In watching Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz mash homer after homer between 2003-2008 for the Red Sox, there was always the rumor of performance-enhancing drugs fueling their power. It was the little voice in the back of the brain of every Boston fan that spoke to our worst fear.
Before the 2009 season started, Manny Ramirez failed a drug test for PEDs. That tainted Sword of Damocles hung by a thin hair over the faith Boston fans had in their other Goliath. Surely, we hoped against hope, Big Papi was clean.
Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz were among the 104 major league players listed as having tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003, lawyers with knowledge of the results told The New York Times.
The two were key members of the Boston Red Sox World Series championship teams in 2004 and 2007.
Ortiz declined comment to The Times.
Manny's name being on here is no surprise in the wake of his suspension this year. But to see Papi's name is a crushing blow to Boston fans. And it's a lesson as well.
It's a lesson in hubris. We all enjoyed mocking the Yankees for their legion of PED users that fueled their 1998-2000 World Series run. Now we have to face the fact that PED users likely fueled our two titles in 2004 and 2007. Karma is a right bitch.
It's also a lesson in treating ballplayers as heroes. My son loves David Oritz. Now I have to explain to him at some point that this lovable guy who is known for mashing the ball out of the park likely used PEDs. These guys are not heroes; they play a game for a living and get paid a lot for it. That doesn't make them any better than the rest of humanity.
So what is the fallout? For Manny, I doubt there will be any. He was already tainted with the mark of a cheater. And Los Angeles' fanbase is fickle as hell and doesn't care about stuff like this.
But for Ortiz? I don't know if Boston's fans will be as forgiving. If we are, then we are nothing more than hypocrites after slagging guys like A-Rod and Clemens. If those guys are cheaters and deserving of our scorn, then so is Ortiz...if the report is true.
That is really the one gray area here. Clemens was caught out with paraphernalia and testimony about his use. A-Rod was caught out as well and had to admit his usage. That hasn't happened yet for Ortiz. But that is a faint hope at best. All the other names that have leaked have been accurate. Why should this instance be any different?
Today is a dark day in Boston. And there is no way around that.
Update: There is something else that this report makes clear. We cannot continue to have these names leak out. It was unfair to the players named before Manny and Ortiz as much as it is unfair now. We have gotten to the point where all these names have to be released so we can have a full and fair accounting. Release all the names and let the chips fall where they may.