ABC News’ Troy McMullen reports:
Manny Ramirez’s swift exit yesterday from the Los Angeles Dodgers line-up may have disappointed fans and created a headache for skipper Joe Torre, but it’s also creating chaos for team marketing executives. Since announcing the slugger’s 50-game suspension for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs, the Dodgers are being forced to quickly revamped a high-octane marketing strategy that had revolved around the team’s most popular player.
"Mannywood" seats in the outfield – the seats adjacent to Ramirez’s position in left field – are no longer being sold with that moniker and the trademark dreadlock wigs on store shelves at the ballpark have been yanked. Ramirez T-shirts for sale at kiosks on the field level have also been pulled, though T-shirts and replica jerseys remain available in the team stores outside of the ballpark. Billboards around Los Angeles, as well as radio, television and Internet ads featuring Ramirez – all part of an aggressive spring marketing campaign – will also be canned during the slugger’s absence.
"You can’t put all your eggs in one basket and let a guy like Ramirez hold the basket," David Carter, executive director of the USC Sports Business Institute told the Los Angeles Times.
Dodger fans, meanwhile, got their first taste of life without Manny last night: The team squandered a six-run lead and lost 11-9 to the Washington Nationals – the worst team in the major leagues. The loss ended the Dodgers’ 13-game home winning streak to start the season, which set a modern day record.