Manny Ramirez enters halfway house

Now if you turn your attention to the center ring, I give you Manny Ramirez, standing on his head while riding on the back of a flaming horse! Or something!

Ramirez, easing back into playing shape after a 50-game drug suspension, suited up for the Albuquerque Isotopes as they beat Nashville 1-0. Ramirez wore No. 99 for the Dodgers’ top farm club. He played four innings and was hitless in two at-bats. The capacity crowd of 15,321 was the largest in Albuquerque’s baseball history.

Fans lined the walkway from the clubhouse as Ramirez entered the field. They gathered near the dugout, clustering for autographs, and they seemed ready to forgive Ramirez for violating baseball’s drug rules.

“People love me everywhere I go,” Ramirez said before the game. “I’m excited to bring a lot of joy to a lot of people here. I feel good. I’m happy that I’m here.”

This will no doubt make the haters and moralists mad, many of whom think that Manny shouldn’t be allowed to live, let alone rehab in the minors before his suspension is over. On that note, I think I have come across the stupidest argument against Manny being allowed to rehab yet:

If someone goes to jail for 50 days, they don’t get released 10 days early so they can get used to the outside again. They have to adjust after their full sentence is completed. I know baseball and jail aren’t exactly similar, but the metaphor fits.

Except it doesn’t. Typically, a prisoner is allowed to leave prison several months before his sentence is over and go to a halfway house, the express purpose of which is for a guy to get used to the outside again. With all due respect to the minor leagues, they are like a halfway house in that, from Manny’s perspective anyway, they are not quite freedom while not quite being on restriction anymore either.

Sorry to get in the way of your Manny hate folks, but facts is facts.


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Aaron Moreno
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Aaron Moreno

Craig, you forgot that in many instances, you can do weekends in jail and spend the week out. I’ve seen a judge offer a kid 2 weeks of jail in lieu of a $5,000 dollar fine, telling him that he’ll do half the time at most, and never make that kind of money in that short a time.

I love that there’s a baseball team named from a Simpsons episode.

J.W.
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J.W.
I’m not sure I understand the outrage over Ramirez playing in the minors. I suppose the real question is: what’s the underlying rationale for suspending a player? I suppose the four things that suspension acheives are: 1) Financial disincentive for committing the violation that led to suspension. If you are suspended, you don’t get paid. Simple. 2) You don’t accumulate playing time/stats. This disincentivizes committing infractions that lead to suspension because it’s important for player’s to accumulate big stats in order to get big contracts, or because they need playing time to reach arbitration and free agency. Again, simple enough,… Read more »
Sara K
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Sara K
J.W.: I think you’ve covered the bases from a practical, pragmatic standpoint. The issue seems to be the understanding of a suspension as a moral message. By suspending Ramirez, baseball sent a naughty child to the corner to think about what he did. It’s the shame that matters in this situation.  Not that I support that viewpoint (I like your way of thinking about it), and there’s a case to be made that having to play AAA is shame enough (do you think he’ll have to carry his own luggage there or not?).  But it’s the “intangibles” that upset people,… Read more »
Jack Marshall
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Jack Marshall
Wow. Craig—-where did THAT come from? I can’t hate Manny… for one thing, I don’t think he’s worth the emotional energy, and for another, I’m sure he’s more than a couple of raisins short of a Waldorf salad…but I think “moralist” is a bit loaded for those of us who have no respect at all for a guy who quit on his team more than once, knocked down a guy just trying to do his job, and was perfectly willing to kill the pennant chances of the team paying him 20 mil a year by dogging games and forcing a… Read more »
Craig Calcaterra
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Craig Calcaterra
Jack—That wasn’t aimed at you in particular. There are many people writing with barely restrained outrage right now about Manny being allowed to play rehab games. Many of them are people with whom I otherwise agree on a lot of things. But I think your comment is illustrative: people are mad about the rehab assignment in large part because they don’t like Manny Ramirez. The policies behind the rule as it currently stands seem to be be distant considerations that no one really wants to engage in any serious way. Again, this doesn’t necessarily apply to you—you’ve talked about those… Read more »
Sara K
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Sara K

Jack, from your comment, it seems like you are interpreting Craig as having said that *all* those who are uncomfortable with Manny Ramirez are haters and moralists.  That would be like assuming that you mean to say that not being steadfastly against Ramirez is tantamount to “cheering wildly” for him.  Both those interpretations are extreme, yes?

