What a great way to wake up. Manny Ramirez, the guy many of us (myself included) wished the Giants would have made a greater effort to sign this past off-season, has been suspended for 50 games for a positive test for performance enhancing drugs.
I have to admit this caught me by surprise; I figured someone would leak that Ramirez was one of the 103 players who tested positive for steroids back in 2003, a la Alex Rodriguez. That’s still possible (or probable if you believe Jose Canseco, who’s become the Steroid Oracle) but Ramirez was suspended this morning for a positive drug test from this season, although we don’t know yet what he tested positive for and his camp is in full spin-mode.
Scott Boras, Ramirez’s agent, told ESPN’s Peter Gammons that his client did not test positive for steroids, but for a drug that was prescribed by a doctor for a medical condition.
Actually, Ramirez is suffering from a pretty common “medical condition.” It’s called AGING. With a short-term deal and an opt-out clause, Ramirez had plenty of reasons to turn to better hitting through chemistry. You see, most baseball players’ get worse as they get into their late 30’s, and apparently HGH (which isn’t even tested for) just isn’t enough.
What does this mean for the Dodgers, beyond the fact that they can’t make fun of the Giants anymore for having a “cheater” in left field? Imagine the Giants from 1993-2006 without Barry Bonds. Hell, imagine them now without Tim Lincecum. I wasn’t totally sold on the Dodgers anyway, as they’ve only played four games outside the NL West, going 1-2 at Houston (11-16) and a 10-3 last night over Washington (7-18). Sure, they’re 13-0 at home, but the best team they’ve faced in Chavez Ravine was the Giants. They were a paper tiger already, built on a juiced-up lineup and flimsy starting pitching.
Now that we know Man-Ram’s hair isn’t the only thing about him that’s phony, it’s hard not to celebrate. This is like a deadline-day deal for the Giants that will last the entire season. The Dodgers have to be shell-shocked, and it’s far from guaranteed that Ramirez will be the same once he returns. It’s tough to feel sorry for anyone in Los Angeles right now, since everyone wondered what Manny was on in the back of their minds, anyway. The guy I do feel for is Albert Pujols, because he’s next. In the past decade the game’s best player (Barry Bonds), best talent (Alex Rodriguez), and best right-handed hitter (Ramirez) have been outed as cheats (along with the game’s best power pitcher, Roger Clemens). Now the spotlight will shine brightest on Pujols, who’s enjoyed the best start in history –Ã‚Â man who’s quite large and currently leads the National League in homers with 11. If he tests positive that would complete the steroid slugger grand slam, something MLB really doesn’t need in this age of declining attendance.
Some are wondering whether Ramirez tested positive for weed (not likely, since it was prescribed by a doctor, unless Manny’s suffering from glaucoma) or some other non-anabolic steroid. Major League Baseball surely wouldn’t suspend one of their greatest stars, dirtying their own brand’s reputation in the process, unless Ramirez was on something pretty potent. Neither Ramirez nor his team have appealed the suspension or really had anything interesting to say, just the same old “I didn’t know that what I was taking had banned substances, even though it caused me to grow man-tits and my back looks like the Grand Tetons.
The craziest part about all this steroid stuff is that pretty much anyone who is suspected of using gets caught at some point. Remember Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro on Capitol Hill, and how Palmeiro waved his finger at the members of Congress and proclaimed his innocence? He tested positive less than five months later for stanozolol, and was out of the league soon afterwards. And what Will Clark said about Palmeiro at the time rings especially true today in regards to Manny:
“You got caught, partna!”
(Update: According to Yahoo Sports, Manny tested positive for a banned substance meant to boost one’s sex drive. “It is not Viagra, but a substance that treats the cause rather providing a temporary boost in sexual performance, the source said.” One has to wonder if this was just a problem unto itself, or if Manny couldn’t achieve wood after years of messing with his testosterone levels. OK, that’s enough speculation for now. Let the impotence jokes begin!)