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Why Can Manny Ramirez Play in the Minor Leagues During His Suspension?

Bob Cunningham@BCunningham215Senior Analyst IJune 26, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 05:  Manny Ramirez #99 of the Los Angeles Dodgers bats against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium on May 5, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Forgive my ignorance on the matter, as I'm not well-versed in MLB rules and regulations, but why in the world is a suspended player allowed to play in the minor leagues before making their post-suspension major league debut?

Now obviously I understand it is in the rules that a suspended MLB player can play up to 10 games in the MiLB system, but still do not receive a paycheck of any kind. Paycheck or no paycheck, how can something like this be allowed?

It's not as if the MiLB doesn't have a drug policy, because they do. In fact, it resembles the major league's system in every way. Well, except the part about being able to play at a lower level.

If a player in the minor league system, let's say at the Triple-A level, gets suspended for the exact same thing for which Ramirez was suspended, said player is not allowed to play any games at the Double-A level.

Which again begs the question, why does the MLB allow this?

Why is it that major league players are not held to the same rules as that of the minor league players? If anything, the rule should be reversed. Isn't the point of the minor league system to get players ready to perform at a major league level? Therefore, shouldn't they be allowed the extra practice, and not the guys who are already at the highest level possible?

Now, the answer to the question of why the MLB allows this is quite simple.

Money.

Every game Ramirez plays in Albuquerque is a game that will be sold out and rake in more money for that franchise. It's a way for them to make money off of that player without having to pay that player.

Perhaps the argument could be made that a suspended major league player going down to play in the minor leagues is the same thing as a suspended NFL player going to play in the CFL or the newly-forming UFL. They're separate entities, so it's okay.

But the major league teams and the farm teams, while technically separate entities, are linked in some sort of formal matter because of players moving from the minors to the majors and vice versa. The NFL has no link to the CFL or UFL or any other football league for that matter.

If NFL Europa was still around, would an NFL player be allowed to play in Europe during his suspension? Of course not.

The point is, the rule is flawed and downright silly. The player is suspended for a reason. He broke the rules, rules that are the same in the league he's playing in now. Were he caught again while playing in the minor league system, would he simply be suspended 50 games from the minors, but not punished by the majors?

If they're separate, then the major league system has no right to suspend Ramirez if he were caught shooting up in the Albuquerque locker room tomorrow. But, we all know that's not the way it would go.

Again, I beg that my ignorance on the rules is forgiven. However, even not being fully aware and fully versed in the MLB rulebook, a blind man could see that there is something seriously wrong with the way suspensions are handled in the major leagues today.

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