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BILL PLASCHKE

Manny Ramirez was a bigger cheater than we thought

Is the shame that Ramirez and David Ortiz brought to two of the most celebrated World Series titles in recent history going to spread to the Dodgers?

July 31, 2009|BILL PLASCHKE

Exactly one year ago, Manny Ramirez's arrival here left Los Angeles breathless.

Today, lips pursed at another shameful revelation, those breaths are being held.

Today, the celebratory thump-thump-thump has been replaced by an ominous tick-tick-tick.

What in the name of chorionic gonadotropin is going to happen with this guy next?

Is the taint that Ramirez and David Ortiz just brought to two of the most celebrated World Series titles in recent history going to spread to these Dodgers?

With Thursday's news that both men flunked steroid tests in 2003, the 2004 and 2007 World Series championships won by the Boston Red Sox must be considered fraudulent.

Will Ramirez eventually bring that same stain to a potential championship team here? Has that spill already occurred?

Even if Ramirez gets through this season without further suspension, it will not be without further suspense, everyone waiting for the other needle to drop, for the next explosion of deceit and delusion.

Tick-tick-tick.

Once the guy was suspended in May for 50 games for violating baseball's drug policy, I knew he had probably been dirty for most of his career, and so did you.

You cheering Dodgers fans talked repeatedly about forgiving a man for his one mistake, but, c'mon, you knew this was not only one mistake.

You Dodgers officials talked about the honor he showed in admitting his bad judgment, but, of course, you knew, this was about a career of bad judgment.

Turns out, this guy has probably been juicing for at least the last decade, which is why, this spring, he was busted for using a female fertility drug to restore his manliness. When it comes to long-term steroid use, everything shrinks but the homers.

At least now, from Mannywood to the executive offices, nobody can ever say this guy has never failed a drug test, OK?

The question now is, will he fail one again? Is he clean now? Can the unselfish Dodgers avoid being dragged down by any further selfishness?

I have assumed that since Ramirez was out of baseball for 50 games and probably being tested every 50 minutes, he is currently clean. I am assuming that his Bobblebomb home run was real. I am guessing that they can get through the season without further signs of cheating.

But as Thursday's news proved, who knows?

Upon Ramirez's return to the Dodgers in San Diego earlier this month, I asked the first question, wondering when he started using steroids and when he stopped.

"God is good and good is God," he answered.

That pretty much confirmed it, huh?

I still wonder why the Dodgers didn't know about this last year before they acquired him.

Yes, the steroid list is sadly top secret and, no, players don't shoot up during team meetings, but, still, baseball's silent fraternity is filled with plenty of whispering.

Owner Frank McCourt has many Boston connections. A couple of Dodgers executives were with Boston during some of Ramirez's glory days there.

Nobody even had a hint? And if they did have a hint, why on earth would they take this chance?

Certainly, last season's run to the championship series was magical. And, yes, he has provided even more thrills this season, causing goose bumps in even his loudest critic.

But has he really been worth the hassle?

Prolonged and silly contract negotiations that cost him much of spring training. A 50-game drug suspension.

And now the news that he's actually a longtime juicer who helped ruin one of the neatest moments in baseball history.

Sorry, all you righteous Red Sox fans, but your heroes are no better than our heroes.

That historic comeback from the three-games-to-none deficit against the New York Yankees in the 2004 playoffs?

It was indeed too good to be true.

That first world championship in 86 years? Truly a dream.

The second World Series title three years later? As magical as it seemed.

Turns out, the heavy lifters in those lineups had some help, Ramirez and Ortiz doing it with syringes and pills. They were just Barry Bonds with bigger smiles, Mark McGwire with fewer freckles.

The Curse of the Bambino lives.

At least Ramirez had the good sense to stay in the shadows. How about that beauty of an interview given by Ortiz this spring, when he climbed into a pulpit and announced that steroid users should be suspended for a year?

"Ban them for the whole year," he said, later adding, "I know that if I test positive for using any kind of substance, I know that I'm going to disrespect my family, the game, the fans, and everybody . . . so what will I do, I won't use."

OK, Ortiz far surpasses Ramirez on the fraud meter, so at least our Manny has that going for him.

Meanwhile, those same Red Sox fans who ripped Dodgers fans for cheering Ramirez gave Ortiz a standing ovation for hitting a homer in Thursday's game, which began just after the news broke.

Did they know? Did it matter?

All of which sets up one potential 'roid rage of a World Series, Manny being Papi, or something like that.

If the Dodgers' best player can just get there in one clean piece.

Tick-tick-tick.

--

bill.plaschke@latimes.com

twitter.com/BillPlaschke

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