Thursday, May 7, 2009

And Now, Manny

I write as news is swirling about Manny Ramirez. The larger-than-life Dodgers outfielder has been suspended by Major League Baseball for 50 games.

I know none of the particulars. What's been reported is that Ramirez will argue that he was not using anabolic steroids or any other performance-enhancer, but was using medication prescribed by a doctor for a medical condition.

My guess, as I gaze into my crystal ball, is that Ramirez' defense will be met by snorts of skepticism from many. For them, this whole "drugs in sports" thing remains a binary morality play: good guy or bad guy, did it or didn't do it, druggie or hero.

That's way too simplistic. Drug testing is far from perfect in its design or its execution. There are a zillion ways an athlete can run afoul of a rigid approach that leaves no room for negotiation. You can insert your own beliefs here as to whether that's the best way to approach a problem that may or may not be that big a deal.

This much I do know: Dodgers games will be a whole lot less compelling without Manny Ramirez in the lineup.

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