Why Is Manny Playing Already?

Manny Ramirez remains on baseball’s suspended list through July 3. Maybe I’m just dense, but I would think that a “suspension” through July 3 would mean that he would not be able to play baseball for any US professional teams associated with MLB until then. He could certainly play at a local park; he could play at a family picnic, he could play in a baseball league in New Zealand; but he would not be allowed to play in MLB or anything associated with MLB. Clearly, I just don’t get it…

Manny Ramirez will start playing this week for a Dodgers’ Triple-A farm team, the Albuquerque Isotopes. The rationale behind this is that he needs this opportunity to prepare so that he will be ready to play for the Dodgers as of 3 July. Sorry, but I take a different view here. He is on a 50-game suspension – not a trivial penalty for a non-trivial transgression of the rules of baseball – and it ought to be his burden to stay in shape/find someone to pitch serious batting practice to him/get himself ready for his return to the Dodgers. Why is he permitted to play for a minor league team when any of the other players on the Isotopes would be suspended and not allowed to play anywhere if they failed the same drug test?

Speaking of failed drug tests, here is a quote from a column by Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union-Tribune attributed to San Diego Padres’ closer, Heath Bell regarding the Padres’ prospects for the rest of the season:

“We’re not out of the wild-card race and the Dodgers can’t play this way forever. We’re lying in the weeds.”

Based on that quote, I suggest that MLB should be testing Bell for hallucinogens sometime soon…

The Boston Red Sox celebrated their 500th consecutive sold-out game last week. There are a lot of factors that have contributed to that streak – - some very good teams, a stadium that is a baseball shrine, a stadium that is hardly cavernous, a dedicated fan base. What is somewhat surprising is that the economic slump has not interfered with ticket sales in any significant way. By the way, the Red Sox record during those 500 sold-out games was 306 -194 – - assuming my math is correct.

You have probably read about Bryce Harper – the 16-year-old high school baseball phenom who will get his GED and then leave high school to focus on playing baseball. He will be going to junior college next year and then in June 2010 he will be eligible for the MLB Draft. Obviously, he is doing this with de minimis the approval of his parents if not their orchestration. I hope this works out for Bryce Harper because the comparisons to Michelle Wie as a teenage phenom who flamed out will follow him around if this does not work out. Clearly, following the Michelle Wie path to athletic success over the later teenage years is not where Bryce Harper needs to go. Bonne chance, Bryce Harper.

By now, you must know about the latest negative event in the life of Ryan Leaf. A warrant for his arrest was issued in Texas based on an arrest for breaking and entering there – - allegedly to acquire prescription painkillers. Leaf was in Canada for some reason and was arrested by a border guard when he returned to the US. That led Dwight Perry to say in the Seattle Times:

“Further proof that old football habits die hard: Ryan Leaf gets intercepted at the border.”

On the same topic, Bob Molinaro had this item in the Hampton Roads Virginian Pilot:

“Down and out: There have probably been worse busts than Ryan Leaf, but none come quickly to mind.”

Molinaro’s comment started me thinking about some of the sports world’s monumental busts and after a few minutes of rumination, I came up with this list:

    Tony Mandarich
    Darko Milicic
    LaRue Martin
    Sam Bowie
    Rick Mirer
    Tim Couch
    Akili Smith
    Brian Bosworth
    Reggie Bush – - too soon to tell?

And of course, if one is making a list of monumental busts everywhere, one cannot possibly leave out the name of:

    Morganna the Kissing Bandit.

According to reports last week, Bernie Kosar filed for bankruptcy. It was not all that long ago that Cleveland Browns’ fans wanted Bernie Kosar to be a significant part of the ownership of the resurrected Browns’ franchise. Seemingly, there were two reasons for that desire:

    A. He was not part of the Lerner family.

    B. He had a reputation as a shrewd and astute businessman.

Well, at least the first condition continues to obtain… According to the court filings, Kosar owes the Browns $1.5M, his ex-wife $3M and a bank $9M on some real estate deals that have not worked out. Given that debt burden, one would suspect that Kosar will have to restrict some of his discretionary expenses. I guess that is yet another reason not to contemplate a weekend at Bernie’s.

Finally, since I used a Dwight Perry line above, allow me to close today with another one from the Seattle Times:

“Sleep, according to a new University of California study, is nature’s way of:

    “a) Resetting the magnetic north of your emotional compass.

    “b) Killing eight hours when there isn’t a Nats doubleheader.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…

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  • JJC  On June 22, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Oh, I’d put Reggie Bush in the Bust catagory. Bust being defined here as expectations / money vs. actual performance. The half-life of a half back is short and you need a strong start to have a long career. It might be the hour, lack of coffee, or lack of caring but I can’t think of any RB that had a bell shaped career. If you were to graph the stats of a RB you get very angular lines.

    I would have expected Ryan Leaf to be on that list as well, but as he might still be on the loose caution might be the smart course of action.

    I’m going to assume that if Manny plays he also gets paid, which really shows how seriously MLB is taking this issue. I can’t imagine anywhere else where this would be allowed. Even in Monopoly you can’t collect rent when you’ve been sent to jail.

  • Ed  On June 22, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Manny should not be allowed to play. If he wants to come in on an unpaid basis to train with the team, OK. No game action.

    No, Bush is not a bust yet. And as Bell said, SD is not eliminated yet. Yet. (Laying in the weeds? Bell is smoking the weeds…)

  • Rich  On June 22, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    My favorite NFL bust was Joe Don Looney, who may not have had all the hype that more famous busts have had, but certainly led a colorful life.
    Sam Bowie….ouch!

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On June 22, 2009 at 4:33 pm


    Reggie Bush is right on the cusp of becoming a bust in my mind.

    Ryan Leaf was not on the List because he was cited by Bob Molinaro in the first place which is what started me thinking about this.

    Running backs who have bell curve careers might be the ones who started out as kick returners before becoming full time running backs. Bryan Westbrook comes to mind here.

    I do not think Manny gets paid until July 3 – - at least that is my understanding of the suspension rules.


    My problem is that a minor league player in AAA who is caught in a drug test and suspended for 50 games isn’t allowed to go and play for a week or so in A ball to get ready for his return. So why the leniency for a major leaguer?


    Joe Don was indeed a … “Colorful” is one way to describe his life; “off-center” mioght be another.

    You disagree that Sam Bowie was a bust? I realize that leg injuries are what did his career in, but in terms of production for a #2 overall pick, I’d call him a bust.

  • JJC  On June 22, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    See, that is what I get for reading without enough coffee, a medical condition I call Low C, and an unquenched desire to make a Leaf joke.

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On June 22, 2009 at 9:03 pm


    In my former incarnation, my job required me to be subject to random blood testing for drugs and other illegal substances. On the occasion of one of the tests as the young lady was ready to stick me and draw the vial of blood, I told her to make a note that if they did not find a significant level of caffeine in there, it meant I had been dead for three days.

    I can relate to your “Low C” situation…

  • Rich  On June 23, 2009 at 11:51 am

    I most certainly do not agree with your Sam Bowie bust/pick. He was going to be an NBA superstar.

  • Rich  On June 23, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    …I meant ‘do not disagree’….Sam Bowie was a bust. Sorry about trying to type and talk at the same time

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On June 23, 2009 at 9:02 pm


    Just don’t try to type and drive at the same time. That would be hazardous to your health…

  • Rich  On June 24, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    Wasn’t there a locomotive engineer in SoCal who did that last year?

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