David Ortiz has spoken. Finally. And he has a lot to say.
Earlier today an essay was posted by the designated hitter on The Players Tribune in which he went on record and opened up about allegations that he has used performance-enhancing drugs in his career, and it is a great and much needed read.
For brief context, the allegations first came when the New York Times reported in 2009 that Ortiz, along with Manny Ramirez, were named to a list of around 100 MLB players to test positive for PEDs back in 2003.
He didn’t say much at the time aside from holding a press conference in which he acknowledged that he “may have been careless” with what supplements he was taking, but never took steroids (oh crap Manny they put steroids in my Flinstones!). This was backed up, at least partially, by an MLB statement released shortly after that which acknowledged certain over the counter supplements could have caused a positive test. That statement can be read here.
Since then, Ortiz has for the most part been quiet on the issue, always denying steroid use but recognizing that he took supplements.
The silence has never been easy for Sox fans, not for me at least. I always wanted to believe that there was no way my favorite Sox player of all-time could have used PEDs, but the information has never been released about what exactly he tested positive for and all I really had to go off of was his brief statements that were generally pretty morally disengaged. In the Steroid Era, it’s hard to believe anyone who is accused and performs well. I’ve always wanted to, but it was never easy, and I imagine many Sox fans would sympathize with that point of view.
Today it got a little bit easier. With his essay, Ortiz finally personalized the allegations and let fans know how the perception that he used PEDs has shaped not only his career, but also his life.
“You know how many times I’ve been tested since 2004? More than 80,” Ortiz writes, “They say these tests are random. If it’s really random, I should start playing the damn lottery. Some people still think the testing is a joke. It’s no joke.”
Ortiz writes about how he gets tested on average about ten times a season, about how testers go as far as to show up down at his house in the Dominican Republic early during a winter morning to test him. Seriously it’s like an alien abduction the way he describes it. By reading the article you are truly able to get a sense of how relentless the testing has been.
Of course, just because the testing has been virtually non-stop, his name cannot be cleared, for if he really did test positive then the testing is more justified. But when Ortiz details how even long after 2003 he still performed even stronger than he did prior to 2003, his case grows stronger.
“The next couple seasons [after ‘03], I start noticing things changing. Guys are a lot more conscious about what they’re putting in their body,” he writes, “But I’m getting tested 10 times a season and I’m still in the gym benching 400 pounds. I’m out there in 2006 hitting 54 home runs. Nobody wants to talk about that though.”
In 2009 the evidence was still there that Ortiz progressed strongly past 2003 when the alleged possible test came, but the dark cloud still hung over his head-it had to in the steroid era. But now that he has written and truly opened up again, I no longer think it’s unreasonable to trust him.
The essay is a must read for Sox fans and baseball in general. If it doesn’t make readers trust his story more, at the very least it’s interesting. The story he details paints a picture all the way from his childhood in the Dominican where everyday death was a possibility all the up to, and past, the moment when he had to tell his son that he is not a cheater.
Ortiz doesn’t care if he makes it into the Hall of Fame. He doesn’t care what MLB drug testers think because he knows he will test positively, and after reading his essay it becomes clear that, at least with regards to the PEDs, he doesn’t care what most people think because his conscious, which he finally allows everyone to really look right into, is clear. Now go read the essay and make your own decision.