Why we like cheaters

Explaining why fans vote as they do for all-star teams is not easy. But Monte Poole of the Oakland Tribune gave it a shot the other day, and he drew a few disturbing conclusions.

First, Poole tried to explain why the Dodgers' Manny Ramirez, serving a 50-game suspension for, well, you know what for, is ranked fifth by voters among NL outfielders. Poole's conclusion is that "Ramirez owes his popularity to the power of perception" and that "The use of performance-enhancing drugs alone is not enough to outrage the truly engaged fan."

Poole went on to write that fan outrage at Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, and Alex Rodriguez is strong because they have - allegedly in some cases - assaulted the record books under the influence and spent much time criticizing their critics and making themselves out to be victims.

Manny, Poole writes, is still beloved by fans because he isn't chasing records and "his image is that of a big kid, Manny being Manny."

"We're OK with Manny being Manny because we can get behind a guy who might cheat to help himself or his team - as long as we don't perceive pretension or an attempt to hijack our feelings," Poole wrote.

How sad for us. We trash guys who cheat as they try to set records because they act like jerks but embrace players who cheat to help themselves or their teams if they are even remotely likable. Hello. They are all cheaters.

We told you at the start. Stuff like this is hard to explain.

Classy guy

He may not be a cheater, but Milton Bradley is easy to dislike. Yesterday against the Twins, Bradley botched two outfield plays, screwed up on the bases, and - got to love this - flipped the ball into the stands when there were only two outs.

Check out his response after being booed during the 7-4 loss.

"That's life. . . . Sue me," Bradley said.

Don't tempt us, Milt.

Cubs manager Lou Pinella barely contained - OK, failed to contain - his, er, disappointment.

"Do we need to go over math?" Mr. Tact said. "One . . . two . . . three. . . . I don't know what else to say. I'm sure he's somewhat embarrassed by it."

Wrong. "I wasn't embarrassed," Bradley said.

There's a shock.


Fernando Nieve will start for the Mets at Yankee Stadium today after John Maine went on the 15-day disabled list with shoulder weakness. . . . The Rockies returned lefthanded pitcher Franklin Morales from his rehab assignment and optioned him to triple-A Colorado Springs. . . . The Pirates agreed to terms with Boston College catcher Tony Sanchez, selected in the first round of the amateur draft earlier in the week.