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The Bear Cave


July 31, 2009 8:54 AM

Red Sox Highlight Boston News Scene

Thursday presented some breaking news involving Boston sports. Unfortunately for the hockey fans in the area, the news didn't have anything to do with the Phil Kessel or the Bruins. Another disappointing note was that the news did not have a positive vibe to go with it. The New York Times reported that David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez were both members of the 2003 list of MLB players that took performance-enhancing substances.

The reaction throughout New England has been one of disappointment, but at the same time, there hasn't been a lot of shock involved. Manny Ramirez was suspended for 50 games earlier this season, so seeing his name attached to the list shouldn't come as much of a surprise. David Ortiz claimed that he was always clean during Spring Training, but according to the New York Times, that is not true. Ortiz saw his home run total increase from 20 to 31 during the 2003 season, while progressively going up to his peak total of 54 in 2006. Since then, the numbers have dropped significantly to 54, 23, and 14 this season. It is interesting to see that 2006 and 2007 were his best years in terms of power and average, as Major League Baseball was doing random testing at that time.

When I first heard of this news, I had the reaction that I mentioned above. It was certainly frustrating to find out, but if someone had asked me to take an honest guess, I probably would have named both of those athletes. With that being said, it wasn't until I watched a piece on ESPN by Jeremy Schaap that I really began to get annoyed by this whole mess. The piece was basically questioning whether or not the 2004 and 2007 championships won by the Boston Red Sox were tainted. Before I go any further, I will admit that the Red Sox are my favorite MLB team.

Let me be the first person to say that if this list is true (which I believe that it is), then Ortiz and Ramirez are guilty as charged. However, let's not forget that there are allegedly 104 names on this list. In that case, chances are very good that there were at least two or three players from each and every team in Major League Baseball. A few clubs might have escaped with zero or one, but 104 players and 30 teams don't really support those odds. Of course, this would then open up another can of worms. If Jeremy Schaap is stating that Boston's championships are tainted, then how many others fit in that same category? The follow-up to that question would be what time frame would be used? How far back do you go into the past, and how many years do you go forward following the testing? Depending on the answers to those final questions, there could be at least ten "tainted" championships.

At this point, the easiest answer would be for the Federal Goverment and the MLBPA to just release the list. This way, everyone knows who did what, the 104 guilty players are all on even footing with each other, and the game can move on. The leaking of a few names here and there is absolutely ridiculous, as the same result happens every time. The player either admits or denies the report, the team backs said player, the local fans are disappointed, but not surprised, and the enemy fans go into heckling mode. Alex Rodriguez had it handed to him at Fenway Park, so expect David Ortiz to receive similar treatment at Yankee Stadium next weekend.

Meanwhile, there is a baseball season going on, and in this case, the trade deadline is literally hours away. That leads me to my next point - wait until the offseason. That way, it doesn't serve as a distraction, fans and media members can get everything out of their systems, and the following seasons can begin with some feeling of normalcy.

Unfortunately, the thought of just moving on doesn't sound all that enticing to most, but what other options are there? All of this stuff happened, and there weren't any formal rulings in place when it did. So, while we're at it, let's briefly play the blame game. Why are we in this predicament? Bud Selig. Fans began questioning the thought of steroids during the historic home run race in 1998, between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. Those two names have both been mentioned, which theoretically taints their statistics. Instead of looking into testing at that point, Selig looked into his wallet. Baseball had just come off of the strike four years earlier, and needed something to bring the fans back. The national coverage those two received was incredible, fans were filing back into the stadiums at rapid rates, and revenue was beginning to rise once again. It may have looked great at that point, but Selig's turning of a blind eye ultimately led to the government getting involved, an anonymous list of failed tests, and what will forever be known as "The Steroid Era." Baseball will always be America's pastime, and the fans will always come out to the ballparks, but this is one scar that could have been prevented.

While everything does seem negative right now (and for good reason), it will be interesting to look back at this time in sports, decades from now. Baseball had steroids and the 1994 Strike, basketball had a short strike in 1998, football seems to be highlighting the legal issues (Michael Vick, Pacman Jones, etc.), and hockey had a lockout in 2004-05. Nobody will ever be perfect, but let's hope that these games can eventually clean themselves up for the future!

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