August 6, 2009

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LONGSHOTS: Ortiz and Manny’s steroid story tests fans as well
by Dave Long

I love it when politicians emphatically talk about their “principles” and “convictions.” I especially get a kick out of hearing many in the family values crowd,  like Newt Gingrich, Brazilian-crazed South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, Nevada Senator John Ensign, Idaho’s Larry Craig or ex-Florida congressman Mark Foley tell us all how to live morally. And so the fair and balanced network doesn’t get out of sorts over East Coast, left-wing media elite bias, the biggest hypocrite of them all, former crime-busting prosecutor Eliot Spitzer, goes here as well.

And while Bill Clinton and John Edwards are serious dogs too, they don’t quite make the list because they didn’t use FVs as a marketing device to get elected. But all pale in comparison to former president of the National Association of Evangelicals Ted Haggard telling his flock of 2 million or so to fly the straight and narrow while he was doing crystal meth and cavorting with a male prostitute and later emerging from rehab saying he’s cured of being gay. And people actually allowed to vote in elections bought it too — Yikes!

In the end there are two kinds of convictions: the kind pols use to get gullible, intellectually lazy people to automatically vote for them and real ones — which are what you do at the moment of truth. As Cleveland Indians great Bob Feller did the day after the Pearl Harbor attack by joining the Navy. Ditto for Pat Tillman after 9-11.

So why am I bringing this up? Because pols ain’t the only ones who talk a good game and don’t deliver at the moment of truth and Red Sox Nation is at one of those at the crossroads with the news David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez tested positive for steroids in 2003. The Nation is a highly baseball- intelligent and loyal group. But the question is, is it principled?

Given my limited faith that for too many the ends justify the means when winning comes into the equation and that I’ve said all along that the vast majority don’t care about steroids, I think the Nation is going to let Big Papi walk on this. A second less forgiving group will fall in line after a PR maven somewhere finally convinces him to throw himself on the mercy of the court and confess. And that will happen despite repeated denials and his famous “users should get a year suspension” harangue during spring training.

You know what they say — sometimes the best defense is a good offense.

Sorry. I didn’t buy it then, I don’t buy it now and I believe he was lying to us when he says he didn’t know he was on the list. I didn’t have any proof until Thursday, but I knew. It’s like Denny Crain saying on Boston Legal, “I don’t need to know anything about this case to try it.” From Raphael Palmiero wagging his finger, to Sammy Sosa forgetting how to speak English at the same hearing, to Pete Rose saying he didn’t bet on the Reds, to “I did not have sex with that woman” I’ve just seen it enough times that, like Special Agent Jethro Gibbs, my gut knows when it’s hearing a story. And I can’t remember the last time it was wrong.

Now while I said the majority of fans don’t care about this issue, I didn’t say the media didn’t care. Many care a great deal and they hold the Hall of Fame card that makes folks like Sosa, Palmiero, Manny, Roger Clemens, A-Rod, Barry Bonds and others vulnerable. And some Hall of Famers don’t like it either, like Harmon Killebrew, who recently spoke up. Who can blame him, as three suspected users (Bonds, Sosa and Mark McGwire) have driven his 573 homers to ninth all-time, while first A-Rod and then Manny will catch him too. With many still a long way from being voted on, this will come up every January and July for at least 10 years, so it’s a good time to figure out how to deal with it.

As for me, while it’s wrong, I’m not nuts over it. Maybe it’s because rules, equipment and whole stadiums have changed through the years to alter the record books. If they hadn’t juiced the ball in 1920 Ty Cobb might still be thought of as the power hitter he was back in the day when his now minuscule 117 lifetime homers were Ruthian. But as Babe Ruth’s popularity rose, the ball got juiced. And the enormously high mound of 1968 led to the remarkable the Year of the Pitcher. Or maybe I agree with Bob Gibson (an incredible 1.12 ERA in 1968) that, from amphetamines in his day to Gaylord Perry’s spitball to Elston Howard scuffing balls that Whitey Ford could make sail, cheating in various forms has been around forever and ‘roids are a high-tech version. What does bother me, though, is that changing perceptions here will move the bar on cheating. As it moves bit by bit farther away from what’s right, attitudes become more accepting. 

As I said earlier I suspect hypocrisy will reign in the Nation over favored son Ortiz. If you need evidence, just go to the VERY day the news broke when he got a standing ovation for homering in a much needed win. The same Nation that had signs galore at Fenway for A-Rod when the Yanks were in town, including a guy who held up a big asterisk every time he came to bat.

