Manny: Steroids part of God's plan

Oh Manny, you came and you gave but you were taking ... Sorry, it still hurts.

It really was a beautiful two-month run for Manny Ramirez after he joined the Los Angeles Dodgers late in the 2008 pennant race. But the following season Ramirez was slapped with a 50-game suspension, and one of the greatest right-handed hitters to every playing the game has never really been the same.

Once a first-ballot Hall of Famer, Ramirez retired Friday after the league notified him that he had again failed MLB's drug policy. Baseball commentators have spent the weekend talking about Ramirez's fall from Cooperstown grace, and I took a moment yesterday to drop him from my fantasy team (he was 1-17 and already on my bench, so it wasn't a big loss).

And, of course, Manny had something to say:

"I'm at ease," Ramirez told ESPNdeportes.com by phone from his home in Miami. "God knows what's best (for me). I'm now an officially retired baseball player. I'll be going away on a trip to Spain with my old man."

I'm not sure how steroids figure into God's plan.

Now, when the White Sox claimed Ramirez off of waivers last year, after the Dodgers tired of waiting for Manny, Ramirez actually forgot how to speak English. (Or was it just Manny being Manny?) This comment requires a bit less translation, but the AP sports writer who wrote this story still acted like Ramirez was speaking a foreign language.

The rest of a fairly long story, especially by sportswriting standards, gives a nice recap of Ramirez's career, highlights and lowlights. But it doesn't make another mention of God or Jesus or anything else religious. Even though it should have.

After all, this is not the first time that Manny, like Alex Rodriguez, has blamed God's divine plan and human fallibility for his steroid use.

Two years ago Manny was reminding us that, much as Dodgers fans hoped otherwise, he was not Jesus:

"A lot but, um, we humans. We learn from mistakes. There was only one man that was perfect -- and they killed him. That’s how I look at life."

So what does God have in store for Manny? And how will he know? And why is God and a vacation to Spain the only thing on his mind as he quite unceremoniously ends what was once a great career?

These are questions that I wish the AP had asked. They weren't too hard to spot; meatballs waiting to be blasted like one of those hanging breaking balls that Manny used to feast on.

But, to be sure, AP sportswriter Dave Skretta wasn't the only one striking out.

Most papers seem to have picked up the AP story -- from the SF Chronicle to the Wall Street Journal -- but other original reports also failed to mention what Manny meant by mentioning God.

ESPN, which at times has been really good at spotting religion angles (and other times not so much), leaves readers with a big ghost after following basically the exact same line as the AP.

Look, I know it's not a story when Albert Pujols touches home plate and points to heaven (though that hasn't happened much yet this season). But it requires a bit of reporter explanation when one of the greatest players of a generation retires and blames his bad decisions on God.

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