Manny Ramirez’s recent trouble poured more salt into Major League Baseball’s "steroid era" wounds. And while Ramirez’s alleged "hormonal difficulties" may be terrible for the game and it’s reputation, his suspension could not have come at a better time for the Phillies.
The World Champs take on the Manny-less L.A. Dodgers for a three game set beginning Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.
The Dodgers’ came out of the 2009 gate blistering hot after being dropped by the Phils in the 2008 National League Championship Series.
They sit at the top of the National League at 22-11. But without one the greatest hitters of this generation, how good can the Dodgers really be? If recent history is any indication, L.A. will most likely go from the world of baseball’s elite to the land of mediocrity.
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Before the abrupt suspension, the Dodgers seemed like an unstoppable force. They posted a record of 21-8 to start the year. At home, they were a perfect 13-0, which is a Major League record for most consecutive home wins to start a season.
All that ended when Ramirez was suspended. The Washington Nationals (the league’s doormat) put an end to their perfection at home and they lost their first home series at the hands of their N.L. West rival, San Francisco.
This should come as no surprise, but before the Dodgers traded for Ramirez in 2008, battling for a spot in the World Series was a fantasy.
They were an average team sitting exactly 54-54.
When the dangerous slugger arrived in Hollywood, the Dodgers finished the year six games over .500 and were red hot as they knocked off the Chicago Cubs in the first round of the playoffs.
Then, they ran into the Phillies.
In the NLCS, Ramirez batted a preposterous .533 and yet the Phils still managed to send the Dodgers packing in five games.
That’s a great omen for this three-game set. Without Ramirez in the lineup, the Phils’ pitching staff will obviously have a much easier task.
Quite frankly, they really need this break. Their rotation, which has one of the worst ERA’s in the league, should thank their lucky stars that they won’t have to see Manny.
Perhaps they could use this series as a catalyst to get in gear for the rest of the season.
They’ll have to survive a Chan Ho Park appearance who -- in all fairness -- was darn good in his latest loss against Johan Santana and the Mets. Then the Phils send lefties Jamie Moyer and Cole Hamels to the mound for the rest of the series.
The Phillies have a golden opportunity to gain some ground back in the N.L. and in the process try to get back on top of their own division.
The absence of Manny Ramirez could put smiles on Phillies fan’s faces this week.