Sunday, May 17, 2009

The View From the Bullpen Can Be A Good One

Manny Ramirez met his Dodger teammates in Miami last Friday for the first time since his 50-game suspension for failing a drug test. According to manager Joe Torre, Ramirez was nervous and extremely apologetic during the encounter, as well he might have been.

How did his teammates feel? Well, consider the following remark by Dodger reliever Will Ohman.

"For a guy entering his second trimester," Ohman said, "Manny looked great. He's barely showing."

Thank you, Will Ohman, for upholding one of the finest traditions of our national pastime-sarcasm and ridicule. There's nothing so consequential that ballplayers can't turn to a joke at someone else's expense. That's why "Ball Four" was such a great read.

The rest of us, especially those who have a taste for ponderous, pretentious and tendentious moralizing on the issue of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, ought to take a moment to walk in Ohman's cleats. There is no group of human beings more directly and adversely affected by Ramirez's suspension than the rest of the Dodgers. It threatens their season, and hence, their finances, in the most immediate and dire way.

And yet, the reaction of at least one Dodger was that the punishment to fit Manny's crime was insult humor-pretty funny insult humor, too. The absurd nature of the drug detected in Ramirez's system was too marvelous an opportunity for some classic baseball jive to be missed.

If the victims are joking, the bystanders might want to get off their high horses. It reminds me of a very insightful comment said to be made (I only got it second-hand) by Nick Cafardo of the Globe.

Nick, having covered both the Pats and the Red Sox, summarized the difference between the two beats as a matter of emphasis. To paraphrase, he said that in pro football, the players and coaches treated their jobs as a matter of life and death, while the writers thought of themselves less seriously. In baseball, the players and coaches went about their business having a great time, while the writers treated every day as the opening shots of World War III.


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