General Red Sox Steroids

Personal Thoughts

I admit to having some mixed emotions about the outing of Ortiz. My first reaction was one of immense sadness, in part for the illusion that perhaps the man most responsible for ending the 86-year championship drought was really clean, despite all the skepticism surrounding that idea, and in part for Ortiz himself, who is by all accounts a wonderful person who is now going to experience some of the worst few days of his life.

My second reaction, however, is a deep and resounding apathy.

This is going to sound convenient, coming as it does now, but my ambivalence on steroids and PEDs has really grown over the course of the last year.

I think a lot of it has to do with the outraged moralization from the sportswriters. It's so over the top that my natural reaction has been to push against it. A lot of it also has to do with the fact that PEDs have been used and abused in baseball since the early 1900s, leading me to believe that there really is no "PED Era," except insofar as the specific type of PEDs has changed over time. And this has provided me a measure of peace in the fact that this is how it has always been, and probably, to some extent, how it will always be. The records, the HOFers, the great players — they were still great, both in the context of their era and throughout history.

Would I have enjoyed David Ortiz beating the Yankees in 2004 any more if he had been clean (and maybe he was, for all we know)? No. I still cherish those memories, and I always will. Do I root against A-Rod any harder now because he's a steroid user? No. Others might answer "yes" to these questions, and they are likely a good deal sadder today than I.

Ultimately, this sport is something we use to entertain ourselves, divert our minds from the cares and worries of the world. Why do we insist on turning it into something else to worry about? I'm going to enjoy the game, and acknowledge that it's played by flawed humans who do not live up to our hopes and dreams for them.

If I were at Fenway Park today, I would stand and cheer when David Ortiz's name was announced for the first time. This revelation does not change who he is. It does not change what he did.

34 replies on “Personal Thoughts”

This revelation does not change who he is. It does not change what he did.
I applaud your willingness to work through your feelings publicly. This can’t be easy and I’m truly sorry for that.
That said, this quote shows best your conflict. The players are who the media projects them to be. But in reality they’re all flawed – one as much as as the next. If you ever detested Manny or A-Rod, Papi is just a culpable. He just did a better job of being nice to the press.

He just did a better job of being nice to the press.
While treatment of the press goes a long way toward how an athlete is portrayed, that’s a vast oversimplification. Is A-Rod not well liked because he’s not good with the press? Or is it because of his own words and actions over the course of his career? Some of the press reaction undoubtedly didn’t help, but the press didn’t make A-Rod slap Arroyo’s glove, yell whatever he yelled behind the Toronto third baseman, cheat on his wife, or display incredibly narcissistic behavior on a regular basis.
Manny was loved in Boston despite the efforts of the press. He is not liked now because of his own actions — forcing his way out of Boston to get more money on the free agent market by making it clear he would be “injured” during a pennant race.
So, yes, Ortiz’s image is in large portion a result of press portrayal, but it also is not contradicted by any of his own actions, nor the testimony of his teammates and opponents (also a stark contrast to those other two).

Why do we insist on turning it into something else to worry about? I’m going to enjoy the game, and acknowledge that it’s played by flawed humans who do not live up to our hopes and dreams for them.
I’m going to try to adopt this attitude. Well said Paul.

Ortiz was never someone to put on a pedestal, and the apathy you might feel is just exhaustion brought on by the never ending story of PED’s.
Face it, Boston is just as dirty as everyone else, and Yes, the rings are tainted – forever.

Here’s a question: do the players on the list all know they tested positive? Were they informed? I ask because I genuinely don’t know.
If so, I would like to see players start proactively coming forward and admitting as such.

