Thursday, May 7, 2009

50-game suspension for Mann Ramirez

The Los Angeles Times has broken a story that has sent shock waves across the baseball world. Manny Ramirez will serve a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a performance enhancing drug.

Ramirez will be forbidden from putting on a Dodgers uniform until the eve of our country's Independence and will begin his suspension immediately. The Dodgers have taken a mighty hit, as they have gone from the top to rock bottom. Just last night, Joe Torre and the gang were celebrating their thirteenth consecutive victory at home to open the 2009 season. The 10-3 victory over the Nationals set a modern Major League record for most consecutive wins to open a season at home.

Less then 24 hours later, Dodger fans, players, coaches and management were stricken with news that likely seemed surreal, as I know it did to me. Red Sox Nation likely reacted in many different ways. What some baseball fans tend to misinterpret is that "testing positive for performance enhancing drugs" does not always mean that a player injected themselves with steroids. Does it make the player in question any less of a culprit? Absolutely not. Taking a performance enhancing drug of any kind is inexcusable. Ramirez claimed, "Recently I saw a physician for a personal health issue. He gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was okay to give me."

In a statement issued by Ramirez, he continued to say, "Unfortunately, the medication was banned under our drug policy. Under the policy that mistake is now my responsibility. I have been advised not to say anything more for now. I do want to say one other thing; I've taken and passed about 15 drug tests over the past five seasons."

The former Red Sox slugger finished with apologies, "I want to apologize to Mr. McCourt, Mrs. McCourt, Mr. Torre, my teammates, the Dodger organization, and to the Dodger fans. LA is a special place to me and I know everybody is disappointed. So am I. I'm sorry about this whole situation." Was that statement actually written by Manny Ramirez? Probably not. Does it enlighten the situation for baseball fans? Well, that all depends on if what "Manny" is saying is true, but when you're in this position (cough, A-Rod, cough) players tend to stretch the truth, or just flat out lie to protect their legacy.

The 50-game suspension slapped on Manny Ramirez will forgo 31% of the $25 million that the right-handed slugger signed for this past offseason. Players that are suspended under Major League Baseball's drug policy are suspended without being paid a dime. Therefore, Ramirez will have $7.7 million yanked from his pockets throughout the duration of his suspension.

Since this drug policy was introduced in 2003, Manny Ramirez becomes the biggest name in baseball to have the hammer come down upon a star player. Baseball fans are getting sick of players testing positive for performance enhancing drugs and none of them "knew what they were taking." It's getting old and it's shocking us less and less with each big name that leaks.

Ramirez was hitting at a red-hot .348, with 6 HR, 20 RBI and an eye-popping 1.133 OPS. His numbers helped the Dodgers start the season with a Major League-best 21-8 record, launching them 6.5 games up in the National League West.

As a professional athlete that is making more money in one year than any of us will see in our entire lifetime, why is what you put into your body being done so carelessly? Is it the invincible mindset? Almost like not wearing your seat belt before you drive? You don't think a bad accident can happen to you? Well, it did, Manny. I'm sorry that it had to happen to you, and I'm sure there's a lot we still don't know, maybe a lot we don't even want to know, but one thing I do know is that we as baseball fans have become numb to "news" like this. Manny Ramirez isn't the first superstar to be linked to performance enhancing drugs, and sadly, you're a fool if you think he'll be the last.

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