When news of Manny Ramirez’s 50-game suspension hit, I went through a few rapid-fire thoughts.
First reaction, 10 seconds after hearing the news late Thursday morning: Something close to “meh”.
I’ve long thought that PED use of one form or another is far more prevalent than what’s been reported. I’m also not at all outraged, upset or really bothered in any way about it. Playing professional sports (or amateur sports at an Olympic level) is really hard. Athletes are going to do whatever they can to succeed. Players of Roberto Clemente’s era used to pop greenies all the time (they were stacked on clubhouse tables around the league, like shiny M&Ms). Steroids use of one form or another likely dates back to the 1950s in professional sports; at the very least they’ve been around for as long as I’m alive. To claim that Era X is tainted, while ignoring all the events that preceded said era, not to mention not knowing precisely who took what, what the general effects of such substances are on athletes, and what the specific performance-enhancing effects were on those specific athletes, strikes me as wrongheaded and somewhat naive. So, yeah. Manny’s caught taking HCG? Meh.
Second reaction, Twitter: 12:05 PM May 7th: Get ready for an epic shitstorm of self-righteous sportswriting.
This was going to be a long, drawn-out painful 24 hours of bloviating from every sports columnist in America.
Third reaction, 11 minutes later: Wait, what am I saying?! This is going to be AWESOME.
I’ve spent the past 24 hours reading and collecting links to as many Manny reax as possible. Some have made me roll on the floor laughing at their trumped-up, holier-than-thou attitudes. Some have overwhelmed me with mixed metaphors and confusing quasi-solutions. And a few have been…actually quite good.
I thought about doing in-depth critiques and/or snark for each and every one of these links. But since I don’t have 1/100th as much talent for smackdowns as the amazing crew at Fire Joe Morgan did, I decided to take a FOX NEWS approach instead. I report. You decide…
All right, fine. One last thought. If I had to choose 5 must-read links on this list, I would rank them:
1) Bill Plaschke x2 (great way to make the Dodgers worse)
2) Craig Calcaterra (most creative AND most level-headed)
3) Bill Madden (great way to make the Yankees worse)
4) Buster Olney/Jeff Passan in a Tie (most Draconian)
5) Joe Posnanski (most JoePosian, which is a good thing)
Jayson Stark with a measured take, heavy on regret.
Tom Boswell with a fairly typical take, though his mention of MLB facing possible accusations of cultural bias, given the high number of Latinos getting caught, was interesting.
Jose Canseco’s phone must have been ringing off the hook all day.
Mike Downey takes up the Dodger fan’s point of view, says this spoils what was shaping up as a potentially magical season.
AOL Fanhouse gets short takes from the seven Hall of Fame voters on its staff–with a refreshingly mixed bag of reactions (speaking of mixed metaphors).
Athletics Nation argues that the A’s “Moneyball” strategy of acquiring undervalued players was based on finding guys who had/could improve with PED use. Some pretty sharp, direct accusations here.
Not a column per se, more a news reporter gathering facts as part of the larger story.
“Before” and “after” photos of Barry Bonds and Manny Ramirez. Yup. Because no one else gets any bigger/fatter between their early-20s and late-30s.
T.J. Simers injects some humor into the situation, then concludes that fans will forgive soon enough, i.e. when Manny’s leading the Dodgers in their playoff run.
Bill Simmons goes existential on us, creating a future scenario where he’s explaining the Manny situation to his son, five years from now.
Shysterball’s Craig Calcaterra also uses the time machine device, except with a unique twist:
“Perspective,” said Baseball Writers Association of America President Joe Posnanski. “An understanding of history. An appreciation that steroids, while altering our relationship with the game and its players, didn’t alter the game itself nearly as much as many of us thought 15 years ago.”
I’m going to break my self-imposed rule to avoid weighing in too heavily in this case — Craig’s column is excellent.
Paul Daugherty’s column is a little defeatist, but also realistic.
Curtis Granderson says players are under far more scrutiny/suspicion now, deserved or not.