But yet you’re pushing the story about how Manny pushed/faked his way out of town. Why didn’t they pick up his option or agree they’d decline them? They left him hanging. He had a problem with that and they did nothing to resolve it. The press fed the story you’re pushing directly to the fans and unfiltered. It was team propaganda.
You might have a point on what other players think of each, but I have no idea of knowing who these players really are. Them cheating on their wives is, of course, irrelevant. As is, the rags reporting on it (even as they usually cover up that behavior). You really think you can say Papi never cheated on his wife? He cheated the fans and the game, why should his wife be any different?
See, you’re still buying the image you’ve been fed, enough to give him a standing ovation for being a liar and a cheat.
I’m going to let this go now. I’m really sorry you guys are having to deal with this. For me, it’s would be the equivalent of Jeter or O’Neill or Mo from the dynasty. Awful news. After the thrill of 2004, you deserve so much better.

Yes, Ath, they were informed.
Jon Heyman, for one, is using Ortiz’s spring training comments about A-Rod to push the “Hypocrite!!” meme. I view them differently. I remember reading them and thinking, “This sounds like a man who knows his name is on the list.” And I remember posting here, criticizing the reporters for not asking him straight out if his name was on there.
Here are Ortiz’s A-Rod comments.

Yes, Atheose. They were all informed. But they were also informed it would be kept secret. A-Rod was the hole in the dike. And because the government has had the list (because MLB failed to cover it up/destroy it) there’s little anyone can do to put Pandora back away. The Times report says the government is trying to interview everyone on that list. It’s only a matter of time before all the names come out.

Yes, the rings are tainted – forever.
The rings are tainted in the minds of those who choose to taint them. I choose not to taint the rings of any team — because then I would have to consider the rings of basically every World Series winner in the history of baseball tainted. Sorry, life’s too short for that amount of moralizing.

“the rings are tainted”
So, like, all of them by any team ever you mean, right?

I missed that from Ortiz, Paul. I beleive even now more than ever that this knowledge, after A-Rod, made him a .700 OPS hitter rather than a .800 OPS hitter.
To maybe distract you a bit, I’ll continue another disagreement:
Ortiz reiterated his belief that the Red Sox need another power bat. He said both Terry Francona and Theo Epstein asked his opinion and he answered them honestly.

Don’t feed the trolls. I laugh at NoMaas, and they’re proven right, but you guys are better than that.
That said, YFs be very careful. You never know when another shoe will drop.

David Ortiz boo’ed in the on-deck circle, not by many people but enough that it’s audible. Color analysts still not talking about it.

Laugh at me, but I really feel like crying. I really do. I hated the outcome of 2004, but it was thrilling baseball. I am really sad.
Of course, I have no doubt that Luis Gonzalez was using too. And that was the most thrilling series of my life. Do I have to question Tino? Or Brosius?
When will this nightmare end?

I am pissed. He should have come clean when the first hubbub started. He knew he tested positive, so why not just come out with it?
I am not surprised by this, and my anger isn’t really going to linger: we’re well into the coping phase of this sports sadness. But still, I am constantly surprised (call me naive) by the stupidity of players with regards to how they handle, continue to handle, this issue. Come clean (and not “my cousin gave me these” clean!). Rip the band aid off. Fess up. At least we can respect the honesty, and begin to forget the indignity of this process.
Papi owes it to the Sox fans, who believed in him, who still believe in him.

“This revelation does not change who he is. It does not change what he did.”
Paul I respect everything you have done both here and outside this sight, so this is tough for me to say and please don’t take this statement as combative or rude…but you can’t be serious?
It 100% changes who he is. He’s a cheater. He was a good/average player before he came to Red Sox in 2003 and magically he turned into one of the best players in the game. Just like everything Alex has done is tainted, everything Papi has done will be tainted as well. It also changes how you view what he has done. Before this revelation it was believed that this hard working guy finally learned how to hit the inside fastball and work through his weaknesses to become one of the games more feared hitters. Today, all of that goes down the toilet. He’s a cheater, just like Alex. Root for him, support him, but applaud him? For what? We all make mistakes, just ask Bill Clinton, but that doesn’t mean we need to stand up and applaud them. Tolerate yes, applaud no.

