November 23, 2014

Manny Ramirez Apologizes to Dodger Players, Coaches

This just in from Kevin Baxter at the Los Angeles Times:

Reporting from Miami — Outfielder Manny Ramirez apologized to his Dodgers teammates today during his first meeting with them since his suspension eight days ago. Ramirez, who has a home in south Florida, met with the team in the early afternoon at its waterfront hotel in Sunny Isles Beach and said he was sorry for the suspension and the distraction it has caused.

He also promised to stay in shape and be ready when he is eligible to return July 3.

It’s hard to say from the perspective of an outsider how much impact this apology had on the team as a whole.  In the article, the players seem to be downplaying the 10-minute meeting, but I’m sure there was at least one guy who was upset with Manny’s actions and pleased with the apology probably. 

Here’s where we currently stand with Manny’s Apology Tour:  Frank McCourt? Check. Ned Colletti? Check. Joe Torre? Check. Dodger players and coaches? Check.  Dodger fans? We’ll get back to you on that one…

What is Bad For Manny Ramirez May Be Good For Dodgers In The End

Great story in the New York Times on the business of Dodger baseball without Manny over 50 games. You wouldn’t think that the Dodgers would actually improve their financial fortunes in this situation while also maintaining a reasonable shot at the post-season, but the argument that the NYT presents makes sense:

When McCourt agreed to pay Ramirez $25 million this year, he was counting on him to produce three streams of revenue. First, Ramirez would improve the team’s regular-season record and its likelihood of making the playoffs, attracting fans to the ballpark. Second, if the Dodgers reach the postseason, Ramirez may help drive them to a potential league championship or World Series. Those achievements are typically associated with increases in ticket sales the next season, as well as the addition of extremely profitable postseason games to the club’s schedule. Finally, expectations were high that the acquisition of a star like Ramirez would increase merchandise sales. None of these revenue sources are likely to be harmed.

about the probabilities and the money:

According to Clay Davenport of Baseball Prospectus, the Dodgers’ chances of playing in October fell by only 7 percent, to 82 percent, when Ramirez went out. And because he will forfeit nearly $7 million in salary, the club gained financial flexibility to improve as the season goes on without increasing its payroll. If General Manager Ned Colletti decides to use those savings to acquire a top starting pitcher at the trade deadline, the Dodgers would be a much more formidable opponent in the playoffs.

Full Article

The Dope on the Suspension of Manny Ramirez

photo: Ray Stubblebine/Reuters

photo: Ray Stubblebine/Reuters

Interesting article on ESPN.com by investigative writers Mark Fainaru-Wada and T.J. Quinn.  According to their article, the case against Manny Ramirez has been building since Spring Training when he was flagged for elevated testosterone – at least four times more than what the human body normally produces.  The writers take it from here:

At that point, MLB notified Ramirez of his elevated levels and began further investigation, including taking two primary actions:

First, MLB asked the World Anti-Doping Agency lab in Montreal, which conducts its testing, to perform a carbon isotope ratio test to determine whether the testosterone spike resulted from natural variations within Ramirez’s body or from an artificial source. The test revealed the testosterone was synthetic — in other words, it was ingested somehow.

The second action taken by MLB was when they asked for his medical records, which were provided by the MLBPA.  Those were the records that produced the smoking gun.

Within the records was a prescription written for the drug human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) — No. 55 on the list of banned performance-enhancing substances in the policy. The drug is mainly used for female fertility issues, but it is best known among male steroid users as a substance that can help kick-start the body’s production of natural testosterone, which is stymied when using synthetic testosterone (aka steroids).

The synthetic testosterone in Ramirez’s body could not have come from the hCG, according to doping experts, and so suddenly Ramirez had two drugs to answer for. Worse still for the ballplayer, MLB now had a document showing he had been prescribed a banned substance. This was iron-clad evidence that could secure a 50-game suspension.

Doh.  Now here’s the interesting part: when Ramirez issued his statement after being suspended, he only apologized for the hCG and NOT for the elevated testosterone.  Someone’s got some more explaining to do.  I didn’t want to believe that Manny would so willingly cheat and lie to better his performance, but that’s becoming clearer by the day as the evidence comes out.

