By Jason Keidel
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If you’re looking for any kind of contrition over Michael Pineda’s mysterious substance from the Yankees, Yankees fans, or New Yorkers …
Especially if the demands come from the Red Sox, Red Sox Nation, or Bostonians, the most duplicitous fan base in baseball.
Sure, the wet, brown film grew from his forearm like a fungus. There’s no reasonable explanation for its location or its existence. It has foul play written all over it.
For years we’ve heard Red Sox fans cry foul over the Joe Torre teams, vomit their invectives while watching the Yankees rack up rings, extend the curse of the Bambino, and kick Boston to the curb of baseball history.
Then Boston reversed the curse. And the world fell in love with the bearded, brazen, self-styled idiots who coined the “Cowboy Up” battle cry of the decade. And we were supposed to assume that they won with their low-key regularity, their refusal to accept the Yankees’ ancestral place atop our pastime.
The Red Sox won by being of the people, by the people, and for the people. They sold themselves as the alternative to the elitist, Abercrombie crowd we see at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees are filet mignon and martinis. Boston is beer and bratwurst.
But we know different, don’t we? We know those teams were built on the backs of juicers, like everyone else. Manny being Manny, it seems, was a little more than a sporting sitcom, not just sneaking into the Green Monster for a quick call to the potty. Ramirez was busted and suspended into oblivion, casting a very wide and dubious shadow over those feel-good Sox squads.
And then there’s David Ortiz, the Houdini of baseball, who mysteriously appeared on the PED blotter and still somehow slid through the thorny portal of bad publicity. He kept his cuddly moniker, Big Papi, and his perch as the high priest of baseball, the “what, me worry?” ambassador who smiled his way to Cooperstown.
Ortiz was Ike Davis in Minnesota and Babe Ruth in Boston. But we’re supposed to believe he morphed into a monster, into the most feared late-game hitter in the sport, by extra batting practice and the power of positive thinking.
The cheating, er, cherubic, DH still has the entire world eating out of his large hands. To hear the hometown spin on things, you’d think Ortiz floated above suspicion by dint of his innate decency. But it’s safe to assume a syringe found its way into his bulging buttocks, like the rest.
And it’s hard to hear those sanctimonious announcers on NESN shriek with indignity, knowing damn well that baseball and Boston history were written in dubious hues. Red Sox manager John Farrell didn’t even make a big deal out of it. Orel Herschiser told ESPN he used pine tar all the time to get a better grip on the ball. Pine tar is as prevalent as bubble gum. This is hardly a headline west of Worcester.
Boston can’t play this underdog card anymore, their role as fuzzy, downtrodden, blue-collar stiffs who are always pummeled by The Man. Please. Tom Brady is just a few rungs under Jesus. The Celtics enjoyed a five-year revival under Doc Rivers, won a title, and challenged for several more.
And the Red Sox just happen to be the defending World Series champions. Whining about the Yankees, who have a third of Boston’s titles over the last decade, just doesn’t rate.
No one is saying the Yankees are above steroids, PEDs, HGH, or any cluster of consonants that says “cheating.” Joe Girardi smirked and slipped away from the dais without directly addressing the issue. The camera doesn’t lie. Pineda had enough pine tar on his arm to coat a bat rack.
But there are more than a few glass houses around the Red Sox There’s a greenhouse over Fenway Park. We’d like to think that cheating in all its forms have been erased from the sport. But if the steroid era taught us anything, it’s that anything is possible. And the idea that the Red Sox are above malfeasance, in light of their very recent history …
Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel
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