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Eyes wide shut

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  July 13, 2010 08:25 AM

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So, this doesn't make anyone else a bit nauseous?

No?

I'm not talking about the spectacle of watching Red Sox slugger David Ortiz win last night's Home Run Derby, Major League Baseball's now-tired link to a scandalous past it's trying to escape, though there is a certain measure of that. But how is this to display just how "Big Papi" is coddled by the media, to the point where you have to wonder if we all just work for ESPN these days.

Google news search "David Ortiz." Almost 6,000 results.

Google news search "David Ortiz performance-enhancing drugs." 21.

Twenty-one.

We're quickly approaching the one-year anniversary of discovering Oritz's name was on "the list," and yet the day after he wins baseball's most over-hyped event with a ridiculous 32 home runs, nary a writer even utters the taboo "performance-enhancing" in his or her recap.

That's not to say that Ortiz taking the Home Run Derby was cause to conclude that he's back on the juice, for few things could be more irresponsible than that. However, not bringing up the subject, just weeks prior to the date that we discovered last year his name was linked to performance-enhancing drugs, and on the night that his rediscovered power became the star of the show reeks of irresponsibility.

Since the franchise's edict last summer that company policy said Ortiz was innocent (as reported in Howard Bryant's standout piece from earlier this year), nary a media member has been willing to broach the subject. As Dan Shaughnessy commented in the Bryant piece, Red Sox owner John Henry hadn't spoken to him since the Globe columnist called Ortiz dirty. And today we find out that Ortiz doesn't simply want his $12.5 million extension for 2011 picked up by the club, he wants an extension. Based on his Mickey Rourke-like Renaissance from April to May, it seems like the right time to bring that up. Convenience being timing and all.

I'm sure this is the point we can expect the media to champion for three more years of Ortiz, who clearly is the guy he was from 2003-2006 again, and not the aging slugger we witnessed from 2008 until three months ago. This was the guy many Red Sox fans admitted the club should explore releasing just a few weeks ago (and it was fans too, not just media, revisionist historians). But Ortiz has added to his legend with a bounce back few expected, culminating with last night's pointless Home Run Derby title.

It's gotten to the point where you can't even criticize Ortiz's hot sauce (which may have Ortiz into hot water on its own, with Jay-Z channeling John Locke and finding a loophole in his inane lawsuit) without Red Sox management slapping you on the wrist. Most notably, there was the NESN poll earlier this season that asked if the Red Sox should bench David Ortiz. After Tom Werner got through with the poor producer who was simply asking the question everyone was wondering, we had a whole new level of Papi protection, for the message was clear: Ortiz is a guy the club will bend over backwards, at any cost, to protect because of his overall importance in the history of the franchise.

Meanwhile, Jacoby, the wolves den is over there. Here's the key.

And so, a year after Ortiz told you he would get back to you, we have no further knowledge as to why he's been lumped in with Manny Ramirez, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, and countless others, not that it matters to fervent Boston fans. Still, you think if A-Rod participated and won last night's Derby that Red Sox fans wouldn't call into question his past transgressions? There's a blinder eye when it comes to Ortiz on all sides. And after last night, it seems permanently closed.

He wants an extension. But he still won't explain to you why he was on that list.

And apparently, those that cover the game are just fine with that.

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

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