I have been a Red Sox fan since I was 10 years old and seeing David Ortiz emerge as a newer, better version of the Hit Dawg, Mo Vaughn, was a dream come true.
The first legitimate Red Sox jersey I ever got was in junior year of college and it was a birthday gift from a friend I knew back then. I opened the bag to find a sparkling-white jersey with the No. 34 sewn into the back.
I was ecstatic.
I wore the jersey only on rare occasions, but whenever I put it on I felt bulletproof. I was wearing the jersey of the Yankee-slayer Big Papi.
The lovable, smiling Dominican who broke the Red Sox single season home run record and hit walk-off home run after walk-off home run.
I knew I could catch no heat when I put that jersey on because the No. 34 inspired extreme love or extreme hatred all for the same reason:
Ortiz was a baseball God amongst mere hitters.
But Ortiz’ possible PED use has brought the realization to baseball fans everywhere that no matter what team you root for, during the time before 2004, your team had a starter or more who were juicing, and that’s the sad fact of baseball life.
Red Sox fans screamed that New York’s rings were fraud with the PED use by Clemens, Pettite, Knobloch, and Justice to name a few.
But how can championships be fraud if everyone was on the same plane? I hate the Yankees, but I cannot justify saying their championships were illegitimate if every team had PED users, which, I guarantee you, they did. Plus, it wasn’t outlawed at the time.
But now the Big Papi magic has faded for me. Deep down, I knew that Ortiz could have been one of the PED users, but I never wanted to acknowledge or hear about it.
I used to look through my closet, run across the Papi jersey and smile. Today I flipped through my shirts, saw the Ortiz jersey and got sad.
What used to make me feel bulletproof now makes me feel like I’m wearing a target.
Today Ortiz launched a three-run homer to put the Red Sox ahead in a game they have been losing by two runs in the late innings. It was vintage Papi, but I felt nothing. The magic of a clutch Papi home run was gone.
The Sox needed the win badly and I’m glad they got it, but seeing Papi crush that home run after the name had been released was a buzzkill.
I hope Ortiz comes out and admits what he did. I hope what he took was nothing heavy. I hope I can feel the same way when he strolls to the plate as I used to—exuberant to the point of jumping with the crowd screaming, willing Ortiz to jack one.
I hope all this steroid BS goes away forever and we can get back to enjoying the game for what it is, because all of this is really hurting the game.