A fair sentiment indeed.
Where to start? Shame on you if you’re actually surprised by the New York Times report. We already knew about Manny. And Papi’s quest from mediocrity to superstardom in the span of one earth rotation was a bit fishy, wasn’t it? It crossed your mind, you just didn’t want to believe it.
The first question is: Does this tarnish the 2004 and 2007 World Series won by Manny and Papi in their primes? A difficult question, the answer being yes and no.
Yes because one day we’ll have to explain to our kids how exciting the end of the drought was in 2004. And they’ll laugh in our faces and tell us that that was when everyone was cheating so it doesn’t count. And they won’t be entirely wrong.
I want the answer to be no, but quite frankly, it isn’t. I want to say, “it’s not a big deal,” but it is. Because it was. Remember how important it was? No seriously, do you? Because I follow the Red Sox probably more closely than you do and I had to think hard to remember.
Remember the “here we go again feeling” when Bernie Williams ripped that double down the right field line, then Posada hit that blooper and stood on second clutching both fists, with Pedro’s head staring at the Yankee Stadium infield?
Remember choking back the tears when Aaron Boone sent Tim Wakefield’s knuckler into the night in the bottom of the eleventh?
And choking back the same tears when Gary Sheffield dented the Monster with the 15th double in a row off Bronson Arroyo in Game 3 in 2004?
And your dad yelling at you to “go to fucking bed, they’re toast” at 12:30 during Game 4.
Remember your heart racing in your throat when Dave Roberts slid in safe at second by the width of your hair?
And Bill Mueller.
And Papi. Twice.
And the grounder to Pokey Reese.
Then the final grounder to Foulke?
It mattered, so don’t say it doesn’t now. It mattered to us like no one else can ever imagine, except maybe Cubs fans. My roommate from L.A. told me recently, “Boston is crazy. High school girls know when Jonathan Papelbon is pitching.”
Good example, Jordan. He’s the closer. But you get the point.
Of course, there were at least 102 others, including Alex Rodriguez who were cheating in 2003, too. It’s not as if the Red Sox were the only ones breaking the rules en route to champinshipdom. It wasn’t an equal playing field in relation to other eras, but if as many players were doping as we think there were, the playing field was equal, just artificially raised to a new level.
Still, the purity of reversing the curse is all but gone, along with Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire’s dignity.
Aside from that, there are two other subplots that bother me as much as the now-tainted banners that sit in Fenway Park.
One is “the list.” Why is it OK that A-Rod, Manny, and Ortiz’s names get leaked and no one else’s? To their defense, this list was supposed to be confidential, created by Major League Baseball to find out how big of an issue steroids were in order to clean up the game. I think that the confidentiality of the list is utter bullshit in the first place, but a deal is a deal, and that was the agreement. But as soon as A-Rod’s name was leaked, it instantly became unfair – as much as I despise him – that he was singled out, merely because of his name and $252 million contract.
It’s only fair to see the rest of the list. Time to make it public.
Second, I fear hypocrisy about to reek in Red Sox Nation. We laughed at the “Mannywood” signs and how the LaLa Land dwellers accepted Manny back so quickly, so easily. We thought it was a joke. “What do they know about sports, in L.A.?” we thought. “He cheated!”
Now what? We’d be hypocrites to forgive Papi in an instant after scoffing SoCal for doing so with No. 99. But you know what’s coming. Look what happened when he hit the game-winning homer Thursday.
Irony? You couldn’t have scripted it any better.
And now we’re left feeling empty once again, with 101 unknown names left to uncover. Are Damon, Pedro, Schilling, Trot Nixon included? Does it even matter anymore?
Thursday was another sad day for baseball. Sad because we can’t turn the page and even worse for Red Sox Nation, as 2004 and 2007 will forever be tarnished, at least in the minds of the objective ones.
We suspected but we never knew for sure. We wanted David Ortiz to be the one clean one, as he’s insisted so frequently and so adamantly. Nope, we were wrong.
But don’t say you didn’t see this day coming. You did. We all did. We just never wanted it to be true.