When you go through a break up or you lose a person close to you, people start telling you about the grieving process. You know. That list of phases you experience from shock to denial to bargaining. All that jazz. I know that denial comes early on. Yesterday when I received a constant deluge of electronic messages from every outlet possible informing me the King of Dodgertown was a fink, it was pure denial. I was holding on to the hope this was just a mistreated case of “not getting it up”, that it was true he was having sexual performance issues.
Then I stepped back. Do you think fans in the Golden Era of Baseball ever had one conversation about Duke or Gil or Jackie’s sexual performance issues. I guess I had always known it, but yesterday the game was officially bastardized. Manny had always stood for being too crazy to use steroids. As Bill Simmons once said, the guy was too stupid to stick to a “cycle” of injections and doses. Only it doesn’t seem so anymore.
I went to the game last night looking for my opinion. Eventually, the denial would wear off and I’d know how I felt. I thought for the briefest moment about being super-effing-indie and wearing my Manny jersey to the game, just to shake things up. I decided against it. I thought about how much I hated Giants fans for wearing Bonds jerseys in the middle of all of this. I also thought about all the people who could only afford one shirt a season and they bought one with #99 on it. This made my stomach turn. I felt sick. I thought about how I felt and then I imagined what the littlest Dodger fans thought. In this tough economy in a state that is going broke with unemployment soaring, Manny fucking Ramirez let every single one of us down.
Baseball is like life. Sometimes your hero is a villain.
In fairness, it’s not just Manny. It’s us. It’s society. It’s our demands to see bigger, better, faster, more-more-more. Last weekend I saw 19 innings of baseball (one went to extras) and only 3 runs were scored. I had friends laugh at me saying they couldn’t believe how boring that must have been. It’s the wrong mentality. It’s saying home runs are more special than drag bunts or sacrifice flies. They aren’t. To win is our goal.
Last night, we walked in thirty minutes late as traffic was horrible and believe it or not, I work for a living. I walked in just as Matt Kemp launched a grand slam and the Dodgers found themselves up 6-0 after one inning. The crowd was alive. There was a tangible feeling of “we’re gonna get through this”. Manny or no Manny, we were going to push this streak of home wins to fourteen. I knew it. I started running scenarios. Randy Wolf was great. We cheered some six innings later when he gave up a home run and left us with a 5 run lead going into the final nine outs.
Then the wheels came off.
Troncoso and Ohman and Leach and Mota. Each could not accomplish what they set out to do and we saw the lead shrink, then cling to it’s last breath before dying on a line drive to left field, where Mannywood used to be before they closed the gates. How apropos. It started to hit me and everyone else in that stadium. For the first time since before Manny arrived like a dreadlocked tornado, the fans started filing out with their shoulders slumped.
There was a brief glimmer of hope. Casey Blake had a chance to win it with one swing in the ninth. Had he done so, he’d have been the second Dodger to hit for the cycle in the young season. Alas, it was not to be. Today class was in session and the Dodgers were made an example.
The parking lot was quiet. It was easy getting out of the stadium. Shadows from the trees on the mountains stretched out into the asphalt fields beneath them. Fans avoided eye contact. We needed to lose this one then sleep on it. We needed to wake up with the resolve that Manny may never come back. Sure, 49 games from now he will be back in the flesh, but can it be the same? I don’t know what to do.
If it really was a doctor helping a 40 year old with erectile problems, then why doesn’t the doctor speak up? Manny would be the victim then. Far be it from the American public to tell a man he shouldn’t be able to “get it up”. This just has bullshit written all over it and it kills me.
What kills me more are Red Sox fans bragging. If, in fact, Manny roided, doesn’t that sort of taint your two titles? Don’t you guys really have more to lose than the Dodgers? I don’t know. I look at the field and right now all I see are people who haven’t been caught yet. I’m very disillusioned. This too shall pass.
I guess they say it is always darkest before the dawn. A late bullpen meltdown happens sometimes. Six runs should have been enough to beat back the lowly Nationals. Just on that one hot night we hoped the streak could carry us one day more. We hoped maybe we’d win in spite of our fallen slugger. Until we do, it’ll just be torture. It’s all about the brightside though. LA could have suffered the loss of Kobe and Manny in one day, but the NBA spirits saved us. We will see how this all shakes out.
Loud footsteps beckon us back to the ballpark. It is our rivals from the north, who stand five and a half games behind us licking their lips. The loud footsteps of the Giants stomping south. They know the dreadlocked wonder cannot save us. We will have to save ourselves. Manny has let his city down.
It is his teammates’ job to pick us all back up.