And that’s where the diatribe about political hypocrites comes in. If A-Rod’s a bad guy for this, so is Ortiz. But I don’t think people will see it that way. Because as Matt Leite said on my radio show Saturday, you’ve got to support your team no matter what. And my friend not so liberal Lou DeMato says I’m a turncoat for quitting George Steinbrenner’s Yankees because he hired gambler and soon to be felon Howard Spira to dig up dirt to make Dave Winfield look bad.

It violated my standards and so do Papi’s actions. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like him or think the owners weren’t as culpable in this mess. So here’s what I think we should do. For the duration of the year Boston should boo him every time he comes to the plate. No standing Os or wild cheering, to say you’re grounded young man because you acted badly, and let’s see how he responds. And here’s what he and everyone on the list should do — act like men. Tell the public you did it and why, like Jason Giambi and Andy Pettitte did.

But they won’t do the right thing and neither will many fans, which puts all in the same boat as the hypocrites at the top of this story who talk a great game but don’t live up to it when the real moment arrives.

Dave Long can be reached at dlong@hippopress.com. He hosts Dave Long and Company from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Saturday on WGAM – The Game, 1250-AM Manchester, 900-AM Nashua.


7/30/2009 Trading places not as simple as "I'll take the old guy"

7/23/2009 Mailbag delivers some interesting questions and answers
7/16/2009 Random thoughts for a lazy summer day
7/9/2009 Season's second half is when it'll get interesting for the Sox
7/2/2009 Declaring independence of how others play the game
6/25/2009 Finding the right plan is as easy as A, B, C with Celtics
6/18/2009 A great experience came in the Knick of time
6/11/2009 Ripping key to Rodney's broadcast success?
6/4/2009 The Mt. Rushmores of the red Sox-Yankees rivalry
5/28/2009 First-place Sox are making the grade
5/21/2009 NBA rivalries have no rival in other team sports
5/14/2009 Lying from baseball's Pinocchio prompts questions
5/7/2009 Celtics bull their way into round two — finally!
4/30/2009 Tanked from the headlines, the Fenway series yanks it back
4/23/2009 Draft winds blow NFL teams to make interesting decisions
4/16/2009 Spring cleaning of a cluttered sports mind
4/9/2009 Red Sox Nation springs back to life
4/2/2009 Climbing sports Mt. Rushmore
3/26/2009 Mount Rushmore offerings and other spring thoughts
3/19/2009 B-Ball, Coach B and Baseball in the mailbag today
3/12/2009 Great talent a rush but not all it's cracked up to be
3/5/2009 In Bill we still trust?
2/26/2009 A mountain over this molehill
2/19/2009 Steroids muscle in on game's strength
2/12/2009 Bonner bombs away on Cs in garden party homecoming
2/5/2009 Nation's angst ends as V-Tek says what the heck and rejoins flock
1/29/2009 Super Bowl Sunday brings to mind past and present
1/22/2009 The elusive quality of greatness is the topic of the day
1/15/2009 Spring cleaning of the sports mind a little early
1/8/2009 Will hall have Rice on the menu come July
1/1/2009 Predictions and wants for the year ahead
12/25/2008 A look in the rear view mirror at 2008
12/18/2008 The Pats' playoff run and new Yankees contracts make big news
12/11/2008 Random thoughts and associations
12/4/2008 Pats should consider options when it comes to Cassel and Brady
11/27/2008 Putting the thanks in Thanksgiving
11/20/2008 News of the week has people talking
11/13/2008 Cassel's in the clouds compared to early expectations11/6/2008 Mail bag delivers some interesting questiont10/30/2008"Yankees Suck" - like mentality fuels political discontent10/23/2008 No ray of hope as season closes in Tampa Bay
10/16/2008 Going to the nines a thing of the past
10/9/2008 C-eeing some interesting stories unfold this week
10/2/2008 "How come?" is the main question of the day
9/25/2008 Observations on baseball in 2008
9/18/2008 If I were a QB, a DB, a stat geek or a soccer mom ...
9/11/2008 After disaster Brady's bunch won't pass on season
9/4/2008 Pats start off with high expectation and some concerns
