Remember the first time Manny Ramirez got a drug suspension and then got all kinds of crap because he was allowed to go on a triple-A rehab assignment before the 50 games was up? Yeah, it seems like a long time ago that people cared that much about what Manny did.
He’s doing it again. Starting Sunday, when he’ll report to Sacramento to serve out the last few days of his latest suspension and then join the Oakland A’s. And, as he told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, he’s excited about it:
“I will be ready. I’m going to go crazy to please the fans.”
“I will do anything — absolutely anything I need to do — in order to hit home runs and make the fans happy,” he did not add, because presumably he has at least a modicum of self-awareness.
Seriously, this is an interesting time for Manny and the A’s. At 19-17, Oakland is exceeding expectations and is actually to stir a little something in a fan base thought dead. If Manny comes back and keeps the A’s humming at a respectable level — or even spurs them into sustained contention — the Manny narrative becomes something totally different than it has been for him for the past couple of years.
If, however, his return coincides with Oakland going on a skid — whether he produces or not — will he get the blame for it? Will he be characterized as poison?