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Los Angeles Dodgers superstar Manny Ramirez was recently suspended 50 games for testing positive for a banned drug known as "hCG" (human chorionic gonadotropin), a drug often used to soften the effects of ending a cycle of steroids. Ramirez said the drugs were prescribed by a physician for a "personal health issue." Should we buy Ramirez' explanation?

Doctor-prescribed? Personal health issue? Let me respond to those claims with a phrase that I'm sure Manny, and many other cheating baseball players, have uttered to direct a syringe full of steroids ... "my ass."

Let's see. A power-hitting baseball superstar wants me to believe his explanation of how a banned substance appeared in his body? My testicles are shrinking at the very audacity of Ramirez' claim. Sorry, Manny. There's only one way you can convince me that a doctor prescribed this medication, and that's by showing me the medical license of Doctor Jose Canseco.

And yes, in the baseball world of illicit drugs, players like Canseco can become "board"-certified by mastering the game of "Operation."

"Personal health issue," Manny? Aside from hCG's use in connection with a cycle of steroids, it's often used by non-baseball players to stimulate female fertility, stimulate testosterone production in men, and to treat delayed puberty in boys. So, Manny, unless your "personal health issue" was the desire to get pregnant, or a need for more testosterone, or enjoying puberty 20 years too late, then you shouldn't be taking hCG.

Besides, it's No. 51 on Major League Baseball's list of banned substances. And the term "human chorionic gonadotropin" contains the word "gonad." Rule of thumb, Manny: never put anything into your body that contains the word "gonad."

Anyway, the left field bleachers at Dodger Stadium are named "Mannywood" in your honor. That name was built on home runs and RBIs. Should it be built on lies and half-truths, the name might have to be changed to "Mannywood-en Nose."

Is this what the drug situation in baseball has come to ... players using fertility drugs that could be much better utilized by women who need it most, like mothers looking to add a brood of eight to an already full house of six? I understand Manny is approaching 40 years of age, a time when many parents are looking to revisit the joys of parenthood. He's fathered three children, but has yet to mother any. And that has to leave an empty feeling, much like a player, like a Barry Bonds, would feel who's won individual awards, but not a World Series title.

Maybe fertility drugs were the closest Manny could come to motherhood, and, as a bonus, they could ease the effects of pumping near-lethal amounts of steroids into his body.

Of course, it's far-fetched, almost impossible even, that Manny could ever give birth. It's one thing to carry the entire Dodgers team; it's something else entirely to carry a baby to term. But it darn sure would have made an interesting visit to the gynecologist. Maybe that's why Manny wears his pants so close to his cleats - he's just not a big fan of stirrups.

And what of the poor young boys yet to experience the joys of puberty, Manny? How dare your doctor prescribe you hCG when it could better serve someone who truly needs a boost of testosterone, not to hit a baseball further, but to resume the path to manhood. Manny, you remember the ups and downs of puberty, don't you? The joy. The confusion. Kind of like the Great Home Run Race of 1998.

Don't deny a poor kid his chance to enjoy the fruits of hCG. All he wants is a little hair on his chest; all you want are the pimples off your rear and your balls back to normal size. Hey, I understand the embarrassment of playing the game of pocket pool and coming up empty. You just want things back like they used to be. What baseball fan longing for the days of clean play can't relate to that?

This all started with a urine sample taken from Ramirez during spring training. In the current culture of baseball, giving the spring training urine sample is becoming as common for players as giving the spring training autograph, or spring training interview, or lying about past drug use. Let's face it. The wave of the future in collectibles is not baseball cards, but urine samples. If you're sitting on a Barry Bonds' 2003, then you've got a gold mine on your hands, a veritable golden shower of collectible worth. And any Mark McGwire sample is sure to draw a hefty price, and even more on the yellow market. And any item with Roger Clemens DNA on it is definitely something you'd want to pass down to your kids, or federal agents.

Hey, they don't call baseball America's "piss-time" for nothing.

Ramirez' sample showed an elevated level of testosterone, so high that even former East German female track stars were alarmed.

It pains me that Ramirez, like many other baseball players, has not learned the lesson that when busted, it's always best to admit your guilt, immediately. Baseball fans are generally a forgiving bunch, probably too forgiving, but they've been conditioned not to believe players' so-called legitimate excuses for positive drug test. You know those signs often seen in the stands? Those that read "We Believe." Well, if you saw the back side of those signs, it would read "...that you are a liar."

Me, I can accept an admission of guilt in a heartbeat. The truth? I can handle the truth. Apparently, most baseball players accused of, if not proven to be, drug cheats, cannot handle the truth, or at least the consequences of telling the truth.

Of course, it takes a huge pair of balls to tell the truth after first lying. Maybe that's why baseball's steroid cheats can't make themselves tell the truth; their testicles have been so diminished by the effects of steroids, that they are no longer man enough to make the admission. They lack the "testicular fortitude."

There is a statute of limitations on telling the truth, after first lying. If Barry Bonds came up to me today and admitted to everything he's been accused of, I would reply, "You're a liar." Sorry, Barry. The statute of limitations ran out long ago.

Ramirez, on the other hand, has time to be truthful, and be forgiven, and be praised even. But with each passing day that he maintains his innocence, the less likely the truth, if ever admitted, will benefit him.

As it is, nothing surprises baseball fans anymore. Sure, fans are disappointed when they hear that their favorite player has used steroids, but not surprised. Fans have become desensitized to steroid scandals. I guarantee Ramirez fans will get over his drug issues, and I'm guessing it will take them somewhere around 50 games to do so.

Forgiving is easy. Forgetting is not. Forgiving is even easier when someone admits a mistake, or a lapse in judgment, or an association with a known merchant of banned substances. All too often, players use the excuse of "not knowing." That is, "not knowing" that the drug was banned, or "not knowing" that they were even taking a banned substance, or "not knowing" that their trusted doctor had prescribed something they shouldn't have.

Manny should look at the examples of Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, two players who have adamantly maintained their innocence in defiance of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Of course, there's not overwhelming evidence in Manny's case, but there is evidence. It's best to come clean before this all becomes a legal issue, which, as Bonds and Clemens can attest, is not a good thing.

So Manny, it would behoove you to make a full admission, and honor the words of the great statesman Barney Fife, who insists that you need to "nip it in the bud."

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