It’s about time. Sure, baseball big cheese Bud Selig might have sent shockwaves through MLB clubhouses when he announced the 50-game steroid suspension policy a couple years back, but did anyone even give it a second thought before the news on Manny Ramirez leaked early last week?
Alright, me and three other Giants fans were up in arms after brace-faced backstop Eliezer Alfonso got caught juicing last season, but the bottom line is no one near the star power of Man-Ram has felt a suspension-induced sting beyond the sharp pains from where needle met butt cheek. In #99’s case, this sting means taking a third of the season off to primp his gnarly dreads.
There are plenty of personal consequences for Manny being Manny, but I’m not going to get into discussions of how he should handle the situation or what this lengthy lull means to his legacy. I’ll leave that to the experts on ESPN, which brings me to my first implication of what Manny’s monkey business means for us baseball fans.
My forecast calls for a heavy downpour of mind-numbing “SportsCenter” coverage, with a 90 percent chance of steroid saturation that you’re already fed up with. We saw it with Barry, we saw it with A-Rod and, alas, we’re seeing it with the face of the Dodgers. How can the hub of televised sports coverage justify perpetual bombardment of updates on a story that’s not really sports related? I love watching Manny’s antics as much as the next guy, but when wild and wacky “mantics” clips are shunned in favor of Pedro Gomez features detailing Man-Ram’s every move, it’s time to switch it up and watch performance-enhanced penguins on the Discovery Channel.
Instead of shelling the public with newsbreaks on a player that’s no longer active, I would advise “SportsCenter” to shift its focus to implication number two – the impact that his loss will have on the NL West. All of a sudden, the Dodgers have lost the big bat in the middle of their lineup, and while they still have plenty of weapons that make up one of the stronger batting orders in the bigs, it looks as though the sun is starting to shine (last weather reference, I swear) on the San Francisco Giants.
In their first meeting with their NorCal rivals since Manny got the boot, the Dodgers found themselves on the losing end of a three-game series this past weekend. Granted, SF’s offense is still god-awful and, as a team, they are still nowhere near Los Angeles talent-wise. However, if the G-men are able to make a push that gets them anywhere close to the Dodgers by mid-season, I wouldn’t put it past shortsighted GM Brian Sabean to pull the trigger and acquire a power bat to narrow the offensive deficit between the west coast rivals. With a starting staff loaded with possibility, there just might be a pennant chase to the end.
My final implication has nothing to do with the Manny, the Giants or the Dodgers but is more of a salute to the man that saw this entire debacle coming. No, I’m not talking about you, Bud Selig, your blind eye is what jump-started the juicing era. The man I am referring to is none other than baseball’s bad boy, the sultan of steroids – Jose Canseco. We all laughed when his book “Juiced” hit the shelves, and were quick to question his allegations, but let’s face facts. He was right about Giambi, he was on point with A-Rod and he had the call with Man-Ram. Maybe after a few more of his big names are exposed, he’ll get the MLB to sponsor his movie about steroids. Heck, maybe he’ll even get Manny to co-star… he is in Hollywood after all.
Though Manny is only one man with an army of hair, there’s no doubt that the doo-rag donning prankster was the heart and soul of the L.A. roster. His presence was felt on the field with a sweet homerun swing and flair for the heroics, but beyond the offensive production was an unparalleled persona that meant so much more. A legion of fans opened their arms to the lovable left-fielder only to have them embraced with a veil of deceit that likens their superstar to Barry Bonds, the very man they will forever hate more than anyone to ever suit up the orange and black.
The media will always unfairly single out studs like Ramirez and Bonds because their natural talent was enough to draw them into the limelight in the first place. It’s a harsh reality, but one that will never change. So let this be a lesson to all the other big names (it’s not too late Big Papi) in baseball – don’t do it or come clean. And do it without caking your face in makeup before you give your big interview. Thanks for the heads up, A-Rod.