Another thing that shouldnt be lost here is that Manny was on this list too meaning that he knew he was caught and CONTINUED to cheat. There were a few (not all) here who tried the “he got caught on the dodgers” defense and pushed that he started juicing there. Manny was a central part of the team’s success for many years even prior to the WS wins.

I have to wonder why Ortiz would make the comments he did about banning players for a year if he indeed had tested postive (btw, is this confirmed yet?). I mean, he had to know it would come out at some point.
There’s a tiny space buried away that hasn’t become hardened and cynical yet, and maybe it’ll believe Papi innocent until proven guilty. The rest of me just heaves a big sigh and a shrug.

Paul, can you clarify? Would you applaud as you normally would, or would you applaud because of the revelations and in deference to Papi’s accomplishments.
The former I can understand. The latter I simply cannot. I see no reason to applaud Ortiz today, for any reason other than a solid base hit.

It 100% changes who he is.
John, I also have much respect for you and all you do for the game of baseball. I understand what you’re saying, and two years ago, I probably would have agreed with you. Did Ortiz cheat? Yes. Did Ortiz lie? Probably. But this test is from 2003. Whoever Ortiz is, whatever Ortiz did, the David Ortiz who defeated the Yankees in 2004 and shattered records in 2006 is still that person. Just because we know more about him doesn’t mean he’s a different person.
His feats on the field were enough to make me stand and applaud for him every time I saw him in person. Why should I change now? Because I found out he’s imperfect? I have made enough mistakes in my life to be quite reluctant to extend my judgment to others’.

Well, If anything good comes from all this, it’s that it will be much easier for the Red Sox front office to start pushing Papi onto the back burner/bench player and give other players the opportunity to play that position when they’re hurt.
I have officially given up on believing in any player whatsoever. There isn’t a player in baseball that would surprise me at this point. Not one.

Respectfully Paul (really), I don’t think giving someone a standing ovation the day that their cheating has been exposed as exemplary of not moralizing and not passing judgment. Sitting silently while a player bats would be. Once you either boo or cheer I believe you are very much passing judgement – it’s just a question of whther the judgment is “well done, keep it up” or “I totally disapprove”.

“This is what generations from now will be discussing when they look at this era. We may not wish that were true, but it is. That’s not being held captive. It’s living, and coming to terms with the biggest story in baseball for the last 15 years. We do ourselves and the sport a disservice by simply wishing it away.” Posted by: Paul SF | Sunday, February 08, 2009 at 04:15 PM
I think you have changed your tune a bit Paul now that its Ortiz that has been outed not A-Rod.

It is of course true that nothing can change what a person did in the literal sense. It is not as if revelations of drug use mean that Ortiz (or A-Rod) suddenly did not hit a particular HR, get a particular game-winning RBI, or whatever. But revelations about cheating inarguably change the legitimacy of those acts and should change everyone’s perception of them. Don’t anyone try to tell me that you view Bonds’ HR total as equally legitimate to Aaron’s.
And I’m sorry AG, but to say that only bloggers and journalists care is – in my personal view – ridiculous. Just because a lot of hometown fans can’t get past their fandom and so continue to cheer a cheater (or cheer him even more enthusiatically) while rival fans can’t get past their fandom so they choose to boo all the louder (though they follow a different tack with their own exposed cheaters) does not make it irrelevant that people cheat nor make any fan’s expresed disillusionment with that cheating somehow an example of over-the-top moral grandstanding.
Do I believe or even suspect that Derek Jeter cheated? No. If it turns out I’m wrong I’ll be depressed and angry at him. I won’t ever boo him, but I certainly will find it hard to cheer for him. And – maybe more relevant to the point I’m trying to make – if it turns out that my hope and expectation of Jeter’s innocence on this score is right, then do I think he should be held up as a better example of what the game is about than Ortiz, A-Rod, or other exposed cheaters? Absolutely. And that should be reflected in how fans treat him, how history remembers him, how HoF voters treat his eligibility, and how fans voting for the All-Star game think about their ballots. In fact, the way that fans treated the AS Game voting this year (Manny, A-Rod), the way Aaron talked about using asterisks for proven cheaters and the supportive reaction of other HoF’ers to his stance all prove that it is NOT just 20,000 commentators and bloggers who care.
It matters. While many more people than some of us may have thought are turning out to have been guilty, that does not mean “everyone” was doing it. I don’t think people who want to treat those who didn’t cheat differently from how they treat those who are proven cheaters are moral prudes, na├»ve dreamers, or part of some minority of obsessed followers of the sport.

