Wednesday, August 05, 2009
PEOPLE ARE HUMAN
David Ortiz had 58 career homeruns before coming to the Red Sox. 58 HRs in 1,693 plate appearances, or a homer every 29.1 times he came to the plate. Since his arrival in Boston, he's hit 246 for the Sox, in 4,140 plate appearances. That's once every 16.8 times he came to the plate. For the Twins, he slugged .461. For the Sox, he's slugged .581.
So it wasn't too shocking to hear he tested positive in 2003... for something. We still don't know yet, and allegedly, neither does he.
But I'm not going to vilify him for cheating. That's been done. But where his humanity becomes apparent isn't in his rule-breaking, it's in his attempted deceptions. And ultimately, isn't deception why we were so enraged over PEDs in the first place? Didn't we all feel deceived by Barry Bonds' 73 homerun season, or Sammy Sosa's 609 total, or Roger Clemens' inhuman ability to pitch so well into his 40's? These feats weren't real, they were the products of chemicals and artificial hormones.
David Ortiz made things worse for himself, and continues to do so. In February, he went on a rant, offering the opinion that players caught for PEDs should serve a suspension time of 1 year, at least. He's now eating those words.
Then there's the malarkey about not knowing what he tested positive for. He should've learned from Barry Bonds that this type of evasive strategy DOES NOT WORK. It makes you a cheat AND a liar in the public's eye.
Ortiz could have learned from Manny Ramirez and Andy Pettitte. Both caught redhanded, both admitted to it (while also omitting the entire truth, or in Manny's case, lying), and both players' transgressions have been shuffled to the proverbial back burner.
Hell, Pettitte and Ramirez were even PRAISED by some for "owning up to the truth." Even though both of their confessions were actually LIES.
Remember the story about George Washington and the cherry tree? He's a kid, chops down a tree, then when caught, he owns up to it. I remember as a kid hearing how noble this story demonstrated him to be, and being confused. I asked my teacher "So he did something wrong, was caught, and told the truth. So he was rewarded for that?"
Her response "Yes, because he was so honest."
"So if I go home, break a window, then tell my mother 'I did it' then I should become President too?"
"Don't be smart." A typical teacher's response in a Catholic school. But my story's point is that Americans LOVE people who screw up and then admit to it.
What we don't love are people who can't even come clean when they've been caught redhanded. Roger Clemens' "misremembered" hogwash. Barry Bonds never admitting anything. Mark McGwire's unwillingness to talk about the past. And so on. David Ortiz is leaning ever more in the direction of these guys.
And it is a bit funny how little Manny Ramirez has been scrutinized the past few days. Even though he claimed his positive test for female fertility drugs was due to an unaware physician's prescription. So what was the positive test in 2003 for? Is anyone even asking that question? Ramirez partially owned up to his guilt, and served a lengthy suspension. We already KNOW he cheated, so finding out a bit more isn't as crushing as the first revelation was (even though we now know he lied and was a multiple offender).
If Ortiz wants these monkeys off his back, he'll just admit to something. If he never injected anything, he should just say so. The public is far more lenient to illegal pills and creams as opposed to illegal shots. There's something more unnatural about syringes. And if he did take an injection, he should pull a Pettitte, say he did it once or twice, then stopped after a few times.
Remember, Bill Clinton was mocked for his "did not inhale" explanation. But had he denied smoking marijuana completely, he would have been vilified as a liar.
This whole PED thing shows us two things:
1) We humans have strange values. We're fine with rule-breaking so long as nobody lies once caught
2) Athletes are human beings. Just because they can throw a ball 100 MPH, or hit it 500 feet doesn't mean they aren't weak in some ways. It doesn't mean they won't lie even when the truth is obvious