Every Indians fan should visit Cooperstown at least once. It’s tonic for the soul to realize the breadth and glory of the Tribe’s history. I go every two or three years, just to freshen my pride and remind my son — 11 years old, kinehora, and born in North Jersey — that for a century before every one of his favorite players left the Indians as free agents or trade bait for lesser, cheaper talent, the Cleveland Indians helped define the best of the National Pastime.
I’ve never gone to a Hall of Fame induction ceremony. I should’ve gone to Eck’s — I can’t recall why I didn’t — but he spent only 3 seasons with Cleveland. I don’t believe Omar belongs in the Hall, but I don’t think that’d keep me away if he gets in. Jim Thome can fuck himself in perpetuity, not just because he left, but because he was utterly fraudulent on his way out of town — I wouldn’t piss on Thome if he was aflame in the gutter, much less go someplace to see him honored. But Manny? I’m there. I wouldn’t miss that for the world.
I know: Manny left, too. But Manny never boasted they’d have to rip the Indians’ jersey off his back, and Manny never claimed that it wasn’t about the money. Manny never said a fucking word; Manny hit. Manny Ramirez was the best hitter the Cleveland Indians of my lifetime ever had, and the most entertaining player to watch. He did almost nothing right on the diamond unless he was in the batter’s box, but he was always fun to follow as he fucked up in the field and on the bases. I never stopped rooting for him, even after he left.
I don’t know if he’ll ever be inducted, especially after failing another drug test. PEDs aren’t as big a deal to me as they are to a lot of fans and media types; to me, the steroid era fits right into the game’s mythic history. That’s how I look at it — in the same context as the Black Sox, the color line, Pete Rose, Ball Four, and a thousand other aspects, small and large, of my favorite sport — and that’s how I talk to my son about it. If the BBWAA and the Veterans Committee keep guys like McGwire and Manny out of the Hall as punishment for their cheating, it won’t stop us from going to Cooperstown. Won’t mean a thing, really. Manny will always be in the batter’s box in my mind’s eye, unleashing that perfect swing, head down, hips turning, hitting the shit out of the ball.