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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

A Manny Among Cheaters?

The steroid search in Major League Baseball is an exhaustive game. While politicians, bitter fans and Jose Canseco continue to accuse high and low, true fans of the sport are simply tired of the search. Week in and week out, new players seem to be accused. Even when Alex Rodriguez admitted usage, many fans yawned, perhaps due to consistent speculation that a narcissistic person with questionable morals (and who had grown considerably in ten years) would ever cheat. But this week, a new name surfaced in the steroid chase, one that will certainly ignite heated debate in Boston.

Manny Ramirez.

Jose Canseco recently said he was “90 percent sure” Manny Ramirez would be on the list of 103 players that tested positive for steroids in the early 2000’s. This is the same list that outed Rodriguez, and when (or if) these names are released, it will probably have a similar reaction to the Mitchell Report released in late 2007. If Canseco is right (as he has been so far), then this may rattle the sport.

Ramirez has been a saga unto himself for the duration of his career. Whether it be relieving himself in the Green Monster during a pitching change, high-fiving a fan over a fence following a clutch catch in Baltimore, or requesting a trade to Green Bay for Brett Favre, many have laughed at Ramirez. Even when he’s been troublesome (such as pushing Red Sox traveling secretary Jack McCormick or fighting with Kevin Youkilis in the dugout), the chronicles of his career have always been met with some bemusement on the part of fans, teammates and coaches. But if it is true that Ramirez used steroids, all of those touching stories will be for naught.

Affirmation of these allegations would be shocking to a system that has accepted Ramirez as a ‘pure’ hitter. It is well known that Ramirez is one of the hardest working hitters in the majors. Frequently, the enigmatic slugger is the first one in the cages before the game, and while he may not have an approach that mirrors Tony Gwynn’s in terms of studying video and charts, Ramirez is a cerebral hitter. However, all of that will go away if he is labeled a cheater.

Since the beginning of the steroid witch-hunt, Ramirez has flown under the radar. His body size has remained similar from his rookie year, and has had no noticeable spike in his statistics. Even the media has been surprised by the possibility of Ramirez using steroids. Writing about the New York Yankees’ BALCO tag-team of Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield, ESPN’s Bill Simmons once said that he was sure David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez weren’t using steroids because they “couldn’t even make a cup of Thera-flu,” much less inject each other with performance-enhancing drugs.

If Canseco’s allegations are true, the sport of baseball will take a major hit to its image, and lose one of its most magnetizing stars. The smiling, happy-go-lucky Ramirez will continue to mash baseballs for a relaxed fan base in Los Angeles. Following Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa, the sport of baseball will lose the last, latest “clean” hitter of this generation.