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

“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.

Kris Bryant wants to be Cubs’ player rep, vows to “fight” for next collective bargaining agreement

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was one of the most prominent examples of service time manipulation in recent memory. He was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball going into the 2015 season by Baseball America. He then had an incredible spring, batting .425 with a spring-high nine home runs and 15 RBI. The Cubs, however, didn’t add him to the Opening Day roster, instead keeping him in Triple-A for the first two weeks of the season, ensuring the club would get another year of control over Bryant because he wouldn’t accrue enough service time. He made his debut on April 17 and the rest was history. Bryant won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year Award.

While the MLB Players Association filed a grievance on his behalf, Bryant didn’t say anything. But it was a learning moment for him. The same is true of the past offseason, which Bryant says “opened my eyes,” as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. He now considers labor issues a priority, saying, “I need to study up, have my voice heard, continue to learn, because this is going to affect us for years to come. And I’d be foolish not to kind of offer myself out there.”

As Wittenmyer notes, Bryant hopes to replace Jake Arrieta as the Cubs’ player reprensentative. The players make that decision later this month. Bryant also vowed to fight for the next collective bargaining agreement. He said, “Maybe the focus was on other things rather than some of the more important things. But I think with this next one things are definitely going to change, and there’ll definitely be more fight on our side just because we’re going to get the chance to experience the effects of some of the things we agreed to. The only way to get what you want here is to fight for it. And I think you’re going to see a lot of that.”

It’s good to see Bryant motivated by recent economic developments in baseball. Hopefully more players take his lead and become more informed, arming themselves with all of the tools they need to create a better situation for themselves when the current CBA expires.