I became a Boston Red Sox fan during the late 90s. I wasn’t much of a baseball fan growing up; all I cared about was the NBA when I was young. I cheered for MJ up until about 1994, then started pulling for the Utah Jazz during the last two Bulls championship years. Baseball? Nowhere near my mind.
Then I started taking an interest in it for some odd reason, and one thing became absolutely clear: I hated the New York Yankees.
The Yankees won everything. They were clean-shaven and cocky. They had history. They had the biggest payroll in baseball. They had it all. And yes, they had the typical New York fan base: loud, obnoxious, arrogant, and generally disgusting.
Then there were the Red Sox. The Curse of the Bambino. Eighty-six eventual years without a title. Bad luck case after bad luck case. Bill Buckner. Rough guys with facial hair. Decades of underachieving. These guys were the David to the Yankee’s Goliath (even though they also had a huge payroll).
I saw a few games between the two teams, and I was sold. My family’s American League team was the Rangers, but I was a Red Sox fan. At first I liked them because they were the Yankees’ arch-rival, but then I loved them because they were the “SAWX.” Out in the NL, I was still a regional supporter of the Astros, but when it came to the AL, it was nothing but Sox.
Then it happened. The “Idiots” brought a title to Boston after 86 years. 2004 is a year that will forever bring a smile to every Red Sox fan’s face. They came back from 3-0 down in the playoffs to beat the Yankees in 7 games. It was the stuff from which legends are made.
Then today happened. Two of the biggest stars for the Sox in 2004, Manny Ramirez (already outed) and David Ortiz were revealed to having been using performance-enhancing drugs during that stretch.
2004 has now become 2004*.
Big Papi, a crucial piece of the puzzle in bringing Boston back to the top after most of a century of losing was a user. What made it worse is that he has spent years denying allegations that he was a user. “Me? Big Papi? Noooo…”
Actually…yes. Yes, Papi, you cheated. Hundreds of players in the Major Leagues were using as well, but you were part of the problem. And worst of all for every Boston fan out there, we BELIEVED that you were clean. When you told us you weren’t cheating like the rest, we believed you. We loved you. You were our big, home run-smacking teddy bear. BIG PAPI!
Today Big Papi seemed a little smaller. 2004* isn’t quite as endearing of a memory. And it all serves as a reminder that roughly the past 20 years of baseball will be a painful, dark time in the sport’s history.