Friday, July 31, 2009
Am I surprised? No. Disappointed? Absolutely.
I heard the news yesterday morning at work: my boss, knowing what a fan I am, asked me what I would think if Papi turned out to be a juicer. I shrugged, and honestly told him it would upset me, but no one is safe from suspicion. Of course, I was immediately tested on this claim, as he informed me of the New York Times report (that he had first heard on ESPN).
I was a little bit blindsided, but the reaction I had predicted to my employer was impressively accurate. I am absolutely not surprised. I don't think there is a name in the game that would shock me anymore, and that, more than anything, speaks volumes about the integrity that baseball has lost. I'm a politics major, and the very basis of the American legal system is that you are innocent until proven guilty. This is no longer the case in America's pastime. If you played anytime in the last twenty years, you're a suspect, and that's just sad.
I realized today that I have never experienced the game of baseball free from juicers. I was born in January of 1990, and by the time I was an engaged and cognizant fan the Steroid Era was well underway. As much as Bud Selig and MLB would like us to believe that era is coming to a close, we know better. Until they have some sort of proven test for HGH, we'll always wonder who's using. Is the batter who hit that walk off doing it clean? What about the pitching prospect who's throwing 100mph? Or the veteran who has a bounce back season?
Mike Lowell said it best when he cited the pure numbers from the 2003 "anonymous" testing: 104 players are on that list, out of over 1000 who were tested. Less than 10% of players tested positive, this at the so-called "height" of the Steroid Era, and yet all we hear about are those who used. Part of this is due to the way the names keep coming out... As one or two names trickle out every three months or so, we have to wonder: "Is my guy next?" If the names are going to come out, let's see them all and be done with it; no more of this slow hemorrhaging of [former] heroes.
The Papi news hurts a lot, if only because he was such a great story: the poor boy from the Dominican, shut out of the Twins organization, then becomes a hero in the baseball mecca of Boston. Ortiz regularly lambasted steroid users, demanding a full-season suspension of those who are caught. There's nothing to say Papi didn't stop using after 2003, when the mandatory testing regimen was instated: I'm guessing a lot of guys did, whether from fear of suspension or humiliation. Until we know more, I can't say anything else about it... Papi seemed blindsided by the news, but that doesn't mean anything.
And to those who think this taints the '04 and '07 World Championships: do you honestly believe that even a single team was devoid of cheaters? We KNOW New York had a few of their own, and anyone who believes the other playoff participants were completely clean is either stupid or lying to themselves. I'm not excusing anyone - cheating is cheating - but the Series' wins mean as much to me now as they ever did, and NO ONE can take that away.