Amid the hype of a Manny Ramirez sighting in Albuquerque, NM for his 4 game stint with the Isotopes, I still couldn’t help but chuckle when reading that over 25,000 tickets had been sold for the 4 game series. I never even realized that 20k baseball fans existed in the Land of Enchantment, but with no professional sports whatsoever, AAA baseball is where it's at. First off, let's be real about one thing. An athlete of Manny's caliber would never be in the state of New Mexico under any circumstance, unless for something like a work mandated rehab of course. Many of the fans don’t seem to care one bit that the Dodgers superstar left fielder took performance-enhancing drugs, as is evidence with the turnout in Duke City. I happen to side with Danny Masterson, an avid Yankee fan, who feels that the cheaters should be erased with Roger Maris being re-instated as the true Home Run King. Think of the impact that Manny had on last season alone. Not only did he completely alter the course of the National League playoffs and put the D-Backs on a freight train for oblivion, he drastically altered many people's lives . You see the astronomical figures on player salaries these days and you forget that in the past pro athletes actually had to carry 2nd jobs in the off-season. How tense do you think the atmosphere was in Dodgers owner Frank McCourt's office the day the news of the impending suspension broke. Manny Ramirez virtually pitted the Dodgers against themselves all off-season, with no other clubs realistically in the mix to garner his services. All of the dramatic hoopla, the press conference upon his arrival, the media frenzy, only to find out that he was indeed dirty, and Manny knew all along. Granted he will have lost roughly $8 million of his $25 million salary for this season but that is besides the point. From what we've heard in the past from former teammates and journalists alike, Manny isn't worried that much about money anyways.
However credit shall be given where it is rightfully due. Joe Torre has managed to keep the Dodgers in cruise control during Manny’s 50 game suspension, with the Dodgers 8 ½ games ahead of 2nd place San Francisco with the best record in the majors at 47-24.
Note: Manny was 0-2 in his first start of a rehab stint with the Isotopes. He left the game in the 5th inning, and left the ballpark shortly thereafter.