8/28/2008 A race to the finish to take all month long
8/21/2008 National news items of interest for local folks
8/14/2008 A little of this and that from the good side of sports pile
8/7/2008 Manny happy returns from the Evil Empire
7/31/2008 Manny being Manny - the sequel Part XXXII
7/24/2008 Open the mail bag for some Red Sox questions
7/17/2008 Hall-worthy or not the latest question on Schilling
7/10/2008 Baseball season has actually started
7/03/2008 UL editorial in denial — stop the presses
6/26/2008 Boston turnaround makes NBA green with envy
6/19/2008 Letters from the NBA finals
6/12/2008 A Father's Day letter to dad
6/5/2008 Twenty-one and six are the lucky numbers for the Cs
5/29/2008 Sometimes a bat is just a bat
5/22/2008 Some questions for folks right up there in the front row
5/15/2008 Numbers don't add up to supposed Fenway
5/8/2008 Cavalier attitude nearly derails first meeting with LeBron
5/1/2008 I'm so old,I remember ...
4/24/2008 Sox Line-ups, Celtics and ESPN investigations are in the mail bag
4/17/2008 Show me the way to that All-Star Game
4/10/2008 For C'ing a great time ahead as playoffs arrive this spring
4/3/2008 Bill James and the stats for 2008 — Take Two
3/27/2008 Drowning in the NCAA office pool
3/20/2008 Whether forecast is right or not is the question
3/13/2008 Comment sparks wonder over just what I did
3/6/2008 New hires, new trades in pro sports
2/28/2008 Celtics issues far from black and white in the early days
2/21/2008 Congressional ineptitude muscles in on steroid hearings
2/14/2008 Basketball rounds into form under the cover of Pats football
2/7/2008 A giant win leaves Patriots fans feeling blue
1/31/2008 Foxboro lads earn pats on the back, and old Celtics mystique makes sense
1/24/2008 Mail bag asks about Rice, the hall and wild-eyed liberals
1/17/2008 Peyton manning the fort back home as Pats take on Chargers
1/10/2008 Grumpy old Dolphins are lost at sea on this one
1/3/2008 The primary concern is getting a clear picture
12/27/2007 The annual sports awards close out 2007
12/20/2007 Holiday gifts for the deserving and not so deserving
12/13/2007 Jets land in Foxboro as pat go number 14
12/06/2007 To include or not to include Ellsbury — that is the questione
11/29/2007 Yanked from the sports pages in the Big Apple
11/22/2007 Here's what I'm thankful for at Thanksgiving
11/15/2007 Waiting game leads to a series of random thoughts
11/8/2007 OK — it's week nine and I'm ready to talk
11/1/2007 Finally a little shut-eye for a sleep deprived nation
10/25/2007 A rocky mountain high for Red Sox Nation
10/18/2007 Time to go to the mailbag
10/112007 Who'd more popular, Patriots or Red Sox
10/4/2007 IA weekend chock full of nuts, chokes and great moments
9/27/2007 I hate to say I told you so...
9/20/2007 Media and fan bias shades the severity of sports crime
9/13/2007 All round baseball week starts with a look at leaders
9/6/2007 It's Superbowl or bust for Pats in 2007
8/30/2007 The race is on as baseball enters September
8/23/2007 Spine vs. lack of spine theme for school board debate
8/16/2007 Time for thoughts from the summer mailbag
8/9/2007 Will this three make it big in Boston?
8/2/2007 Trading places all in a day's work for Boston GMs
7/26/2007 Getting out of a slump; an ameteur golfer can feel Sox' pain
7/19/2007 Does second chance guarantee a great outcome?
7/12/2007 Masse still a honeymooner in local baseball culture
7/5/2007 Brown Monster a big Fisher Cat hit
6/28/2007 Rambling along with some random thoughts
6/21/2007 The future is now for the C's come Thursday night
6/14/2007 Homers create bonds among fans for generations
6/07/2007 Sox win by losing two of three this weekend
5/31/2007 Lutz of things to think about
5/24/2007 Down 2-0 M’s for playoff payoff
5/17/2007 Baseballs' conventional wisdom is for the birds
5/10/2007 The Rocket lands in Gotham during Monarchs' playoff break
5/3/2007 Raiders say "No Moss" in fight with talented wideout
4/26/2007 A little history on the ancient Sox and Yanks rivalry
4/19/2007 Lessons to be learned from Robinson, Monarchs and I-Man
4/12/2007 A few questions for the sports gods
4/5/2007 Stanton his case on a variety of current topics
