Nomar Feels for Papi

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Nomar Feels for Papi David Ortiz tested positive. As one NESN producer (and dedicated Red Sox fan) put it when the New York Times story broke, I suppose you’re now going to tell me there’s no Santa Claus.

Well, about that … (What, too soon?)

As Papi took his curtain call after one more clutch three-run homer that rallied the Red Sox to a win on Thursday over the A’s, it was hard not to wince.

For you knew it was just a brief respite from the inevitable pain that waited inside the Red Sox cluubhouse. There are questions that Ortiz now must answer, and he assured the assembled media that he will. In due time.

But first, Ortiz had to figure out how his name wound up on the list in the first place. His former Red Sox teammate Nomar Garciaparra would like to know, too.

On the other side of Fenway Park — banished to the cramped visitors clubhouse — Nomar turned to face a modest group of reporters. And none of us were there for the small talk.

Assuming you heard Papi is reportedly on the list, Nomar?

“It’s so hard to understand. I mean, what is that list? That list has got to become an absolute joke by now,” said a chatty Garciaparra. “I think that’s just a crock. How can you believe the list? It’s kind of unfortunate, when you have the list like that and it doesn’t even go through the proper channels. What is the truth about something like that? It’s unfair to guys, and even if they release the entire list, what’s to believe because the whole thing wasn't just screwed up to begin with.”

In case you didn’t quite pick up what the former Red Sox shortstop was putting down, he’s a little skeptical of the list.

Honestly, I found myself somewhat stunned at his candor. Maybe even a little curious, considering the rumors that have always surrounded Nomar and steroids. C’mon. You know you’ve heard them.

For the record, Nomar twice maintained he was clean during this interview.

“The way I approach this game, you’ve got to be able to look yourself in the mirror,” said Garciaparra, whose minutes-long rant mostly attacked the fact that the supposedly anonymous list of 104 positive tests is slowly leaking out.

“I don’t agree with people taking them at all by any means, but until a guy admits it, do you really even know what is true and what’s not? You’ve got guys who are taking regular supplements at GNC and getting 50-game suspensions. That’s unfortunate. There’s a big difference between being a cheater and [being] irresponsible and we seem to put the same label on people.”

At this point I asked Nomar if, in agreeing to anonymous testing back in 2003, players were given the impression that the results (and, most importantly, the names) would be destroyed.

Absolutely.

He suggested that some players just skipped tests, marking themselves down for automatic positives, because they wanted to drive up the number of positive tests to ensure baseball would begin mandatory testing.

“There was supposed to be just a number," he said. "I knew guys who didn’t take the test just to be positive because they wanted testing. Are those guys on the list? I don’t know, there are literally guys who said, ‘I’m not taking it, go ahead and put me on there because I want the number to be above [5 percent]. If those guys are on the list, how about that? People don’t talk about that.”

Interesting, at the very least.

While I certainly don’t condone players using performance-enhancing drugs, even by (ahem) accident, it’s hard not to feel for them on some human level with regard to “The List” of 104 positive tests. We were never supposed to know the names — that was part of the deal.

Now, some players like Nomar would call that a raw deal.

Of course, none of that will stop the bleeding. Even if it was just a tainted protein shake — and a look at the spike in stats around the time in question suggests otherwise — with David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez on that list of positive tests, those Red Sox teams (including the 2004 World Champs) will inevitably lose their luster.

Talk about a raw deal.

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