While the Dodgers seek to avoid losing 3 of 4 to the Cubs tonight the LA Times’ Bill Plaschke (above) can’t quite get off the topic of Manny Ramirez’ alleged lack of contrition (“the Dodgers have showered Ramirez with much love, almost painting him as the victim while those who dare criticize him are the criminals”). He can’t stop hitting the carriage return every sentence or two either, but that’s just Plaschke Being Plaschke.

Where is the Dodgers’ public anti-steroid campaign that focuses on the drugs’ effects on today’s youth? Wouldn’t this be a perfect opportunity to launch one?

Where is the respect for the hundreds of thousands of fans who bought tickets for games in which Ramirez is not playing? By continually deferring to Ramirez, the Dodgers continually insult those fans.

And why won’t somebody, anybody, trumpet the fact that without Ramirez, they have still won 13 of 22 games while increasing their lead in the National League West. Just once, I’d like a team official to say, “You know, we’re a pretty good team without him.”

Ramirez is not gone because he is injured, or ill, or fighting for our country in Iraq. He is gone because he is a cheater, period.

Yet the Dodgers insist on treating him as if his absence was something necessary or noble, and one can only guess why.

Are they scared of Ramirez, who can opt out of his contract after this season? Or are they scared of the fans who love him so much?

It seems to be both. Earlier this week, McCourt typified the Dodgers’ coddling attitude when he was asked about Ramirez’s potential, as the fourth-leading vote-getter among National League outfielders so far, to appear in this year’s All-Star game.

“‘Do I want to see him?” he told reporters. “Sure, if he gets voted in. It’d be a great honor.”

Me, I think it would be a great disgrace, and I could not believe that the community-minded McCourt would think otherwise.