The question is how much stickiness there is with Manny Ramirez's 50-game suspension for a positive drug test.
On pure gut reaction, not much. There's a fatigue with the constant media hoopla over who's the latest ballplayer to get smeared (Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez and so on and so on). Maybe in 2007 you could have people on that this is, like, the worst thing ever, but life has become a bit more serious in the past 12 months. It's best to wait and see if Ramirez can produce a prescription slip. Ultimately, this is a time when Ramirez's space-cadet routine might help. Knowing what we know about him, he's not going to pour gasoline on the fire like that last two players listed above, since he could not give a patoot. (And it might have been something he was taking for erectile dysfunction?)
As it happens, I just got around to picking up J.C. Bradbury's book The Baseball Economist (published in 2005, but still highly topical). It's in paperback at Indigo and Chapters in Canada, so you should skim the chapter, "The Steroids Game." He calls BS on the whole notion of opposing steroids on the grounds they're "unnatural," pointing out Tommy John surgery, cortisone shots, laser eye surgery and everyday stimulants like caffeine and energy drinks are hardly natural. He even threw in Curt Schilling's bloody sock. At the time, it seemed like a heroic act of self-sacrifice, but at the end of the day, having a torn tendon stabilized and putting off having the proper procedure was not something people would do normally.
Bradbury goes a lot deeper. The point is, when someone plays hurt like that, the standard response is, "It's his career." The same holds true for what players ingest in post-Mitchell Report Major League, like it or not.
Anyway, how smart are the Red Sox for dumping Ramirez last summer? Of course, people are wondering about his former teammate, David Ortiz, still stuck on zero homers five weeks into the season.
The upshot is Ramirez stands to miss about 30% of the Dodgers' games (50 of 162). That's on par with the San Diego Chargers' Shawne Merriman sitting out of four games of a 16-game NFL schedule (25%) in 2006, when he was the league's top defensive player. Anyway, others have already spun it this way: The L.A. Dodgers didn't get Manny Ramirez until July 31 last season and reached the National League Championship Series. He is eligible to return July 3, so hey-hey, they're ahead of the game.
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