Manny Ramirez isn't eligible to return to the Los Angeles Dodgers until July 3, but the hype is already kicking into high gear as the tainted slugger begins his minor league warm-up on Tuesday in Albuquerque.
No matter what you think of the slugger and his pending return, you're bound to have an opinion about it. Everyone does.
One writer thinks it's a sham that he gets to play in the minors before his 50-game suspension for failing a drug test has been completed. Another scribe wonders why that's even an issue. It's not like he's getting special treatment. All suspended players are allowed to find their rhythm in the minors before their eligible to return.
And for what it's worth, my Uncle Frank thinks Ramirez, and anyone else caught doping, should be sent somewhere far, far away. Like Mars, maybe. I have a feeling many people feel the same way.
Regardless of where you fall on the Ramirez issue, it will be hard not to follow his movements over the next week or so. Whether you're thrilled or disgusted, you won't be able to turn your eyes away.
As one fan said "He's a cheater, but I still want to see him play." He's not alone.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes, who average 7,000 fans per game, have already sold an extra 11,000 tickets in two days.
And the San Bernardino 66ers -- a single-A Dodgers farm team -- have already sold out Sunday's game, even though the Dodgers have yet to even confirm Ramirez will play there.
Fans can watch Ramirez play on Tuesday – for a fee – as the game will be broadcast on MiLB.TV.
And if you're expecting the slugger to need some time to shake off the rust, you might be surprised. The man who's been throwing him batting practice says Ramirez is already locked in.
"I can tell just by watching how the balls carry," said Flippo. "You can tell -- the way his rhythm is going when he has it together. You can tell if he looks comfortable. You can tell when a guy is fighting it. Everything is looking easy for him, as easy as when he came to us.
"One thing I can tell, when I throw a good pitch down the middle, I expect that to be hit. With him, even when I don't give him a good pitch, he still drives it. In Spring Training, if he got one of those bad pitches, he didn't hit it that good. Last year, when he joined us, no matter where the pitch was, he hit it hard. And right now, it's the same thing with him."
Let the hype begin.