Say what you want about Barry Bonds. You can call him a liar, a terrible human being, a jerk, or whatever expletive comes to mind.
If you know him as a "cheater" though, then you better be ready to give the same harsh treatment to David Ortiz that you gave to Bonds after the New York Times reported today that he tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003.
That's right. I hope ballparks all over the nation will give the same amount of abuse Bonds went through in the twilight years of his career. Fans, who were holding syringes, steroid signs, and yelling "cheater!" every time Bonds went up to bat, better be doing that to Ortiz whenever he steps up to plate at an opposing ballpark.
It is only fair. If you hate Bonds because he is a cheater, than you need to hold the same standard to all cheaters. It shouldn't be a pick and choose buffet in terms of who you should boo.
However, I have a feeling that whatever Ortiz chooses to do, whether he goes the Bonds and Roger Clemens route and denies it, or goes the Alex Rodriguez and Andy Pettitte route and admits it, Ortiz won't get a glimmer of the hatred Bonds received.
Because after all, he's "Big Papi." The fans love him. The media loves him. Boston, one of the biggest baseball market along with New York, loves him as well.
His clutch hits got them a World Series in 2004 after 86 years. "Big Papi" helped end the "curse" along with his buddy and fellow positive-testing buddy Manny Ramirez.
So nobody is going to hold him as accountable as Bonds. Sure, there will be some negative sentiment initially, but it won't define Ortiz's career like it did for Bonds.
Never mind that Bonds was a Hall of Famer before he took steroids and Ortiz wasn't. The legacy of Ortiz bringing a championship to the Red Sox will forever outweigh the reports of his PED use.
You don't believe me? Just look at the other superstars who are getting the same pass that Ortiz undoubtedly will get.
Ramirez, who actually was suspended 50 games this year for alleged steroid use, has been pardoned by the whole Los Angeles media scene. Dodger Stadium still has "Mannywood," and the media still holds Ramirez in high esteem as one of the best hitters of the game currently.
Bonds was also held in high esteem as a hitter during his heyday, but not without the phrase "alleged steroid user" attached to it.
How many times have we seen that from Ramirez this year?
Not a lot. Maybe a bit in the beginning after his suspension, but now that he is back in the lineup, it seems like an afterthought, more of a "catch of the day" story than an actual controversy.
Not even California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was pardoned this much.
Furthermore, look in New York with Alex Rodriguez. The media killed him the first couple of months after Selena Roberts' report and his admittance at Spring Training to the mistake he made.
Now though? He's still one of the more popular hitters in the game. Opposing fans are more prone to point out his other embarrassing faults (e.g. dating Madonna, kissing himself in the mirror) rather than the one that should be embellished: the fact that he cheated with PEDs just like Bonds did.
Baseball fans will say "Well, I just didn't like Bonds, and he didn't admit to it," as an excuse to why Bonds was treated so harshly in comparison to A-Rod, Manny, and eventually Papi.
Then why didn't those fans hold "liar" signs instead of syringes? Why didn't those fans call him a "jerk" instead of a cheater?
It's all just the same web of hypocrisy that makes me fume as a San Francisco Giants fan. We as fans got ripped to shreds by opposing fans for supporting him. We were credited with "ruining the game of baseball" by cheering Bonds in his pursuit of Hank Aaron and Mark McGwire's records.
Now those fans, who usually came from the Dodgers, Red Sox, and Yankees camps, are looking awfully stupid now, aren't they?
With Bonds out of the game and unlikely to sign with any team anytime soon, no one will be able to at least take back what they said about Bonds (or at least rationalize it). People can't take back those sentiments that demonized him as the sole culprit in this steroid mess. When in reality, he was just one in a handful of superstars that was doing the same thing.
Bonds won't get that opportunity to play a team where the fans are actually jeering another player for steroid use and not just him.
I'm sure if that moment happened, I could see him smiling and shaking his head in the dugout, saying to himself under his breath "What goes around comes around."
In no way am I defending Bonds for his steroid use. He did indeed cheat and that should be recognized. Additionally, in no way am I saying he is a model person and that we should absolve him for everything he's done.
However, he has paid the price for what he has done and then some in the baseball community. His reputation is dirt, and for his steroid-use alone no team will sign him, even if he can still hit the ball like he used to.
Do you think that will happen to A-Rod, Papi, or Manny?
I don't think so. Teams will still desire these guys if they are out on the market and will still throw out an exuberant amount of cash to sign these guys.
Those three players won't even touch the price Bonds paid. They won't look like saints compared to Bonds, but they won't ever go through the same scrutiny he went through from ballpark to ballpark.
In the end, all I want to happen with Ortiz, Manny, and even A-Rod is that they are held to the same standard. I don't think any rational person can hold that against me.
If you hate a cheater, hate him because he is one, not because he is a "less-likable" cheater.
That won't happen though. The Pink Hat Red Sox fans will most likely still defend Ortiz to death. A majority of Dodgers fans will still wear their Manny dreads. A-Rod will still be cheered and revered even amongst the youngest of fans.
I guarantee you that at one opposing ballpark this year, there will be some Red Sox fans holding a "We still believe in you Papi" sign.
And chances are, just three or four years ago, those same fans were holding an asterisk sign when Bonds and the Giants came to play in their ballpark.