Is it now the 'Roid Sox?

BOB ELLIOTT, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:05 AM ET

An hour before yesterday's game Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz got the news.

Ortiz and former teammate Manny Ramirez are among 104 major leaguers on a confidential list who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003, according to the New York Times.

What horrible people!

And in the bottom of the seventh, Ortiz hit a game-winning, three-run homer as the Red Sox rallied for an 8-5 win over the Oakland A's.

Ortiz circled the bases, pointed to the skies as he touched home plate as the Fenway Park faithful stood, cheered and then came out of the dugout for a curtain call.

What a wonderful man this slugger Ortiz, fans say.

When Ramirez stepped to the plate at Dodgers Stadium on July 22, a few weeks after a 50-game suspension for violating baseball's drug policy, he hit a pinch-hit, first-pitch, grand slam for a 6-2 win against the Cincinnati Reds. The stadium was electric with Hall of Fame announcer Vin Scully called it the loudest he'd heard in 20 years. And it all happened on Manny Ramirez bobblehead night.

What a wonderful man, this slugger Ramirez, fans say.

Reaction in Boston and L.A. to two sluggers is apples, while the way they will be received elsewhere will be rotten oranges.

It's a statement about society: As long as we feel we can use you or you the athlete can do something to make us happy, you are our hero, you are the man, babe.

After that?

While with the St. Louis Cardinals, slugger Mark McGwire was found to have a bottle of an over-the-counter diet drug supplement he had purchased at GNC. It contained andro and was not banned in any pro sports league at the time. Now McGwire lives like a hermit, shunned by Hall of Fame voters.

That lovable "band of idiots," as Johnny Damon nicknamed the 2004 Sox, rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series to beat the New York Yankees and sweep the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series, ending an 86-year drought.

And Boston won again three years later as well.

Are the Sox now the Evil Empire?

Well, start goggling that 2004 Yankees team which included Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield, Ruben Sierra and Jason Giambi, all linked to PEDs.

What we can't forget about players testing positive in 2003 is that the 7% who tested positive happened before baseball had a drug agreement and because of the number of player who were caught, led to the Players Association having testing in 2004.

Ortiz spoke to the union yesterday and found out that indeed he had tested positive, He is unsure of which performance-enhancing drug.

"Nobody condones performance-enhancing drugs," manager Terry Francona told reporters. "But, it was supposed to be a confidential list. Some people out their need their integrity checked. I'm not making excuses for the people in the game."

Ramirez's name is no surprise. Hey he just finished 50 days wearing suspenders.

Ortiz, a beloved huggable figure in Red Sox Nation, is a surprise.

The DH struggled this season and has been dropped in the batting order. His homer yesterday was his 14th, after hitting 54 in 2006 and only 23 last season. He's hitting .224, roughly 60 points below his career mark.

Ortiz was thought to be above all suspision by those in Red Sox Nation. In the spring he spoke about how often he'd been tested and how anyone caught should be penalized ... "Ban anyone caught for the whole year."

Even after a slow start this season, one home run in the first two months and the issue of PEDs was raised, he was defensive and had support.

For a nation which takes a Jonathan Paplebon blownsave as utter betrayal, the Ortiz news will sting New England.

Until he hits his next game-winning homer.

BOB.ELLIOTT@SUNMEDIA.CA


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