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Didn't We Just Say Hello To Houston? Time To Say Goodbye Already: Cubs vs. Astros, Thursday 5/7, 7:05 CT

There is, of course, a game between the Astros and Cubs tonight, in a couple of hours. But I imagine most of you are still interested in discussing the 50-game suspension handed down to Manny Ramirez today for PED use. We learn here that:

"The substance is not a steroid and it is not human-growth hormone," [a] source said.

Okay, so what was it? Manny said:

"Recently, I saw a physician for a personal health issue. He gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was OK to give me," Ramirez said in a statement issued by the players’ union.

"Unfortunately, the medication was banned under our drug policy. Under the policy that mistake is now my responsibility. I have been advised not to say anything more for now. I do want to say one other thing; I’ve taken and passed about 15 drug tests over the past five seasons."

The other passed tests, I think, are irrelevant if he failed one. The second link has this information:

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the substance is supposed to boost sex drive. It is not Viagra, but a substance that treats the cause rather providing a temporary boost in sexual performance, the source said.

So besides not being able to play for the next seven weeks, Manny's going to be the butt of jokes. In the meantime, there are more important issues, the first of which is: the Cubs won't have to face Manny in the four-game series vs. the Dodgers at Wrigley Field from May 28-31. This is excellent news, particularly since his replacement is going to be Juan Pierre, who is just not very good any more (and wasn't that good in his "good" years).

What will this do to the Dodgers and the NL West? Maybe nothing, since there will be 83 games left in the season when Manny is eligible to return. However, the Dodgers were a .500 club -- 54-54 -- when they acquired Manny last July 31. He didn't make a huge difference for them in the regular season -- they were 30-24 with him -- but it was enough to put them in the playoffs. Right now, LA sports the best record in baseball at 21-8 and they have a 6.5 game lead in the NL West, which has no other teams playing over .500. If the Dodgers play .500 ball over the next 50 games, they'll be 46-33, a record which likely still will be good enough to be a division leader.

Still, I am very happy that the Cubs will be facing a depleted Dodger team at Wrigley Field at the end of this month.

I have only one more question, presuming Manny is telling the truth about his reason for testing positive: if you are to be prescribed something in the current climate regarding PED's in baseball, wouldn't it be prudent to have the doctor, yourself, your agent, or all three check first to see if that prescription passes MLB's requirements? Why wouldn't you do this?

Answer that question and I think you'll have the answer as to why Manny was caught.

Did I mention there was a game tonight?

Today's Starting Pitchers
Ted Lilly
Ted Lilly
vs. Russ Ortiz
Russ Ortiz
3-2 W-L 2-0
3.13 ERA 5.21
26 SO 11
6 BB 17
6 HR 1
vs. Hou -- vs. Cubs

2009 - Ted Lilly 3-2 5 5 0 0 0 0 31.2 25 12 11 6 6 26 3.13 .98

2009 - Russ Ortiz 2-0 6 3 0 0 0 0 19.0 17 11 11 1 17 14 5.21 1.79

Russ Ortiz? I mean, seriously, RUSS ORTIZ?!?!!? Just so you don't think the Cubs are the only team wasting money on bad veteran players, the Astros are paying Ortiz $750,000 this year. And he's been bad. 17 walks and 17 hits allowed in 19 innings is bad. He is 3-4, 5.46 lifetime vs. the Cubs in 11 games (9 starts). One of those relief appearances was on April 8, when he gave up three runs in three innings, including the only HR he has allowed this year, a three-run job by Mike Fontenot. It might be a good time to give D-Lee another day off: he's only 3-for-32 lifetime vs. Ortiz. Reed Johnson is 4-for-4 off Ortiz with two doubles and a HR; maybe it's a good day to start him vs. a RHP.

Seriously. There are probably ten pitchers in Houston's farm system who could do better than this.

Ted Lilly was the starter and winner in that April 8 game, despite giving the Astros four home runs (Lance Berkman, Jeff Keppinger, Ivan Rodriguez and Kaz Matsui). Since that game Ted has given up only two homers in 26.2 innings. Lilly has also had excellent control this year, with only six walks in 31.2 total innings. Keep up the good work -- Ted could become the Cubs' first four-game winner tonight.

You might think the reason today's game is on CSN Chicago Plus is the Blackhawks, but you'd be wrong. The hockey game is only on Versus. The White Sox get the main CSN channel tonight. It's also on FSN Houston and on EI. For more games today see the Mediacenter. Gameday game preview

SB Nation game preview

Overflow comment threads will post today at 8 pm, 9 pm and 9:45 pm CDT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.