by Phil Kehres
Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez is the latest superstar to find himself embroiled in Major League Baseball’s ongoing performance-enhancing drug (PED) saga. Your first reaction might be “another one bites the dust.” But before we crucify him, though, let’s cut through the mock outrage and try to take a more nuanced look at the situation.
Ramirez was suspended for 50 games under baseball’s drug policy for taking the female fertility drug human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), according to ESPN, which based its story on as yet unnamed sources. Ramirez was quick to issue an apology that didn’t deny his use of the drug but rather claimed he was given a legitimate prescription for it and did not know it was on list of substances banned by Major League Baseball (MLB). Early reports noted that Ramirez might have been prescribed the drug as a treatment for erectile dysfunction. However, hCG is a drug often used to increase levels of testosterone in steroid users. This is the same stuff that Jose Conseco got busted for trying to smuggle into the U.S. It’s not hard to connect the dots. Ramirez won’t be able to pass this one off as “Manny being Manny.”
Though it seems obvious Ramirez knew what he was doing, there are more important things to take away from this most recent debacle. You’d have to be a world-class idiot to keep using after all the controversy that’s gone down in the past, and it seems Ramirez fits the bill. But though the disappointment is valid here, it’s a shame now the cavalcade of morons will have another reason to sound off with ridiculous ideas like deleting Ramirez’s records and calling for the invasion of MLB commissioner Bud Selig’s office by the U.S. military. Ramirez is guilty, yes, and he’s been suspended. Let’s not be so absurd as to act like he’s destroyed our national innocence.
Furthermore, this incident — the confusion surrounding the purpose of the drug, Ramirez’ passive denial of guilt — is proof that these things should be examined on a case-by-case basis. Ramirez is not Barry Bonds. He is not A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez). Ramirez was not outed for taking PEDs years ago when the rules were murky — this is now. His crimes are his own, and more clear-cut than those in the past. But it’s a fool’s errand to make blanket statements about the character of every athlete ever associated with PED use. These are complex issues that deserve better than the surface-level arguments fed to us by a bloated, failing mainstream media desperate for readership.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t damn Ramirez. I’m saying we, as a collective of sports fans and (nominally) rational human beings, need to get our damn facts straight before we grab our pitchforks and torches.
(The photo of Manny Ramirez is by shgmom56 via Flickr, using a Creative Common license.)
For more on steroids and performance enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball, please see these posts from the archives:
Los Angeles Dodgers
performance enhancing drugs
human chorionic gonadotropin
War on Drugs
Major League Baseball
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by Phil Kehres