Life is a cliche, and the sporting life is a double cliche. The other Oakland ballplayers surely greeted Manny with hugs and fist bumps and high fives, and Bob Melvin—the team’s manager—actually uttered the words, “He can be a great example with his work ethic.” There was talk about redemption; about recovery; about appreciating the game and not knowing what’s lost until it’s gone and the wonders and the love and the happiness that comes with Spring Training.
And then, without nearly as much fanfare, I vomited. Profusely.
In case you’re unaware, Manny Ramirez is a cheater. Not a one-time cheater, either, but a guy who—clearly—used PED often and repeatedly to excel in baseball and, consequently, take work away from those who chose not to violate the rules. Last year he was suspended for 100 games after failing his second test, then went home and was arrested for allegedly hitting his wife, Juliana.
Now, he’s back.
I know Moneyball brought Billy Beane much love, and I have no problem with that. I like Beane, and I liked covering Beane. He was always wonderful to me. But, I must ask, what kind of person brings Manny Ramirez into his clubhouse? What kind of GM overlooks a cheater—an unabashed, undeniable cheater—in the name of wins? i know we’re supposed to give the A’s a break, in that they have no money and blah, blah, blah. But this … this is just wrong. The message it sends is a message baseball has sent with the hiring of Mark McGwire as the Cards’ hitting coach and the employment of a known-beyond-known-beyond-known PED cheat as an analyst on the MLB Network and the game’s refusal to officially damn the legacies of men who violated the rules: That cheating is OK. Oh, it’ll be pooh-poohed and criticized and all. But, day’s end, it’s OK.