With Barry Bonds’ girlfriend detailing the physical changes effected by steroids in recent weeks, one wonders about the choice. The first image is of a desperate ballplayer, reaching his late thirties, feeling the natural decline.I imagine Ali fighting Larry Holmes. Let me rephrase: I remember the aged Ali as Holmes’ punching bag, the brutality of unanswered punches.The other story of that beating is that one of Ali’s doctors prescribed “diet” pills for him. The drugs in question made him sluggish. And pathetic. As a young boxing fan, I hadn’t been filled with quite that much sorrow before.
My sorrow today is lighter but wider. It has more to do with the game of baseball than it does with one player. The loss is about the Red Sox, its history and its players, specifically those who played alongside Manny, who are at a loss for words. There were some of us who were baffled by Manny but still kept our affections. There were a few of us who were hopeful for the revival of the Idiots, even if they were in Tampa. One segment on the MLB Network during Spring Training showed him working as hard as any ballplayer could and losing more than twenty pounds, not to mention making major adjustments to his stride to avoid hamstring problems. Painful work.Now the pain is ours.Ortiz compassionately summed it up: “It’s sad.”
But baseball has redemption built into the stats. It has time, which makes the grass sturdy and green..In a few hours the Sox will take the field again, afresh from a laser show and good, old hometown glory.