Manny Ramirez enters halfway house

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Now if you turn your attention to the center ring, I give you Manny Ramirez, standing on his head while riding on the back of a flaming horse! Or something!

Ramirez, easing back into playing shape after a 50-game drug
suspension, suited up for the Albuquerque Isotopes as they beat
Nashville 1-0. Ramirez wore No. 99 for the Dodgers’ top farm club. He
played four innings and was hitless in two at-bats. The capacity crowd
of 15,321 was the largest in Albuquerque’s baseball history.

Fans lined the walkway from the clubhouse as Ramirez entered the
field. They gathered near the dugout, clustering for autographs, and
they seemed ready to forgive Ramirez for violating baseball’s drug
rules.

“People love me everywhere I go,” Ramirez said before the game. “I’m
excited to bring a lot of joy to a lot of people here. I feel good. I’m
happy that I’m here.”

This will no doubt make the haters and moralists mad, many of whom
think that Manny shouldn’t be allowed to live, let alone rehab in the
minors before his suspension is over. On that note, I think I have come
across the stupidest argument against Manny being allowed to rehab yet:

If someone goes to jail for 50 days, they don’t get released 10 days
early so they can get used to the outside again. They have to adjust
after their full sentence is completed. I know baseball and jail aren’t
exactly similar, but the metaphor fits.

Except it doesn’t. Typically, a prisoner is allowed to leave prison
several months before his sentence is over and go to a halfway house,
the express purpose of which is for a guy to get used to the outside
again. With all due respect to the minor leagues, they are like a
halfway house in that, from Manny’s perspective anyway, they are not
quite freedom while not quite being restriction anymore either.

Sorry to get in the way of your Manny hate folks, but facts is facts.

Clay Buchholz apologized to the Phillies for getting injured

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MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that starter Clay Buchholz is at Citizens Bank Park for Wednesday night’s game against the Marlins. The right-hander recently underwent surgery to repair a partial tear of his flexor pronator mass. The timetable for his recovery is three to five months, but most are expecting him to miss the rest of the season since the Phillies aren’t legitimate contenders.

According to Zolecki, Buchholz apologized to GM Matt Klentak “and others” — presumably other front office staff and/or his teammates — for getting injured. Buchholz hopes to return to pitch in September.

It’s saddening to me, and indicative of the general anti-labor culture in sports, that a player feels obligated to apologize for getting injured on the job. Injuries are nothing new for Buchholz, which might have factored into his decision to apologize. Red Sox fans got on his case quite a bit over the years for his propensity to land on the disabled list. But it wasn’t like Buchholz was taking unnecessary risks; he simply did his job, which entails doing a lot of unhealthy movement with his arm. Buchholz owes no one an apology.

Buchholz isn’t the only player to have apologized for getting injured. Outfielder Hideki Matsui apologized to the Yankees in 2006. Starter Masahiro Tanaka apologized in 2014. Twins reliever Glen Perkins apologized last year. Even Madison Bumgarner sort of apologized for suffering injuries riding a dirt bike on an off-day, saying “It’s definitely not the most responsible decision I’ve made.” Because god forbid an athlete has interests and hobbies outside of his vocation.

Players are brought up in a sports culture that allows exorbitantly wealthy owners to bilk the players — laborers — at every possible turn. They’re mostly underpaid and poorly taken care of in the minors. If and when they reach the major leagues, their salaries are intentionally depressed for six years and their service time is toyed with (just ask Kris Bryant). Buchholz endured that and then endured the criticism that comes with having been a hyped prospect who mostly failed to live up to expectations. He’s gone above and beyond what he needed to do to have a successful career as a professional baseball player, even if it wasn’t as much as fans or front office personnel would have liked.

Eric Thames leaves game with apparent injury

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Update (5:22 PM ET): Thames is dealing with left hamstring tightness. Manager Craig Counsell says it’s “not a big deal,” Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

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Brewers first baseman Eric Thames left Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Reds in the top of the eighth inning with an apparent injury. Thames took his position to start the inning, but was replaced by Jesus Aguilar. Thames had flied out weakly to center field to end the previous inning, so perhaps something happened while he ran that out.

The Brewers should provide an update shortly on the exact nature of Thames’ early exit. Needless to say, losing Thames to the disabled list would be a huge blow to the 11-11 Brewers, as he entered Wednesday leading all of baseball in runs (25), home runs (11), slugging percentage (.929), and OPS (1.411). Thames was 1-for-3 with a single, a pair of walks, and two runs scored before leaving.