Home Runs and Hypocrisy: The Shaming of Manny Ramirez
You would think that Manny Ramirez was caught fighting pit bulls alongside Martha Stewart.
ESPN's Bill Simmons says that he is "confronting my worst nightmare." Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports believes that it is time to talk about "lifetime bans." Boston Globe writer Tony Massarotti says, "everyone is guilty until proven innocent."
The sports radio and comment boards have been cesspools of racism. It's always easy to hate, especially someone who plays a game for a living and makes millions of dollars.
All I know is this: thanks to Major League Baseball's hypocritical, idiotic and altogether morally bankrupt steroid policy, the sport will be without one of its premier attractions for fifty games, someone I would pay to watch at batting practice. Yes, Manny Ramirez, the finest right-handed hitter of his generation, has been sent to the showers and forced to surrender $7.7 million in salary after testing positive for what was initially called a "performance-enhancing substance."
The decision ends a stretch where the former World Series MVP was reviving baseball in
Former AL MVP, author of Juiced, and admitted steroid user Jose Canseco, who pleaded guilty last November to a misdemeanor of trying to bring HCG across the Mexican border illegally, also weighed in: "It could be that a player used it because he used steroids and went cold-turkey and needed HCG to get his [testoterone] levels back to normal."
The use of a "female fertility drug" also has sports radio hosts in a pubescent tizzy asking if "Manny is a mommy" and ESPN's Jayson Stark making an "octo-mom" joke.
From the juvenile to the pious, President Obama's press flack Robert Gibbs took time out from explaining why torturers are above the law to tell us, "It's a tragedy, it's a shame." There is a tragedy and a shame afoot, but it is not rooted in the choices of one player. It's in a baseball culture that continues to think embarrassing individual players and feeding on the resentment of fans is the best path to cleaning up the sport. Manny has now joined Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and many others as permanently stained with a scarlet S. No Hall of Fame, no old timers' games and a life as a cautionary tale.
Meanwhile we all get taken to the cleaners. We have billionaire owners making scapegoats of millionaire players to soothe our anxieties about the game and our lives. Meanwhile these same owners sit like pashas in a baseball palace that could be called the House That Steroids Built.
The man who wrote Juiced knows when a cycle has run its course. Canseco said that he believes the coverage on steroids in baseball has become "overkill" and the spotlight should now be on MLB and the players association. He called it "a complete conspiracy." He's absolutely correct. Baseball owners love conspiracies. For more than twenty years they have conspired to attain public funds for ballparks. In 2008, they collectively conspired not to sign the best hitter in the game, Barry Bonds. Now they are committed to the project of keeping the focus on the players, and off of themselves. We shouldn't let them. If Manny Ramirez is guilty of anything, it's being caught in between baseball's clubhouse culture and public sanctimony.
During the baseball's Summer of Love in 1998, when Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs and Sammy Sosa smacked 66, the money came pouring in. No one cared that McGwire and Sosa looked like a pair of defensive tackles. Soon publicly funded stadiums were included in budgets for
We should always remember that former Texas Rangers owner George W. Bush made steroid persecution a recurring theme of his time in office, as long as owners were spared the spotlight. The hypocrisy should shame owners toward contrition--but they will happily crack some golden eggs, as long as it means that the goose that laid them lives. Even though come contract time, it's all about the numbers on your stat page, and not the number of clean tests. As baseball fan and poet Martin Espada told me, "Baseball is the
He is absolutely correct. We are supposed to tsk-tsk at players who are supposed to "just say no" to their addictions to fitness and monster stats, when their success at the park is our addiction as well. We also have yet to truly take owners to task for their addictions to public money and send them to detox.
[Dave Zirin is the author of “A People’s History of Sports in the