In Midst of Ortiz PED Allegations, Magic Fades

It has come out that David Ortiz is on the list of 104 from 2003 who have tested positive for performance enhancing drugs.

He joins Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa as the names who have been released.

I have been a Red Sox fan since I was ten 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 number 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 number 34 inspired extreme love or extreme hatred all for the same reason:

Ortiz was a baseball God amongst mere hitters.

Now the fans of the Yankees and Cardinals and Rockies are screaming that the Red Sox have illegitimately won two World Series titles.  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 buzkill.

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.

Perfection

It has long been a wish of mine to witness perfection.  To see exaclty what a pitcher has to do to convince the baseball Gods he is worthy of being in the elite.  I had hoped I would see this from start to finish.  On Thursday, July 23, I settled for the last three outs.

Mark Buehrle of the Chicago White Sox hurled a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays, a team that does not sport a poor lineup by any means.  mark_buehrle_no_hitter

I’m going through my usual routine of checking my e-mail for updates on my master’s project then clicking over to ESPN’s homepage.  Plastered on the front of their website is Buehrle’s picture.  At first glance I thought, “No, they traded Buehrle?”

True to ESPN’s jinx-happy format, the caption under the photo told of Buehrle being a mere three outs away from perfection.

I raced downstairs and turned on the TV, hoping ESPN would switch to the game. They did not. Figures.

I raced back upstairs and thought I would settle for MLB.com’s gamecast feature.

Midway through Gabe Kapler’s at-bat the gamecast alerted that the game could now be seen on the MLB network.  I hustled back downstairs frantically searching for the remote, much to the chagrin of my dogs.

I flipped on the game just in time to see Kapler hit a jack.

“Oh no,” I thought. “This sucks. Once again I just miss one.”

But White Sox center fielder Dewayne Wise had other plans and made a freakish catch to rob Kapler of a home run and preserve baseball immortality, at least for two more outs.  Mind you, Wise was a defensive replacement in the 9th.  You NEVER mess with the defense during a perfecto.  The White Sox did and for some strange reason the move paid off. With that catch, the game was over, perfection was sealed.  You get robbed of a homer in the 9th during a perfect game and you’re not going to get that baserunner.  It’s just not happeneing.

After Hernandez went down hacking I was tingling.  The television was electric.  I had tunnel-vision.  My brother, who hates sports, was mesmerized at the prospect of seeing what less than 20 major league pitchers had ever done in baseball.

Jason Bartlett his a weak tapper to short and I was jumping out of my shoes.

I finaly saw perfection and it was glorious. These spectacles are baseball’s gifts to sports.  Nowhere else can you see something like this.  I had missed Randy Johnson’s because I was in the car.

Before that, I refused to watch David Cone or David Wells because I hate the Yankees. Fair enough. I saw four Red Sox no-hitters.

Not a single no-hitter (with the exception of Jon Lester because of all he had been through) was as amazing as this. Perfection in baseball really is…perfect.

For one day, Mark Buehrle brought baseball back to its roots, back to the days before free agency and high-priced buyouts. Back to the days where lifers like Buehrle were embedded in their respective fan-bases. Back to the days when perfection cemented you as baseball royalty.

Someone crown Mark Buehrle.

Halladay Brings Back the Lost Art of the Complete Game

Roy Halladay is an animal. I have full confidence in the Blue Jays getting a win whenever Halladay toes the rubber. I’m not a Jays’ fan by any means.  I’m just accustomed to Doc’s inability to get bounced from a baseball game.

On Sunday, June 7, Halladay got his 10th win (he’s 10-1) in yet another complete game effort.

Believe me when I say Roy Halladay will be inducted into the Hall of Fame before all is said and done.roy-halladay

His career numbers sit at 141-67, an unbelievable .678 winning percentage in his 11+ seasons of major league service. He is currently in his 12th year. Yes, the 3.48 era is very good, but the number that sticks out to me is Halladay’s 43 complete games.

He has only won 20 games or more twice (22 in 2003 and 20 in 2008) but has lost double-digit games once in his entire career. It was in 2008 where he went 20-11, yet sported a 2.78 era. The guy doesn’t lose, and he’s as old school as they get.

Talk all you want about today’s studs, but I’ll take Halladay over most teams’ aces because I know the bullpen is getting a day off when he throws. Johan Santana has gone the distance nine times in his career. Josh Beckett has thrown five. C.C Sabathia has thrown 28. These are all guys who are expected to win start after start.

