David Ortiz ultimately brings all of this on himself.
One might think the Red Sox slugger would welcome the "free pass" he's received from Major League Baseball regarding his alleged past use of performing-enhancing drugs. He's never been suspended, never had to face the wrath of opposing fan bases after clearing his name, just like he promised that he would do when it was discovered that his name was attached to the 2003 list of positive tests almost five years ago.
Oh. Wait. He didn't.
Yes, Ortiz is still ranting and raving any time his name comes up in the dirty past he, his colleagues, his union, and Major League Baseball all created for themselves. The designated hitter's name came up during a discussion on MLB Network Monday regarding John Lackey's comments about Orioles slugger Nelson Cruz on Saturday. Cruz, who was suspended 50 games by the league last season, torched Lackey and Red Sox pitching (he was 8-for-15 in the series) over the weekend much like he's done to the rest of baseball all season.
“You guys forget pretty conveniently about stuff," Lackey said, the impetus for why we're re-hashing all this in the first place, because those words, of course, prompted Baltimore manager Buck Showalter to respond.
“Sometimes we need to check our own backyard before talking about someone else’s,” he said.
As Ortiz told WEEI.com, he was angry about the nature of the talk on MLB Network Monday afternoon discussing the controversy, specifically when the host, whose name he couldn’t remember, on a show’s name he couldn’t recall (gee, where have we heard this before?) suggested the slugger has received a free pass for his positive test in 2003. Maybe Ortiz should be OK with the wink-wink submission about his steroid use, based on all he’s accomplished and gotten away with. Perhaps he should just roll his eyes and let it go. Perhaps.
“What pisses me off is the whole thing about, why does my name got to be mentioned in that? What did I have to do with that? I saw on MLB the guys talking about it, and then they brought my name up, and one of the guys said that I got a free pass on that,” he told WEEI.com. “It was the Lackey and Showalter thing, going back and forth. Showalter didn’t say anything about me.”
No. No, he didn’t. I’m sure he was referring to Jonathan Herrera.
“But then, when they are commenting about what Showalter said, they brought my name up,” Ortiz said. “Then one of the guys wanted to say that I got a free pass. And to be honest with you, in this country, nobody gets a free pass. He wants to make it sound like I got a free pass because nobody can point fingers at me directly. But the reason why I got that fake [expletive] free pass that he’s saying is because they pointed fingers at me with no proof. It’s easier to do it that way than having something that they can say, ‘Yes, you did this, you did that.’ My [expletive], I call straight up bull. Let me tell you. You don’t get no free pass here, especially a guy like me. I don’t get no free pass. That free pass B.S. that they want to talk about over there, they can shove it up their [expletive].
“That’s reality. You don’t use the words that I get a free pass. You don’t get a free pass on this. MLB don’t play that B.S. MLB don’t play that. There’s a reason why I’ve been drug-tested like eight times and we’re not even at the break. Is that a free pass? There’s a reason why I’ve been tested like 40 times since they approved the policy, the drug policy. Is that a free pass? They can get that free pass and shove it up their [expletive].”
No player from that aforementioned list has had a more productive career of the names leaked than Ortiz, who has always been coddled and protected by his own team, the league, and an adoring fan base, even if many of them have yet to take their heads out of the sand regarding the issue. But David Arias Ortiz tested positive for a substance 11 years ago, albeit in a process that was supposed to be confidential. He's won three World Series and become a Boston legend since. The Red Sox bow to his every whim. He's treated like the Pope in the city that helped rescue him from Minnesota obscurity.
He's earned every accolade.
But regarding the steroid thing? He has unequivocally received a free pass. Sorry, big lug.
When it was announced on July 30, 2009, that Ortiz was a part of the infamous 2003 list of players, the slugger sounded like a knight on a mission to slay all the untruths.
“Based on whatever I learn, I will share this information with my club and the public,” he said in a statement that day. “You know me - I will not hide and I will not make excuses.’’
In its 2009 report, the New York Times did not specify the drug Ortiz used or when in 2003 the test occurred. The report was attributed to disclosures of lawyers familiar with the list of 100 players – including Manny Ramirez, Sammy Sosa, and Alex Rodriguez - who tested positive on a list that was sealed by court order.
“It was very upsetting to me,” Ortiz told the Boston Globe in the wake of the revelation. ”I’ve worked hard to become a dangerous hitter. To have anyone question that . . . they’ve been testing for steroids since when, 2003, 2004? Well, I’ve been hitting home runs way before that and a lot since, and my body is still the same. I don’t look different.’’
Ortiz hit 58 home runs over his six seasons in the majors with the Twins, an average of 9.7 per year. Since 2003, he has hit 392 home runs over 12 seasons with the Red Sox, an average of 32.7 per year.
"It's frustrating, but I'm trying to get to the bottom of this. I think about it every day," he said five days after the story broke in 2009, again promising that he would share any information, including what was in his system, with the Red Sox and the public.
We’ve heard nothing.
Let’s face it, if Ortiz had some way to clear his name, wouldn’t he have done it by now? If he were indeed as irate as he made us to believe when his name was linked to the list, shouldn’t he have gone through some sort of process to clear his name? Instead, we’re treated to periodical tantrums when the subject is broached; a man livid about accusations that he’s done nothing to help disappear.
Rodriguez is a baseball pariah. Ramirez saw his major league career cut short due to the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Sosa, who contributed to one of the most exciting, yet fabricated, chases in baseball history, is a punch line. David Segui, Larry Bigbie, and Jason Grimsley, the other names we know were on the list of 104 positive tests, are all afterthoughts.
But David Ortiz doesn’t think he’s getting a free pass? There are plenty of players in other back yards who would greatly beg to differ.
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