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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Manny Ramirez and steroids

Manny Ramirez and steroids haven't yet gone together, though Manny
Ramirez has garnered controversy for everything except steroids. But
Manny Ramirez had been regarded as clean, and one of the few power
hitters yet that hadn't gotten major steroid allegations yet. But
today, not only has Manny Ramirez been linked to steroids, he has
become the first major name to get a 50-game, first-time suspension
under the new steroid policy.

The news came this morning that Manny Ramirez tested positive, though
for what specific drug is unknown. Ramirez will now immediately serve
a 50-game suspension, taking him out of action just as the Los Angeles
Dodgers were getting off to a blazing start.

Major League Baseball has had this steroid policy for a few years, as
it is advertised as a stronger stance against performance-enhancing
drugs. But thus far, the policy had only nabbed smaller names that
weren't big stars. Ramirez is the very first major superstar to
receive this 50-game suspension under the new policy.

Headlines over the policy were made just a few months ago, when
Phillies reliever J.C. Romero was suspended. However, that decision
came under much controversy when Romero tested positive for an element
in one of his nutritional supplements that he didn't know was banned.
Romero tried to file a lawsuit over the decision this week.

As for Ramirez, he released a statement in which he claimed that the
positive test came from a medication that he took for a "personal
health issue." The medication, which was not named, is apparently
banned under the steroid policy.

Whether it is a questionable enforcement of the rules, like Romero's
case might have been, will be up for debate in the coming weeks. If it
isn't, Ramirez's story will rival the growing A-Rod scandal as a black
mark on the early season.

Whatever the circumstances, the Dodgers are now facing the worst
possible cold shower, after their blazing start to the season. The
Dodgers have won their first 13 home games and have the best record in
baseball, with Ramirez putting up his usual numbers. But now, the
Dodgers have to go back to the pre-Manny days until early July.

The Dodgers were irrelevant until Ramirez was traded to Los Angeles,
and have been one of the hottest tickets in town ever since. Now, the
Dodgers face an uncertain short-term future, as they hope to still be
among the best teams in baseball when Manny returns.

The legacy of Manny Ramirez faces an even more uncertain future,
depending on the specific circumstances of his drug test. If it isn't
as innocent as Ramirez claims, then baseball will have taken yet
another giant hit in the steroid era.