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News » Chipper: Time for baseball to clean house


Chipper: Time for baseball to clean house


Chipper: Time for baseball to clean house
Cole Hamels called Manny Ramirez "the greatest hitter in the game today."

Raul Ibanez called him a "really hard-working guy."

The next day, Major League Baseball called Ramirez a cheater.

The Los Angeles Dodgers slugger was suspended for 50 games on Thursday for testing positive for a banned substance.

Ramirez is just the latest in a line of stars to either fail a drug test, admit to taking performance enhancing drugs or be under constant suspicion for using steroids (e.g. Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa).

Does this eliminate the Manny mystique?

Will people now be less entertained by the guy who turns his head every which way as he strolls to the plate, and when he finally gets to the batter's box, flashes one of the grins that you love if you're a Dodgers fan and likely hate if you're cheering for any other team?

When he runs to first base, will people stop commenting on the dreadlocks flowing from his batting helmet, ones that not even Joe Torre could get him to hack off?

Will there be more people annoyed by his seemingly nonchalant defense?

"He has a swagger about him, and it's entertainment," Hamels said Wednesday.

If what espn.com is reporting is true --- that Ramirez had testosterone in his body that came from an artificial source and that he was identified as using the female fertility drug human chorionic gonadotropin -- then yes, fans have every right to direct their anger and frustration toward him. HCG is normally taken by steroid users to restart their bodies' natural testosterone production as they come off a steroid cycle. It is similar to Clomid, the drug Bonds, Jason Giambi and others used as clients of BALCO, espn.com also reported.

Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones didn't pretend to know the details surrounding Ramirez's suspension. He didn't place blame, nor did he criticize him.

But he does have strong feelings regarding the testing. He wants it to be done and he wants the game to be cleaned up.

He knows what will happen to the game, and individual players, if this continues.

"With all the black eyes Major League Baseball has taken the last few years, we can't have marquee players going down," Jones said.

Jones admits he's been tempted, but hates the thought of putting anything questionable into his body. What he hates even more is the thought of that stigma sticking with him forever.

"I'm scared to death that everything I've worked for since I was 6 or 7 years old would all go for naught with one positive test. I don't want that label next to my name," he added. "When you talk about things that are going to make you stronger, faster, things that are going to enhance the way you play the game and take you to the next level, while we've all been tempted, it takes that intestinal fortitude to say, you know what, I'll do it with good-old fashioned, hard work. In the end, I feel better because of it."

It doesn't appear Ramirez had those same beliefs. Let's face it. This is a guy who thought so highly of himself that he didn't even have an official team when spring training started because he was holding out for as much money as possible.

When the truth finally surfaces (and you can be sure it will), I can't say for sure how Baseball junkies will react.

But I am certain he won't get into the Hall of Fame on his first shot (even though he'll have Cooperstown-worthy numbers --- he already has 533 home runs, a .315 career batting average and 2,424 hits).

Ramirez has been perhaps the best right-handed hitter of the last three or four decades. But, now, all of his accomplishments, all of his tremendous clutch performances, will be called into question.

"You can absolutely not test positive for anything," Jones said. "Your image and everything you've done will be tarnished."

Those with a Hall vote have proven they take this stuff seriously, and it takes just 25 percent plus one vote to get shot down.

McGwire didn't get in the first three times he was on the ballot. It wasn't even close. Voters also will have decisions to make when Rafael Palmeiro and Bonds find themselves on the ballot.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, who coached Ramirez in Cleveland, said Wednesday that he sees the same determination and grit in Ramirez that he saw when he broke into the majors.

Ibanez worked out with Ramirez for part of one winter. He said the former Boston Red Sox slugger was a great guy to be around and had a tremendous work ethic.

Hamels still sees the same power, the same approach, the same success that produced Hall of Fame numbers.

But he couldn't help but wonder, at least on Wednesday, when he'd start to see some of Ramirez's numbers start to taper off.

"I'm waiting," Hamels said. "I think we're all waiting. How long is this gonna last?"

He may have just gotten his answer.

FIRE AND ICE IN THE NL East

FIRE

RYAN ZIMMERMAN

(Washington Nationals): The third baseman owns Baseball's longest hitting streak right now. It stands at 26 games. For the year, he's hitting .339 (41-121) with 20 RBIs and five home runs.

ICE

BRAD LIDGE

( Philadelphia Phillies ): The closer, who was perfect last year, is 0-1 and has already blown one save. But perhaps the toughest stat to see is the home runs he's allowed (five in 11 2/3 innings). His ERA has ballooned to 8.49.

The number of runs the Atlanta Braves

have scored with two outs this season.

NUMBERS GAME

70

That means that 56.9 percent of the times they've crossed home plate, they've done so

with two outs. They've scored 19 runs (15.4 percent) with nobody out and 34 runs (30.1 percent) with one out.

DID YOU KNOW?

Phillies pitcher Brett Myers has the most career wins (27) at Citizens Bank Park, but is 0-2 this season at home. ... Pitcher Chan Ho Park has been on the disabled list seven times and played for six teams since making his MLB debut with the Dodgers in 1994. ... J.C. Romero has made the most appearances by a major league pitcher since 2002 with 516.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

"Let's hope this is the last of it. I don't know what we can do, unless we stretch his neck more often."

--Cubs manager Lou Piniella on Derek Lee's reoccurring beck injury


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 12, 2009

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