It began this morning with a text message.
"Bye-bye Manny. 50 games."
I laughed, thinking my old roommate was playing a joke on me. Manny wasn't hurt; he was perfectly fine. I watched him hit last night, and he ran fine, too. But then I wondered, why so specifically 50 games?
Then it started to sink in what my roommate meant.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Manny Ramirez has tested positive for as-yet-unspecified performance-enhancing drugs, and the Dodgers have already told Triple-A outfielder Xavier Paul to pack his bags and head for Hollywood.
This could not have come at a worse time for Los Angeles and couldn't have come at a better time for everyone else. The Dodgers have a huge leg up—they're six-and-a-half games in front of the Giants and eight-and-a-half in front of everyone else. They've won seven straight, and of course, their MLB-record 13th straight win to start the year at home came last night.
Now, the plug on this club has been yanked.
Juan Pierre will be in left field for the next couple of months, Dodgers fans. It ain't pretty, but get used to it. Will Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Russell Martin, and James Loney be able to step up and shoulder the load? Will Dodger pitchers bat eighth for the next third of the season?
More importantly, will Dodgers fans welcome Manny back they way they did once he'd signed, or will they point their fingers and terrorize him the way Yankees fans are expected to do when Alex Rodriguez returns this week?
Manny has never been accused by anyone of using steroids. He's just kept hitting. Jose Canseco, Roger Clemens, and Sen. George Mitchell cast a wide steroid-trapping net, but somehow, Manny slipped through it.
No one thought this goofball and natural hitter was the type. It's possible that this is just an isolated incident, and that it's all as Manny says it is.
And yet, there it is. He's tested positive. His name could forever sit next to Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and A-Rod. Or maybe it'll just sit next to J.C. Romero, tagged by a comprehensive policy with no exceptions, an isolated incident that Manny is expected to attribute to a medication his doctor prescribed for a legitimate medical problem.
Unlucky 13-0, indeed.