After Boston’s David Ortiz hit a game tying grand slam against Detroit in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, I felt a sense of emptiness. My New York roots have naturally instilled hatred for New England sports teams, but I sat motionless as Ortiz’s spent two minutes showboating as he rounded the bases. Ortiz’s dramatic hit propelled Boston to an eventual 6-5 victory, evening the Championship Series at one-all. After the game, Ortiz was championed as Boston’s saving grace and as a ‘post-season phenomenon’.
Heaps upon heaps of praises were directed towards the affable, larger than life ‘Big Papi’. Lost in the pomp and circumstance, many forget that Ortiz (and Alex Rodriguez) were cited on a 2003 survey, which was conducted by MLB, that profiled players that failed tests for performance enhancing drugs. Fifteen hundred miles away in Miami, Rodriguez is probably wondering why Ortiz is so beloved while he has become baseball’s ‘Darth Vader’.
The results of MLB’s 2003 survey, which was initially deemed anonymous, did not leak until a February 2009 report was released by Sports Illustrated. Sports Illustrated’s report released the names of 104 players that tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. Many prominent players were listed in the report, but Rodriguez, who is baseball’s highest paid player, garnered nearly all of the attention. Boston’s Ortiz, whose ‘roller coaster-like’ career profiles as someone who may have used performance enhancing drugs, received little to no attention. The lack of accountability for Ortiz, who finished Top 5 in American League MVP voting during his first five years (2003-2007) in Boston, was preposterous.
Ortiz and Rodriguez chose to handle the allegations in two very different ways. To this day, Ortiz vehemently denies ever using performance enhancing drugs. Rodriguez opted to have a candid interview with ESPN’s Peter Gammons to discuss the situation and admit his mistakes. Rodriguez did what no others did and showed some guts by admitting use of performance enhancing drugs from 2001 through 2003. America tends to be a very forgiving country for those that admit and own up to their mistakes—unless your nickname is ‘A-Rod’. Rodriguez has been tormented and harassed by not only opposing fans, but by Yankee fans when he fails to deliver a big play. Even MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, who looked past rampant steroid use in the late 1990s, is on a witch hunt to ruin Rodriguez. In Rodriguez’s case, the truth does not set you free.
Rodriguez is doing everything in his power to once again cleanse his name and get back to playing the game he loves. Rodriguez has hired some of the country’s best attorneys and has appealed a wrongful, nearly illegal 211-game suspension levied by MLB. In addition, Rodriguez sued MLB and Selig for defamation of character through various media leaks to pressure him to capitulate. Many forget that Rodriguez has not failed a sanctioned drug test and MLB is trying to bring him down through testimony, here say, and ‘dirty’ witnesses. Funny how Selig and MLB are not hawking down the other 103 players, including David Ortiz, that were listed in Sports Illustrated’s report.
We’ll never know whether Rodriguez is guilty of using performance enhancing drugs beyond 2003. After years of turning the blind eye to performance enhancing drug use, Selig and MLB will attempt to bring down Rodriguez without the aid of a sanctioned, positive drug test. Ortiz, on the other hand, will showboat, laugh, and deny his usage of performance enhancing drugs as Boston attempts to capture its third World Series in the last ten years. Don’t expect any candid interviews from Ortiz regarding performance enhancing drugs. When it comes to baseball and steroids, A-Rod has shown us that honesty is not the best policy and the truth does not set you free..