As part of inquiring with the local media as to what they think the reaction will be to Manny Ramirez’s return to the Dodgers’ lineup on Friday, one of the respondents was Jeanne Zelasko, the new DodgersWIN.com play-by-play voice and host of the Jr. Dodgers Show, who has two young kids of her own with husband (and KABC-Channel 7 sportscaster) Curt Sandoval in Stevenson Ranch.
The bottom line is that the future of this game rests in the hands of the kids. So, I went to the source and asked my 7-year-old son Trevor if he knew Manny was coming back:
“I know Mom. He missed 50-games for taking bad medicine.”
“So, Trevor if you were at the game and Manny stepped on the field what would you say to him?”
“I would tell him that I’m glad to see him back.”
“Should we cheer or boo Manny?”
“Mom, we should all cheer. God tells us to forgive everyone.”
Maybe it’s a little easier for the Sandoval family to get this subject into the conversation with a teaching moment, since sports is their business. For other L.A. families, it could be a little more dicey.
On Sunday’s episode of “Outside the Lines” (ESPN, 6 a.m., ESPNEWS, 9 a.m.), the WWLeader sent Julie Foudy out to see who living amongst us will embrace the return of Ramirez under such cloudy circumstances. One of the families she talks to are the Kussin-Bordo family of Tarzana.
“Why would you take steroids?” says 8-year-old David Beltran of Downey. “There’s no reason for it. You hit the ball farther, it doesn’t make you a better person.”
Foudy then has this quote from Beltran’s mother, Adriana Lopez: “I felt a little upset that I had to explain things to him. It was kind of easier when it was Barry Bonds because we don’t like the Giants anyway (laughs), but then when it’s one of our own, we’re like ‘Oh my God, not Manny.'”
There’s “God” and “Manny” in the same sentence again.
Manny has been embraced, like a lost child, in the City of Angels. If you think the reaction to him returning to Dodger Stadium on July 16 has the makings of a lovefest, wait until a week later — on July 22, it’s Manny Bobblehead Night.
Maybe it should be Manny Knucklehead Night. Presented by Larry Mondello.
“In Manny’s favor is that his personality works for him and fits well into the L.A. culture,” said Colleen Dominguez, assigned by ESPN to follow Ramirez as he’s been working out in the minor leagues before Friday’s comeback.
“But the quickest way to forgiveness is hitting the ball.”
That’s where the parents have to act like parents, and not like Dodger fans. If they’re not happy with the way Manny’s handled this punishment, say so to your kids. If you think he deserves forgiveness, say so to your kids. If you think he did nothing wrong, you’d be saying the wrong things to your kids.
Just don’t be to hard on the Beaver.