Sports world reacts to Manny suspension
Leading voices in sportswriting give their thoughts on news
Manny Ramirez stunned Los Angeles and the rest of the sports world Thursday by being suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball for use of a performance-enhancing drug. The suspension has generated a host of strong, impassioned opinions from throughout the country in newspapers, on television and in cyberspace.
Here are excerpts from some of the leading voices in American sportswriting offering their responses to Thursday's news:
"He has been suspended for 50 games after testing positive for a banned substance, but it could be 500 games for all I care. The Dodgers need to get rid of this knucklehead. They need to get rid of him now. They can't build their team on fakery. They can't win championships with a charlatan. They can't fall for his act again. ... In earlier columns I warned the Dodgers against giving Ramirez a long-term deal because of his potential for combustion, but I never thought he would be suspended for something like this. Nobody whispered his name as a juicer, and everybody's name has been whispered. His body didn't look like it belonged to a juicer, and I'm always looking. I never believed in his flirtations with teammates and media, but I always believed in his training regimen and baseball acumen. I was worried about him dogging it, not drugging it. No more." --Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times
"No, somewhere between Rafael Palmeiro wagging his finger at congressmen and Mark McGwire saying that he didn't want to talk about the past and Jason Giambi saying he was sorry without saying what for and Alex Rodriguez telling Katie Couric that he didn't use steroids at all, our obligation to believe any my-dog-ate-my-homework story ended, and now we can assume the worst. Manny made a statement, and in it he stated that a physician gave him a medication, 'not a steroid,' that 'was banned under our drug policy.' At some point in the future, Manny may also say that he never touched steroids before, and that his production into his late 30s was a complete coincidence. Our response will be this: Whatever." --Buster Olney, ESPN.com
"Whatever you've thought of baseball's testing program, Ramirez's suspension Thursday adds credibility to it. Loads. Because this side of A-Rod or, perhaps, Albert Pujols, there is no bigger fish in the game. For baseball to whack an impact player like Manny, Lordy, Lordy. The reverberations will be felt deep into the corners of every clubhouse in the game. ... All we know for sure is, the game suffered another cataclysmic earthquake on Thursday. Manny, dreadlocks and all, will never be viewed the same again." --Scott Miller, Sportsline.com
"You have to be an idiot to flunk a drug test. You have to be an even bigger idiot to flunk one at a time when baseball players are under greater scrutiny than ever. Which brings us to Manny Ramirez. As if there was any doubt, he is now the village idiot of baseball. Maybe the Dodgers can make a T-shirt out of that, replacing all of their "Mannywood" paraphernalia. ... Step right up, Manny, to the Hall of Shame. You've got plenty of company -- A-Rod, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens; Rafael Palmeiro, Gary Sheffield and Mark McGwire. Your basic A-list, courtesy of the Steroid Era. With, surely, more to come." --Ken Rosenthal, FoxSports.com
"The Steroid Era is lingering a lot longer than hoped for, but the era of naïveté is over. It's pretty hard for a player to now claim that he's being shot up by a doctor with some unknown substance. It's too late for that story. It's pretty hard to believe now that Manny's numbers aren't tainted. The half-season he played in Los Angeles is beyond explanation, at least, until today, quite possibly. He is hitting almost .400 since he got to L.A., and he resurrected a storied organization's latest team. He hit .520 in the playoffs last year, he's a superstar in his 30s and he achieved the inexplicable. Now we may know why." --Jon Heyman, SI.com
"Think about the group stained now. Arguably the best pitcher since World War II, Roger Clemens, The all-time homer leader, Barry Bonds. The two players who captured America's attention in 1998 by dueling for the single-season homer mark, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. Alex Rodriguez, the presumptive heir to Hank Aaron and Bonds. Two other 500-homer men, Rafael Palmeiro and Gary Sheffield. The 500-homer club used to be exclusive and bathed in great glory. It is now a rogue's gallery. It is a symbol of a time in baseball history not to be believed, a time of artificial muscle and fairy tale results." --Joel Sherman, New York Post
