Off Base
What Would Tommy Do

May 11, 2009, 7:46 p.m. With cooler heads prevailing in the newsroom this morning, the off-with-his head mentality has chilled a little bit. Emphasis on the little bit.

I no longer think that an exile to Siberia is the appropriate treatment for Manny Ramirez, nor am I advocating a tar and feathering in the public square.

But I'm still pretty damn pissed, and while I still find myself watching the ball games, they sure don't seem particularly important right now. It would be an understatement to simply say the disappointment lingers. The standings, the boxscores, the highlight shows - they just don't matter to me like they did before Manny's outing.

And I do believe that more of an at-the-very-least symbolic flogging is in order here than is actually taking place.

Moreover, I can't help thinking that the various analyses circulated about how well the Dodgers will fare minus their regular left fielder are rather silly. I mean, setting aside the impossibility of the prediction other than the brilliant "uh, the Dodgers won't hit as well" deduction, how much more beside the point can you possibly be?

I'm not going to rehash the morality issues discussed last week, except to say that I wish some unnamed old media columnists would read Off Base first, and then go ahead and file their stories.

Of course, Los Angeles should endeavor to be anything like Frisco. Of course, Dodger fans blindly loving Manny despite his Bonds-like behavior is beyond idiotic and bordering on the shameful. Of course, the 2009 Dodger season is tainted, win, place or show. 2008 is too, for that matter.

Despite what you're hearing from 90090, the whole thing is a monumental disaster for the franchise. If Manny returns to the Dodgers with nothing more than his 50-game suspension and a lame explanation, the team will be seen as villainous in every baseball city in America, including albeit to a lesser degree, even in Los Angeles.

The organization is circling the wagons, and I suppose that's natural, what with the greater investment to consider and all. We understand, but we don't have to like it, and we can certainly ask for more outrage slash candor than we're getting.

For one thing, can anyone tell me where Tommy Lasorda has been lately? You just know he's thinking "Manny broke my heart. I loved him and look how he showed his appreciation. Steroids is cheating, and there's no room for it in this great game." And you gotta know Tommy's just bursting to get his thoughts out.

Perhaps something as harsh as when, on the eve of the 1994 season, an AWOL Darryl Strawberry prompted Lasorda to compare his then-right fielder unfavorably with a dog. This is slight paraphrase, but these are very close to the exact words: "He's not a dog. A dog is loyal. A dog will run after a fly ball."

Manny's indiscretion is exponentially more serious than was Straw's, and Tommy's current take is significant. But we haven't heard a peep. Can we get Lasorda un-muzzled, please?

But whatever. Next. Manny needs to offer up an apology for the ages. We're talking, the Gettysburg Address of mea culpas. Literally the best "I suck" ever by a public figure. None of this "I'm sorry if I hurt someone" or "it was just the one time" or "I did take a banned substance" crap.

Manny needs to come right out and drop an S-bomb. What's required here is the actual use of the word "steroids" in a sentence, as in "I, Manny Ramirez, took steroids."

No excuses. Just, "yep, I took them, I knew exactly what I was doing, and I did it from such-and-such a date to such-and-such a date. I am an incredible piece of bleep and any and all criticism fired at me is deserved."

"There was no doctor's prescription. That was BS, and I'm sorry I lied about that too."

That kinda thing. Spanish, English, I don't give a Manny's ass. He can look up the word "amends" in either dictionary.

Then Ramirez needs to follow up with an utter and complete validation of the punishment, and even go so far as to say that a greater suspension would have fit the crime too.

And he's got to make a point of saying, "you know what, if I never make it to Cooperstown, I understand. No worries."

And yeah, as is being suggested elsewhere, Ramirez has got to talk to kids and amateur athletes about drugs, and he's got to be sincere about it. Really serious about it.

He must genuinely communicate the requisite "this is your brain on drugs" line of thinking, and shout to the Dodger Blue God in the sky that while PEDs may help you in the short term, and they might not even do that, they may very well lead to cancer and stroke and heart disease and premature death, not to mention webbed feet for your children, for all we know, if you should live so long.

Then he's really got to get a haircut already. Off with those hideous dreads. Let's see how strong you are without them. The club can sell funky blue scull caps instead of plastic hair, and maybe just maybe Ramirez can suggest a good charity which might benefit.

As for the Hall of Fame argument, look, like with Pete Rose and every member of the recent suggested drug abusing power hitters, we're never going to agree on the who should and who shouldn't be in. But answer me this, yaysayers: what is it about the democratic process that bothers you? You don't trust the wisdom of the voters, so you're against voting altogether? Wouldn't that make you, oh, a fascist?

I'll close with this. While driving by the fire station on the corner of Sunset and Beverly Glen Saturday afternoon, I noticed a couple of carloads of families stopping to check out the open house.

Please tell me you remember what that was like, or you've experienced it with your children. Kids scurrying up the big driveway toward the shiny red truck, beaming parents following closely behind.

Now tell me you're not right there with me, especially with the fires burning around Santa Barbara now, imagining every one of those moms and dads Saturday, bending down to tell their young one, "you see that nice man in the big hat over there, and those firefighters over there in front of the station, those are your heroes. Not Manny Ramirez. Those guys."

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