Thursday, May 7, 2009

Only A Year?

I hadn't heard of Matthew Pouliot before Circling the Bases was formed, but I've found myself linking to his thoughts pretty frequently as of late. He's got a theory about the Manny revelations today:
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.
It's an interesting thought, and it's just as plausible as any other theory you are going to hear thrown against the wall at this point.  

That's the frustrating part of all this PED bullshit. When there is some sort of dramatic reveal, it invariably only leads to more questions. All you get are intentionally vague half truths, which bring out the conspiracy theorists in all of us, trying to connect the dots.

While it's certainly tempting as a Yankees' fan to chalk Manny's .321/.411/.618 line against the Bombers to steroid use, we can't. His 50 2B, 55 HR, 163 RsBI and 448 total bases are all the highest totals against any opponent, and that's probably the reason behind the temptation. I got rightfully called out by Mass Hysteria earlier, for bringing the Sox' World Series titles into it. I still think it's a valid point, given the fact that the Mitchell Report (which is being exposed for the incomplete sham that it was with each passing outed player) named 9 Yankees on the 2000 World Series team, and we had to hear that bullshit too. 

But pointing back to previous World Series titles isn't going to change anything. They are in the record books. The emotions have come and gone and retroactively labeling them tainted isn't going to change them in our memories. I'll never forget going apeshit in Falcone 201 when Aarone Boone hit that home run. I'll still remember walking back to my dorm room on the sixth floor of Collins that night in 2004, and watching every elated Red Sox fan spill out into greenspace, losing their minds. 

It just goes to show how insidiously PED use weaved it's way into the game. It's like an invasive species. At a certain point, it becomes impossible to separate it from what originally existed. You can try to slice and segment what would or should have happened in Played X wasn't on Drug Y, but it's only imaginary, no different from re-playing the season on MVP Baseball 2004.

Even if you are a Yankees fan, I don't think there is cause for celebration. For every player who at one point or another who seemed beyond reproach is tagged for PED use, the less we have witnessed history. If baseball is ever able to get ahead of the drug use, much of this era will be dismissed in retrospect because so many of the best players were not clean.  

1 comment:

  1. You make some great points in there, Jay. It does give me a certain level of satisfaction to know that Manny might get exposed for being a cheater, even it is too late. It is bad for the game, but we are Yankees fans, right? Since when do we give a shit about anyone else?