3/29/2007 Sox spring back into action on Monday
3/22/2007 A guide for having fun on NCAA hockey weekend
3/15/2007 The madness of March kicks off on Thursday
3/8/2007 Jumping through hoops after an odd season
3/1/2007 A trip to the mail bag for Hippo Sports
2/22/2007 Six degrees of Muhammed Ali
2/15/2007 Monarchs rule as streak reaches 12
2/8/2007 Talking a good game ahead on all-sports WGAM
2/1/2007 Manning the Super Bowl watch more difficult in '07
1/25/2007 Winning and what else matters in college coaching
1/18/2007 ESPN polls are fanning the flames of national lunacy
1/11/2007 Patriots marching to MIami promised land
1/4/2007 Predictions for 2007
12/28/2006 REcognizing the best on the national front
12/21/2006 Present under the tree for all
12/14/2006 Mailbag open for busines at a time filled with questions
12/07/2006 Lions and Gators and Bears, oh my
11/30/2006 Does Fenway frankness roll to the negative side?
11/23/2006 Turkeys and thanks as the big day arrives
11/16/2006 Green-around-the-gills Celts looking to earn some respect
11/9/2006 Blame game reaches new local low
11/2/2006 A week of highs and lows in sport
10/26/2006 Curses! The U is foiled again
10/19/2006 Time for a trip to the sports mailbag
10/12/2006 U turns Granite Stare around on football
10/05/2006 James' gang riding into town to face the Celtics
09/28/2006 Words to describe a lost Red Sox season
09/21/2006 Football Friday can't stack up to Saturday
09/14/2006 A lesson to be learned in remembering a somber day
09/07/2006 Usual pat choice to win AFC East questioned
08/31/2006 Whining won't yank AL East away from NY
08/24/2006 Spring forward or fall behind for Sox
08/17/2006 Trash talking abounds in the Empire over Sox and Pats
08/10/2006 Monarchs call press conference to crown new leader
08/03/2006 Deadly Fenway duo leave mark on history
07/27/2006 Word of the wise gets lost in sports translation
07/20/2006 Looking beyond the Big Three
07/13/2006 Cream rises to the top of baseball talk at the Dot
07/06/2006 Greetings and salutations toThe Nation at mid-year
06/29/2006 Being dealt is a consequence of the trade
06/22/2006 A year later, Boudreau's cup runneth over
06/15/2006 See dogs and cats battle for a different fan experience
06/08/2006 Not Bad Anymore league makes a comeback
06/01/2006 Luck goes Sox way with Lowell in Massachusetts
05/25/2006 Pitching in to help the Sox trade a few places
05/18/2006 Going to school by cutting Red Sox payroll
05/11/2006 Columnist blows his mind; here are the results
05/04/2006 Yanks stormed Manchester 37 years ago this week
04/27/2006 Regular crowd nowhere to be found come playoff time
04/20/2006 Questions and answers from the mailbag
04/13/2006 Local sports teams spring into action
04/06/2006 Predictable Red Sox season lies ahead
03/30/2006 Analyzing this and that as Pats roster shrinks
03/23/2006 A week of following the bouncing balls
03/16/2006 The beginning of four days of basketball bliss
03/09/2006 Many miss the central point of the story
03/02/2006 Better late than never to jump through local hoops
02/23/2006 Celtic green means raw, not envy as it once did
02/16/2003 An issue that is all black and white
02/09/2006 Nomar curses from the UL's Sullivan
02/02/2006 Super memories from 40 years of watching the big game
01/26/2006 A certain uniformity to the inquiries in the mailbag
01/19/2006 Sudden end to Pats' season leave just one thing to do
01/12/2006 Pats on the back for the football team
01/05/2006 Predictions for Manchester Sports 2031
A lesson for Leo the Lip and nice guys everywhere

Chop House opening is Berra of good news
Event-filled weekend missed en route to evil empire
Hero’s death lays to rest misuse of the word
Saint Theo ascends to new heights in The Nation
Santa sack filled to the brim with sports
Patriots march through injuries toward threepeat
Sports talk should be on the air
Stars shine brightest when winning is in the mix
The Demonization of Johnny Damon
Thirty-seven topics and so little space
Too many holes in Sox for repeat
Trip to the injured list makes it a long weekend for local scribe
Turkeys and giving thanks take center stage this week
Yanked from the edge of your seat