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I don’t want to believe it. I don’t want to think about it. I am hoping that the news is untrue. However, it’s hard to ignore the news that David Ortiz is the newest player to have failed a drug test for performance enhancing drugs (albeit in 2003).
The New York Times is reporting that Ortiz, along with former teammate Manny Ramirez, is one of the 103 Major Leaguers who failed drug tests during the 2003 season. The drugs they tested positive for were not released, but they are just the newest members of an already growing black list.
Well reported was the Manny suspension for using female fertility drug earlier this season, but now, one wonders where will Ortiz end up? He has previously stated that anyone who is found to be using PED’s should be suspended for an entire year. Did Big Papi shoot himself in the foot?
In 2004, everything seemed to be going right for the Sox. Ortiz compiled numerous late inning hits for the Boston, leading them to the comeback over the Yankees in the ALCS. Ortiz was even named MVP of that series for his work. Ramirez was named MVP for the World Series in the same year. It was a season many Red Sox fan dreamed would never come true. However, has the fairy tale finally ended?
Ortiz also holds the record for the most home runs in a single season for the Red Sox with 54 during the 2006 season. That was the same season he was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat. This season he has not been the same player Boston fans have come to enjoy. His lack of power and declining skills are supporting arguments for those who say he is on some stuff.
It will become hard for Boston fans to argue that the 2004 World Series wasn’t tainted. The two superstars, who led with their raw power, now fall into the same category with Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire and Jose Canseco. They will be dubbed cheaters and players who soured the game. For Boston, the only positive for 2004 comes from the “Idiots”. Johnny Damon, Bill Mueller, Kevin Millar, and who can forget Pedro, will suffice as the players who “Cowboy‘d Up” during the World Series run. However, should more names come from this list, the 2004 Series might be listed along side the Black Sox scandal of 1919.
For Ortiz, if he did in fact use, he probably stopped around 2006. He was suffering from an irregular heartbeat that caused him to miss several games. Since then, he has not been quite the same, and this season has been no different. Hits for power have been few and far between. He has had several injuries since and has taken a backseat to players such as Pedroia and Youkilis in the past seasons.
There are people out there who will ponder the Sox organization’s knowledge of the use. I don’t think people like Theo Epstein or John Henry were aware of players’ use. It was probably more of an ignorance of facts than an omission. As long as their players were performing and playing good baseball, it was more of a don’t ask, don’t tell situation.
At the time, Red Sox fans weren’t thinking the Sox were winning because of drugs. It was all about playing as a team and having great clubhouse chemistry. The players were close as brothers and all of a sudden, comradery was the new outline for Major League teams.
But now those memories are gone. In its place, discussions of cheating and disgracing the game are coming into fruition. The top players in the game seem to be dropping one by one. Earlier in the year, Sammy Sosa was said to be on the list, as was Alex Rodriguez. Rodriguez even admitted and later apologized for his use, which he says was only during his time with the Rangers.
Ortiz may say he doesn’t know how the results are real, but the damage is already done. Anytime baseball seems to recover from one story, another comes out. I, for one, would like the list released in its entirety, instead of one name every so often. Should more Red Sox from the 2004 Series appear, it will only further scar the championship and give evidence to those who say there should be an asterisk on 2004.
I feel confused, betrayed, angry, but I do not feel surprised. With top stars being named all the time, it just seems a matter of time before your favorite player gets dragged into it. I still have the memories in 2004 of Dave Roberts, Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling. Although, always in the background will be Big Papi swinging and Manny smiling.
Ortiz’s contract will soon be expiring. He is not producing like he used to and may be past his prime. The Red Sox have not had issues in letting players go. He could be packaged in a deal, or just have his contract expire. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ortiz in a different uniform in the next few years.
Or, in two weeks it could be forgotten. He could turn it around and start hitting home runs again. In baseball, it’s not what have you done in your career, it’s more what have you done lately. He could join the Manny’s and A-Rod’s as players who were welcomed back with open arms. I’m sure if he starts driving in runs, Boston fans will rejoice instead of wondering about his past.
I would love the reports to be false…a story made up by the New York media? I am confident that it is true. Another players gets busted and more than likely will have no repercussions. Why punish a player for something that happened when rules were not in place?
Then again, if he starts producing for Boston, I will probably put my Ortiz jersey on and cheer.