Friday, May 08, 2009


Manny! Manny! Manny!

You should have stayed out of the cookie jar. Now that you have been caught, you will need forgiveness. And it will not come easy.

We know. We Canadians have a completely different perspective from our American neighbours. We experienced the pain of deceit from our athletic heroes way back in 1988. In Seoul, Korea, with Ben Johnson.

We had seen the handwriting on the wall with other Olympic athletes---weightlifters, wrestlers, perhaps some gymnasts and a few track and field types. But we did not expect that it would happen to us. Especially with a Canadian at the helm-Dr. Richard Pound. He was the drug watch dog at the Games, and he helped blow the whistle.

Apparently, not everyone heard the whistle. Rogers Clemens must have a bit of a hearing problem. Andy Pettite wasn’t listening. Alex Rodriguez failed to hear the noise. As you are no doubt aware, there were not very many players who played “clean”, absolutely clean, in the drug era that baseball had hoped that it had left behind.

Manny Ramirez has opened the door yet again. The frenzy is again stirring the waters. Many baseball players who really do not want to discuss the issue are facing a phalanx of microphones. The same questions, over and over again.

Players in Boston are being asked to comment on Manny’s behaviour! Most would be fairly safe by saying that Manny was a little bit different. Really?

Mike Lowell carefully put it this way: “He made a personal choice, and it was a wrong one.” David Ortiz struggled with the concept. Jonathan Papelbon simply let it be known that he and Manny were not the best of friends.

Johnny Damon, currently with the Yankees: “Manny is a pure and natural hitter. (I would beg to differ with the choice of the words “pure and natural”.) Hopefully, he serves his time and that’s it.” Probably not, Johnny.

Jake Peavey of the San Diego Padres went a little further in his analysis: “I’m happy. Baseball is serious about what they’re saying.”

And isn’t it about time?

They have taken all of the Manny hats off the shelves in Los Angeles. The bleachers will no longer be called “Mannywood”.

Really a tragedy for Manny, and for the game.

Last July, he quit on his teammates in Boston. He would not play. He would not run out ground balls. He was sent to Los Angeles. He announced, “I’m Back!”.

He helped the Dodgers march into the playoffs. He batted .396 after the trade, smashed many home runs, cruised along with an RBI almost every game. He then batted .520 in the playoffs. He owned Dodgertown. His charade about signing a contract was forgiven. The Dodgers were the only team to offer him a two year deal.

Yet again this year, he has helped the Dodgers burst out of the gate, with a six and one-half game lead through last Wednesday, the day the curtain fell.

And now he has to sit for fifty games. You will hear all of the fallout over the next couple of weeks. The name of the drug, the appeals, the denials, the usual apologies.

But it comes down to this: Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Jimmie Foxx all hit five hundred home runs. They are the only players in the history of the game to have a higher life time batting average than Manny. Special company. For Manny, that is all history gone sour. Down the old toilet, old boy. So sorry.

Baseball will survive, but with another enormous asterisk.

James Hurst.
The Wellington Times.

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