Here’s a reminder for these partaking in the “Is David Ortiz a Hall of Famer?” dialogue at this yr’s vacation events: MLB’s nameless drug testing in 2003 was something however dependable.
It’s an necessary subject to dive into as the wildly well-liked Red Sox’ designated hitter is on the Hall of Fame poll for the first time this winter. His numbers are pretty much as good as Frank Thomas’, the first-ballot Hall of Fame DH/first baseman, and higher than Edgar Martinez’s, whose plaque can be in Cooperstown.
If he entered the Hall of Fame tomorrow, Ortiz could be tenth in homers, ninth in doubles and seventeenth in RBIs.
It’s not about the numbers.
It’s about the voters/followers of baseball who’re attempting their finest to decipher between gamers linked to efficiency enhancing drug use however by no means confirmed to have cheated, and those that have been.
Ortiz belongs in the first class, and it’s a blurry class to function in.
Let’s take you again to the New York Times report in 2009 that was the first and only instance of Ortiz testing optimistic for PEDs.
The report that Ortiz’s identify was on the checklist is definitely plausible.
It was written by Michael Schmidt, a reporter who has gone on to have an extended and profitable profession in journalism. He’s damaged some of the largest tales of the millennium, together with the story detailing Hillary Clinton’s personal electronic mail server and former President Donald Trump’s try to fireplace Robert Mueller. His credentials are pretty much as good as anybody’s, and there’s little purpose to doubt the accuracy of the report.
For all intents and functions, it’s truthful to imagine Ortiz’s identify was, certainly, on the checklist of optimistic assessments in 2003, when MLB experimented with random drug assessments to see if there have been sufficient suspected positives to institute an precise coverage.
It nonetheless doesn’t imply he’s responsible.
Is it truthful to query his profession as a result of of it? Of course. There can be voters who refuse to verify the field subsequent to the identify of any participant even remotely linked to steroids. The purists who intend to maintain the Hall of Fame as clear as potential, regardless of there being identified and suspected cheaters already in there, have each proper to take action.
But it’s simply as possible that Ortiz’s optimistic take a look at in 2003 was a fluke, and there are two key items of info to think about right here.
First, and maybe most hanging, is that in the 2003 Times report, Barry Bonds was not on the checklist.
Let that sink in for a second.
Bonds, the face of steroids who cheated and lied about it in such a preposterous means that he confronted legal fees for perjury, didn’t initially take a look at optimistic for PEDs in 2003, the yr he gained his third straight MVP whereas hitting .341 with 45 residence runs at age 38.
And right here’s the kicker, based on the report: “federal brokers seized (Bonds’) 2003 pattern and it was retested. Those outcomes confirmed the presence of steroids…”
So not only was Bonds initially discovered to haven’t failed the first batch of drug assessments in 2003, based on MLB’s checklist, however the outcomes had been truly incorrect. It was later decided to be a false unfavorable.
He was, of course, utilizing in 2003.
And the second important half of the Ortiz story is that commissioner Rob Manfred lastly revealed key items of info in 2016, when he spoke about the testing in element for the first time.
Inside of a small press convention room in the bowels of Fenway Park, Manfred informed us that he knew for certain there have been at the least 10 false positives on the checklist of roughly 100 names in 2003, and that “there have been professional scientific questions on whether or not or not these had been really positives.”
The science of the testing then, virtually 20 years in the past now, was so new and unrefined that MLB admitted it was “troublesome to tell apart between sure substances that had been authorized, out there over the counter, and never banned below our program, and sure banned substances.”
Manfred defined that there have been two assessments: one at the starting of the random testing window after which one at the finish to see if the substance was current at each instances. Often, these assessments didn’t line up.
“It was necessary to make individuals perceive that even when your identify was on that checklist, that it was completely potential that you weren’t a optimistic,” Manfred mentioned then.
Ortiz by no means examined optimistic for the period of his profession.
Are there gamers in the Hall of fame who discovered an unlawful or immoral benefit? Of course. Will extra get inducted? Surely. But to say definitively that Ortiz is a cheater is a way more troublesome argument to make.
You’re allowed to have your suspicions, however don’t lump Ortiz in the similar class as Bonds and Roger Clemens.