It was going to happen. The halo over the Red Sox clubhouse was sure to get tarnished.
Take one larger-than-life clutch slugger, humanize him with a nickname like "Big Papi", canonize him as a Boston hero for breaking sport's greatest curse, and then watch as he too goes down the doper drain with his former comrade in bats, Manny "Tranny" Ramirez, into doper ignominy.
They all dope. The cyclists. The swimmers. The underage gymnasts. The marathoners, the curlers, the badminton players. I say we embrace it, wrap our arms around, and adopt better living through chemistry.
Because until we do, we're going to be dashing our naive hopes that someone, somewhere is truly a clean hero. So bring on Big Pharma and let's see what science can do.
As my wife said this morning, "You said it yourself, Ted Williams probably would have doped too if he had the chance."
But Yaz wouldn't. Right?
Last night's first game of the American League division championship between the Red Sox and the Angels was a classic post-season game that began at 10 pm and ended around 1:30 am, insuring that I only got two-third of my required allotment of sleep. Today will be a long one.
Following the Game through Twitter and the "#redsox" hash tag (twitter is a 140-character "microblogging" system, think of it as open instant messaging) was an unrewarding experience. Keeping an eye on the laptop and an eye on the television made me miss some important plays, and none of the tweets, or comments, were particularly insightful or hysterically funny.
I'd rather read a live blog account from Red and Denton at Surviving Grady, or hang out with a bunch of smartass friends at a local dive, get messy, and call in sick the next day. The virtual bar of #redsox, while occasionally funny, had just enough lag to make it unfun. Then the volume of baseball chatter overwhelmed the usual Twitter torrent of Palin and Obama talk and the system started to lag. By midnight on the east coast, the Red Sox was dominating the Twitter buzz, but the content was ... well, making fun of the color of one guy's salmon colored sport coat, simultaneously cheering good catches and homeruns, and making fun of television ads for Viagra.
I'm bummed. The guy was deadly effective, goofy, and a lot of fun to watch. I like my athletes out on the fringe. Bill "Spaceman" Lee. Bill "Deadhead Walton. Manny was .... just too great a package to ignore. The pine tar crudded batting helmet, the dreadlocks, the white Mickey Mouse batting gloves, that he held up, fingers splayed, after whacking the snot out of a homer, bat dropping out of his hands as if to say, "Take that!"
And now he's gone, melted down and sent packing. Surviving Grady has, as always, the best requiem:
Since then, he went on to be one of the most productive, beloved and befuddling players of this century. After a string of players who "should hit the tar out of the ball at Fenway"--including the likes of Jack Clark, Andre Dawson, Rob Deer, Nick Esasky, et al--Manny was a legitimate menace. The type of batter who could change the course of mighty rivers with one swat of the bat. And, even better for folks like me who enjoy players with character, there were those "Manny Moments." Losing his earring on the field at Pawtucket during a rehab stint. The water bottle in the back pocket. Martini time with Enrique Wilson. Ebay Hucksterism. That bizarre dance maneuver in which he seemed to demand a trade every season, then back off, saying he couldn't be happier here. Cutting off Johnny Damon's throw to the infield. Saying that he'd like to play for the Yankees--which, in these parts, is like saying "I enjoy kiddie porn and poisoning rabbits." High-fiving that fan in Baltimore. But the production spoke volumes; when the game was on the line, there was no one I'd rather see up at the plate than Manny Ramirez.