Red Sox slugger David Ortiz and former teammate Manny Ramirez were reported yesterday by the New York Times to have been on a 2003 (supposedly anonymous) list of MLB players who tested positive for performance enhancing drugs (“PEDs”).
And though the now-Dodger Ramirez tested positive for PEDs earlier this year, the loyal base of Red Sox fans now wake up the morning after the disappointing, albeit not surprising, news that their most beloved player and hero, Big Papi, was a no different than any other cheater in the game.
Insert the typical disclaimer here: we don’t know what he tested positive for; steroids was not banned by the MLB until 2005; we don’t know if his positive test means he continued to juice throughout the 2004 and 2007 World Series years; we don’t know when he stopped, or if he ever did. And so on, and so on.
But none of that now matters.
Red Sox Nation has officially been jaded by “one of our own.” When this controversy over the Steroid Era in baseball began, the public’s outrage was focused upon “the few” cheating “the many.” It was a handful of cheaters who wanted an edge, those who would deform and mutilate their bodies, compromise their health and integrity to be cheered and loved for their powerful performances, and, of course, cash in with million-dollar contracts.
And in our minds we were outraged because those “few” were cheating “the many” — the many other players in baseball who were not doping; the many greats throughout baseball history who never cheated, and now whose records were being broken; and the many millions of fans who believed these feats of strength and athleticism were powered merely by strong hearts and not long needles.
But I am now an all-the-more jaded baseball fan. I realize that “the few” cheating “the many” was merely an illusion. Our outrage over the Steroid Era was a joke from the start. All along, it was “the many” cheating “the rest” — we naive baseball fans who were just kidding ourselves.
To baseball players, baseball is a business. To baseball fans, it is a game of entertainment. But since we were young boys, we fans played and watched and loved baseball because it was always the “every-man’s” game, a sport that anyone could excel in if they had the heart and mind to compete. One needn’t be a super-sized freak of nature to play baseball, as one would in football.
Baseball was supposed to be different.
Baseball was an everyman’s game. Perhaps that, too, was merely another illusion. Fellow Red Sox fans, today we must call a spade a spade, lest you admit your hypocrisy for booing A-Rod, Barry Bonds, and for expressing any shred of outrage over steroids, PEDs, and cheating in baseball. David Ortiz is a doper, a juicer, a cheater.
At the very least, he cheated all of us fans to whom he consistently lied by denying he had ever used steroids. And so baseball’s Steroid Era will linger on slowly and painfully as some unknown source, who clearly loves the power and influence he now possesses, releases names from that 2003 list of 104 players, one by one. But by the time all the names are released, I can’t imagine there’ll be any baseball fans left to care.