Not that the Red Sox should worry that much about off-the-field problems. After all, they won the division last year, long after her affair with Boggs was made public and after manager John McNamara was fired and after catcher Rick Cerone and rightfielder Dwight Evans got into a shoving match in a Cleveland hotel. "I don't think controversy affects how a team performs on the field," says Cerone, a former Yankee, who has seen plenty of it in his 12-year major league career. One potentially sticky problem was solved on Feb. 21 when Greenwell, who had threatened to skip spring training, decided to end his 4½-hour walkout and sign a two-year contract for $1.75 million.
The Red Sox can also take heart from Boggs's ability to handle adversity. He won the 1986 batting title after his mother was killed in an auto accident that June. Last May 10, according to Boggs, Adams informed him that she wanted a settlement of $100,000 and threatened to send photographs and her travel itineraries to Boggs's wife, Debbie, if he withheld payment. Boggs's average at the time was .310. From then till the end of the season he hit .380, despite the growing publicity about the scandal that led to opposing fans chanting "MAR-go! MAR-go!" when he took the field. "This stuff didn't affect me last year, and it's not going to affect me this year," Boggs says. "When you step over those white lines, you've got a job to do. It's called being a professional."
Boggs has been the subject of trade rumors, but Gorman says he hasn't been given an ultimatum by owner Jean Yawkey to deal Boggs. "In 29 years in this business, I have never been with a club that traded a player because of personality problems," says Gorman. "Ball games aren't won in the clubhouse. In the last 71 years, there've been a lot of happy Red Sox teams, but they've never won a world championship."
Any trade the Bosox make involving Boggs would have to include a third baseman, since there is no one else in the organization ready to play third on a major league level. Boggs is also the best leadoff hitter in either league: He reached base 342 times last season, a total surpassed only by Babe Ruth (three times) and Ted Williams (twice). Boggs had a .476 on-base percentage, led the majors with 128 runs and made only 11 errors. Purely on the basis of performance, Boston would be crazy to deal him without a blockbuster package in return. And he is actively campaigning to stay. "I want to play here for 10 more years," he says. "When I'm 40, I'll retire, and I want to be in a Red Sox uniform."
Many Red Sox fans don't particularly care whether he finishes his career in Boston, regardless of his impressive numbers. Boggs is widely perceived by New Englanders as arrogant and selfish, and there's certainly nothing in the Penthouse article that will alter that perception. One of the few times he expressed contrition over the Adams affair, in an interview on Boston's WNEV-TV, he made the mistake of referring to a Geraldo Rivera show about oversexed people. Boggs said, "Geraldo had psychologists on there...and they were calling it a disease, and I feel that's exactly what happened; that a disease was overtaking Wade Boggs, and it just did for four years."
Boggs was ridiculed in the press for that admission, and by the time he arrived in Winter Haven, he was more callous than contrite. To hear him tell it, he slept like a baby last week, even with the release of the advance copies of the Penthouse article, which he said he still had not read. "My head hits the pillow, and I'm out," he said. "I'm not going to let this person destroy my world. You just have to be a strong person."
Boggs is certainly that. But he isn't an iceman all the time. "I've learned a lot in the last eight months," he says. "The best thing that ever happened to me was getting caught. It's made my marriage so much better. You realize, I could have thrown all this away for nothing. I remember when I first came home to Debbie and confessed the whole thing. I thought, This is it: Now she'll pack the bags and take the kids [he has two, Meagann, 10, and Brett Anthony, 2] back to Tampa. But the first thing out of her mouth was, 'No. We're going to fight this thing together.' I went, 'All right!' It was like a hundred tons was lifted off my back. Then the next thing she said was, 'Go out, get your 200 hits and win another batting title. But win it for me.' And that's what I did. Having the strength of my wife with me after having done something like that to her for four years made me realize, man, love is the strongest thing in the world."
Life goes on. Time heals. Those were two more expressions that were heard about 42 times each last week at the Red Sox training camp. It shouldn't take long before the actions of some other athlete—Steve Garvey, come on down! (page 9)—shifts the spotlight off Boggs, at which time the Red Sox will be able to go back to worrying about starting pitching and whether Rice will make a comeback. "One day all of this will blow over, and I can go out, have fun, hit a baseball and go on with my life," says Boggs. "I can go back to watching the news without seeing my face with some other woman. I can go back to finding out what else is happening in the world. That's the day I'm looking forward to."
That's the day we're all looking forward to.