Fan starts 'Vote for Manny' site
NEW YORK -- Jason Rosenberg was heading home and listening to satellite radio when he heard that Manny Ramirez was fourth among National League outfielders in initial All-Star voting. By the end of the night, a new Web site was born: Vote for Manny.
"I said it would be funny if Manny got elected, because he's coming off a suspension on July 3 and the All-Star Game is a week later, so they don't even have that sort of built-in protection," the 39-year-old from suburban Ardsley said Wednesday. "So I got home, and just quickly threw a Web site together."
Rosenberg got voteformanny.blogspot.com up and running Tuesday night, designed to point out that MLB has no rule preventing players coming off drug suspensions from becoming All-Stars. It links to an online All-Star ballot and implores fans: "Remember, vote early and often!"
Ramirez was suspended for 50 games on May 7 after his drug test showed artificial testosterone and baseball investigators obtained documentation that he received HCG, a banned female fertility drug taken by some after steroid cycles to restart natural testosterone production.
He's eligible to return to the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 3, 11 days before the All-Star Game in St. Louis.
In the initial All-Star vote released Tuesday, Ramirez was on 442,763 ballots, trailing Milwaukee's Ryan Braun (663,164), the Chicago Cubs' Alfonso Soriano (545,354) and the New York Mets' Carlos Beltran (476,843).
"The All-Star Game is for the fans and I think if he got voted in, then it would be appropriate for him to play," said Philadelphia's Charlie Manuel, the NL manager. "Once he serves his suspension, he's paid his penalty and he's just like every other player."
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa had the opposite view.
"The fans have a right to vote, but I think it's probably not fair to the guys who are out there playing," he said. "It's pretty tough to do what he did and then miss a good part of the season. But it's up to the fans."
Voting began April 22, so it's unclear how many were cast for Ramirez before the suspension. Baseball's drug agreement states "a player shall be deemed to have been eligible to play in the All-Star Game if he was elected or selected to play; the commissioner's office shall not exclude a player from eligibility for election or selection because he is suspended under the program."
After Sports Illustrated reported Rodriguez tested positive in baseball's anonymous 2003 survey, he admitted in February to using steroids from 2001-03 while with Texas.
"It would be too interesting, too funny, too pick-your-adjective to see Manny get elected," Rosenberg said. "It's got to be MLB's nightmare that the two biggest stars who have implicated themselves or gotten implicated by this are now potentially starting in their signature midsummer moment."
Baseball spokesman Rich Levin declined comment.
Rosenberg is a Yankees fan who works in finance and has a regular blog devoted to baseball at itsaboutthemoney.blogspot.com, which he started more than a year ago. He disapproves of the 2003 rule change pushed through by commissioner Bud Selig that gives the All-Star winner home-field advantage in the World Series.
"I'm not a Bud basher," he said. "I don't go out of my way to criticize everything he does. I think he's done some amazing things, the wild card and revenue sharing and the overall growth of the game."
He intends to keep the Manny Web site up and running through the All-Star Game.
"Most fans have had enough PED discussion, the steroids discussion, are sick of hearing it," Rosenberg said. "Voting proves it, and yet the media still wants to cast everyone as an outcast and a pariah if they ever used or been accused or, in Manny's case, been caught."
Just in case some readers misunderstood his aims, Rosenberg updated the Web site Wednesday night, saying it was "one part satire, one part sarcasm, one part fun, one part grandiose hopes the rules of the game will somehow change to make sense."
Rosenberg said players suspended for drugs should be banned from the All-Star Game for a year from the start of the discipline, and that either the rule requiring one player from each team should be eliminated or the All-Star Game shouldn't determine World Series home field.
In the NFL, San Diego linebacker Shawne Merriman was voted to the Pro Bowl following the 2006 season, when he was suspended for four games because of steroids use.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press