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.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.