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Major League Baseball: Ostler on Manny

By Scott Ostler
San Francisco Chroncile
SAN DIEGO ó Thanks to Manny Ramirez, I have seen the light.
When Ramirez becomes eligible for the Hall of Fame, he gets my vote. Same with all the other ‘roid boys.
No longer will I try to hijack the game of baseball from its rightful owners ó the fans and players.
Ramirez has provided the final proof that nobody cares if a player has more needles stuck in his butt than a porcupine. If the fans don’t care, and the players don’t care, who am I to care?
What am I? A knucklehead?
Ramirez returned to the Dodgers on Friday in San Diego.
“You may have a few knuckleheads that throw some disparaging comments his way,” said Dodgers pitcher Scott Linebrink, formerly a Padre.
There you have it. Anyone who doesn’t welcome Manny back to baseball as if he went away for two months to build an orphanage for war refugees is a knucklehead.
So I welcome Ramirez back ó as a great slugger, fun guy, cool teammate and the man who has provided the final proof that steroids are OK, at least for pro baseball players.
I’m not being critical. I’m not so heartless that I would come down on a man who has been dealing with the anguish of an unplanned pregnancy.
Ramirez didn’t talk to the media during his whirlwind tour of the bushes. He said to one group of reporters hoping to interview him, “No thank you. Go to YouTube.”
YouTube? Maybe on YouTube there’s a video of Ramirez saying he’s sorry for cheating, compromising his team, setting a bad example for kids and copping out with a lame excuse. Or maybe there isn’t.
Baseball players are remarkably (and suspiciously) nonjudgmental of teammates who get busted for steroids. Joe Torre couldn’t be more supportive of Ramirez if the skipper were to wear a dreadlocks wig.
When the Dodgers return to Dodger Stadium? Oh, the love, especially in Mannywood, the section of seats near Ramirez’s leftfield position where fans wear Mannywood T-shirts. (No, the T-shirts don’t have faux-pregnancy belly padding.)
Ramirez will be more popular than ever in Los Angeles because his suspension has made him even more of a celebrity.
Anyway, if you’re scoring at home, here’s who has benefited from Manny being flim-flammy:
– The Dodgers. They reacted to the loss of their slugger by rallying together and proving that they’re not a one-man show.
– Juan Pierre. Stepping in for Ramirez, Pierre rediscovered his chops.
– Manny. He’s well rested, pumped up from the adulation, ready to rip.
– Me. I’ve seen the light. Seriously, give me my HOF ballot and get out of my way.

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