Just when I was ready to plunk down my $25 for a dread wig to wear while I watched a game from the Mannywood section of Dodger Stadium, I learn that I won't be doing either. In case you haven't heard, Manny Ramirez, one of baseball's highest-paid players, will be cooling his heels for the next 50 games because of a failed drug test. (His team commemorated the occasion Thursday by losing 11-9 to the worst team in the majors, the Washington Nationals.) Manny's suspension means not only a lot of miffed fans but a marketing migraine for Dodger management, as the lion's share of this spring's advertising has revolved around the power hitter.
Yanked are the radio, TV and Web ads centered on Ramirez and the tagline "I'm back," a nod to last season, where he helped lead the Dodgers to the division title. That's being replaced with "This is our town," starring celebrities and other players. Also history, according to the Los Angeles Times: the Mannywood section in left field, along with its two-tickets-and-Manny-T-shirts package. (Folks who already bought those can get their money back.) Ramirez swag like bobbleheads and replica jerseys will still be around, they just might be a lot harder to find on Dodger stomping grounds. There will be no dreadlock wigs at the team store, for instance, and no Ramirez T-shirts at kiosks on the field level. The game's recurring problem child is expected back in July, with decisions to be made later on how to showcase his return. Sports history being any indicator, if he starts knocking them out of the park right away, the selling might just take care of itself.
—Posted by T.L. Stanley