Manny Ramirez has received over 1200 walks in his career but recently got the biggest one of all. Ramirez - quitter extraordinaire, arguably the best right-handed hitter of our generation, and current clown prince of baseball, was given a hero's welcome when he returned to the Dodgers after a 50-game suspension for taking a banned substance.
And the exuberant welcome was all the more amazing given the fact that he debuted in Petco Park, the home of the San Diego Padres. Something like 25,000 Dodger fans made the 120-mile trek south to welcome Manny back.
So what does this mean, if anything? It simply means that most baseball fans don't care much about players who take steroids or banned substances, as long as it is their player. Such players fall into the same category as lawyers and politicians: "My guy's great, your guy is an unethical scumbag." You can bet that Manny will get booed unmercifully in other ballparks.
And I heard something incredulous yesterday morning. Sports reporter Michael Kay declared on ESPN's The Sports Reporters that only sports journalists and their ilk cared about the integrity of baseball. Uh-huh. Where were those guys when the banned substances story was developing? Like the rest of us, they were homers, asleep at the switch, but cheering those mammoth home runs.
"Forget about the trade. This is where I want to be, ... Manny being Manny, man.” -- Manny Ramirez