When news broke that Manny Ramirez failed a drug test last week, I immediately turned on ESPN for some hilarious, breathless commentary that a baseball player would have the audacity to take a drug that would make them better at baseball. Sometime around 7 pm, Buster Olney nailed the best line of the day, saying that if players felt bad about being suspected of steroids, they should blame A-Rod, "who looked Katie Couric right in the eyes and said he didn't do steroids." How dare a player lie to our most respected journalist who has had her colon inspected on live television!
Since then, a lot of people have written some pretty amazing, unintentionally hilarious things about Man-Ram taking steroids. As usual, Bill Simmons leads the way with this column set in the dark, post-apocalyptic future of 2014. In this dark time, each section of Fenway Park has a sponsor (gasp!) and the Green Monster is called "The Pepsi Green Monster." What horrors we will witness in five years! Anyway, Simmons takes his son to the game and recalls October 2004:
Ever since Boston won the World Series 10 years ago, I always imagined pointing to that 2004 banner and telling my little boy, "That's the team that changed everything." So that's what I do. I point at the banner and tell him, "That's the team that changed everything."
"Isn't that the team that cheated?" he asks. My father and I glance at each other. A few beats pass. "Well, technically, no," I stammer. "I mean ..."
"I thought they had a whole bunch of steroids guys on that team," he says.
"Well, yes, but baseball only did a test run of steroid testing that year, with no punishment," I said, and my son shot me a quizzical look. "Okay, yes, steroids were illegal, but they were only made illegal in the late 1980s as the War on Drugs intensified."
My son looked confused.
"In the late 1960s, Richard Nixon needed to demonize 'the young, the black and the poor,' without actually coming out and saying it, so he started War on Drugs. After a brief lull -- during which Jimmy Carter supported marijuana legalization! -- the plummeting price of cocaine helped popularize crack in Los Angeles and New York led Ronald Reagan to, one, sell cocaine and, two, intensify the War on Drugs with the help of the Democratic Congress and the media (especially the New York Times). Congress outlawed steroids in this climate after drug scandals in Olympic sports and professional wrestling."
My son was now asleep.
"That's right," I said. "I'll never accept Hulk Hogan's first World Heavyweight Championship as legitimate."
Hm, I'm sorry, I lapsed into a bit of a tangent there. I think that's what I will tell my son one day, when I'm trying to explain J.C. Romero's positive drug test last season. Let me tell you, though, that my little tangent was way more interesting than Simmons' column. And about 15,000 words shorter, too.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports continues the parade with a column calling for lifetime bans of anyone who tests positive. Jeff Passan is so anti-performance enhancing drug he doesn't drink coffee before writing his columns. He draws "sXe" on his wrists. When he won the award for Best Clean Sportswriter of the Year in 2006, he gave a speech that ended with him pleading, "Let's see what Rick Reilly could do without Red Bull. Let's just see."
Also from our nation's number one sports site with an exclamation point in its name comes this offering from Steve Henson telling Manny to "get serious." Like being known as a guy who absolutely kills himself to get ready for games? Like taking drugs to improve your performance as a player? I really enjoy the seriousness of the ending.
Now the expectation is that Ramirez stands tall and speaks candidly. It's a performance that can't be artificially enhanced. And it's his only way out of the dark.
You can totally artificially enhance public speaking performance. What if Manny gets plastic surgery to look hotter before his steroid confession?
Yahoo! Sports actually has a little banner for all its steroid coverage.
"These players are not being shamed enough to suit Jeff Passan!" I can only imagine the conversation went. "Let's do a package!"
Up in Boston, the editorial writers are even worse than Sports Guy. The Boston Globe compares Ramirez to the late Dom DiMaggio (hint: they like the one who didn't win a title for them), The Salem News says no one from this era should be allowed in the Hall of Fame (and writes "Mark Maguire" and bashes witches) and The Republican quotes the "Manny being Manny" line nearly every writer used (Tom Boswell is the worst offender) but didn't quite get it right:
"Manny just being Manny" is OK for outfield shenanigans and loafing, but this one is way beyond the outfield. It's out of bounds.
If there's one phrase you associate with baseball, it's "out of bounds," that's for sure.
Hmm, what else? Oh, there's this great piece from FanHouse writer Andrew Kurtz titled, "This is Goodbye, Baseball. You Are Dead to Me." Baseball will miss you, Kurtzy! The New York Post's Phil Mushnick wrote about how he can't even watch a replay of the 1998 World Series without Manny doing steroids haunting him. No, really, he wrote that. And there's this column asking if Manny Ramirez is a fan of Jon & Kate Plus 8. Topical!
But, really, my favorite part of the Manny Ramirez coverage is this headline from the Canadian Press: Major League Baseball gets international praise for suspending Manny Ramirez. Finally! The United States is doing something the world just loves! Who knew the world wanted star athletes suspended for large portions of the season?