Sunday, May 10, 2009

Baseball's Latest Black Eye

So Manny Ramirez was suspended 50 games for violating the league’s performance enhancing drug policy. Supposedly, he was taking hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), a female fertility drug taken by steroid users when coming off a cycle.

Ramirez is saying that he was given medication from his doctor for a personal issue and denies taking “steroids”. Well, in my world if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…it’s a stinkin’ duck.

So Manny’s not eligible to return until July 3 and will lose over $7 million in salary during his suspension. Yes, I’m a disappointed Dodger fan, but I won’t rant that they need to dump the guy. Why? First, there’s absolutely no chance it’s going to happen. Second, I (like many other sports fans) have become pretty numb to the steroid issue. I now expect things like this. Baseball’s become the joke of the sports world with all the bad publicity surrounding this issue. Let’s look at some numbers:

Post-Hank Aaron, here are the top 15 home run hitters in the game:
(1) Barry Bonds
(2) Ken Griffey Jr
(3) Sammy Sosa
(4) Mark McGwire
(5) Rafael Palmeiro
(6) Reggie Jackson
(7) Alex Rodriguez
(8) Mike Schmidt
(9) Jim Thome
(10) Manny Ramirez
(11) Frank Thomas
(12) Eddie Murray
(13) Gary Sheffield
(14) Fred McGriff
(15) Carlos Delgado

Nearly half of the top 15 players have been linked to steroids. How many times are we as fans going to get burned? How much longer will fans continue to spend hundreds of dollars at the ballpark knowing that many of the game’s top stars (who knows how many) are cheating the system; cheating each other; cheating the fans; cheating the history of the game?

Bonds was basically blackballed by the league. Sure he was over 40 following the ’07 season, but the guy hit 28 home runs and had a .480 OBP in his last year. He couldn’t have DH’d for someone in ‘08?

Sammy Sosa forgot how to speak English real quick when he was under the spotlight. He also looked noticeably smaller in his stints with Baltimore and Texas. Check this out: 40, 36, 66, 63, 50, 64, 49, 40, 35, 14, 21. Those are his home run totals from ’96 to ’07 (sat out ’06). Quite an odd drop off there in ’05. Two years separated from 35 homers, the best offer he could get for ‘06 was a minor league deal by the Nationals.

Mark McGwire doesn’t want to talk about the past. People wanted to blow off Jose Canseco's claims at first, but he doesn't look like such an idiot now. If you don't want to believe Canseco, what about Mark's brother Jay?

Rafael Palmeiro likes to demonstratively deny his use of steroids. 5 months later he was suspended for steroid use.

Gary Sheffield “unknowingly” used a steroid cream in ’02. Yeah, “unknowingly” and only in ’02, gotcha.

Then you’ve got Rodriguez and Ramirez.

This doesn’t even include Roger Clemens and all his drama. Between these last three guys, you’ve got the two best right hand hitters of our time and arguably the most dominant right hand pitcher of our time. What other sport’s top stars have been embroiled in such scandal?

So sure I’m disappointed as a Dodger/baseball fan, but I can’t say I’m that upset. Again, it’s something I’ve gotten used to as a baseball fan. Another unfortunate element of the equation is how all will be forgotten for many fans if either Manny or A-Rod is able to lead their team to a World Series title. I guess rules and responsibilities matter only when things don’t go well.

Now until July 3, the Dodgers will have to find a way to stay on top of the NL Weak without their best player. Some can’t wait for him to return, some can’t wait for him to retire, and some can’t wait for the game of baseball they once knew to show its head again. The accomplishments of guys like Harold Baines, Robin Yount, Dale Murphy, Andre Dawson, Joe Carter, Ryne Sandberg, Tim Raines, and Paul Molitor are looking better and better every day.

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