Jesus Christ, those aren't bats, they're goddamn SYRINGES! (SawxBlog Illustration - Z.Trainor)
The year was 2003, and me and a terror called Manny Ramirez were causing a raucous muck in the Boston Red Sox clubhouse. These were high times in all sense of the pun, and we were prowling the lions den enjoying the view as we ascended to the top. I had seized control of the clubhouse radio sometime around three, and a steady stream of salsa and merengue had been blaring from the Bose speakers as a result. Trot Nixon was not thrilled with these facts, but they were facts he soon accepted. Manny was sitting in his back corner with a gravity bong and collection of colored pills that would make a package of skittles appear bland in hue. He had been giggling a lot over the past two hours mumbling absolute gibberish and saying "man" with every other word. I was discovering at an accelerated rate that Ramirez was like no other Dominican I've ever met. He was my Gehrig, and I his Ruth, a dynamic duo to be revered and remembered through all ages.
We were truculent in a magnanimous way with our attack at the plate, and we often left the opposing pitchers soiled and trembling on the mound, with tears swelling in their sullen eyes. For September 5th, the air still felt a whole lot like August, however the mugginess worked as a shot in the arm, and I was expecting good things for both Manny and I on that NY night. I was turgid in my dress per usual and my bedazzled blazer was giving me a pure feeling of invincibility. Well, maybe the pills had something to do with it, or even the HGH I took in a bit ago, but either way, I was fairly certain that walking atop of water was an overrated skill.
Often times the clubhouse can feel like a menagerie as you wait to please the throngs of cranks waiting in the stands. Through my entire career there’s been constant pressure to throw harder, run faster, and hit farther. If you don’t appease the bosses then you swiftly fall into obscurity and manual labor, or even worse, a nine-to-five office job, that awaits you from here to eternity. And if you’re from the Dominican, forget about it, your life can be over by seventeen. It’s not like you’re one of these rich blond-haired California boys who can go to college and then work their way to middle management. You’re lucky if you make it to the eighth grade before the academies come calling and pull you out of school. All sponsored by Major League Baseball of course.
Then when you finally make it to the big show the pressure to perform gains a lazer-like intensity that bores on your soul like a greedy off-shore drilling outfit. The Roman gladiators had it easy though man, they’d only have two minutes of pure terror before being eaten alive, with a pain that was finite. The modern day ballplayer has to deal with bull shit like bloggers, sports writers and washed-up talking heads. If we don’t do well in contract years a career’s worth of money flames up in the pyre, as you watch your grandchildren's future drift solemnly into the Atlantic. I mean, after the year I’m having I see a treasure trove of fortune now lying in front of me. Simply put my kids are all set, and their kids won’t ever have to worry about food like I did when younger. I equate my story to that of Trimalchio, the freedman who through hard work and perseverance attained both power and wealth. Money, Power, and Respect. That’s what it’s all about right?
So what if I’m taking some shots and pills to secure the future of my family. I didn’t create me, the bosses did. There’s always going to be crazy characters like Manny, who by the way was doing bangers at Centerfolds with Tim Kurkjian until 4am last night. But I’m seriously one of the good guys, it’s as plain as a white T-Shirt. Shit, every other dude I know in this league is pumping himself full of some sort of crap to gain an edge. I know for a fact that Hillenbrand, Garciaparra, Walker, and Damon use the juice, so why not me? That’s my competition man, and I don’t want to work no office job that’s for damn sure. Basically what it comes down to is there’s no repercussions. The owners don’t give a shit. Fill them stands. The managers could give a crap. Win those games. And the fans may be the dumbest of all. Hit them homers. Plus no-one’s ever gonna find out about any of this, it’s anonymous after-all. Unless you’re a NY lawyer, then all bets are off, can’t trust those dudes. Oh shit, Manny’s giving Merloni another swirly, I better go.