Somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout; but there is no joy in Dodgertown: mighty Manny has struck out.
Manny Ramirez, the baseball superstar who led Los Angeles to a record-breaking winning streak at home this season, has been banned from baseball for 50 games. He tested positive for performance enhancing drugs on Wednesday night, and the town is reeling.
The drug in question, according to news reports, was human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), identified by Wikipedia as "a women’s fertility drug typically used by steroid users to restart their body’s natural testosterone production as they come off a steroid cycle." However Manny has never tested positive for steroids, and he said his doctor had prescribed it for "a medical condition."
The story seems fishy, and whoever figures out what really was going on should win a Pulitzer — sounds like a job for Nation sports editor Dave Zirin.
Manny has been an amazing hitter. His stats are monumental: 20 career grand slams, the most of any active player; only one player in the history of the game has had more: Lou Gehrig, with 23. The day he was banned, his batting average was an awesome .360, and his on-base percentage was .500.
He’s also been a delightful figure on the sports scene, known for irreverent and seemingly philosophical comments. Last week, when he didn’t play on Sunday and was asked afterwards why, he laughed and told reporters that he liked "Sundays off."
The ban on Manny is terrible for fans — and also has caused a crisis for Dodger marketing, which had featured special ticket sales for "Mannywood" in left field (his position), along with Manny jerseys, caps, dreadlock wigs, and Manny bobble-head dolls.
And some puffed-up pundits are angry: L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke called Manny "a selfish knucklehead" and "a charlatan." Plaschke, of course, is selfless and authentic.
The rest of us just feel really bad for Manny, and for the game.
He’ll be back on July 3.