The old saying is can you tell the sport’s history without so and so? When that name is Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens, the answer is no; you can’t tell the history of Major League baseball without these two players. David Ortiz got in over a year ago, and he deserved it, but he did get busted for PEDs; but it seems that is okay because David Ortiz is very likeable and a great ambassador for the game. You can’t say that about Bonds and Clemens.
Ortiz, you see, tested positive for a banned substance during an ostensibly anonymous survey testing in 2003, a year Major League Baseball and the MLBPA viewed as a gateway to performance-enhancing drug testing with penalties. Yet in 2009, multiple reports from the New York Times and Sports Illustrated revealed details of the ’03 results that were intended to remain private – that 104 players tested positive, that long-suspected Sammy Sosa came up positive, as did the transcendent Alex Rodriguez until the slow drip finally made its way to Boston.
Manny Ramirez and Big Papi – PED users.
So what was done about the Red Sox stars? Nothing! In the case of Ortiz, Manfred went out of his way to defend him. Sure, his early career arc might have raised an eyebrow. Beset by injuries in Minnesota, he was released by the Twins after the 2002 season. In 2003, he became the Big Papi we know, slamming 31 home runs, and producing a .961 OPS and 144 adjusted OPS after being a league-average hitter with Minnesota. In a vacuum, a positive 2003 test isn’t startling. With Bonds, his numbers were always special with Ortiz; it seems 2003 is when his career started to take off! A coincidence? I think not.
Manfred, perhaps recognizing Ortiz’s import as a future ambassador to the game while realizing PED pariahs like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens would be denied Hall of Fame entry, issued an unprecedented get-out-of-jail-free card. He told reporters that day that Ortiz could have been among the 10 to 15 positive tests that might have been triggered by a supplement and not a banned substance, and that “there was probably, or possibly, a very legitimate explanation that did not involve the use of a banned substance. I think it’s unfortunate that anybody’s name was released publicly.” He had no basis for making that statement except that Ortiz was a loved superstar that Major League Baseball could use in the future.
And so Manfred, who as MLB’s chief negotiator largely hammered out collective bargaining agreements that introduced drug testing, urged voters to ignore Ortiz’s positive drug test. This unofficial pardon has not been afforded to Clemens, Bonds, Sosa or any of the more than 100 players identified before, within or after the Mitchell Report as suspected or likely PED users. So, out of the over 100 players whose names popped as being in the report, only David Ortiz was defended, and Manfred gave no proof as to why Ortiz could have possibly done nothing wrong. Once again, they could use Ortiz to their advantage.
I think it’s horrible that these guys used PED’s but how can you keep them out and let other PED users in? You really can’t tell the history of the MLB without mentioning these two players names! Both players were great even before their PED use started, and they are two of the greatest players that ever lived. With Bonds, an argument can be made that he is the greatest player in the history of the game. Let’s face it after the 1994 strike Baseball needed something to bring fans back to the game and they allowed the steroid use to occur! They didn’t test for it because it was not against the rules of Baseball to take steroids!
The Mark McGwire-Sammy Sosa, home run race got the fans back in the summer of 1998, although, along the way, it was discovered that McGwire was using what in 1998 was called a “steroids precursor”. (Steroid usage by players was ignored by owners and the players’ union, even though the possession of steroids without a physician’s approval had been made illegal in 1990.) Baseball owners soon had money thrown at them from municipalities that wanted to build new stadiums. The home run race revitalized the sport. Between 1998 and 2005, however, the whispers of players using performance enhancers grew louder. Finally, in March 2005, a House of Representatives committee held a hearing on alleged steroids usage in Baseball. Two of the players who testified were McGwire and Sosa.
Bud Selig, then baseball commissioner, allowed this to continue because it was good for business; he was not interested in the integrity of the game. He was interested in saving the game. The steroid era may have saved Baseball, and it is a considerable part of Baseball’s story, and Bonds and Clemens should be in the hall for that reason and McGwire and Sosa. They helped save the game and it was allowed by Baseball! How about this? Put Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, and Sosa in the hall and on their plaques explain the steroid issue and how the powers that be allowed it to happen to save the game of Baseball. That will never happen, but Major league Baseball now has a hall of fame that does not tell the game’s complete story. Baseball is quickly reaching a critical point in the sports landscape of America where most people don’t care about the game anymore. In my opinion, the game is in more trouble than it was after the 1994 strike and that’s saying a lot. Games are always well over three hours. It seems every batter is a strikeout or a home run, and now you have a labor dispute on top of it. With all of this going on, now Baseball has decided to play steroid favorites and allow David Ortiz in but keep players like Bonds and Clemens out of the hall. Sometimes it seems that Major League Baseball is trying to destroy itself.
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