CITIZENS of Red Sox Nation need not waste psychic energy fretting about the latest episode of Manny Ramírez being Manny. To local folks who follow his picaresque saga, it comes as no surprise that Ramírez has once again broken the rules - and betrayed his teammates. But now those teammates are West Coast Dodgers, not the Red Sox. Now he is somebody else's problem.
Ramírez was hit with a 50-game suspension Thursday after testing positive for hCG, a female fertility drug often taken by steroid users needing to boost their testosterone levels after a cycle of steroid use. Statistics suggest that Ramírez's performance in the batter's box took a great leap forward when he arrived in Los Angeles last season - and was playing for a new contract.
This latest folly comes at the same time as news of Dom DiMaggio's death at the age of 92, and Red Sox fans with a sense of history may perceive a moral in the coincidence. A slight, bespectacled center fielder, DiMaggio made the most of his talent. He had the strength of character to be unfazed by comparisons with his peerless brother, Joe. He was the ultimate team player on the diamond and he remained loyal to teammates until the end of his life.
Ramírez could not have been more different from the honorable Dom DiMaggio. He pretended to have an injury last summer to force the Sox to trade him. His agent, Scott Boras, had no role in his original Red Sox contract and could only make money if Ramírez signed a new one - and if the Sox nullified their two club-option years on his old contract.
Ramírez and Boras got what they wanted. What they wanted was something as alien to Dom DiMaggio as treason.