A standing ovation doesn’t necessarily mean “well done, keep it up”, especially not from the Fenway crowd. Earlier this year when Ortiz still had zero homers and was hitting aroun .200 the crowd game him a huge ovation. It wasn’t to tell him that he’s doing a good job. It was to tell him that he’s our Papi and we support him through thick and thin. We support him despite the mistakes he may have made in the past.

Fair enough Atheose, and I do get that message-sending. I’ve sent it myself to many a Yankee player who was mid-slump. But I see a natural slump and the exposure of cheating as qualitatively different. Nonetheless, even sending that “we’re with you in thick and thin” post-cheating scandal is understandable (this is what I meant by fans not getting past their fandom). What really bothers me though is any suggestion that those who care, are angry, disillusioned, etc are being moral crusaders or are living in some dream world because everyone was using. Or any other suggestion that it doesn’t matter. It just does.

“At least when the Red Sox cheat they win!”
“The only way the Red Sox could win in the last century was by cheating”
Sorry – that comment not meant for the regular SFs here – just a shot at a troll…

as equally legitimate to Aaron’s.
You mean the player who broke a home run record while taking massive amounts of amphetamines, breaking the record held by someone who once injected himself with straight animal testosterone to try to get an even bigger boost?
I think you have changed your tune a bit Paul now that its Ortiz that has been outed not A-Rod.
First of all, A-Rod was considered to be clean. His was the first big-time exposure since Bonds, and largely meant that the facade that anyone could be presumed clean in baseball was destroyed. It was a sea-change moment, and that was the context of the discussion we were having — a different conversation than the one we’re having now, which is more limited in scope. A-Rod’s outing stamped forever our era as the Steroid Era. There was no getting around that anymore.
With that said, acknowledging how an era will be viewed does not preclude me from deciding to stop worrying about it. I’m all about acknowledging the reality of a situation and “coming to terms” with that. Well, I came to terms with it shortly after A-Rod was outed, and I’ve moved on. New revelations are interesting, but I don’t treat them as earth-shattering anymore, and they don’t change the way I feel about the players involved.

Right Paul. You’ve become Hegel and declared the entire history of baseball as the night in which all cows are black. Fine. And players who wore contact lenses to augment their vision or drank extra cups of coffee on long road trips are all to be judged equally. Give in to the moral relativism all you want. It’s absurd. I’m not sure if you’re trying to convince me and others or yourself. Either way, it’s not very convincing.

“This revelation does not change who he is. It does not change what he did.”
Except it does change what he did, right? There’s now another layer of texture that wasn’t there before. Yes, he hit X home runs, but some % of those would not have left the park without the help of a steroid-enhanced workout regimen.
As a YF, one of the most frustrating parts of living in Boston is the intensity of the Sox mythology and the willingness of Sox fans to discard any evidence that undermines that. I don’t have any problem with you guys supporting your team, but I wish more of you could recognize that it’s composed of flawed super-competitors just like any other successful franchise. You’re not above the scrum.
So while I’m sad to see Ortiz, who has always struck me as a nice guy, dragged through the muck like this, it’s also refreshing to see a SF like yourself forced to acknowledge the reality of baseball, tragic though it may be.
I was similarly depressed when A-Rod was unmasked.

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