The bombshell came in a text message to my cell phone at 12:09 EDT today. "Manny Ramirez will be suspended 50 games for use of a perfromance-enhancing substance, the league office confirmed on MLB.com." You could have knocked me over with a feather.
After reading the statement he released through the MLBPA, the funny thing is that I believe him. Manny is the major league poster child for narcissism. He makes Rickey Henderson look like St. Francis of Assisi. "Manny being Manny" is basic baseball lingo.
But I've never thought him to be stupid. Knowingly taking a banned substance, especially by someone of his profile, is flat out dumb.
Some might argue that Manny is so self absorbed that he would have thought that he a)would never get caught or b) even if he was he was too big to get punished. I would counter that no matter what Manny has done when pursuing his own agenda, any harm has always been to his team. He has been very careful to not push it to far as to damage his market value.
He's seen what happened to Barry Bonds and I believe he would not do anything to end up like that. Also, his taking the punishment immediately without appeal indicates an accepatance of reality.
My groundless speculation is worth about as much as all the rest you'll probably see about this (i.e. nothing), but here goes anyway.
I would guess that Manny looked for some way to speed up the process of getting back into top shape. Despite his unsupervised workouts, trying to cram a lot of spring training work into a short amount of time likely had a toll on his 37-year-old body. With the expectations running high, he didn't want to get out of the gate slowly or deal with nagging aches and pains. He and the unnamed physician tried to come up with an acceptable way not to turn Manny into SuperManny through chemistry, but rather to just let Manny be Manny. They failed.
Manny is accepting the blame and getting the punishment over with ASAP. I wouldn't count it as a great step forward in maturity, though. It's still the best thing for Manny.