It had to be the saddest Siete de Mayo in Chavez Ravine in many a year. Fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers have been placed on the 50-day disgusted list. They will be eligible to come off it in July.
Man-of-many-surprises Manny Ramirez has been given the heave-ho. He just got busted by baseball's version of a narc. A med that Manny said he took "for a personal health issue" is banned by the sport, so the commissioner's office told the Dodgers' left fielder to assume a new position in their lineup for the next 50 games -- left out.
What a dark blue day. "Star Trek" opens and promptly puts all of Hollywood's baseball fans on "stun." It feels as if every true-blue man, woman, boy or girl in an "LA" cap just got his or her dreadlock yanked.
For a week or two, Dodger Stadium had inched up into the No. 2 position behind Disneyland in the happiest-place-on-Earth race. The home team was defeating anybody and everybody. Thirteen consecutive victories over the opponents that L.A.'s fans hate most: visitors.
Every bat got hot. Every arm looked strong. Kemp did this and Kershaw did that. Ethier made it look eathy. A frisky fellow named Orlando Hudson -- "O-Dog" to everybody, including Vin Scully, who calls very few people Anything-Dog -- was camped out at second base doing all kinds of great tricks. A bull of a bullpen pitcher named Broxton was pulling his weight and that of several other guys.
Mainly it was Manny, though. Manny the hit-maker. Manny the walk-taker. Manny the self-anointed "doubles maniac." No. 99 on your score card but No. 1 in your heart, M-Ram was making you grin with each L.A. win.
Three thousand miles to the East, those poor New York Yankees were having little or no luck at all. Their new stadium was a launching pad where a T-ball toddler probably could clear the fence. Their most expensive seats were as unoccupied as a Friends of Bernie Madoff fundraiser. And their very best player, or at least co-stud, Alex Rodriguez, had so many problems off the field, he didn't need to date Madonna as much as be adopted by her.
L.A. was laughing all the way from the carpool lane to the turnstile. Huge, happy crowds, night after night -- so eager to see Manny step up to bat that most customers arrived by the first inning rather than the fourth. A park filled with Manny Maniacs jiggled excitedly in the seats, 40,000 to 50,000 flesh-and-blood bobbleheads. What a wonder he was. Worth every penny. What would he do next? What would he say next?
And what would Manny say next?
"I'm sorry." Oh, so very sorry. My apologies to Mr. McCourt, Mrs. McCourt and anybody else who owns the team. My apologies to Mr. Colletti, Mr. Torre and anybody else who runs the team. My apologies to my teammates and to my many Manny fans.
He apologized to everybody in Southern California except the octomom, the topless Miss USA contestant, Steve Lopez and the dude with the cello.
This had been looking like the Dodgers' year, even in May. It's been nearly 50 years since the first time L.A. won a World Series. It is going on 20 seasons since the last time. This organization has endured a great deal over these last couple of decades, from wondering if Darryl Strawberry would hit .300 to wondering if Andruw Jones would weigh 300.
What a season this one could have been. More fun than a slumdog becoming a millionaire. Alas, along came Thursday, a flunked drug test and a 50-game suspension for M-Ram, the western branch of A-Rod.
L.A. fans are sorry. Oh, so very sorry.