Like Bill Plashke and Kurt Streeter at the LA Times, I’m waiting for Manny to truly (and I mean truly) apologize to the fans for his actions.  I think I originally heard this idea on DodgerTalk, but I would love to see Ramirez start sitting with the fans in the Mannywood section of the outfield.  With security, the circus atmosphere could be managed and it would be refreshing to see a star athlete take the time to explain what happened directly to the people.

The Chronicles of Manny: The Next Chapter

 I was still riding the high from last night’s record-setting game when I flipped on my computer at work this morning and was greeted by possibly the last headline I was expecting to see: “Manny Ramirez Gets 50 Game Suspension.”  Huh?  I literally had to read it twice.  Just last night I was sitting in a luxury box at the Ravine, talking Dodger baseball with some great fans of the team as the Dodgers won their 13th straight game at home.  Life was great.  How could this news possibly be true?

 

When conversations last season warmed to whether or not the Dodgers should sign Manny Ramirez, I was adamantly in the “no” camp.  Sure, I’ll take him when he’s free and we’re in the hunt for a division title, but no way would I want a cancer like Ramirez on the Dodgers in 2009, poisoning Kemp, Loney, Ethier, Martin and Bills.  But eventually he warmed me over.  I became a fan.  Besides the style, personality and good-natured fun he brought to what had been described as a boring and stoic clubhouse, Manny brought fantastic clutch hitting, truly teaching the younger players how the game was meant to be played.  I was on board with bringing Manny back – ideally two years, three years max.

 

As a result, I have a heard time labeling him a cheat, a fraud or a juicer.  I loved Dylan Hernandez’s interviews with Manny in the off-season where he talked about his desire to return to the Dodgers – a place he truly felt comfortable with the fans, players and coaches.  The guy was working hard and saying all the right things.  I wanted Mannywood back in left field then.  Just like I want to believe him now.  I’m torn.

 

But what did he take? Here’s a little information (courtesy of Yahoo! Sports):

 

The illegal substance for which Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez tested positive and was banned 50 games was prescribed to address erectile dysfunction, not “an agent customarily used for performance enhancing” a source close Ramirez said Thursday.

However, two sources said the substance Ramirez tested positive for was a gonadotropin. Major League Baseball’s list of banned substances includes the gonadotropins LH and HCG, which are most commonly used by women as fertility drugs. They also can be used to trigger testosterone production. Testosterone is depleted by steroid use, and low testosterone can cause erectile dysfunction.

Now what?  Ramirez didn’t even appeal his suspension, instead choosing to man up and take responsibility for his actions, following the lead of Andy Pettite.  That’s probably a good thing for Manny’s chances at redemption in LA and within Major League Baseball (to say nothing of the Hall of Fame).  The more you deny, the worse it gets.  Just ask Roger Clemens.

 

Clemens. Pettite. Sosa. McGwire. Palmeiro, Tejada. Rodriguez. Ramirez.  Now there’s a club nobody wants to be a part of.  God help the MLB if that list with the 103 names of the other players that failed the league’s drug tests in 2003 ever gets released.  You think it’s bad now when the two top players in the league go down in just over a month?  Watch out.

For the Dodgers, once the shock washes away, Ned Colletti and the Dodgers will have to come to grips and try to determine which Manny Ramirez they think they’ll see on July 3. Will we have a former juicer who can’t produce at his previous levels?  Or will we have a defiant Manny, eager to prove that it truly was a stupid mistake?  Time will tell.

Dodgers CEO Jamie McCourt and the rest of the organization are saying all the right things for a team that has $50 million invested in a player that has extremely limited trade value at this point: “We share the disappointment felt by our fans, our players, and every member of our organization. We support the policies of Major League Baseball, and we will welcome Manny back upon his return.”

Now that the Dodgers are in for bringing back Mannywood, the question that needs to be asked is, what about the fans?

Manny Suspended 50 Games (50!) by MLB

No, this is not a joke.  According to Sports Illustrated, Manny Ramirez has been suspended 50 games for taking a banned performance-enhancing substance.  Apparently he may have had a medical reason for taking the substance and didn’t know it was banned.  Whatever the reason, this is a stunning blow to the euphoria surrounding the Dodgers right now.  According to Dylan Hernandez, the Dodgers have recalled Xavier Paul from AAA to fill Manny’s slot (the suspension is automatic and starts tonight).

More to come as the situation develops.