And the Manny-hate World Series tickets go to . . .

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You’ll recall that last week the Los Angeles’ Times’ Steve Lopez offered up his World Series tickets to the person who wrote what he felt to be the best 50-word anti-Manny Ramirez statement.  Well, he has a winner, and his name is Richard MacPhee, and he’s a firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service.  His entry:

“Dear Manny. I am a firefighter for the USFS, I make $16 an hour. It’s hot, dirty, dangerous, with long hours. My body hurts all the time. It takes four years to make $170,000. My bonus, somebody telling me ‘Thanks for the hard work.’ You should try it some time.”

I take no issue with Mr. MacPhee getting the World Series tickets. And I certainly don’t disagree with the notion that he works his ass off, that he risks his life, that his job is hard, and that his body is tired and sore after spending his days protecting the lives and limbs of people who think it’s a good idea to build luxury houses in places that have suffered from raging forest fires for the past several hundred thousand years.  It’s often thankless work that 99.9% of us could never and would never do, because we don’t have the friggin’ stones to drop from helicopters into the closest thing to Hell on Earth.  Indeed, given that a World Series is not assured for L.A., I’d hope that Lopez would give Mr. MacPhee his NLCS tickets too, and if the Dodgers do make it past the Phillies, that someone would chip in to give him and other firefighters tickets to more than just Game 4.

That said, I have to agree with the Times’ Dodgers blogger Jon Weisman, who had this to say to Lopez via Twitter regarding his little contest: “I’m a fan of yours but you’re giving Manny too much power. He’s not bigger than the game but you’ve chosen to act like he is.”

One thing I left out in my little pro-con exercise below is the fact that the national media is almost certain to make a Dodgers’ World Series all about Manny.  Which is a shame, because the Dodgers are a pretty balanced team with way more interesting stories than the overplayed Ramirez angle.  If Lopez truly can’t stand Manny, you’d think he’d just ignore him rather than to play into that overhype even more.

But it’s too late for that.  And while I don’t have any rooting interest in the NLCS, I’m tempted to pull for the Dodgers now so that Richard MacPhee can go to a game, even if I think the contest he won was rather misguided.

Chris Sale doesn’t regret protesting wearing White Sox retro uniform

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Chris Sale #49 of the Chicago White Sox reacts during the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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White Sox ace Chris Sale was scratched from Saturday night’s start against the Tigers due to a confrontation he had with White Sox coaches and front office staff over the 1976 retro uniforms the club was to wear. Sale used a knife to cut up his uniform as well as the uniforms of some other players, protesting the club’s decision to wear them. The White Sox suspended Sale five games “for violating team rules, for insubordination, and for destroying team equipment.”

Sale spoke about the incident for the first time, as MLB.com’s Scott Merkin reports. The lefty apologized to fans who came to see him pitch and said he regrets “not being there for my guys,” referring to the bullpen, which had to cover for Sale on Saturday. Matt Albers got the spot start and went two innings.

Sale felt the uniform would have impacted his performance, saying, “[The ’76 uniforms] are uncomfortable and unorthodox. I didn’t want to go out there and not be at the top of my game in every aspect that I need to be in. Not only that, but I didn’t want anything to alter my mechanics. … There’s a lot of different things that went into it. Looking bad had absolutely zero to do with it. Nothing.”

Sale was firm that he doesn’t regret standing up for he believes in. “Absolutely not,” he said. He continued, “Do I regret saying business should not be first before winning? Absolutely not.”

With his five-game suspension to end after Wednesday’s game, Sale is on track to start Thursday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Dee Gordon will return from his 80-game suspension on Thursday

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 10:  Dee Gordon #9 of the Miami Marlins runs the bases against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on April 10, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
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At the end of April, Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon was handed an 80-game suspension by Major League Baseball after testing positive for exogenous testosterone and Clostebol, performance-enhancing drugs. Gordon says he took those substances unknowingly.

Gordon will return to the Marlins on Thursday, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports. The club was 10-11 prior to Gordon’s suspension. Since then, the club has gone 43-35 and is now tied with the Mets for second place in the NL East, five games behind the Nationals. Impressively, the Marlins have collectively hit .272/.330/.408 in Gordon’s absence, which compares favorably to the league average .252/.320/.410 triple-slash line.

Gordon, who made the NL All-Star team in 2014 and ’15, was hitting .266/.289/.340 with three doubles, two triples, five RBI, 13 runs scored, and six stolen bases in 97 plate appearances. Derek Dietrich has handled second base in the meantime and has done an admirable job, batting .275/.366/.398 with 22 extra-base hits, 30 RBI, and 26 runs scored in 314 PA. Nevertheless, Gordon is likely to return to full-time duty at second base.