Maloney: Yet Another Case of Manny Being Manny

Manny Ramirez never seems to disappoint!

By Brian Maloney

Manny Ramirez always finds a way to be in the news.  Last week he was informed that he failed a drug test that had been taken during Spring Training and the punishment would be a 100-game suspension.

At the age of 38, Manny probably realized that it would be too difficult to return after missing half a season from suspension, and therefore decided simply, and abruptly, to call his career.

It has not been made public which drug he tested positive for — with Manny’s reputation it may have been marijuana as opposed to a second steroid-related positive test — but the news of pending consequences has ended the career of arguably the best right-handed hitter of the last 20 years.

As Red Sox fans, we never wanted to believe that Manny was on anything.  He didn’t look like he was juicing; he looked like he could just as easily be on his couch watching baseball rather than playing it.  Manny had a smooth swing and everything just looked easy.  He was never a homerun hitter, but rather a pure gap hitter that could slap the ball so well that it went over the fence.

Someone so carefree couldn’t be on steroids, right?  As I mentioned, the only drugs that people expected he could be on would be those of the recreational variety. However, as “Manny being Manny” became more extreme and his production so drastically dropped off after his first suspension — minus that month or so immediately following — it became more believable that Manny’s skill could not all be natural.

So how will Manny be remembered?

As a top 10 all-time in Slugging and a top 15 all-time in Home Runs?

Most people, I’m assuming, would lean toward the latter, with Manny being a goofball.  Most wouldn’t dispute that he was a great hitter, but just that his ability is now tainted.

Manny’s antics are indisputable and will never be forgotten.  He certainly acted dumb at times and had poor judgment in his role, doing things that no one else could get away with. But he was just “Manny being Manny”.

People will look at his positive tests and crazy shenanigans before they even think about his actual playing ability. And that will cost him a spot in the Hall of Fame.  In a time that nobody accepts any tomfoolery on the part of professional athletes, two positive drug tests is a nothing short of a blow.

But this opens up another debate.

It is becoming more and more difficult to find Hall of Fame-worthy players from that last 25 years that can be proven to be absolutely clean? Where does this leave Major League Baseball?

MLB has two choices: either continue to shun everyone who is mentioned in the same sentence as steroids, or just understand that steroid use was just another era of baseball and it should be treated as such.

The main issue is that there is no way to go back and determine who was using performance enhancers and who wasn’t.  Testing was not as good 15 to 20 years ago and a lot of athletes who were using could have escaped a positive test.

This is why I take the other side.

MLB and the Baseball Writers of America need to get off their moral high horses and let players like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro and future Hall of Famers like Manny and Alex Rodriguez have their rightful places in Cooperstown.

If MLB really had an issue with rampant steroid use then they would have punished people when they were playing and as they were using.  Instead, MLB took full advantage of the spectacle and took every cent that it produced.  Only when use started to die down and the public started caring about steroid use did they go back and shun those individuals that used steroids.

As things stand today, Manny Ramirez has forever tarnished his legacy and has no chance at Cooperstown.  But, that doesn’t change the fact that he was a great hitter, a great entertainer and a huge part of MLB teams that brought the World Series back to Boston.

Boston Red Sox Thoughts and Questions

By Brian Maloney and Matt Noonan

Noontime Sports was indeed watching the Boston Red Sox – Texas Rangers series and after digesting three painful outings, both Brian Maloney and Matt Noonan felt it was necessary to answer a few questions from what was on display.

Being a part of Red Sox Nation, fans know how susceptible people are to overreaction. While the Boston Red Sox began their season with three straight loses to the Texas Rangers, there is the general consensus that the sky is falling, but really, is it?

Well, realistically the season is far from over and with 159-games remaining and with a brand new series against the Cleveland Indians beginning Tuesday, here are just a few reason why all Bostonians, New Englanders shouldn’t get concerned or worried just yet.

Adrian Gonzalez is the “real deal:”

Brian Maloney: I think we’ll take three RBIs in three games. He struck out twice, which is huge for a middle of the lineup bat.

Matt Noonan: I was rather surprised with Gonzalez’s performance. I thought he would have struggled, but how about his stolen base too, Brian? Certainly, he will be fun to watch all season, but when will Carl Crawford pick up a bat and copy Gonzalez’s swing?

