Manny Ramirez has officially started his rehab assignment with Albuquerque and is now just about a week away from returning to the Dodgers after missing 50 games for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
He was caught using HCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin, which is not a steroid but is a banned substance. The female fertility drug is typically taken by steroid users coming off a cycle to restore normal testosterone production.
The surprise is that we are not surprised. The list of PED abusers in baseball will keep growing until the punishment fits the crime.
The media as well as the general public has exhibited diverse reactions ranging from outrage, to complacency and unabashed support for Manny being Manny.
There are more actors in this drama than players who seek unfair competitive advantage.
The spotlight may shine the brightest on the athletes and rightfully so, but it is the people directing the play that I have issues with.
Baseball would have us believe that the Steroid Era is a historic footnote, a problem that has been cleaned up. Really?
In my mind we have all been fleeced like sheep; played like a well-tuned Stradivarius if you will, by sanctimonious and deceitful owners for way too long.
They have played the fiddle and we have danced to their tune like well-trained puppets while they stuff their pockets with cash and go merrily along their way because we haven't stopped long enough to look outside the box to see the fraud that is perpetrated among fans of all persuasions by the greedy manipulating billionaires.
Why would Ramirez -- a professional athlete in a scandalized and scrutinized sport -- take any type of prescription or otherwise unless he was absolutely certain of the composition or the legality of administering it?
The answer is very simple. It is a learned trait.
MLB owners have purposefully looked the other way about steroids use (if not outright encouraged it) in the first place to boost attendance and in turn make unprecedented wads of cash when juiced up players started hitting balls into the stratosphere at a staggering pace.
Owners make money by putting fans in the ball park. They do that by putting a winning product on the field. Apparently it doesn't matter how they do it as long as it can't be traced back to them.
The owners continue to operate with not only total impunity for the players, but for the fans as well. Why wouldn't they when we continue to be the proverbial deer in the headlights?
Next, they will use the steroid issue to their advantage in order to kneecap the players union for the next collective bargaining agreement so they can pocket even more profits.
What a scam!
Imagine if you could be the commissioner with absolute power to fix the problem.
I have my own set of rules that would be implemented within 24 hours of taking office.
Players are punished for abusing PEDs, why not owners? The first offense would be a one-year suspension.
Make the team forfeit all games that cheaters participate in. Peer pressure can be a beautiful thing.
Next, I would suspend the owner of the team for the duration of the offending player's sentence. They would forfeit all revenues for that period and the money would be contributed to worthy causes.
Since the owner is unemployed for the next 365 days or so we could find something to keep him busy such as ethics training and drug education classes.
Speaking of education, let's let him or her trade living space during their suspension with elderly former players living off of disgraceful retirement stipends because they played in the wrong generation.
If they refuse, then they will have to relinquish their ownership to MLB until a suitable replacement can be found.
A second offense would be lifetime banishment for player or owner. No exceptions.
Their records and any mention of their names in the record books would be expunged as if they never existed.
Tough? You bet. But the buck has to stop somewhere.
Why not here?
-- Jimmy Jones is a Times-Gazette sports writer. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.