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Monday, May 11, 2009

The flickering aura of RSN (5/11/09)

It’s not just the economy that’s tanking – Red Sox Nation (RSN) is taking a hit, too. The team continues to do well, playing solid ball and working out the kinks in this still-new season. However, several recent peripheral events have shaken up Red Sox Nation’s collective psyche, with unknown impact on our ability to generate distant mojo. Within a three day span last week, we learned of the death of a Sox icon, the steroid scandal of a former star, and the health crisis of a beloved announcer. Any one event alone would be sad, but the combo gives one pause. Here are some thoughts:

1. The illness of Jerry Remy – former Sox shortstop, long time TV announcer and current President of Red Sox Nation Jerry Remy stunned listeners last week with his announcement that he’s taking a leave of absence to recover from lung cancer treatments. Widely loved, and a ubiquitous media presence, the 56 year old “RemDawg’s” news triggered a flood of get well cards and good wishes. It was also a reminder of mortality - Remy’s, ours, and the Sox’s legacy’s.

2. The death of Dom DiMaggio – the 92 year-old centerfielder was a WWII-era teammate of Ted Williams and Johnny Pesky, one of “The Teammates” that David Halberstam wrote about. He is remembered for being a talented ballplayer and a humble human being, “a class act who brought out the best in his teammates’ (Kevin Cullen in today’s Globe). His death leaves Pesky as the last link to an earlier era when players willingly gave up several years of their career to serve in the Armed Forces, when steroid abuse hadn’t been invented, and when egos seemed to be smaller all around. The contrast with item #3 couldn’t be greater.

3. The suspension of Manny Ramirez – the severest steroid abuse penalty in Major League Baseball history was just dropped on our former outfielder, slugger Manny Ramirez. Given the positive urine tests, his initial claims of innocence will surely go the way of all the other superstar denials, and leave his reputation just as sullied. This was one incident that can’t be dismissed as “Manny being Manny”, just the naïve actions of a quirky hitting savant. He tested positive for a female hormone that is often used to get players’ natural steroid production back on track after finishing a cycle of injected steroid use (the same hormone, HCG, is actually the compound detected by home pregnancy kits).

So questions are now being asked about when he used steroids. Was it just during the last part of last year, when he posted outrageous slugging numbers after his trade to Los Angeles? Or was it during his time with the Sox, including our World Series years of 2004 and 2007? And if Manny used back then, was he alone? Even the unthinkable questions are now being asked – is David Ortiz’ current horrendous slump due to a lingering wrist injury, or did he stop his steroid use in the offseason, when drug testing and scrutiny got tighter? I for one believe it’s his wrist, but the Manny scandal certainly puts a little tarnish on the Red Sox aura.

The combination of these three stories is starting to drain the team’s mystique, the force that was such a key part of their appeal, and their success (if our movie’s concepts are to be believed). And if this steroid scandal develops any further to implicate past Sox teams, we may have to change the name of our movie to “The Joy of Juice” (“juice” is the players’ slang term for performance enhancing steroids)!


Blogger graceful lady said...

Now more than ever we must look beyond current circumstances, events, appearances to feel the joy inherent in Red Sox Nation and put back the joy in the Joy of Sox movie. Was Jesus deterred by Lazarus appearing to be dead? And what about the blind man - he recovered his sight through his faith. And lest we forget the loaves and the fishes - so let us go forth and multiply our energy, our good wishes and restore the power of belief - LET'S GO SOX!!!

8:38 PM  
Blogger Rick Leskowitz,MD said...

Amen, sister! It certainly is a challenge to look beyond current circumstances, but future events are put into motion by our current thoughts and emotions, so there's no time like the present to get refocused and do our energetic bit to help out our team.

9:38 PM  

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