Mets shortstop Jose Reyes just returned to the lineup after a one-game rehab stint with Class A Brooklyn.
Let’s say Reyes had failed a drug test during his day back in the minors, and Major League Baseball suspended him from all minor league competition for the rest of the year.
Would justice have been served?
No. And justice isn’t served by Bono Manion getting to go back to his cushy Sprint Cup crew chief gig after ruining last Saturday’s Modified race in New Hampshire.
NASCAR now says Manion can’t go back to any of the regional series this year after bringing a car so souped up it would make Bandit Darville blush, leading to a disqualification.
In other words, they did nothing to him. (In fact, maybe they did him a favor. He shouldn’t be playing with his toys while his Cup driver, Jamie McMurray, continues to drown during a pitiful season.)
Some may say that Manion did nothing more than inconvenience a bunch of hobbyists who make their living in other pursuits. In fact, before 2007 I might have seen that point.
But that’s when I started covering Long Island’s Donny Lia, who was trying to win a Modified title with the Bob Garbarino-owned Mystic Missile. Lia ended up getting that championship for Garbarino, who had been searching for it for more than 40 years. Think about that. Garbarino spent more than four decades putting his own cash into a team that he knew would never recoup his investment. You think for all that sacrifice he would at least have the satisfaction of knowing he was competing on an equal playing field.
After Lia won that title for Garbarino, he was fittingly rewarded with a Truck Series win in Mansfield, Ohio, the following year, quite possibly the biggest Cinderella win in NASCAR’s top three series in the last 20 years. When Lia’s Truck Series opportunity dried up, he merely went back to Garbarino and won a second Modified title.
I was in Lia’s office when he said that at one point he thought about nothing but how to get to the Sprint Cup Series. But then he found perspective, and with that, success.
To think that a story like Lia and Garbarino’s could be imploded by someone lucky enough to actually make a good living at this gig, yet is so greedy for success he cheats against the weekend warriors of motorsports, is just plain sickening.
We talk all the time about NASCAR honoring its roots. The sport tried by pushing Modified ace Richie’s Evans’ entry into the NASCAR Hall of Fame this year.
Suspending Manion from all of NASCAR for six weeks would be a much more appropriate gesture.