If you've watched SportsCenter any time in the past week or so, you probably already know that in the National League All-Star team voting, Manny Ramirez is in a relatively close fourth place (the top three are named starters).
Most years, this would be notable because it would be a shock that he wasn't already in the top three. This year, though, it's more notable that he has more than a few hundred votes.
He's been suspended for use of PEDs, meaning he will miss most of the first half of the season—the time frame upon which one's worthiness of participating in the All-Star Game is typically based.
Not only will he not be helping his team during this span, but by an act of will, he is hurting his team. I'd say that's pretty much the opposite of what an All-Star should be doing.
It's hard, though, to know what to think about this—or whom to blame.
On one hand, I can definitely see the merits of having Ramirez on the team. After all, because of one of my least favorite Bud Selig decisions, the ASG has an effect on the outcome of the World Series, at least in theory.
Though the NL hasn't had a ton of trouble beating teams that aren't the Red Sox lately, one would still think having home-field advantage would be somewhat of an edge. A fan of a National League team would want the best team possible on the field, and that would definitely include Ramirez.
You could also see this as one of two statements on steroid use. Fans are either saying they don't care about PEDs anymore, or they're trying to embarrass Major League Baseball into doing more about steroids.
I'm not sure whether I understand the first, considering the damage that's already been done to the sport's reputation by steroids. I don't agree with the second either, mostly because as I mentioned last weekend, I'm not sure how much else MLB could be doing about PEDs.
I, for one, don't think Manny Ramirez should be on the All-Star team. First of all, the evidence seems to show that he is a cheater, and that should be punished.
He's already gotten a 50-game suspension, but that should forfeit any right he has to participate in the ASG festivities. He cheated this year. The game is supposed to be a reward for good play this year. Why should he be able to benefit from a performance that not only never happened, but in fact had a negative impact on the Dodgers?
Besides that, it's unfair to the players that haven't tested positive—the ones who have played well enough to earn their spots on the team. Ryan Braun, Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Beltran are the top three vote-getters right now.
I would argue that Soriano doesn't really deserve to start, as he's having a bit of a down year, but at least he's playing. At least he didn't cheat (as far as we know).
Beltran and Braun are both having very good to spectacular years (for example, Beltran has the highest OPS of his career right now, playing in a pitcher's park). None of these players should be bounced from the team for Manny Ramirez.
No matter what your feelings on Manny Ramirez or steroids, 32 hits before the All-Star break aren't worthy of playing in the game. If you want to stick it to Bud Selig, write him a letter.
As much as it pains me to say it, if you want the NL team to win, vote for Raul Ibanez. But the merits of putting Man-Ram on the All-Star team don't outweigh the fact that he cheated, and he's hurting his team.
He'll be suspended for 50 games. It should be 51.