Major League Baseball is about to face yet another controversy involving one of its biggest names and the use of banned substances.
Only one month ago, Manny Ramirez tested positive for a female fertility drug. He was subsequently suspended for 50 games. While that penalty might seem excessive, in an effort to clean up the sport in 2005, Commissioner Bud Selig enacted stricter punishments for drug users. The first offense garners a 50-game suspension, the second a 100-game suspension. A third offense results in banishment from baseball and an honorary seat next to Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe.
Prior to being suspended last month, Ramirez played in 27 games. He had hit six home runs and was batting .348, fourth in the league if you don’t count minimum plate appearances.
While the Dodgers are still in first place despite Manny’s absence, they were 19-8 with him in the lineup, boasting two different week-long winning streaks. His contributions from the batters box are among the best in the game and have been for fifteen years. He is sixth among active players in career batting average (.315) and fourth in active home run leaders (533).
But as the All-Star Game approaches, baseball must once again question its own integrity.
The All-Star Game has always been about the fans. Families line up at ballparks, or go online to vote for their favorite players, those they want to see in the mid-summer classic. Herein lies baseball’s current dilemma. Manny Ramirez currently ranks fifth in voting among National League outfielders, which means it’s conceivable that he play in the game. Voting closes on July 2nd. The game will be played July 14th at Busch Stadium in St Louis.
It’s not just about Manny being an all-star. What makes matters even more intriguing is that in 2003, Major League Baseball voted to make the All-Star Game more than just a meaningless exhibition game. Each year, the winner is awarded home field advantage in the World Series.
Now… wouldn’t it be interesting if Manny Ramirez, who had been suspended for essentially the first half of the season for violating baseball’s drug policy, came to bat in the All-Star Game and knocked in the winning run to give the National League the victory and thus home field advantage in the World Series? Manny could conceivably affect the outcome of the entire season!
Sportswriters and talk show hosts nationwide have urged fans NOT to vote Manny in, saying there are other, more deserving players to fill that roster spot. Here at sportschump.net, we have decided to take the low road and rightfully so.
The All-Star Game is the baseball fan’s last stand. If we wanted to see Pee Wee Herman suit up, enough of us could write him onto the ballot and… poof, there’s your starting first baseman. Power to the people, y’all.
Baseball’s chickens have once again come home to roost and this time, it’s an all-you-can-eat buffet. Manny playing in the All-Star Game, affecting its outcome and very possibly that of the World Series is another nightmare Commissioner Selig can’t possibly want to face, yet he can’t stop Manny from being voted into the game.
So, baseball fans, if there are any of you remaining, if you want to stick it to the man one last time for good measure, here’s your link to All-Star voting. Before you vote, remember… this is the same Commissioner that is inexorably linked to a cancelled World Series, a tied All-Star Game and the biggest drug scandal in the game’s history. His concern for our well-being over the past seventeen years has been sketchy at best. Wouldn’t it be nice to see him writhe just once more? So please cast your vote wisely. Although if Manny ends up leading the league in voting, Selig would inevitably find one more loophole to deny fans their happiness.