Bob Ryan’s take is interesting, in that it plays up the Boston exodus angle.
Buster Olney wants lifetime bans.
So does Jeff Passan, who also includes the term “drug-using narcissists”.
Curt Schilling is grateful for Canadians, specifically those who replace Manny in left field at Fenway Park. Worth an excerpt:
I was never a fitness freak or gym rat — those are the guys that measured every milligram, count every tablet in their regimen. Yet somehow we’re hearing these same people talk about being struck momentarily stupid when West African bullfrog semen is found in their blood. “What? How’d that get there????” Their routines, from reps to nutrition are as mapped out as scouting reports. They eat a certain way, train a certain way, and they play a certain way. There is no ‘black hole’ or ‘hidden formula’ happening in these instances. So you get up at 5am? You eat at 6am? Thirty minutes of cardio, upper body, lower on alternate days, whirlpool for x minutes, maintain x calories of protein and carb intake? You do all that, and at some point you let someone stick a needle in your ass, or throw a ‘protein shake’ or rub a ‘crème’ on you, and for that 30 seconds to 5 minutes you have absolutely no thought, care or concern about the product? A step recognized as vital to strength gain, or recovery, a step to setup the acceleration of your recovery or magnification of gains from your hours of work and you just go dumb?
Jonathan Papelbon joins the Red Sox chorus in disowning Manny.
Jon Heyman examines Manny the Personality, and the impact this news has on the Manny Story.
Inland Empire representin’…by telling us that Manny is really dumb.
Neil Best says Manny was clean in high school. Probably.
AWESOME HEADLINE INTERLUDE
“How Manny Ramirez Killed Baseball and Why It Scares Me to Death”. Alarmist much?
“Taint is on Manny, not Sox”. Hehe.
END OF AWESOME HEADLINE INTERLUDE
Jason Whitlock is happy we can still believe in Ken Griffey Jr.
I will weigh in on this one: Love Junior and am not casting aspersions…but didn’t Manny fans used to be happy that their guy wasn’t using/getting caught? We just can’t ever know for sure. And I say that without a trace of bad intent. If there were a substance with minimal to no side effects that would dramatically improve my performance as a writer, I’d certainly consider taking it.
Totally different take on the situation from A.J. Daulerio at Deadspin.
Michael O’Keeffe examines alleged links between Scott Boras clients and PEDs.
Howard Bryant says Manny was arrogant for thinking he could use without getting caught by MLB’s tougher new enforcement system.
Lee Jenkins sees cinematic elements at work.
Joe Posnanski is very surprised.
…but Randy Youngman says no one should be surprised.
Mike Fish brings the knowledge on HCG.
Gerry Fraley figures A-Rod should be grateful that someone else is taking the heat.
Mike Lupica wants to make something perfectly clear: Manny is a cheating cheater who cheats.
Bill Madden’s take is older and about A-Rod, not Manny…but still…let’s say…bold.
Finally, a double dose of Bill Plaschke. In print and video. WOW.
UPDATE: Turns out Jose Canseco’s phone was most definitely NOT ringing off the hook.
UPDATE 2: JoePos with a terrific quote from Bill James on the subject.
You give me the opportunity to earn $22 million a year by taking steroids, I’ll shoot the pharmacist if I have to. I’m not saying it’s right. I’m not saying I shouldn’t be punished for shooting the pharmacist. I am saying it is self-righteous to pretend that I don’t have the same human failings that these guys do, and further, if you are insisting that you don’t have them, I don’t believe you.
Realistic, avoids vilifying players, makes perfect sense. More than 30 years later, Bill James still hasn’t lost his fastball. He may not for 30 more.
Update 3: Shame on me for forgetting to include Rob Neyer’s take on the Manny situation. As Rob noted, this could actually work to the Dodgers’ advantage, in that it gives a player in his late-30s a chance to recharge his batteries and come back fresh for the second half and a playoff drive. Given the weak state of the NL West and the Dodgers’ healthy lead (along with the money saved by the suspension), Rob argues that losing Manny for 50 games could be a good thing.