Payback was the operative word in last night's game. The Yankees finally beat - make that pummeled - the Red Sox. A very whiny Dustin Pedroia got plunked in apparent payback for the Red Sox plunking A-Rod at Fenway. And David Ortiz got booed - loudly - as payback for the Sox fans' "You do steroids" chants.
But one New York Times writer seems to think that Ortiz didn't get booed loudly at all. George Vecsey, who admits that he spent years saying "Got proof?" to fans emailing him that Ortiz was a juicer, and now claims that Ortiz's positive PED test is "unofficial"and somehow does "not count" in the scheme of things, seems to be just as myopic over Big Papi's reception at last night's game.
In "On Big Day for Bronx, Cheating Is a Non-Issue," Vecsey writes:
But on this day of Sotomayor’s confirmation and Ali’s visit, Big Papi did not stir up much anger, or even make-believe anger. Big Papi made a pro-active strike, bellying up to the rail to sign autographs and pose for photographs with fans in Red Sox gear or striped Yankee jerseys. Classic Big Papi, the man of the people. Hard to boo a fellow like that, or even stick out the tongue between the lips and make the razzing sound long associated with the Bronx.
Vecsey also called Ortiz either "Big Papi" or "Papi" an incredible eleven times in the article. Put down your red pom-poms, dude.
Vecsey continues his worshipful piece this way:
To be sure, the Outdoor A Cappella Choir of the Right-Field Bleachers did come up with some vocal raspberries for the Red Sox and emit a flurry of boos when Papi was introduced in the starting lineup. But the response was nothing like the yowling vengeance-is-ours tone of e-mail messages from Yankee fans in recent weeks, celebrating the news about Ortiz. Maybe people who pay these prices psychologically check their anger at the gate, along with their water bottles. Or maybe it’s hard to hate Big Papi in person, when he presses the flesh....
Big Papi did hear some boos at 7:17 p.m. when he batted with two men on and two outs, but it pretty much died out before he dug in his spikes.
What game was Vecsey watching, exactly? The one on his "Faith Rewarded" Sox DVD or something? Because his description was as off the mark as his assertion about Yankee fans' emails about Ortiz in "recent weeks" is (it was one week, not multiple weeks.)
In an article entitled "David Ortiz can't hide from Bronx boobirds," Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald described that same scene this way:
When the Red Sox starting lineup was announced, it was as though everyone in the joint was waiting, just waiting, for one name.
And when that name was announced - Ortiz was the fifth hitter in the Red Sox order, behind Kevin Youkilis - the predictable long, droning chorus of boos commenced....
The booing he received during introductions turned out to be a mere appetizer for what happened in the first inning, when, with runners on first and second, two down, Ortiz came up to face Yankees starter Joba Chamberlain.
The booing started even before Ortiz’ name was announced, and it continued throughout the at-bat, which ended with a fly out to right. Ortiz finished the game 0-for-5 as the Red Sox lost, 13-6.
Let's see how the Boston Globe described last night's game:
Even before he emerged from the dugout to the on-deck circle in the first inning, fans in the right-field bleachers - the notoriously rowdiest section - chanted, “Papi sucks.’’
Once he walked to the plate and kicked dirt off of his spikes, the crowd hurled loud, extended boos at him.
One fan along the left-field foul line held up a white placard with a thick, black asterisk.
So much for Vecsey's assertion that the boos were not very vociferous, and "pretty much died out before he dug in his spikes," eh? It's one thing for him to have opinions - he's a columnist, after all, and having opinions about sports are pretty much his job description. It's another thing for him to ignore or minimize what really happened to Ortiz at last night's game in order to make his point that fans don't really care about cheating.
Heck, even the sportswriter's own paper contradicted his assertion. How embarrassing is that? From New York Times writer Jack Curry's description of last night's game:
In his previous piece on Ortiz, Vecsey asserted that the New York Times' partial ownership of the Red Sox did not affect the paper's coverage of the team. If we are to take his word for it that it doesn't, then it just means that Vecsey writes about the Red Sox like a gushing fanboy all on his own. Good grief.
When Ortiz’s name was announced in the first inning, he was heavily booed. One Yankees fan held up a sign that said, “Roid Sox,” and another waved a sign with an “asterisk” on it. There was another interesting scene as a man wearing an Alex Rodriguez jersey stood, cupped his hands around his mouth and aggressively booed Ortiz. Rodriguez acknowledged in February that he had used steroids.
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