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Ever since steroids first rose to the surface of Major League Baseball, everyone has found some way to use them as an excuse for some problem in baseball, especially those who don’t know the first thing about the game. These people hear about the steroid scandal and think they know the reason for every slump in baseball.
They claim that, “he’s off the juice” and “his career’s over,” but a true baseball fan knows that slumps happen to everyone and it’s nothing that the sacrifice of the chicken or a prayer to the baseball gods won’t push in the right direction.
Coming into this season, many people had doubts about Big Papi, since he was coming off the wrist surgery. So, when Papi didn’t hit the ground running at the start of the season, the critics were there to voice their opinions, including the members of the dreaded pink hat nation. To clarify, my definition of the pink hats isn’t solely the women who wear them, which isn’t every woman, but also the corporate types who use the infield box seats as their second office. They’re the ones wearing khakis and a button down shirt to Fenway and chat about the new sound system in their BMW.
These pink hats are the ones that claim that Papi’s slump is due to steroids because that is the last thing their virgin sports minds heard before heading into the ballpark. This problem is directly related to relevance of steroids now. If anyone had a good season in the past ten years, people automatically claim that it was because of steroids, which is unfortunate.
Luckily, there are still the fans at Fenway who choose to fill out the scorecards as if to double-check to the official scorer of the game. These fans are the ones that knew that J.D. Drew’s dramatic homer in the 2007 playoffs was the first productive thing he did for the team all year. Fans like this understand the extensive rehab involved around wrist surgery. If you find a hitter and take their biggest and deadliest asset away for a couple of months, it takes them a while to find it again. For Papi, it was his quick hands that would explode through the ball. A loss of that type of quickness requires a full overhaul of your swing. Like any full overhaul of anything, it takes time.
Fortunately, as of late, we are starting to see Big Papi circa 2005, the one who makes pitchers hope the manager calls for an intentional walk. With Papi back to where he needs to be, questions of Papi’s steroid use are beginning to fade away. I’m sure steroid talk will be back to Boston soon anyway after Manny’s first minor league assignment (during his steroids suspension).