As someone who loves baseball and is tired of the attention given to PEDs by the media, I was truly disappointed (yet not surprised) to see David Ortiz being linked to steroids heading into Game 6 of the World Series on Wednesday night. On his radio show on Wednesday morning, Colin Cowherd went after Ortiz, seemingly for the sole reason that "hey, he wasn't playing too well a few years ago, and now he is!"
“David Ortiz, who was shot two years ago, is now Babe Ruth,” Cowherd said. “That’s a great story. And I don’t want to get in the way of that great story because it will make people really, really mad. … Last time I saw a guy like this it was Barry Bonds. But sports is about storytelling and hero worship and cool nicknames and fanaticism. Fans get mad when you derail that.”
“When it’s too good to be true, it is,” Cowherd continued. “Here was a guy in May of 2009, batting .222 with a slugging percentage of .300, no injuries, couldn’t hit. The Red Sox as a team are hitting about .190 (in the World Series). He’s hitting .800 against pitchers he didn’t face all year. … Significantly better today than several years ago. Interesting story. The story of David Ortiz hitting .733 — about as believable as Bigfoot.”
I'm not going to bore you with statistical analysis of Ortiz's struggles in the past, but I will note that despite Ortiz hitting .733 in the World Series, he hit a sterling .091 in the ALCS against the Tigers. It's almost like looking at a five game sample size isn't too smart because things balance out over time. If Cowherd's logic is to be believed, Ortiz wasn't on PEDs against the Tigers – but he is against the Cardinals!
Also, don't we all like to tie monstrous home runs to steroid use? In the World Series, seven of Ortiz's 11 hits are singles. This isn't a 2002 Barry Bonds World Series performance, where four of his eight hits left the park and he was walked a mind-numbing 13 times in seven games by the Angels.
There's another, non-Cowherd mentality that's been popping up in this series at all – the idea that Ortiz being named in a random New York Times report in 2009 saying that he was on a "doping list" from 2003 means that everything he does is tainted and that the World Series has a black cloud hanging over it because of it.
Would there be a black cloud if Jhonny Peralta or Nelson Cruz, both of whom were suspended as part of MLB's Biogenesis investigation this year, were playing in the World Series? How about Bartolo Colon or Marlon Byrd, both of whom actually failed tests last year? There wasn't a peep about either of them a couple of weeks ago when the A's and Pirates were still active. Would there be a black cloud if Mitchell Report star and admitted PED user Andy Pettitte was playing this October? What about if admitted PED user Brian Roberts and his Orioles were in the Postseason, would there be a black cloud then?
Oh, and that 2003 "doping list"? An MLBPA statement from 2009 indicates that the number of players on the list exceeds the number of positive tests from 2003 and that legal supplements could trigger a positive result due to flaws in the testing process. Saying Ortiz has a link to PEDs because of that NY Times report is shoddy journalism considering how few specifics are known about the "doping list". Besides, if Ortiz was a PED abuser, wouldn't he have been caught in the previous decade like Manny Ramirez, also mentioned as being on that list?
It's silly that the most exciting part of the year for baseball is getting sullied by accusations with no basis aside from an anonymous ten-year old list and the fact that he's playing good baseball. Just out of curiosity, when are the accusations going to be lobbed at Torii Hunter, who's hit .300 for the first time in his career over the last two years at ages 37 and 38? Are we going to throw stones at Michael Cuddyer, who had the best year of his career this season at age 34? Maybe we can attack Brandon Moss, who went from minor league journeyman to hitting 51 homers in the majors over the last two years.
Wait, we wouldn't do that at all, because everyone realizes how baseless and without merit it would be.
[Quotes via Larry Brown Sports]