And I'm mad as hell!
Jay Brown: When Los Angeles Dodgers' Manny Ramirez was suspended 50 games for a positive drug test, I wasn't sure I would have to talk about it with my son Holden. He's only 8, so I figured he probably wouldn't hear about it.
The problem is, he's a HUGE Dodgers fan. And Manny is his favorite player. There are posters and billboards of this guy all over the place in L.A., and Holden is really getting into baseball now that he's playing little league this season. I decided to wait it out. If he brought it up, we'd talk about it. If not, we wouldn't.
A few days after the suspension was announced, we were out to eat at Holden's favorite restaurant, uWink, and Holden was facing the television set in the restaurant. I didn't think much about it, but I guess the news was on.
Suddenly, he said, "Dad, how long is 50 games?"
Uh-oh. I said, "Well, 50 games is a long time. That's already to the middle of July."
Then he said, "Dad, Manny did drugs."
He just kind of blurted it out and looked confused, hurt, upset.
I said yes, he did -- then asked him if he understood what that means.
"Yeah," he said, uncertain.
"What do you think it means?"
"He did something bad."
I tried to tell him that maybe it wasn't intentional, but that he didn't follow the rules. I talked to him about steroids, and told him that taking steroids was like cheating.
I was pissed off -- that Manny let my kid down, and that I had to have this conversation with my 8-year-old at all.
You don't really realize how much these people affect your kids. Before I had kids, I always thought, "Well, it's really not their responsibility to be a role model." But once you become a parent, and you see how much your kids look up to people like Manny, you realize it really IS their responsibility, like it or not.
This is the first sports guy my son has really looked up to. He knew his name, he knew his jersey number, he even called him by his first name. Just a few weeks ago, I heard him tell a kid at baseball practice that his favorite player wasn't Babe Ruth, it was MANNY.
He believed the hype, and Manny crushed his dream.
A few days ago, Holden said, "Manny took steroids, Dad." I asked if someone told him that at school, and he said HE was the one telling the other kids. Now their parents will have to have this conversation, too.
Maybe Manny didn't know there was an illegal steroid in what he was taking, but when you make that much money, and have that many kids looking up to you, you better be damn sure.
My kids and thousands of others like him look up to this person, and he let them down. And now as a parent I'm forced to talk about steroids with a second-grader. Talk about innocence lost.
Thanks for nothing, Manny Ramirez!
|Jay Brown is a full-time stay-at-home dad living in Los Angeles. He has two kids, age 5 and 8.|