So this afternoon we learned that in 2003 Los Angeles Dodger (and former Boston Red Sox) player Manny Ramirez, and current Red Sox player David "Big Papi" Ortiz, tested postive for performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). These two players were part of the 100+ players that tested positive under MLB's initial drug screening program, the results of which were supposed to remain annonymous. However, because the documents were never destroyed, it was only a matter of time before names would be leaked out, and Ramirez and Ortiz are not the first two players to be tied to this list. Just a few months ago Alex Rodriguez was reportedly on that list, and he admitted as such a few days later.
I'm not shocked whenever I hear names from the list trickle out ever so slowly or even that Ramirez is on this list after serving a 50 game suspension for testing positive this year. I wish the names would all be released at once, but that is something the players' union will never agree to. But the emotion I feel most is saddness, mostly because I can't think of the euphoric 2004 Red Sox season and their first World Series title in 86 years without now thinking about steroids.
I happen to be a Red Sox fan despite growing up in Yankee/Met territory. I've been to more games at Fenway Park than Yankee Stadium, and I was even at Derek Lowe's no-hitter in 2002. I was ecstatic when the Red Sox ended their championship drought and the Curse of the Great Bambino, and I was even more happy that they came back from an 0-3 deficit against the "Evil Empire" in the 2004 ALCS. But we cannot forget that newly-implicated PED user David Ortiz won both games 4 and 5 in Boston with walk-off hits. Could history have been different in Ortiz was not using PEDs? Look at his production the last two years, which has dropped precipitously. Yes, he had an injury last year, but he supposedly has been healthy all this year and is still not the "Big Papi" of old.
Many will say that there are way bigger issues to deal with than steroids in baseball, and I definitely agree. It seems that a lot of progressives seem hateful of sports, detesting their so-called waste of resources and attention grabbing. I agree to an extent, but I still think that sports give us a little bit of relief from our stressful lives. Plus, some of my best memories of my childhood (such as playing at the Cooperstown Dreams Park and getting a game-winning ball for blocking home plate as catcher and saving a win!) are from sporting events.
And that is the saddest part of this story. I've always wondered about the line where childhood ends and adulthood begins. People talk about heightened personal responsibility, more independence, even the end of "cooties". But I suppose there's no better measure than when the game of baseball stops being innocent fun and starts being a sport of big business and player disappointment. Unfortunately, that transition is trending earlier than later in today's era.