"We look at the 2004 banner again. I always thought that, for the rest of my life, I would look at that banner and think only good thoughts. Now, there's a mental asterisk that won't go away. I wish I could take a pill to shake it from my brain. I see 2004 and 2007, and think of Manny and Papi first and foremost. The modern-day Ruth and Gehrig. One of the great one-two punches in sports history. Were they cheating the whole time? Was Pedro cheating, too? That 2004 banner makes me think of these things now. I wish it didn't, but it does. This makes me sad. This makes me profoundly sad. My son can read it in my face. I am sad. He can see it. 'That's OK, Dad,' he says, rubbing my shoulder. 'Everyone cheated back then.'" --Bill Simmons, ESPN.com "If any baseball superstar is capable of taking a medication in all innocence, and then finding out that something in it is included on Major League Baseball's banned list of substances it is Manny Ramírez. It certainly fits the profile. After all, who should know better than us? If there's a profile of a banned substance abuser -- and I'm not sure there is -- Manny does not fit it. Sudden change in body configuration? Nope. Big surge in power output? Nope. Manny never even hit 50. He did have a homer jump from 26 in 1997 to 45 in 1998, but that was after hitting 31 in 1995 and 33 in 1996. He was a maturing young slugger; that's all. I think." --Bob Ryan, The Boston Globe
"Manny went out to Los Angeles and had himself a few wonderful weeks last autumn. The Dodgers have built their offense around him and are selling a pair of left-field seats for $99 and calling the section Mannywood. Lately there were suggestions in the Los Angeles press that the Dodgers lock up Manny for the long run. At the same time, his samples were simmering in a test tube, with bells and whistles going off, conferences behind closed doors ... Maybe he comes back. Maybe the Dodgers hang on through the suspension. Maybe he can still play without whatever he was taking. But down the line comes a jury of sportswriters, who wish they had been a little more astute back in 1998, and now have the chance to vote Manny on or off the island known as the Hall of Fame. Good luck with that. Rooms facing the lake in Cooperstown, coming up soon." --George Vecsey, The New York Times
"MLB must stop this assault on its game by the drug-using narcissists intent on ruining it. The slow burn of star after shamed star will come to roost unless MLB saves itself by doing what it should have so long ago. Banish the cheats. Forget suspensions. Kick them out of the game. Forever. On the first positive. Take their money, their fame, their livelihood. Punish them for the disrespect they showed a sport that deserves so much better." --Jeff Passan, Yahoo! Sports
"At least, Ramirez's lie is better than Mark McGwire irritating those on Capitol Hill by saying again and again, 'I'm not here to talk about the past.' It's also better than Roger Clemens throwing his mother, wife and best friend under the bus when the feds suggested that he won all of those games and all of those awards beyond doing an extra set of bench presses. Even so, Ramirez resides in McGwire and Clemens territory, which means, just like those two, every team and every player that Ramirez has shared a uniform with through the years is tainted forever. Is that fair? No, but neither was Manny being a fraud along the way to helping to propel his teams to victories they didn't deserve." --Terence Moore, Fanhouse.com
"As you watch the latest baseball icon of this tainted era crash and burn, tip your cap to Ken Griffey Jr. Today it was Manny Ramirez, the goofy but hugely productive outfielder for the Dodgers. He violated baseball's drug policy, and now will try to convince an increasingly cynical populace that it was all a mistake. We've heard that one before. My hunch is not many will buy it. ... And Griffey? I'm not so naïve as to make a blanket declaration that any player of this era is clean. But I know this: his peers believe he's clean. And he is the one superstar that is not surrounded by innuendo, whispers and doubts. ... So while you ponder the batting average hovering around .200 and the declining bat speed, remember that Griffey is doing what 39-year-old players do. He's slowing down. It's the natural way of the world -- far more common than the unbelievable late-career surges by the likes of Bonds and Clemens." --Larry Stone, The Seattle Times
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.