A Yankees fan friend broke the news to me on Facebook; according to the New York Times,
Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, the sluggers who propelled the Boston Red Sox to end an 86-year World Series championship drought and to capture another title three years later, were among the roughly 100 Major League Baseball players to test positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003, according to lawyers with knowledge of the results…
Now, players with BostonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s championship teams of 2004 and 2007 have also been linked to doping.
I’m not going to pretend otherwise: I believe this report. Deep down, I knew this day would probably come. Too many stars on too many teams were taken down with the Red Sox managing to dodge most of the bullets. Then when Manny tested positive, I knew it was probably when not if. But I didn’t want to believe it. I still don’t.
Ortiz? On steroids? CRAP.
I can only offer one weak defense, and I imagine it will ring fairly hollow since I’m obviously motivated by blind love for Ortiz and the Red Sox. But to put this in some sort of perspective, the 2004 Red Sox have featured two players now linked to PEDs, but they also beat a Yankees team featuring A-Rod, Giambi, Sheffiield, and Kevin Brown. Not an excuse, but one day we may learn the full truth, and we should just accept that the truth is probably that everybody was doing it. Sure, not 100%, but way more than we know.
Let there be no doubt, I’m tremendously disappointed in David Ortiz, and not defending him. But at the same time, my steroid outrage has dissipated more with each new revelation. The only way for us to begin to come to terms with steroid era is to release and examine the full list. How many more leaks singling out the A-Rods and Ortizes will it take before we’re allowed to see a real picture of the steroid landscape in baseball? Only then will we be able to decide what it actually means for someone to have juiced. Now, we’re judging without having all the facts.
But as for 2004, nothing can taint that for me. Baseball as a whole was tainted long before, and I still find a way to love it. More than anything, this is justÂ just another reminder that professional baseball players are gifted athletes, not gods. Even David Ortiz.
UPDATE: Torii Hunter in the ESPN.com article reminds me that my last paragraph there is, well, delusional: “I still love him but at the same time it’s tough to hear that. I know it’s going to be tough on him and tough on his family once this gets out. It’s Big Papi, man, it’s the Big Dog of Boston and he helped win two World Series with those guys, with the clutch hits. And now all those things are going to be tainted.”