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T.J. SIMERS

Dodgers' Manny Ramirez has some explaining to do

In the wake of his 50-game drug suspension, the Dodgers' star needs to come clean with himself and with his adoring public, and he needs to do it soon.

May 08, 2009|T.J. SIMERS

I liked Manny. Still do.

Right now he's a big disappointment, but I've had bigger ones in life. Don't even get me started on the RV mutiny or Derek Fisher.

Here I am worried all this time about dogs or kids coming across Gary Matthews Jr.'s HGH stash, and maybe it's the cheater who has been standing beside me a good part of the last year.

Yeah, I still like Manny, but he's stupid, the only explanation for any athlete in this day and age allowing performance-enhancing drugs to be linked to their name.

He's let a lot of folks down, beginning with himself.

The blue carpet was rolled out, the reputation makeover proceeding quite nicely, but then he goes out of his way to empower the "I told you so" mob.

It's a depressing world we live in at times, a lot of folks actually taking delight in someone's colossal blunder or human frailty, just so they can feel better about predicting it.

On a positive note they all seem confined to Boston with access to the Internet, or are columnists who regularly write on the front page of sports sections.

As far as most of them are concerned, the story is over, Manny finished. But this story is just beginning to be written.

Now I have no idea whether it was HGH, HCG, ABC or whatever letters of the alphabet Ramirez put into his body. I don't care, although the mention of a female fertility drug does leave the door open for a punch line or two when he returns.

I also don't give a hoot whether he received bad medical advice, sounds accountable in statements crafted by agent Scott Boras, or wants to curl up in a ball.

Right now he should be in the batting cage before the game, which his 50-game suspension allows, and then sitting in Mannywood down the left-field line with the folks who paid no attention to the "I told you so" mob.

I'd have him buy his own ticket -- if Frank McCourt hasn't already thought of it.

Manny should be the first guy in the clubhouse greeting his teammates after each game, maybe his bat removed from the lineup but no excuse for not giving everyone the pep he's brought to that clubhouse. And I said pep, not PEDs.

Some think he should have addressed his teammates before the game, but then Larry Bowa is like that.

But Manny's teammates know all about him, how he feels, what they must do in his absence and what he will be like when he returns in a few days. And he better return in a few days, hiding or the perception that he's hiding doing even more damage.

OK, so he will probably spend a few days in Florida with his wife and kids, licking his wounds or injections, but then it will be time to come clean. Of course had he been clean all along, none of this would have been necessary.

I still like Manny, but he's going to have to stand before everyone, no excuses, no vague explanations, names and details so no one need go looking for more information. No loose ends, and "I'm just on vacation" not cutting it this time.

If he's been using stuff for months, even years, he needs to say so as the healing process begins. Say anything less than the whole truth and nothing but, only to have it emerge later, and ripping that scab open he might never recover.

He's already lost the Hall of Fame argument with sports writers around the country, who look upon themselves as watchmen of the sport.

They didn't like the way he abused the game in his final days in Boston, and most have long memories, because they think the game of baseball is sacred or something. Sometimes one has to wonder what they're on.

Manny's arrival here last season and immediate success really didn't do much to change minds elsewhere, which accounted for his availability this past off-season. Now the naysayers have a new supply of ammunition.

Here in L.A. he could not have asked for better treatment, and while not knowing at the time it would prove to be a halfway house for a guy on drugs, Manager Joe Torre said it hurts Ramirez knowing he "disappointed people," although it just doesn't have the same ring coming from Torre as it would from Manny.

--

THE DODGERS played on without Manny, even eliminating him from the highlights of the previous win in a video replay before the game.

But as Torre said, before his team's blowing a 6-0 lead in an 11-9 loss, "We still need Manny and will welcome him back."

Some folks were saying Manny's latest blunder was "sad." Others reacted as if "angry." These people really do need to be on something.

Does Manny going stupid change anyone's life other than his own, and that of McCourt, who gets a first-place cushion, saves more than $7 million and then gets Manny again for the stretch run?

"I think our society is all about pointing fingers," Torre said, while stressing the importance of keeping the game clean. "But let's move on, and maybe send a message that this is not the way to do things."

Maybe L.A., Dodgers fans and certain columnists have been burned by Manny's belly flop, but tell me you don't like Manny. It has been so much fun having him in a Dodgers uniform, anyone around here trying to rewrite L.A. history now a hypocrite of sorts.

At the same time we've been given a great reminder that no matter how gifted the athlete, re: Kobe Bryant, we really don't know what's going on inside.

But we also know from experience that an L.A. crowd can be moved to chant, "MVP," no matter what sins have been committed, so long as a top-grade performance follows.

So there's a good chance we already know how this whole thing is going to end, probably a Sunday game against the Giants in late September, 50,000 people on their feet screaming, "Manny, Manny."

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t.j.simers@latimes.com

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