Jack Marshall
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Jack Marshall

Craig—I actually didn’t take it as a personal shot. And I don’t begrudge Manny his rehab, or a chance to ply his craft. I just would rather sew my lips together than cheer for the guy.

Jack Marshall
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Jack Marshall

Yes.
I was addressing myself to the Manny-worshippers, those who say that he’s the greatest right-handed slugger since Foxx,and that’s all that matters. The ones who send comments to blogs that read, “Manny Manny Manny!”

You know.

Morons.

J.W.
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J.W.
I agree that Manny doesn’t deserve adulation or admiration. Neither does A-Rod (for cheating on his wife, etc.) But this brings us to a difficult question regarding entertainment. Can we divorce entertainment from the men and women who play the role of entertainer? Can we like Woody Allen movies and still disapprove of his conduct towards his wife and one-time step-daughter? Can we watch and enjoy Roman Polanski films? Can we listen to Chris Brown’s music? Michael Jackson’s? I, for one, find it difficult to enjoy the products of people that I know are less than admirable. I had always… Read more »
Andy H
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Andy H
“. . . . people are mad about the rehab assignment in large part because they don’t like Manny Ramirez. The policies behind the rule as it currently stands seem to be be distant considerations that no one really wants to engage in any serious way.” No, I think the problem is a misunderstanding of the suspension.  Clearly what Manny and the Dodgers are doing is exactly what was contemplated by MLB and the players union when they came up with the rule.  But it was communicated to the public as a “50 game suspension.”  I think to most people… Read more »
Jack Marshall
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Jack Marshall
J. W.: I have both problems, but one is emotional. I don’t think the off-the-field transgressions of artists and athletes should make a difference in how we think of their work, but for me they do. Woody is one; Ol’ Blue Eyes is another—-I find the man so reprehensible that I can’t enjoy his music, though I fully appreciate his artistry. I think baseball-related misconduct is different—-Manny’s skill and accomplishments as a player don’t compensate sufficiently for his selfishness, disloyalty, dishonesty, and lack of professionalism as it relates to his baseball career. I think taking the position that these things… Read more »
Craig Calcaterra
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Craig Calcaterra

“I think taking the position that these things don’t matter as long as “he’s a winner” does show warped priorities and shaky values.”

Who’s saying that?  I think people are, at most, saying that these things don’t matter at all when it comes to deciding how we feel about a player.  You’re injecting some sort of cynical, win-greedy judgment into the calculus in order to cast those with whom you disagree as having questionable values. At worst this is a situation where apathy reigns.

You’re the ethical expert, but I think those are two very different things.

Jack Marshall
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Jack Marshall
Well, as you might imagine, I have these discussions quite a bit when it comes to Manny, Bonds, Clemens et al. And the sentiment I hear more than any other is, “Never mind all that: look at all the championships and the stats!” I suppose there’s a difference between “I don’t care, I just like him!”—-the lovable rogue impulse—-and the “ends-justifies-the-means” “hey, as long as the team wins with him, he’s aces with me!” attitude. I’m not sure they are as different as you seem to suggest. People who care about certain principles and values naturally tend not to respect… Read more »
MM
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MM
I live in Albuquerque and was actually at the game last night, and, yeah, it was a circus.  There was a camera on Manny from the moment he stepped on the field, there were fans holding up a giant “Mannywood, NM” banner, the entire crowd was on its feet for both of his at bats, and so on. There were some boos (somebody sitting near me actually offered the opposing catcher $100 if he told the pitcher to bean Manny with his first pitch), but the response was 99% positive.  My guess is that the response is partly just because… Read more »
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