Sunday, August 9, 2009

Steroids & Double Standards

The David Ortiz fiasco cracks me up. When ARod fessed up to Performance Enhancing Drug use, he was pilloried and left to stand alone to face up to the press. When countless players copped the "I was careless with my supplement use," (remember Barry Bonds and his flax seed oil?), they were destroyed for their obvious perfidy. When Manny went down this season, suspended for use of fertility drugs that gave birth to countless dingers, Tim McCarver killed him on the air, as he always does, as the pinnacle of selfishness.

Here comes Big Papi, that lovable overstuffed Teddy Bear, who came out of Minnesota nowhere to put together season after season of prodigious production for the Red Sox and help lead them to the promised land. Ever smiling, easy for the press to deal with, he was a symbol of good in the morass of druggie-ball.

Except, he took PEDs. Not surprising, the evidence was before your eyes, if you cared to look. No one was interested, though. He was too good of a guy. So, now he's one of the many who indulged and is to be branded as a cheater and a disgrace to the game, left to bear the wrath of public vitriol. Wanna bet?

When the news came out that Ortiz was on the dreaded 2003 list of those who failed random drug tests, the press came to his defense immediately. "He may not have known what he took," said a sympathetic press. When Bonds made that claim, the media rightfully howled, "How could a top athlete who knows every little thing about his body NOT know what he's putting in it?" Sound point. Not for Ortiz, though.

Yesterday, Big Papi held his obligatory press conference. Did he sit alone and take the heat as so many others had before him? Nah. There by his side was Michael Weiner of the Player Union, citing the cumulative effect of the growing disclosure of names as the force behind the union getting involved. For shame, really. The union should have never allowed testing without reasonable suspicion and the compilation of a list which was guaranteed to leak at some point. They failed miserably in protecting their membership on this and ex-Executive Director Marvin Miller saw that from the get-go.

I am positively pleased at the amount of names disclosed. This "cheating" idea never gained hold with me. An entire '60's generation took speed thinking it would help their performance on the field. That it didn't means nothing; they thought it would. Anyone want to be the first to claim that Willie Mays, a known amphetamine user, should be banished from Cooperstown, or that his records are tainted?

When Barry Bonds was, in the press' eyes, the only steroid abuser, he was demonized to the extreme. Then, Roger Clemens and Andy Pettite, and, oh, wait, maybe we should look at this differently (race card, anyone?). ARod, and now Ortiz, will get us where we've always needed to be on this issue. The preponderance of PED use in this era is so vast, that it's best to paint the whole crew with the drug brush. Once the fans and the sports reporters accept that as so, we can all just calm down and get to the real Hall of Fame question: Who was the best of the era? That is still indisputable and, down the road, we'll all be watching the Induction of Bonds, Clemens, ARod and Manny. Not Big Papi, though, he wasn't good enough.

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