When it was announced Thursday afternoon that Manny Ramirez was going to be suspended for 50 games for violating MLB's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, I did not have the same reaction as most.
Sure, it is expected nowadays for every superstar to possibly have taken steroids, but I'm not always so quick to judge, and figured there could POSSIBLY be a legitimate explanation.
Let's think about this for a second.
For all the heat Manny takes for being a hot-head, a prima donna, and a selfish player, I would never expect him to have taken steroids. And even if he did, I would not expect him to be stupid enough to do it at a time when testing is so strict.
So when Peter Gammons reported that Ramirez was saying it was a medicine prescription that he didn't adequately check out, it made perfect sense.
Sure, it sounds like a cop-out, but given the circumstances, it makes perfect sense. If Manny were taking steroids, why would he do it at a time when he could be tested? He's simply not that stupid.
Gammons said the drug is reportedly not a steroid, but because MLB's drug-testing policy is so strict, it is something that is still banned, and for that, Manny is owning up and taking responsibility.
Simply put, Manny should have checked out the medication before taking it. He should have held his doctor accountable, and for that, he will be to blame and he's owning up to that.
Gammons also said that when the news of Ramirez's tests was still just a rumor. He spoke with someone high up in the Boston Red Sox's front office and that person said there is no way in the world Ramirez was taking steroids. If someone in that organization, which clearly has an ugly history with Manny, isn't going to throw him under the bus, that helps his case as well.
So do what you will. The pundits will bash Manny. The fans will bash Manny. But until someone reports that he legitimately took a steroid that helped his performance, I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt.
Call me naive or foolish. Why should I believe any athlete these days when it comes to performance-enhancing drugs? But I just have a hunch it was a mistake, and Manny is doing the smart thing by coming out and saying it was a mistake from the get-go.
Was he stupid for not checking? Absolutely. But is he a cheater? I don't think so.
He's still a Hall of Famer in my book.
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