There's no disputing that a lot of people in the Cubs' organization look with bitterness at a 2008 postseason that might have turned out different had Manny Ramirez' PED use been detected before he tested positive for a banned substance not long after his Dodgers swept the Cubs in the first round.
But Cubs reliever Sean Marshall, who gave up a Game 1 homer to Ramirez in that series, says he has no sour grapes over it, and makes no excuses. And he wants to make it clear that he wasn't ripping Ramirez when he made a few light-hearted comments about the home run when asked Friday if he wanted it back.
``He's a big-game player. He's a Hall of Fame player,'' said Marshall, whose comments to the Sun-Times were picked up nationally and used as an example of bitter reaction of some opponents to the cost Ramirez may have inflicted upon others with his use of performance enhancers.
``I have nothing but respect for the guy,'' Marshall said.
If anything some players who followed his career from the beginning seemed surprised Ramirez chose to use PEDs - especially enough to get caught twice in a two-year span.
``Unbelievable,'' said Alfonso Soriano, who followed Ramirez as a young player in the Dominican and then from afar as a young professional in Japan.
``If it just happens once, and you know you can't use the stuff, why do you use that [again]? He thinks he's smart to use it, and they don't find out. Now we find out.''
Soriano said he first saw Ramirez up close during a tryout for the Cleveland Indians over a decade ago, ``and I said I want to be like him one day. And now this is surprising. .... It's very sad - for an All-Star guy, maybe a future Hall of Famer, to do that.''
Soriano said he doesn't believe Ramirez will be elected to the Hall in the wake of his positive drug tests, comparing Ramirez to past greats Pete Rose (banned for gambling) and Mark McGwire (not close to being elected, presumably because of steroid use).
``A lot of people have the numbers to go up to the Hall of Fame, but what they do wrong makes it difficult to get to the Hall of Fame,'' he said. ``I don't know why people use [PEDs]. Use what you've got, that's it. You don't have to prove yourself to somebody else, like `I want to be better than somebody' or `I want to put up much better numbers than somebody.' Just play with who you are, what God gives you. ...
``I don't understand why [Ramirez] did it. He's got so much talent, I don't think he needed it.''