WELCOME BAT, MANNY!

Revelations and allegations of the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs have sullied the reputations of such Major League Baseball stars as Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez, so why are Dodgers fans so deliriously ecstatic about the return of slugger Manny Ramirez following a 50-game suspension? Beyond a terse apology to his teammates, it's not like the Dominican left-fielder has fully explained why he needed to take a female fertility drug in the first place (it could have been such a major landmark in transgender history if Ramirez had confessed that he was just trying to get in touch with his inner woman). And it's not like the Dodgers have suffered in his absence, having maintained their first-place position in the National League West despite inconsistent power hitting. Maybe it's simply because, Manny being Manny, he's so much more charismatic and irrepressibly fun than sullen stiffs like McGwire and Bonds. Tonight, Ramirez plays his first home game since the suspension, against the Houston Astros. Dodger Stadium, 1000 Elysian Park Ave., Elysian Park; Thurs., July 16, 7:10 p.m.; $9-$650. (866) 363-4377.
Thu., July 16, 7:10 p.m., 2009

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