Friday, May 29, 2009

Manny Being Invincible

MLB is allowing Manny Ramirez's name to remain on the All-Star Game voting ballots, mainly because they don't want to pay for new ones and he will be reinstated by then, but also because fans are overwhelmingly supporting Manny in his absence, especially in LA where Mannywood (a section of the outfield bleachers) has been reinstated and hats with sewn-in dreadlocks are beginning to adorn vendor carts outside the stadium again.

Good or bad for the fans? Good or bad for baseball? Good or bad for regulation?

A different answer for all three. For the fans, it's a toss-up. Most fans are probably ambivalent to Manny's name on the All-Star Game ballots: he could easily produce another All-Star caliber season despite missing 50 games due to the suspension (he is THAT good), he still has a huge following that would have written him in anyway, and many were not going to vote for him either way (namely all Yankees and Red Sox fans).

For baseball it's horrible. The fans are basically sticking it to MLB by voting for Manny, essentially stating they don't care if he took performance-enhancing drugs or if he was caught taking banned or illegal substances, whether they were prescribed unknowingly to him or not, Manny is still their hero and they want to see him play. This means serious implications for MLB, which will have to rethink its policies on what it should and should not allow a player to do when they are under investigation or suspended for a period of time. Should a player receive a much harsher penalty? Should their fates lie purely in the hands of the MLB without any input from the fans? And if so, does this alienate the MLB fan? Are there enough to cause MLB to say it doesn't care?

Finally, it's horrible for regulation. Because of all the reasons listed above, I think MLB needs to seriously reconsider how it regulates its players, dolls out punishment, and appreciates its fans. You can't let this circus continue unabated and unregulated--it seems a bit like the lead-up to this recession's financial crisis--will the MLB bubble finally burst with some off-field (or on-field) antics or acts so detrimental or harmful to baseball that the fans become disinterested, or worse, unimportant?

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