Should fans be concerned about Carl Crawford’s weekend performance:

BM: Crawford is a career [.296] hitter and it’s ignorant to think that his [2-12] start means anything.  Sample size means everything and twelve at bats do not make a season. Although, the market probably forced the Sox to pay more for him than what he was actually worth, so people are already seeing another J.D. Drew situation begin, but again, he will hit and run, so just give him time to find his swing.

MN: Couldn’t agree more, Brian, but again, it is only three games, so it is rather hard to tell what kind of impact he will have on the team come July, August and September. I do agree that the Sox may have dished out too much money for this guy, but hey, let’s hope he doesn’t take a page out of Shaquille O’Neal’s book. The “Big Shamrock” ended up getting hurt and just doing a bunch of celebrity appearances around town, but for all those Crawford fans, just know, he’ll be fine and eventually produce at the plate.

Jon Lester always starts slow:

BM: April has always been a bad month for Lester. His ERA is almost a run and a half higher in March and April, compared to his other career numbers, [4.95 vs. 3.58]. He is the “Ace of the team” and will slowly transition into “hero mode,” just watch!

MN: Brian, why are we so concerned about Lester? Similar to Crawford, he will be fine. Yes, Lester always starts slow and while we both ponder his unusual play during the early part of the season, let’s just admit that he’s still on pace to win 20-games, so again, let’s not worry because the lefty will snap out of his funk sooner or later. I also think that John Lackey and Clay Buchholz will follow in his footsteps, but again, while those are bold predictions on my end, let’s just sit back and watch Lester bounce back in his next outing.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia can hit:

BM: Ok, his career numbers don’t really support my theory, but trust me. This kid can hit.  He has “plus-plus” power and a fairly good eye, but also, he can produce from both sides of the dish, which is something the Red Sox will need out of him. If the Red Sox can bring out his potential or even most of it, the Nation will be ecstatic with Salty behind the dish until one of our prospects is ready for the big time.

MN: This guy has not been impressive, but certainly, he does remind you of Dustin Pedroia, who began his big league career incredibly slow, but then took off toward the end of the season. Remember when Pedroia hit that towering home run over the Green Monster during game seven of the American League Championship Series against the Cleveland Indians? Similar to Pedroia, I sure hope we can watch a similar story, but while his defense isn’t bad, it’s just his hitting that needs to improve.

How good are the Texas Rangers:

BM: They are indeed the reigning American League champions. It’s not like Boston was swept by Kansas City, but instead, by a team that could certainly win the AL West. Their trio of starters that the Sox faced included, C.J. Wilson, Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis, who aren’t that bad, but also, let’s not forget to Neftali Feliz, who is a valuable member of their bullpen. The Rangers offense is quite impressive too, especially when a team has Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler.

MN: Texas is indeed coming off their World Series high, but it is too early to hand them the division crown. Let’s not forget about Oakland, a team that surely has potential. Also, whatever happened to Los Angles of Anaheim, weren’t they usually a lights out team? I completely respect your thoughts, but after only watching three games this season and yes, all three being Red Sox vs. Rangers, I cannot hand them the title just yet.

Wrestlemania Sunday Preview

This is a special article, which was contributed by Dan Libon, Brian Maloney and Mike Riley.

World Wrestling Entertainment will once again put on their annual WrestleMania show on Sunday from Atlanta, Georgia. The annual “Super Bowl of Sports Entertainment” will feature the WWE has to offer and it’s many story lines.

Due to this special event, a few members of the Noontime Sports family have decided to provide their thoughts on this rather special occasion.

Will John Cena beat the Miz? Can the Undertaker continue his “undefeated” streak at WrestleMania? Will the WWE fans care when Snooki from the Jersey Shore enters the ring for her match? We’ll find out on Sunday.

Main Event: World Heavyweight Championship Match – (Champion) with Christian vs. Alberto Del Rio (Challenger) with Brodus Clay:

Dan Libon: Edge is due for a win. There has been an effort to turn Del Rio into a star overnight, but EDGE will get the win.

Brian Maloney: This may turn into a Triple-Threat Match, but I can see Christian costing Edge the title and creating a feud that lasts until Summer-slam. ALBERTO DEL RIO will be your new champion.

Mike Riley: The “Rated R Superstar” will be lowered to Rated G.  The company has been pushing Del Rio for months and his Royal Rumble win was the clear indication. I’ll take DEL RIO over Edge and say that Christian turns on his former partner to set up a match at next month’s pay per view.

The Miz (Champion) with Alex Riley vs. John Cena (Challenger):

DL: CENA is going to win, but someone is getting a Rock Bottom. WrestleMania is all about happy endings, so I can’t see The Miz winning here.

