by Rich Herschlag and Bill Staples
We knew LA was a little weird, but we really had no idea. Not even a year out there and sweet old Manuel Ramirez from the Bronx is caught taking human chorionic gonadotropin, a female fertility drug. Soon, Manny will be studying Kabbalah, eating quiche, and opening a Botox clinic in Malibu.
This wasn’t exactly juicing. Let’s call it milking. There are boobs and there are man boobs. Now there are Manny boobs. First there was Octo-mom. Now there’s Octo-Manny. This is not Manny being Manny. This is Manny being Mommy. Just in time for Mother’s Day. And this Mother’s Day, Mom got a hypodermic needle and a syringe.
This is not so much a fifty-game suspension as it is a maternity leave. Sure we’re disappointed. In breastfeeding terms, it’s a real let-down. This will give a whole new meaning to the phrase “nursing an injury.” But Manny doesn’t need surgery. Manny needs a baby shower.
It’s funny, Manny wasn’t even showing. Too bad baseball isn’t bigger over in Sweden , where this sort of thing is covered by medical insurance. But even as Chrysler files for bankruptcy, America remains a great innovator. Manny will be the first major leaguer to file a paternity suit against himself.
No doubt fifty games is a long time, almost two menstrual periods. That’s enough time to shoot a pilot for an exercise show with Richard Simmons. It’s enough time to do a cameo on Desperate Housewives, appear as a guest on The Today Show with Kathy Lee, and go on The View. By July, Manny’s baseball skills may have eroded, but he’ll come back a better wet nurse.
Reintegrating Manny with the Dodgers after seven weeks won’t be easy. First, there’s the postpartum depression. Just ask Brooke Shields. That’s right, we don’t care what that Scientologist kook Tom Cruise says. When a power hitter comes back from maternity leave, there will be tears, and not just from fourth outfielder Juan Pierre, who will be riding the bench again. The returning slugger is liable to cry at any little thing, including the seven million dollars in contract payments he forfeited by fattening up like a turkey before slaughter.
But there is a bigger issue here than one man’s love affair with cellulite. Bigger than one hombre’s brave quest to morph into a strange hybrid of Rosie O’Donnell, Jennifer Lopez, and Michael Jackson. Just when we were getting used to the idea of a generation of ballplayers using performance enhancing substances, here comes this dude in dreadlocks taking performance retarding substances.
Frankly, it will be hard to look at all those 40-homerun seasons and not think somewhere in the back of our minds they were really 50-homerun seasons. By now, Manny could have passed the likes of Palmeiro, Sosa, and McGwire on the all-time doped-up dingers list. But alas, sometimes life just isn’t fair. Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Hank Greenberg, and Ralph Kiner had World War II. Manny Ramirez had progesterone.
Moreover, we remember a simpler time, when overpaid athletes shot their buttocks full of steroids and lied about it at Congressional hearings. When America ‘s pastime meant sticking your teammates in the shower and watching your head blow up like a flesh balloon. When our sports heroes looked like Lou Ferrigno in an episode of The Incredible Hulk and got busted for beating the daylights out of a retired postal worker at a fender-bender. When José Canseco was the conscience of our nation.
Manny has taken all that away. Thanks to Manny Ramirez, real baseball played by real men on real steroids is just a mammary. From now on, even our asterisks will need asterisks.
Reprinted by permission of the authors.