The revelation that David Ortiz tested positive for a performance enhancing substance in 2003 (confirmed via the Players’ Union by Papi himself) is a body blow to the Nation. No matter what explanations come out in the days and months ahead, the sad truth is that Papi was a cheater. As Red Sox fans, we have to be honest enough to deal with this simple fact.
If we self-righteously castigate A-Rod, Clemens, Giambi, Tejada, McGwire, Sosa and, yes, even Manny, we also have to admit that Big Papi has let us down. Every fan, every kid who idolized him and the team ownership itself should feel betrayed.
And, most devastating of all, the two World Championships that were helped so much by the Manny/Papi conglomerate, are this morning a little less lustrous. Not meaningless, because there were too many other great players who made it happen. But, those banners behind home plate at Fenway will evoke a little less pride in this fan. Papi, we deserved better from you.
For all the ups and downs experienced by the Red Sox in the first half, it is a testament to the steady, smart hand of Theo Epstein that they sit atop the AL East–the best division in baseball–with a 3-game bulge on the Empire. Despite being 20 games over .500, many in the fandom and media (this writer included) have placed our finger on the proverbial “panic button” more than once in the first 88 games. But the GM from Brookline (the only native in the management/ownership hierarchy) has remained true to his mission statement.
When we shrieked for a “real” shortstop, he gave us the amazing Nick Green; when we called for the head of Brad Penny, he stuck with him and gave us a more than serviceable 4th/5th starter; whenPapi was performing more like Pipi Longstockings, he stayed the course. And, so far at least, he has resisted scattering his “kiddie corps” of talent (Bard, Buchholz, Bowden) for a somewhat enhanced shot at another ring (the much-discussed acquisitions of Roy Halladay and Victor Martinez). He may yet pull off a blockbuster deal (God knows he’s done it before), but it is more likely to be for a corner infield bat off the bench (Garrett Atkins) to insure against Mike Lowell’s hip.
The bottom line is that we are extremely lucky to have a General Manager with the vision and patience of Theo. As much as we rant and rave, we should all be grateful that his hand is on the rudder of the S. S. Carmine Hose.
From the looks of things, the new Nationals Park may steal the mantle of “Fenway South” from Orioles Park at Camden Yards. Since its opening, the gem on the Baltimore Inner Harbor has been the venue of choice for Sox fans seeking a cheap, relatively easy way to catch the Sox on the road. No longer. For the second straight night, Sox fans helped set new attendance records for the woeful DC franchise, as Boston took two relatively easy wins from the hapless Nats.
Tonight, 5 of the 6 Boston tallies came via the longball–a three-run shot by Big Papi (one of his few no-doubters of 2009) and the Captain’s 11th of the year (a 2-run shot).