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David Ortiz' Charade, Willie McGinest, and More by Doug Cutler Jr

By Patriots Blog Writer Doug Cutler Jr.

First, a word about David Ortiz and “The List”

Before everyone starts screaming that the Boston Red SoxWorld Series titles in 2004 and 2007 are tainted, let’s just be realistic and assume in this day and age no team is 100% clean. Not even in 2009. Exhibit A: The Los Angeles Dodgers and our old friend Manny Ramirez.

Having established that parameter, David Ortiz appears to be the poster child for the old adage “if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck…it’s most likely a duck.” The recent revelation that he is on the list of 104 players who flunked drug tests back in 2003 is just one more indicator that suggests something fishy was going on after he was acquired by the Red Sox in ’03.

Largely a mediocre player for six seasons with the Minnesota Twins, he underwent a dramatic, mesmerizing transformation almost instantly when he arrived in Boston. His home runs went up over 50% (20 in ’02 vs. 31 in ‘03) in the span of one season, more than doubled in two (41 in ’04), and nearly tripled in four (54 in ’06). The statistical evidence doesn’t stop there, either. In seasons with at least 50 at bats, he posted career bests in ’03 in the following categories: RBI, BA, OBP, Slugging, OPS, and total bases. If the nickname “The Microwave” wasn’t already taken by Vinnie Johnson from the Detroit Pistons’ Bad Boys era, Ortiz would certainly qualify for it. That’s offense in an instant.

Now, some will say the largest reason for the big increase in Ortiz’ production is a direct result of playing with the aforementioned Ramirez. Unwittingly, this is almost certainly true, and not just because of the lineup card or batting order. Apparently, Manny’s recent dabbling with banned substances (and subsequent 50 game suspension) isn’t limited to ’09, as his name was leaked along with Ortiz’ as being dirty in ’03.

Finally, Ortiz has attempted to diffuse the story by saying he was “blindsided” by the announcement that he was indeed on “The List.” This is a curious retort, given that we know the Major League Baseball Players Association notified all the players who failed that ’03 test after federal investigators took possession of the results. This means all 104 players who tested positive in ’03 knew they tested positive and they knew the feds knew about it.

Quack quack.

“The best I ever saw” (part ten of a series)

Our final installment of “the best I ever saw” highlights the best defensive lineman I’ve seen in a New England Patriots uniform. This player is Willie McGinest. Now, some folks may object to classifying McGinest as a lineman, but the fact of the matter is he did play on the defensive line for much of his career and even when he was a linebacker his responsibilities appeared to be largely the same.

Like cornerback Ty Law, McGinest was an integral part of the defensive core that former head coach Bill Parcells had assembled during the mid’ 1990s. This group of talented defenders, including Lawyer Milloy, Ted Johnson, and Tedy Bruschi, led up front by McGinest, helped the Patriots reach numerous championship games, the first of which was Super Bowl XXXI, where they lost to the Green Bay Packers 35-21. After that, all of those defensive stars were still key contributors when New England started its run of excellence that began with a victory in Super Bowl XXXVI over the St. Louis Rams.

Unquestionably, when McGinest was let go by New England in March of 2006, he departed as the best big-game defensive lineman in the history of the franchise. His 78 sacks are a team record for linemen and he holds NFL post-season records for a single game (4.5) and career (16).

My most memorable McGinest play hails from 2003 when the Patriots traveled to Indianapolis to take on the Peyton Manning and the Colts. Clinging to a slim 38-34 lead with just seconds to play, the Patriots held on to win the game when McGinest stopped running back Edgerrin James for a loss on fourth down as the Colts were attempting to score from the one yard line. After the tackle, McGinest raced in exultation across the field, celebrating both the tackle…and the important win.

Interesting statistic I’ll bet you didn’t know

Through 13 years of a sure-fire first ballot hall-of-fame career, LB Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens has 33.5 sacks, 28 interceptions, 12 forced fumbles, two TDs, and one Super Bowl appearance (a win).

Newly retired SS Rodney Harrison finished his career with 30.5 sacks, 34 interceptions, 15 forced fumbles, two TDs, and four Super Bowl appearances, winning two.

Answer to last week’s question:

Irving Fryar retired with 851 receptions, 12,785 yards, and 84 touchdowns, but no first team All-Pro appearances..

Question of the week:

Who were the starting linebackers on the Patriots’ first Super Bowl team in ’85?

(Answer will be provided next week)


  1. Good take on Ortiz. I'm still stunned Irving wasn't on any Pro-Bowl teams. That's just unreal.

    Good article, Doug.


  2. The Ortiz bit was right on the money...quack quack, and Willie was a very important part of those Patriot teams in the 90's for sure too! I like that stat on Ray n Rodney, great find!

    Umm...Blackman, Tippett, Veras?

  3. Good article Doug. Where the hell do you come up with these comparisons?

    Another interesting tidbit, newly inducted HOF'er Derrick Thomas in his first TWO seasons had

    30 sacks and 9 forced fumbles. Only 31 games. :-)