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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Doses of Dismay? Too Manny to Count

The Fairly Detached Observers

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Where will it end? Manny Ramirez has joined Alex Rodriguez on the list of baseball stars who have either tested positive for banned drugs or come under suspicion of using them. Not that the Observers are surprised.

Artie: So Manny gets a 50-day suspension? Cripes, I wouldn’t mind 50 days away from work. So I’m investigating what I might have to take to get that.

Frank: You know it’s 50 days without pay, right?

Artie: Oh. Really. I guess Manny’s bank account can handle that a little better than mine. But how about his official ghost-written statement: “Recently I saw a physician for a personal health issue. He gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was OK to give me.” Turns out it was a women’s fertility drug. So what was the personal health issue? Was he trying to get pregnant? Manny being Wo-Manny?

Frank: The only reason a man would take this drug, apparently, is to restore the natural testosterone level after coming off steroids.

Artie: But there’s good news. Even as Manny departs, A-Rod is back from injury.

Frank: Just as the tell-all book by Selena Roberts, who outed him as a roid guy, alleges that he’s been using steroids since high school.

Artie: We didn’t buy his excuse that he was “young and stupid” when he roided up as a major-leaguer, but I guess he really did get an early start on being stupid.

Frank: A-Rod and Manny were on videotape as denying they ever used. So can anyone believe anything that any athlete says about drugs? I want to believe that most pro athletes don’t take this stuff. But the cheaters put a cloud over everyone.

Artie: That list of positive tests in ‘03 that produced the A-Rod story had, what, a hundred guys, right?

Frank: A small percentage of the total who were tested, but enough to trigger the current testing system. Looks like that special “Roid Era” wing of the Hall of Fame that we’ve proposed—sponsored by Ripley’s Believe It Or Not—would be well populated.

Artie: Counting proved and suspected users, there’s Manny, A-Rod, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire…

Frank: Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada and Gary Sheffield, who told a grand jury he just took what they gave him when he trained with Bonds.

Artie: If Ripley’s decides it can’t sponsor the drug-era wing at the Hall of Fame, who can we get?

Frank: A big pharmacy chain would make sense—maybe even have the wing include a pharmacy instead of a gift shop. Fans could study the drug histories of the immortals and on the way out pick up a banned substance of their own.

Artie: Very interactive, as the museum people say.

Frank: Hire one of those doctors who prescribe stuff for athletes, sight-unseen, on the Internet. And a visitor could say, “I’d like a Manny,” or “How about an A-Rod for my young and stupid son?” And doc writes the scrip.

Artie: The major-league experience!

Frank: Ryan Braun made a good point in a comment to the Journal Sentinel. Of course he was surprised Manny didn’t know better, since testing is in place.

But he added, “Everybody says it was a different culture eight years ago. It was almost the norm.”

Artie: By “everybody,” I guess he’s including veteran players he’s talked with.

Frank: Then Braun said that because no one can say for sure how many players were using drugs, the numbers that Bonds and others produced still mean something. He went on, “If you want to take away numbers from a guy, do you take away 10%, 20%? You don’t know because the hitters were competing against pitchers who were doing it, too.”

Artie: Maybe pitchers were using more than hitters because of all the arm aches. You take steroids and heal faster.

Frank: This era demands some kind of special designation, whether it’s a segregated place in the Hall and record books or a big stinkin’ asterisk next to all these names. And sooner or later we need to hear something from the commissioner.

Artie: Absolutely. Bud Selig can’t duck this.

Frank: He has two options. Either say, “These certain guys are banned because we have proof they cheated,” or say, “What can we do? We’re trying our best to clean it up, but we’ll never know the whole story. These guys were the best of a tainted era; judge them as you will.”

Enough, Sweet Prince

Artie: Speaking of whether we can believe anything, is there any reason to think the Brett Favre saga will end?

Frank: He wants to join the Vikings and nail the Packers for not wanting him last year. No, he wants to stay retired. No, no, he does want to play, but only if he can avoid a major operation on his throwing shoulder. No, no, no, what he really wants is…

Artie: He should be trying to sign with New Orleans. Why? The last four letters in “Saints” are INTS, which is what he was throwing all December to help the Jets choke last season.

Frank: To say nothing of the final pass he threw in green and gold, which cost the Pack a conference title. Now Favre is giving— again—the unabridged performance of Hamlet. Mel Gibson did a nice twohour film version but Kenneth Branagh produced a complete-text movie that ran four hours! I saw it, and it shows that even Shakespeare could have used an editor.

Artie: So could Favre. It’s like the Jay Cutler thing. Cutler wanted to be traded from Denver, then he didn’t, then he did. And his agent, James “Bus” Cook, who also works for Favre, said, “I don’t know what’s going on. He never said that.”

Frank: Sounds like Cook’s main talent is being in the dark about everything.

And I can believe that. Favre has always enjoyed talking to the national media, an audience far beyond the Packer faithful.

Artie: I’m sure his true feelings will come out when he has his next interview on Fox News with Greta Van Collagen. I’m still certain he’ll be in Viking purple.

Frank: Part of this is just that he doesn’t have any idea what to do with the rest of his life. Nothing wrong with that; not everyone is Bill Bradley or Alan Page, with a political or judicial career waiting. But I’m amazed at the apparent depth of his anger; he wants to see Thompson run out of Green Bay.

Artie: Well, he helped get Eric Mangini run out of New York. And if he goes to Minnesota I think he’ll fail and head coach Brad Childress will get canned, too. Maybe that’s his secret; he’s actually working undercover for Ted!

Good, Not Great

Frank: I caught the Brewers’ games against the Cubs on Friday night and Sunday, and if they’d rallied in the finale to sweep the series I would have boldly declared, “The Cubs is dead!”

Artie: But they didn’t, thanks in part to my man Jeff Suppan.

Frank: Four weeks after his implosion against the Cubs, Suppan wasn’t terrible but couldn’t hold a lead. Alfonso Soriano took him deep again and the Brewers did just enough wrong to lose.

Artie: It would have been nice to crush the Cubs while they have all those injuries. My theory is that after two big victories, some of the fellas were out a little late Saturday night.

Frank: The Brewers don’t see Wrigley Field until July, but this weekend they can deliver a message when they play in St. Louis.

Artie: You betcha. Get it in the Cardinals’ heads that the Brew Crew will not be denied!

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