Wednesday , 16 August 2017

Mike Albanese: A Big Pass for Big Papi, Boston’s Latest Hero

big papiThe scene at Fenway Park in Boston last week was great, wasn’t it?

The Red Sox gave the City of Boston, and the State of Massachusetts for that matter, the relief it was looking for, putting a bandage on the gashing wound suffered during the bombings during the Boston Marathon this summer.

And the man being praised as a hero? World Series MVP David Ortiz.

Ortiz destroyed St. Louis Cardinal pitching during the six-game series, hitting .688 with two home runs and six RBI’s.

Magical, is it not?

I say, not.

How quickly we forget that Ortiz, along with several other players, reportedly tested positive for performance-enhancing-drugs in 2003.

But for whatever reason, Ortiz’s name is never linked to those tests like Jason Giambi, Rafael Palmiero or Sammy Sosa.

No, Ortiz was able to rise above that.

Why is that?

mike albanese column mugIf a player like Sosa, and former home-run king Mark McGwire, who were among the game’s greatest heroes of my generation, have been vilified and hated, how is it Ortiz escaped all scrutiny?

For starters, it helps that he plays for the Red Sox.

America loves the underdog. Fans love to see the team that seemingly has no chance, rise up and slay the dragons. No one better fits that mold than the Boston Red Sox.

Until 2004, the Red Sox had not won a World Championship since 1918, continually pulling the hearts out of Red Sox fans across the Eastern-seaboard. Can anyone say Bill Buckner and Aaron Boone?

Boston, however, not only slayed the dragon that was the New York Yankees, it came back from a 3-0 deficit in the ’04 American League Championship Series – stunning the baseball world.

A main cog of that Boston team, and the team that defeated the Colorado Rockies in 2007 for the World Championship, was Ortiz, hitting key home runs and driving in crucial runs in the grandest stage baseball can provide.

opinionOrtiz, with his big smile, jubilant personality and knack for big hits in key moments, won the hearts of Boston fans and baseball fans alike.

So when this report came to surface in 2009, no one could believe Ortiz could possibly cheated the game.

The shock and horror.

But you know what? It is possible.

And for that reason, I have every reason to question his performance in the World Series, and if those moments were tainted by PED’s.

People seem to forget Ortiz was released by the Minnesota Twins after hitting just 57 home runs and 238 RBI’s in parts if six seasons in Minneapolis, many of which were spent between the Twins and their minor-league affiliate in New Britain, Conn.

Since joining Boston in 2003, Ortiz has hit more than 30 home runs and drove in more than 100 RBI’s his first five seasons in Beantown.

But that same Ortiz, gut hanging over his belt, balky knees and all, was swinging wildly at pitches during the 2009 and 2010 season, hitting in the low .200’s for most of those seasons, unable to turn on fastballs and lacking the power to drive the ball out of Fenway Park.

Now, look at Ortiz, a man that it looked as if he could get a base hit with his eyes closed in the World Series. A man that has seemingly turned back the hands of time.

Is it fair to assume guilt? No. Is it fair to be suspicious? Without a doubt.

And with the numbers Ortiz produced in the World Series, and his accused use of steroids, Ortiz should be looked at through the same lens as the likes of Sosa, McGwirw and Giambi.

Even if most of America is too blind to see it.

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