Will Yankee Stadium Be Extra Booey Toward David Ortiz?

Slugger makes first visit since report of steroid use broke

By Josh Alper
|  Thursday, Aug 6, 2009  |  Updated 9:43 AM EDT
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Yankees-Red Sox: A Rivalry in Pictures

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Knocking the smile off Ortiz's face hasn't been anyone's priority.

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It's all well and good to talk about how the Yankees are due or how the Red Sox have their number, but the fact of the matter is that there's ample evidence to support both sides. Thirty-six innings (maybe more!) of baseball will give us a pretty clear idea of who stands where at the top of the stretch run.

That doesn't mean there aren't things to watch for on Thursday night in the Bronx. How will Yankee fans respond to David Ortiz's first visit since being outed as an alleged steroid user, for example?

Alex Belth of Bronx Banter points out how odd it is that Ortiz has been given so much more space to "figure out" what caused his positive test in 2003. That pseudo-O.J. searching for the real killers line has been respected by the media and fans, the same media and fans that gleefully pounced on Alex Rodriguez this winter when he was first accused of failing that same drug test. No awkward interviews, no awkward press conferences and pained mea culpas for Ortiz, just business as usual.

What does that tell us? It tells us that Barry Bonds, A-Rod and other villains should have been nicer to the reporters who covered them. That's who drive these stories, and the hands-off policy on Ortiz makes it pretty clear that they pick and choose who is deserving of public scorn and ridicule. Ortiz is a good quote and friendly chap, and, like Jason Giambi before him, gets the free pass as a result.

Will Yankee Stadium be the place that free pass goes to die? Not too likely. There may be some Yankee fans gloating at the outing of a Red Sox star after years of hearing Boston fans give them grief for the Yankees' steroid history, but that's just the flip side of the inane notion that there were any clean teams in baseball's "bad old days." It's not, in other words, something worth celebrating.

Ortiz will get booded, but he'd get booed if he discovered a cure for male pattern baldness or if he adopted a cute, cuddly kitten at home plate before his first at-bat. Steroids won't have anything to do with it, not for the vast majority of the people who will stand and cheer A-Rod during the same game, and don't believe anyone who tells you otherwise.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.

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