In the first game of the Manny Ramirez suspension, the Dodgers lost their first home game of the season. Although offense was clearly not the problem in an 11-9 loss.
There are a few more things we know about Ramirez, some of which is linked through Kevin Roderick's recent post on the main page of LA Observed. I've had plenty of Manny supporters come up to me today, and claim that he got caught on a technicality after trying to take a drug for sexual performance. I don't know if I believe that claim, but it does have some plausibility.
Ramirez reportedly tested positive in spring training for hCG, and it was only when a "B" Sample tested positive more recently, did baseball formally act. I've also heard reports that Ramirez didn't actually test positive for hCG, rather his tests showed elevated levels on testerone which led to an investigation discovering the prescription and usage of hCG.
Either way, if Ramirez tested positive in spring training, then it would lead one to believe that he was prescribed hCG in the offseason, when he was a free agent. Ramirez didn't actually sign a contract until March 4, so he was a free agent for longer than normal. During that time, he might not have had access to Dodgers medical personnel, so he might not have been able to ask if HCG was banned.
Still, Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times notes that all players have access to a hotline to ask about the legality of any substance. Although, knowing Manny's care-free personality, I'd be surprised if that number was saved in his cell phone. Additionally the Times' Michael Hiltzik reports that players can obtain a special waiver for taking certain necessary, but otherwise banned substances. Ramirez obviously did not seek any such exemption.
In the press conference earlier today, Ned Colletti and Joe Torre offered their support for Manny, while sulking in the disappointment. Colletti seemed to have no interest in a convoluted story and even praised Ramirez for taking responsibility for his actions.
"Whenever somebody makes a mistake and they accept responsibility . . . are contrite, it's a plus," Colletti said. "And that's what Manny did today. Had he dismissed it or acted like it was somebody else's fault, I'd really have a tough time with it. But that he takes ownership of what transpired speaks to the man . . . that's not bad . . . that's part of being human."
I agree with Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports though in expressing my extreme disappointment in Ramirez for not answering questions today. In his statement, Ramirez said: "I have been advised not to say anything more for now."
I don't think this is a legal investigation, so Ramirez should be at liberty to speak. We've seen that athletes who come out in front of a story and address the media as quickly as possible, are often forgiven more quickly, provided they tell the truth. Ramirez's decision to go into hiding, makes it seem as though he has something to hide, and could lead one to believe he's taking extra time to craft an excuse. And I bet it's only a matter of time before a shady Miami doctor comes out of the woodwork.
Stories aside though, unless we find legitimate evidence to the contrary, it's hard to believe this is anything other than athlete taking a drug to get an edge.
As for the Dodgers, there are still reasons to hope. The lineup without Manny might still be the best in the NL West, and saving $7 million (only $3 million in '09 because of deferred compensation) could allow them to add Pedro Martinez, which would be a mini PR victory.
If the Dodgers can just go .500 in their 50 games without Manny, then they would be 46-33, and likely still in first in the NL West by a decent margin. Heck, even if they went 20-30 over their next 50 games, then they'd be 40-38, and probably right in the thick of the race. The second-place Giants are currently 14-13. So the Dodgers' excellent start has helped a lot.
If Manny is extraordinarily remorseful in the public sphere, and comes back on July 3 with his same engaging personality, then it's certainly not outside the realm of possibility that numerous LA fans will welcome him back with open arms. And he'll theoretically be healthy when he returns, so he could still help the team. Fans are far more forgiving than certain members of the media. But still, no one wants to see this, and it's been the ultimate black eye for baseball and for the Dodgers organization.