After yesterday's turn of events, I can only imagine what it was like to be a Chicago White Sox fan in 1920 when their top player Shoeless Joe Jackson was banned from baseball for life after being found guilty of throwing the World Series. Even though Manny might not have been banned for life, 50 games is no drop in the bucket. Plus, it was kind of like being told there would be no Christmas this year or that vacation hours were being canceled at work. Another friend of mine used the analogy of finding out your ex has a STI and not knowing when she/he got infected. No matter what listening to the news unfold about Manny and his suspension made me sick to my stomach. Not because the team can't win without him, and not because the season is over. Not even because I'm naive enough to believe this isn't going on throughout all of professional sports (and in a lot of Colleges), there's just too much money involved to prevent it. What really makes me bummed out is I like Manny. I like the way he winds up to bat like a caveman, slamming his black bat down at the end of the batter's diamond. I like the way he knows when he's hit it out of the park and takes a nice long look as the ball disappears into the stands. I even like those commercials and billboards proclaiming "I'm Baaccccck!".
Because in the end this is L.A. and we love superstars. We want big sports' personalities that match our egos and our self-importance. We don't want to be a team of really good rookies and few vets patched together through a relatively inexpensive team salary. It's why we loved Darryl Strawberry in right field despite his affection for illegal drugs, and why we'll never fault Gagne for taking whatever he needed to make sure it was "Game Over". It's also why this couldn't have happened to a better team, because Manny may change the dynamics of the way Dodgers will play for the next 50 games, but it won't change the team or their fans. On July 4th, Dodgertown will claim its independence not only from one player, but from the rest of the country who believed our success only depended on Mr. 99. And to that end, I'll be there still rooting for a homer from the man in dreds, because what it comes down to, he was just not savvy enough to avoid getting caught.
So tonight I return to the stadium and will not mourn Mannywood, because he didn't build that stadium or this historic run of games. No I leave that to Kemp, Blake, J. Lo, Furcal, Andre and even J. Martin to pull us out and keep us above .500. And as for Pierre I say "Vamonos Juan!"