Hopefully everyone’s been able to catch up with the David Ortiz news conference that took place last Saturday. Ortiz admitted to using over the counter supplements that may have contained banned substances, but did not admit to any illegal steroid use. And that seemed to be the end of that. A couple of polls have come out, both of which don’t bode well for Big Papi. An espn.com poll showed that only 21% of people believed his story to be the truth. On the popular Boston blog “Boston Dirt Dogs,” a similar poll gave Ortiz a 30.6% believability rating. And this was coming from a site visited primarily by Boston sports fans. And that does not speak well at all for either David Ortiz or Red Sox Nation.
On the one hand, you have David Ortiz’s weak-ass explanation. I don’t know that anyone was out for blood exactly with David Ortiz, wanting to tear him a new one (at least besides the New York media), but I think we all wanted a more concrete answer from our beloved superstar than that he may have been careless with over-the-counter substances, and that wasn’t it. We wanted to know what he tested positive for. We wanted to know what supplements he was taking, and to what end. And we wanted to know his reasoning for doing it then but seemingly never doing it since (Ortiz claims he has been tested multiple times since 2003 and come up clean every time). And Ortiz’s answers failed to satisfy our needs. That speaks to David’s lack of preparation for this meeting, but it may also reflect the MLBPA hanging him out to dry.
The rumors are that the union has been very unhelpful with Ortiz’s case, refusing to aid in acquiring the positive test results so he can see for himself what happened in 2003. I’ve never been a fan of the MLBPA, feeling it to be an overpowered union that protects its players too often at the expense of both the fans and the game itself. I blame them and their castration of Major League Baseball for the steroids era. But to turn on one of their own, especially such a high-profile member as David Ortiz, is despicable. I’ve often wondered how much unions actually protect the interests of their members and not the interests of the unions themselves. This to me is the MLBPA sacrificing one its own to save the face of other players who are on the list. And that is, quite simply, wrong.
But what does it say about us as fans if we can’t accept and trust the words of one of our biggest stars? David Ortiz is a player nearly without equal in Boston sports history. He carried the team offensively in 2004 and 2005. He nearly single-handedly won us the 2004 ALCS. He was the only player worth watching during the 2nd half of the 2006 season. And he had a more than respectable 2007 and 2008. For the past six years he has been heroic, and yet one report has sullied everyone’s opinion of him to the point that the Fenway Faithful can’t even cheer for him when he returned to Fenway last night? Some fans we are. If we have become so cynical that we can’t believe the words of our heroes anymore, then I feel bad for Red Sox Nation.