Manny being He-Manny

May 11, 2009

by Matt Kane

So, Manny Ramirez got busted for using something called human chorionic gonadotropin, or HCG, a female fertility drug, huh? A female fertility drug — that explains the long hair, ditziness and mood swings. Maybe I should change my headline to read: “Manny being She-Ra.”

That’s too bad. Most of us hoped that Manny, who stole the hearts of Dodger fans only to break them, was just naturally that great of a hitter. But I guess we were wrong.

On MLB.com Friday afternoon, I read an article headlined: “Wide range of reaction from Manny’s peers.”

The news that Manny abused baseball’s drug policy was “devastating” to Tampa’s Carlos Pená and “disappointing” to Kansas City’s Mark Teahen, who was “shocked” by the news.

Players went on to explain how Manny, one of baseball’s superstars, hurt the progress the game seemed to be making in its battle against performance-enhancing drugs, and that, according to Boston’s Mike Lowell, “It’s just another black eye for the game.”

Yankees’ captain Derek Jeter said “It seems like it’s a never-ending thing.”

Yes, Derek, the battle against drugs in America’s Pastime does seem like a never-ending thing, but, when trying to find someone to blame, I think Jeter and the rest of the over 700 players in the major leagues need to look in the full-length mirrors in each of the 30 clubhouses.

It is because of the players and their seemingly invincible union – the Major League Baseball Player’s Association (MLBPA) — that steroids and human growth hormones have become such a problem. The MLBPA seems to puff out its artificially-bulked chest at anything the owners try to change, including the drug policy. Apparently, shriveling base-balls and death, like that of former MVP Ken Caminiti, an admitted user, in 2004, weren’t enough for the players to put a stop to the problem. It took the shriveling of egos (and the English language in Sammy Sosa’s case) in front of Congress before anything was seriously done.

Not so fast, owners, team executives and you, Bud Selig. By turning your back on the drug problem in baseball for the past three decades, you have allowed it to grow into a malignant tumor than has diseased the game most American boys grew up playing and loving.

The Los Angeles Times reported that searches for “Manny Ramirez” have gone up over 4,000 percent since the news broke about his being caught.

That’s lot of web traffic, but, until I started writing this column Friday afternoon, I wasn’t in that percentage.

I heard the news on the radio Wednesday, and, unfortunately, I wasn’t surprised and I didn’t have much of a reaction.

That I wasn’t immediately appalled by the news is sad, because it means I am getting calloused when it comes to major leaguers, or any athlete for that matter, testing positive for drugs.

Maybe, I have fallen under the motto this state’s former governor, Jess Ventura, lived by when he was known as Jesse “The Body” Ventura: “Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat!”

This motto made Ventura a governor, and it made baseball players, like Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez and Jose Canseco, lots and lots of money.

And, just think, when a player gets caught our outed that he did use performance-enhancing drugs, he gets a 50-game suspension with an invitation to come back to the team at mid-season.

Man, for players who say they get tired by the marathon season, that might be the way to go.