Friday, July 31, 2009

To Papi, Manny, and the Other 102 Cons, Cheating Is Cheating Is Cheating

There has been no shortage of stories about yesterday's shocking, yet not so shocking news, regarding Red Sox slugger David Ortiz and former Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez. Many of my friends and fans reached out to me, inquiring how I felt on the subject.

I'm flattered by the thought that so many of my friends think of me and the Red Sox in the same grouping of brain cells like some psychoanalytical game of free association.

As a die hard and passionate fan of the Boston nine, I suppose many thought that I would defend my boy and minimize the impact that yesterday's "non-news" has on my team.

I certainly did not suffer from a shortage of opinions when my arch nemesis Alex Rodriguez' name was leaked (see my story A-Rod's Not My Hero, My Son is My Hero) as a card carrying member of baseball's infamous list.

Nor did I refrain from sharing my thoughts about the village idiot, Manny Ramirez (see When a Character Lacks Character), when he tested positive for PED earlier this season and was subsequently suspended for 50 games.

I chose long ago to remain a wide-eyed little boy when it comes to the sport I love. Some say I suffer from a strong case of Peter Pan syndrome and simply want to remain a child forever. "Call it as you see it", he says as he drinks from his Sponge Bob Square Pants coffee mug.

From the first time I threw a bat on my shoulder and heard the sound of raw-hide hitting wood, I loved baseball. That will never change.

Some of the characters who play the sport have acted in an irresponsible manner for their own personal gain, but it doesn't change the way I feel about the sport or my team. It does, however, change the way I feel about the player.

The championships don't get asterisks and the Curse isn't magically reinstated. I haven't burned my Papi shirt and haven't ordered my case of Wrecking Balm to fade away my two Sox tats.

I'm not mad at my team and I don't love them any less. I'm simply saddened and disappointed that humankind cheats to win.

Anyone who knows me well or who has become a fan of my writing would know that I am passionate in my beliefs. I'm not afraid to get up on my soap box and scream to anyone who listens about my beliefs on right vs. wrong.

The crime didn't occur yesterday, it occurred almost a decade ago. In my mind, not only is Ortiz and Manny guilty, but so are the others on the list, the commissioner and his court, the owners of the sport and, to a lesser degree, the players who knew about it, but chose to let it continue.

I, like everyone, have my faults. I don't pretend to be holier than though, but I was brought up correctly and have tried to do the same with my children. Though not an overly religious lot, my family does know Commandment Number Eight and that reads, "Thou Shall Not Steal."

Yesterday's game was a perfect test of my own internal belief system. Big Papi stepped to the plate with the game on the line and sent a high fly towards the center field bleachers. I cheered for the ball and I cheered for my team, but I didn't cheer for Ortiz.

As Papi crossed home he stepped firmly on the plate and pointed skyward as he always does.Only this time, instead of thanking God for his strength and his abilities, I sensed he prayed to God that this all would go away.

In life and in sport, cheating is cheating is cheating.

Todd Civin is a freelance writer for the Bleacher Report and a supporter of the children's story "A Glove of Their Own."

"A Glove of Their Own" is the award winning children's story that teaches Pay It Forward through baseball and is being supported by Louisville Slugger, International Baseball Federeration, iFungo, Rawlings, Modells, as well as players and coaches including Jason Grilli, Joe Torre, Luis Tiant, Dick Drago, Ken Griffey, Craig Biggio and Sean Casey. Visit .

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