BM: You know that The Rock will get involved and I really hope that this leads to a Cena “heel turn” in the long run. THE MIZ retains due to Cena being distracted and hopefully, Cena goes postal and turns heel to end the show

MR: Everyone including myself will be watching this matchup for the sole purpose of The Rock.  Does he do it before, during or after the match?  My best bet says that CENA wins this match, (he is still the “face of WWE”) and The Rock comes out after with the “Rock Bottom and People’s Elbow.”

Triple H vs. The Undertaker:

DL: The streak goes to 19-0. Its going to be long and boring. I can see both guys kicking out of finishers but UNDERTAKER should come out on top.

BM: If the streak ever ends, it won’t be to someone else on their way out.  UNDERTAKER’s streak lives on.

MR: This is should by all means necessary be the last match.  No holds barred, maybe some extra time for the two to work extra time, but I still think HBK will get involved after Undertaker beat him at Wrestlemania 25 and 26 (retirement match) to help out Triple H.  THE DEADMAN will find a way to win.  I believe in streaks but they don’t last forever.

Jerry Lawler vs. Michael Cole with Jack and special guest Stone Cold Steve Austin Swagger:

DL: Jerry Lawler finally gets his WrestleMania match and everyone gets to see Michael Cole get beat up. LAWLER will win and Cole may take a Stone Cold “stunner” to the approval of everyone.

BM: Cole gets in a cheap shot. Lawler unloads on him.  Austin stunners Swagger when he tries to interfere.  Austin stuns Cole just for being himself.  JERRY LAWLER gets the pin.

MR: Very excited about this match.  You could see the tension for weeks building up (kayfabe) with Cole and Lawler leading up to war or words in the ring.  LAWLER wins with help from his old partner Jim Ross, who will come out and knock out Cole.  Austin stuns Swagger at the end.  And Lawler, JR and Austin celebrate with some beers.

Randy Orton vs. CM Punk:

Libon: I would love to see a Punk win. CM Punk will have Orton in the “go to sleep” mode only to have ORTON reverse it.

BM: CM Punk is such a great character and I really could see this match go either way. I’m taking CM PUNK.

MR: Two very talented athletes and with ORTON tearing apart the New Nexus, he’s earned the chance to take down CM Punk.

Rey Mysterio vs. Cody Rhodes:

DL: REY will win this match.

BM: Rey is too big of a fan favorite to lose, especially with WWE reallytrying to expand into Mexico.

MR: I do think REY MYSTERIO takes it though, he’s always been a fan favorite.

Trish Stratus, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and John Morrison vs. Dolph Ziggler and LayCool (Layla and Michelle McCool with Vickie Guerrero) 6-person mixed tag team match:

DL: It’s a shame when guys like Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne can’t get a match on the show, but Snooki can because she’s famous for being an out of control reality television star on MTV.

BM: Why would Snooki or Trish agree to come in and not win? I really hope Snooki gets booted in the head.

MR: For entertainment purposes with SNOOKI and a $1 million dollar contract for the night.

Sheamus (c) vs. Daniel Bryan Singles match for the United States Championship:

DL: I feel this could be “that match.” It’s too bad because Daniel Bryan is arguably the most talented wrestler on the card. SHEAMUS will win, but there will be better days for Bryan.

BM: Somehow I feel like this could be an epic match. I got Daniel Bryan regaining the title after getting beaten down most of the match and reversing a Big Boot into a LaBell Lock.

MR: About a year ago, SHEAMUS was near the top of the WWE circa, as the Champ.  Seems like they are trying to bring him back, but he’ll win easily over Bryan and continues his run as the new U.S. Champion.

Kane, Big Show, Santino Marella, and Koffi Kingston vs. The Corre (Wade Barrett, Ezekiel Jackson, Justin Gabriel, and Heath Slater) 8-man Tag Team match:

DL: I’ll go with TEAM RANDOM because Santino is the only person in the match I really care about.

BM: THE CORRE wins because they are the only ones who can really gain anything.

MR: Can the company get away from the wannabe stables like the nWo or DX?  They’re just not cutting it.  Give me the MIXED SUPERSTARS in this one over the Corre and that may be the end of them. Corre will be gone after Sunday.

**Just before this post was published, Kozlov was attacked by The Corre at the Fan Axxess, so his replacement will indeed be Kofi Kingston, according to reports.