I'm one of those people who thinks the bulk of players in the 1990s were cheating, that players used steroids well before the supposed "steroid era" began, that players can and still are beating drug tests and that no one has ever gone from being a scrub to a star because of PEDs. I don't like the cheating, but I certainly understand it and I think a lot of it balanced out; there's good reason to think an even higher percentage of pitchers than hitters were cheating.
So, while I didn't expect to see 16 Manny Ramirez-related emails in my inbox while checking the old Blackberry this morning, I wasn't exactly surprised. There isn't a name that could come out that would surprise me now. Maybe Tony Pena Jr.'s. Steroids must be of some actual use, after all.
If ESPN's sources are right, then Ramirez was cheating and likely had been for a while:
Two sources told ESPN's T.J. Quinn and Mark Fainaru-Wada that the drug used by Ramirez is HCG -- human chorionic gonadotropin. HCG is a women's fertility drug typically used by steroid users to restart their body's natural testosterone production as they come off a steroid cycle. It is similar to Clomid, the drug (Barry) Bonds, (Jason) Giambi and others used as clients of BALCO.
Now what everyone is going to want to know is when he started. Are Boston's championships tainted? (Yes, the Red Sox almost certainly had cheaters on their 2004 and 2007 clubs. As most likely did all of the clubs they were competing against. Deal with it.) It's entirely possible that he's cheated his entire career, maybe even dating back to high school.
However, I also wouldn't be surprised to learn that he started up about a year ago.
I thought Ramirez was done as a superstar last May. His OPS dropped all of the way from 1058 in 2006 to 881 in 2007. He homered once every 12.3 at-bats in 2005, once every 12.8 at-bats in 2006 and once every 24.2 at-bats in 2007. The home run bounced back somewhat in the first half of 2008, but he finished the first three months at .286/.377/.514. It'd be a great line for the typical corner outfielder, but it wasn't typical Manny.
It wasn't just the numbers, though. Right-handers capable of throwing in the mid-90s and unleashing quality sliders were making quick work of him. Ramirez really is about as smart of a hitter that there is in the game, and he was still feasting on mistakes. But to my eyes, the quality pitches that he used to line for doubles were instead resulting in swings and misses. Ramirez was always a guy fans wanted up at the end of close games. However, that's when teams usually have their best pure arms on the mound and Ramirez just wasn't having any luck against them.
Ramirez had to know he wasn't catching up to fastballs like he once did. Maybe that's when he decided he needed a boost. A month or two to kick in, a trade to the easier league, a happier situation… the perfect storm?
Anyway, it's just a thought. It probably didn't go down like that at all. Nothing is going to surprise me.