Ortiz Took Steroids: No Duh
Honestly, how can people still be surprised? In 2002, David Ortiz hit 20 home runs in 466 at bats, or approximately once every 23 AB’s. Two years later he improved that ratio to once every 16 AB’s, then two years after that he jumped again to a homer every 12.7 at bats. That DOESN’T happen, folks. Or rather, it does happen, but only when you’re cheating. This was a player who was ineffective enough to get released, then three years later came in second in MVP voting. A guy who, despite never playing in the field, has experienced debilitating knee and wrist weakness and an unexplained heart “issue” that required hospitalization, all before turning 34. If there’s a poster boy for obvious steroid use, assuming Barry Bonds’ skull has grown so large that it can no longer fit on a poster, it’s David Ortiz. Yet people were still surprised. Look – his nickname is Big Papi, but it should probably be Big* Papi, because who knows how large he’d actually be without the juice. And you know what I say about all this? About the figurehead of my favorite team, the leader of the greatest World Series run in the history of baseball (yeah, I said it) that made life worth living again, taking steroids? I say, “so what?”.
EVERYONE was cheating. I don’t understand why we don’t know this already. If your favorite player falls in the category of
“everyone”, and has hit 40 home runs at some point in the last 20 years, chances are he was on steroids. Having talked to several people who work in the baseball industry, their reaction is always the same after leaving a baseball lockerroom: “they’re all on something.” Yet the media was outraged after Jason Giambi was revealed as a user. And again after Rafael Palmeiro was discovered, then Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez. And now David Ortiz is tainted and once again they’re shocked and chagrined. WHY?!? The pattern has been established already, guys. It’s like screaming in fear when Freddy Krueger jumps out from a shadowy hallway — it makes sense the first time, but if Freddy jumps out of that exact same hallway forty more times in a row, you should probably stop being so alarmed. And I truly believe the fans have. You don’t hear the outcry from them. There’s a momentary disappointment, a brief “oh, that’s a bummer”, then they move on. Minutes before the Red Sox met the A’s yesterday afternoon, news broke that Big Papi was on the dreaded list of 100 users. Reporters rallied, ESPN decried, but the fans stood strong. Ortiz received tepid applause in his first few at bats, but then, after hitting a go-ahead homer in the 7th, Fenway went crazy. They demanding a curtain call from the man everyone else decided was a humiliated pariah. I guess they forgot to tell the fans.
Steroids change nothing. Players who were despised — ARod, Bonds, Clemens — are still despised. Critics have a new point of attack, but I don’t think their intensity has increased. Players who were beloved — Ortiz, Manny, Pettite, Giambi — are still near and dear to the fans’ hearts. Maybe there was an ugly few weeks around the breaking news, but people bounce back. Because
fans understand what it seems reporters can not – this stuff was pervasive, it was integral to the times, and unless you want to give up baseball altogether, you’ve got to accept it. To the Yankee fans who think Boston’s two recent championships are now forever debased, sorry. Sure, the Red Sox were cheating, but so were the Yankees. Giambi, ARod, Sheffield, Clemens, Pettite — hell I wouldn’t be surprised if Zimmer was firing a little andro into his rear end. Again, EVERYONE cheated. Unless you want to throw out every World Series from 1995-2010, you’ve got to accept the results. There were no clean teams – so the winners have to stand. Plus, losing a 3-0 series lead even while you cheat really isn’t anything to brag about.
Hopefully now MLB will move on. Maybe they’ll realize the dribbling out of names is water torture, release the cheaters in their files, and get all the faux outrage out of the media’s system. Because what’s clear now is America loves its baseball, and no matter how many of our heroes are tainted, that love will go on. So get it over with baseball, and let us get back to the game.