not to excuse the use of steroids by baseball players, but to give them opportunity to redeem themselves. The best idea I heard was from Ken Rosenthal, to create a cheaters wing of the Hall of Fame. This can be put in the basement in Cooperstown, include the likes of Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Clemens and Manny along with the other steroid users worthy of induction if he played he whole career clean. You can even include Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson and anyone else who decides to gamble. Personally, I wouldn't give them the glory of giving a speech, though they do get to sit behind with the other Hall of Famers.
There is a problem if all of these baseball writers keep refusing to induct steroid users. We would have a generation of players who wouldn't be in the Hall of Fame. And in twenty years, I bring my son to the Hall of Fame, do we ignore the 1990s happened. I say no; put the users in a place where they can be separated for their actions, while included for their talent.