Yet Halladay is the only one of them who is the most consistent winner. Four times he’s led baseball in the complete game category. Baseball is a game that has evolved (or devolved) into a chess match. Middle relievers, setup men and closers are expected to take over after the 7th inning fairly consistently. Roy Halladay says no.

Halladay will more than likely reach 2,000 innings pitched this year for his career. He has finished top-five in Cy Young voting five times. He doesn’t get the recognition he deserves because he plays for the uber small-market Toronto Blue Jays, a city obsessed with hockey.

Doc Halladay is the best pitcher you’re not watching and he gives the fans their money’s worth almost every time out. He goes out and plays the game the way it should be played.

And if he really wanted to, he could probably win 45 games a year for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

A Fan’s Disgruntled Look At Some Annoyances in Sport

I’m sick of this.  “This” encompasses many things, but none more so that the athlete who gives “The Point”.

“The Point” occurs after many things.  Home runs, touchdowns, a big team win, a tennis win etc.  The athlete looks to the sky, raises one or both arms, and then gives the big G-O-D a point. barry-bonds-homerun-record

Give me a friggin’ break.  You expect me to believe your “pious” nature has gotten you dingers?  Nope.  To all you morons who feel the need to do this, let me help you out.

God has much better things to do that fix it so you can pad your friggin’ stats.  Get over yourselves and your public displays of Goldly expression.  Barry Bonds did this after almost every dinger, and did it more and more emphatically as he hit more homers.  And we all know how good of a person Barry Bonds is.  I’m sure God loved it when he broke past Aaron.

If God is a sports fan, which he/she most likely is (because why not?) then God wants to be a fan like the rest of us and sit back, relax and be surprised.  After a long day of having to try to manage an entire afterlife kingdom the is supposed to exist, keep Lucifer and his homeboys from creeping on the Pearly Gates, answering prayers from the sick and dying here on earth and taking endless confessions, God probably wants to crack a cold one and chill.  God does not want a preening athlete to score at His will.

It ruins a perfectly good accomplishment.  The truly humble and appreciative will get out of sight and thank God with their heads down just like it says in the Good Book, bitches!

And what’s worse is the ensuing commercial break where I have to watch an infomercial for cock pills.

OK, note to all you ding dings who think these work.  It’s a farce.  If you’re not happy with what’s dangling betwixt your legs, then get surgery.  These pills are not going to make your schlong bigger.  ExtenZe?  Really, THAT’S the name?  Wow.

I know you’re probably jacked up about the Uber-point you just saw when LaDanian Tomlinson scored that TD, and now you’re getting a little bit of a chubby going on.  But save your money for things that will influence your cock positively, like beer!  Beer is advertised even more heavily than cock pills.  And with beer, everyone looks better to the good ol’ Johnson!

Sports are being tainted by fake Christians and cock pills.  An unlikely duo that has teamed up to make the experience of watching sports as bad as the refereeing in the NBA playoffs.  The ultimate occurs when you get the “I have a family to feed” speech when the athlete “only” makes $10 million a year.

Why not feed your family cock pills?

Red Sox Prospects Have Earned Call-Up

Clay Buchholz took a perfect game into the ninth inning of a AAA game on Monday, May 25.  He is 3-0 with a 1.30 ERA for the Partucket Red Sox.  He also had 49 strikeouts in 48.1 innings pitched.

Michael Bowden is 2-2 with a 1.64 ERA for Pawtucket.  He has already seen some major league action this season with a relief appearance against the New York Yankees.  He pitched two perfect innings and struck out two.

Both starters are wallowing in the minors when they should be getting Major League time.  This is not a hard problem for the Red Sox to fix.  It is said that Brad Penny is being dangled as trade bait for more than a few teams and does not have a hefty contract.  John Smoltz is going to be ready soon, so somebody is probably going in a deal before then.

Moving Penny would enable the Red Sox to bring up Buchholz or Bowden to take his spot in the rotation until Smoltz gets back.  But the smart move in my opinion would be to keep Smoltz in the already superb Boston bullpen and save his arm for the playoff push later in the season.

Boston also has some starting pitching woes that can be alleviated with Bowden and Buchholz.  Daisuke Matsuzaka is getting touched up as we speak by Minnesota and came into the game with an ERA over 10.00 and a DL stint under his belt.  Jon Lester issues a “Gator Guarantee” and got shelled for five runs by the Twins as well.  If Lester does not shape up, look for the Red Sox to do like every other major league club.  they will find a fictional problem with Lester and send him to the DL for a confidence boosting stint in the minors.  Theoretically, Buchholz will be in for Penny and Bowden for Lester.

