By Jon Lane
Maybe the suspension of Manny Ramirez is the best thing for the Yankees in some twisted, convoluted way. As Peter Abraham notes, the news broke one day before Alex Rodriguez makes his season debut. A lot of the heat is off of A-Rod – for now – and this topic is expected to share space with life as a sub-.500 team in the Yankees clubhouse before tonight’s game.
Ramirez said in a statement that he saw a physician for a personal health issue who gave him a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was okay. Multiple reports have stated that it’s an agent “customarily used for performance enhancing” and neither a steroid nor human growth hormone. Too many players are pointing fingers and not accepting blame. If you’re given a prescription for an unknown drug, or visit your local GMC for some strange supplement, why on earth do you assume – especially in this day and age – that it’s perfectly okay? What’s so hard about seeing your team physician and taking it up with the office of Major League Baseball to receive a second and third opinion?
Manny being Manny just took itself to an entirely different level, writes Chris Shearn.
Baseball’s new drug policy can improve, but it’s good and it’s tough. Phillies reliever J.C. Romero was given the benefit of the doubt when MLB never said he tried to cheat, yet he was ruled guilty of “negligence” and issued Strike 1. Here’s hoping players are finally scared straight into taking more responsibility for what they put in their bodies. A little accountability helps too. A-Rod’s explanation may have been shady, but he manned up and said, “I did it” without any excuse.
As far as the Dodgers, 21-8, off to their best 29-game start since 1983 and owners of a new record for consecutive home wins to begin a season (13), it’ll be easy to write them off. Don’t even think about it, third base coach Larry Bowa told Colin Cowherd today on ESPN Radio. Bowa looks at this as a challenge to his young players tired of hearing the Dodgers are winning because of Manny. Joe Torre’s Dodgers feature rising stars Andre Either and Matt Kemp in the outfield, and James Loney at first base. Veteran Juan Pierre slides into Ramirez’s spot in left field. Chad Billingsley (5-0, 2.21 ERA) anchors a rotation with promise (Clayton Kershaw), veteran stability (Randy Wolf) and supported by a lockdown closer (Jonathan Broxton).
And don’t forget the Torre effect. He’s the right guy to handle this crisis. Anyone who’s followed the Yankees since 1996 knows how Torre cemented his reputation.
“It’s time for some of our young kids to grow up now,” Bowa said.
Two sources told ESPN’s T.J. Quinn and Mark Fainaru-Wada that the drug used by Ramirez is HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), a women’s fertility drug typically used by steroid users to restart their body’s natural testosterone production as they come off a steroid cycle. It is, reports the duo, similar to Clomid, the drug Bonds, Giambi and others used as clients of BALCO.Yahoo! Health explains that HCG is used to cause ovulation and to treat infertility in women, and to increase sperm count in men.
The operative words are “steroid cycle.”
“It’s not infrequently part of the mix of the poly-drug approach to doping,” Dr. Gary Wadler, chairman of the committee that determines the banned-substances list for the World Anti-Doping Agency, told The Associated Press. “It typically is used most when people are coming off a cycle to restore to normal biophysiological feedback mechanisms.”
At least until first pitch, most of the focus is off another terrible loss from the Yankees and how they did nothing against Andy Sonnanstine, off whom opponents were hitting .366 and owned a 1-3 record with a 6.75 ERA. Blame the bullpen all you want; Phil Coke made one bad pitch, and Edwar Ramirez and Jonathan Albaladejo did their jobs. Second-guess Joe Girardi about not sending Mariano Rivera out for the 10th inning. But this is a problem which becomes more insidious with every loss: The Yankees went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and are 4-for-32 (.125) during their four-game losing streak. This team has showed little fire and passion, along with the obvious knack of failing in the clutch, but you have to love the mettle A.J. Burnett showed after the game.
“When it clicks, it will be ridiculous,” Burnett said. “When it clicks, it will be fun to watch.”
REACTION TO RAMIREZ SUSPENSION
“I’m still surprised. It’s not like you assume everybody’s doing it so you’re still surprised when you hear about it.
“It doesn’t look good. It seems like it’s a never-ending thing. That’s what it seems like as of late. So you want to put it behind you and then you have something like this come up.”
“I don’t like to give too much reaction until more details are out there. It’s just disappointing that it happened.
“I can only speak for myself. There’s no resentment because I can sleep really good at night and at the end of my career I can look my kids in the eyes and say I [kept clean].
“IWe’ve done a lot. Ever since 2004, I’ve been at the union meetings talking about what we can do. It’s almost every year like we try to test more and have it more strict. That’s the only thing we can do.”
“I don’t have all the specifics and I don’t know if we’ll ever get all the specifics. But the commissioner has vowed to crack down. The rules are very stringent and we’re seen another guy suspended 50 games.”
“I’m just surprised somewhat but everything that comes out with baseball it seems like it’s mostly negative stories and unfortunately, Manny’s one of them, a former teammate of mine and it’s disappointing to hear.
“This game has been able to withstand the test of time and this game has been able to I believe thrive so far this year. This is another black cloud and hopefully we can weed all this stuff out of the game in the upcoming years. Unfortunately, some very good baseball players have to go down with it.
“I think Manny’s going to be the one that can answer that the best. That’s all I have to say about that, I don’t know. These guys want to be the best and to us they did look like the best and now they’re paying for it.”