According to the Los Angeles Times, Manny Ramirez has tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. (Boy, is the Mets' decision not to pursue him looking good right now.) And though his 50-game suspension won’t mean as much to the Yankees as it might have if he were still in Boston, it may turn out to be good for Alex Rodriguez as he gets set to return to the Yankees.
For one thing, A-Rod’s no longer the only Hall of Fame–worthy slugger to be caught while not only still active, but roughly still in his prime. As of this morning — especially with the new book detailing his use — A-Rod was going to be the poster boy for PEDs for a long time to come. Now, he’s still on the poster, but he’s got company. More important, in the short term, the sports world will turn its attention 3,000 miles away, to Manny, for a few days, just as A-Rod is about to get back to the big-league club, perhaps as early as tomorrow. Manny’s failed test is no better or worse than A-Rod's, but it’s more recent, and thus better fodder for all of ESPN’s talking heads.
The downside, obviously, is that it keeps the topic of performance-enhancing drugs — although Manny's denying he took steroids and using the old doctor's mis-prescription line — at the forefront of conversation. But it was pretty much there already. And with every positive test from a superstar of this era, it becomes harder to care about any one individual. That doesn’t make A-Rod any less guilty, but it does make him less of a villain.
Editor's Note: This post has been updated to include Ramirez's statement.
Update: There are multiple reports right now on what Manny may have taken. Two sources have told ESPN’s T.J. Quinn and Mark Fainaru-Wada that it’s human chorionic gonadotropin, which is described in the ESPN article as “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.” Yahoo!, meanwhile, is reporting that, according to a source, the substance he took is one that “is supposed to boost sex drive.”