Sure, both youngsters will have an occasional tough outing, but when you have two guys sitting in the minors with ERAs under 1.40, you have to call them up.  There is only so much seasoning they need at this point.

This has to be done soon, because the Sox starting rotation needs a jolt, and quickly.

Lester Issues His Own “Gator Guarantee”

When the Florida Gators lost a heart-breaker to Mississippi during the 2008-09 regular season, quarterback Tim Tebow responded with what became known as the “Gator Guarantee”.

Jon Lester has issued his own version of that promise after his most recent loss to the Seattle Mariners.

“There will not be a pitcher for the remainder of the season that will work as hard as I will to get to where I was last year,” Lester said.  “It’s the little things that are screwing up my outings, and it will turn around.”

Well Lester and the BoSox are up on the Blue Jays 5-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning, and Lester looks rock solid.

The Red Sox need this kind of pitching.  Brad Penny pitched a gem May 20, and very well could be trade bait especially now that Jake Peavy has decided against going to Chicago and to stay in San Diego.  There is a market for cheap, consistent pitching, and on the radar gun, Penny has been very consistent.

Clay Buchholz and Michael Bowden are tearing it up in Pawtucket with era’s of 1.60 and 0.86, respectively.  This coming in the starting rotation.

I could see Buchholz being dangled as trade bait as well, but he or Bowden will get called up to help the rotation before the season is out.  There is no way both of these pitchers sit in the minor leagues for the duration of the season while racking up phenomenal era’s.

There are some desperate teams out there for pitching.  Brad Penny would not come with a high asking price and he is one of the cheapest established starters out there.

But Lester looks to have returned to his old form.  Lester never really pitched poorly this season, but the slightest mistakes were getting punished.

It is amazing that the Sox without solid starting pitching and without David Ortiz’s rock-star bat have been able to play as well as they have.  Now that Papi has his dinger and Daisuke Matsuzaka is returning, the Red Sox could hit the warpath very soon.  They are a better team than both New York and Tampa Bay, and once the Sox hit their stride, it could spell trouble for the rest of the AL East.

Big Papi Legend Coming to a Close in the Worst Possible Way

“Sorry, guys, I don’t feel like talking right now,” Ortiz said. “Just put down ‘Papi stinks.'”

This was the quote from David Ortiz after the Red Sox’ brutal 13-inning loss to the Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim, the team with the most unnecessary name in baseball.

I can’t stand to see Ortiz like this.  Ortiz, the man whose smile stretches from ear to ear in the photos.  Ortiz, the man who broke the Red Sox’ single season home run record with 54 in 2006.  Ortiz, the Yankee-killer.  His aura is fading faster than the ghost of Joe Jackson in Field of Dreams.

I called for patience with Papi early in the season.  But I have never, ever seen an 0-7 showing in the box score out of our three-hitter.  What made it worse were the 12 men Ortiz left on base.

I still want patience with Papi.  After all, this is the man who brought the 2004 championship to Boston with his phenomenal play in the 2004 ALCS.  But he cannot bat third in the Boston lineup right now.

When Kevin Youkilis gets off the DL next week, Boston needs to plug in Bay/Youkilis at the third and fourth spots in the lineup.  Ortiz needs to be moved to seventh.  Until then, put Dustin Pedroia in the three-hole

It it incomprehensible to me and many true Red Sox fans.  Dropping Papi to seventh?  The fact of the matter is that Ortiz is now not batting in the most crucial of runs when we need them over the course of a game.

Ortiz is mentally beaten.  There has never been a moment in his career where he has batted as poorly as he is now and he has no clue of how to come out of it.  Plug him into the seven-spot for some low-pressure at-bats.  If that doesn’t work, Boston has another option.

Put Papi on the DL with one of those very wordy ailments that mean in so many words, “really bad slump.”  Then call up Michael Bowden or Clay Buchholz to help out the Red Sox’ league-worst starting pitching staff.

It’s sad, but it’s what needs to happen.  The Red Sox have great depth and what makes it so great is the fact that this depth produces.  Right now, Ortiz is not and cannot seem to produce.  Give Papi a few games low in the lineup, then sit or DL him.

It makes me nauseous to say that and to even think it.  But for the sake of his state of mind and the runs the Red Sox are not scoring, it has to be done.

Watching a legend drift away is sad.  Watching one fail completely is even worse.