One Red Sox Fan's Take On Manny's Suspension

Don SpielesCorrespondent IMay 8, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 19:  Manny Ramirez #99 of the Los Angeles Dodgers on base against the Colorado Rockies during the game at Dodger Stadium on April 19, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Since the news broke that Manny Ramirez had tested positive for some PED, I have been tuned into sports talk radio, watching ESPN and MLB Network, and reading what I could find.  One recurring thought pattern that I picked up on is that many pundits are wondering out loud if Red Sox fans are happy, sad, or indifferent about the news.  So, for what it’s worth, let me tell you about one fan that is anything but happy.

First and foremost, the steroid issue is much bigger than one team.  With each new story that comes out, baseball takes a hit.  So far, the game has managed to withstand the bludgeoning blows that began with Canseco, Caminiti, continued with Bonds, McGuire, Sheffield, and Palmero, and have continued to grow in intensity with A-Rod and now Manny.  As a true fan of the game, not just my team, I can’t help but worry if there will be a breaking point where the assault from the juicers ends up finally damaging the institution irreparably.

I’m sure there are a lot of Boston faithful who grinned and guffawed at the news of Manny’s suspension.  I’ve written more than a few words about his behavior last season, his acrimonious departure, and his proof-in-the-pudding burst of prowess once arriving in L.A.  I was not one of those fans who found the news somehow vindicating.

If was assume the Manny is just another player who cheated, that means he cheated in Boston.  Whatever regime he’s on is not a recent development.  A Manny with PEDs taints all he did in Boston.  To a certain degree, it taints what they did while he was there.  That is nothing that should make a Red Sox fan smile.

Manny signed a $45 million contract with the Dodgers after waiting until the eleventh hour for something better.  Now, with a fifty game suspension, he will lose somewhere in the neighborhood of $8 million.  The worst part is Manny doesn’t care.  If you watched his press conference, he wore the same “Oh well?” smirk as always.  Manny does not care about the game.  “Manny being Manny” translates ultimately into “Manny serving Manny”.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers, off to one of the hottest starts in the modern era, now lose their prized player for a third of the season.  They now get to deal with the circus that ensues, and have, overall, a devalued asset because of Ramirez’s positive test.

Red Sox fans, realistically or not, don’t miss Manny.  If you want to know why, look at Jason Bay’s numbers.  There are certainly arguments to be made that they could have been to the World Series again had he not left, but I don’t espouse that theory.  His negative influence far outweighed his play in 2008 (at least in Boston.) 

Now, if there is anything positive to be taken from this situation for Boston fans, it would be that Manny isn’t here and that this disgusting chapter in the PED saga is not being staged at Fenway Park. 

In July, Manny will return.  Depending on his mood and whim, he’ll probably excel when he comes back because he believes it will offset the damage (much like he thinks his awesome August and September last year made people forget about his disgusting actions in June and July.)  He’ll have a less home runs by the end of the season than he would have, and maybe it screws up the Dodgers shot at the post season (though, in that garbage division, they’ll probably still be OK.) 

Nothing will be markedly different for Manny after the first week back.  The same cannot be said for the game, however, whose camel is carrying one more straw, compliments one of the greatest hitters in the game. Another icon who will struggle to get into the hall of fame because of PEDs.

None of that makes me smile.