Here we go again.
For the past 6 weeks, the Cheater’s Spotlight has been focused solely on Alex Rodriguez. It’s time to make room on center stage for another renowned slugger, Manny Ramirez. Apparently he’s tested positive for one of MLB’s “banned substances” and will be suspended later this afternoon for 50 games.
Regardless of how Manny, his agent Scott Boras, the Los Angeles Dodgers and MLB spin this, there’s no way to escape the reality we’ve come to know so very well over the past five years or so: cheating in the form of “performance enhancing” drugs remains rampant throughout the sport, and nothing MLB attempts will curb it. At this point, are there really any other names that would surprise you any more?
(Personal aside: I’m the moron who contended both on-air and in my blogs this past winter that the Orioles should have made a play to sign Manny. I argued that his numbers remained consistent over the past twelve years, that he would immediately improve the offense, that he would take special pleasure in sticking it to his former teammates in Boston 19 times a year, and that he had never been named in any of the dirty laundry – Mitchell Report, Congressional Hearings, ad infinitum – that had tarnished the legacies and numbers of so many of his current peers in the game. If anything, I figured Manny for some other “illegal” activities, based upon the dreadlocks, the carefree attitude and the generally benign goofy behavior he sometimes demonstrated. So color me a fool. And rest assured I’ll be very wrong again on some future subject personnel-wise).
As the MLB regular season approaches Memorial Day, a traditional early season milestone for gauging where players and teams appear headed as summer quickly approaches, there are some very ominous signs ahead based upon what’s occured to date:
-The Yankees can’t sell those field level seats in their new palace. The sluggish economy, the cost of the seats themselves, maybe even the fact that the team is under-performing given the massive payroll and expectations that accompany every Yankee season are all contributing. Regardless of your feelings for them (probably intense hatred, like mine) MLB always needs the Yankees to matter. And right now they don’t seem to, even in New York City.
-Attendance is flagging just about everywhere. Speaking from a personal perspective, I get it. We’re all scuffling to survive, markets in just about every industry are at their lowest points (we hope) in years and who wants to shell out $75 to $100 to take the family out when there are more pressing concerns to address? Even with creative marketing, ticket specials and giveaways, it appears many fans are shrugging and electing to watch from the comforts of home. And hey, we pay for that each month as well, remember?
-Debacles like last night’s at OPACY demonstrate, once again, that in their heart of hearts MLB really doesn’t care about the paying customer, or for that matter, the quality of play displayed. They only care about the bottom line, and I’ll agree with Drew here that revenue and revenue only drove that decision-making process.
-The continued disgrace of this “performance enhancing” drug testing and star-tarnishing. We are numb to it by now as fans, but the fact remains that when the game’s highest and most reknowned stars fail tests and are implicated in past testimonies by other players, trainers, etc., the credibility of the game is at stake. In fact, by now, the credibility of the game is in tatters, as all fans are aware that these record-setting* performances are a sham and a slap in the face to the history of the game. (To be fair, I recognize that baseball’s historical numbers are unbalanced, given the “Dead Ball Era”, the Segregated Years, the Greenies and Blow Era, etc., etc.) But there is simply no denying that all of us reserve the right to question absolutely everything we see now as regards its honest authenticity. Let me make this much clear: MLB’s current drug testing program is akin to herding cats. In the case of Manny Ramirez, they actually got lucky and bagged a recognizable one. But how does that reflect well on anyone and everyone associated with the sport? It doesn’t, simply put.
-Bud Selig’s tenure as Commissioner is a joke and a disgrace. This is not open for discussion. Ever.
So as the season moves ahead, the outlook is decidely foggy. Who knows what player is nailed next? What team will rise like Tampa Bay last year and put the emphasis back on the pennant races? Who will buy $2,000 box seats for the New Yankee Mausoleum? When will pitchers stop being limited by pitch counts and imaginary roles? What can be done to test for hgH (and don’t kid yourself, there are many users already, and they do it because they can’t be caught!)? At what point, exactly, does the lifelong loyalist just turn his or her back and say “enough with this”?
There’s a dense fog settling in. Visibilty is severely limited. The forecast is not sunny, not anytime in the foreseeable future. Please buckle your seat belts as turbulence is expected ahead.
And don’t forget to buy your Premium Seats* now for A-Rod’s return tomorrow night at Camden Yards!
As for you, Manny: You really let me down. Made me look like a fool.
I did that to myself. By ever believing in you or any of your peers.