Vermonter at Large (8/6/09)

Time for truth in MLB

Aug. 6, 2009

By Mal Boright

The leaking last week that the Red Sox’s beloved David Ortiz, affectionately known as Big Papi, and former Sox star Manny Ramirez tested positive for steroid related and possibly unbanned substances in 2003 has unleashed a media storm but not much beyond mild disappointment with the fans.

Media pundits should stop and take a deep breath. What evidence the tests showed was six years ago. Testing was done under promises that results would not be made public.

As of this weekend’s writing, Ortiz, with the Red Sox in Baltimore, had shed no further light on his tests and what substance showed up in his system. He had promised the Boston media full disclosure once he could be informed, presumably by the Players Association, as to the substance that appeared in the tests.

The fact that 104 players tested positive in this series of tests in 2003 was not an earth shaking surprise, given that Major League Baseball had not seriously dealt with the steroids and human growth hormone problems, in part because of reluctance by the Players Association to clean up the situation among its highly paid members. Thus many of these substances were apparently legal for players to use.

The number of positive tests, plus the Mitchell Report, finally got the Commissioner’s Office to get cracking and new rules and punishments were put into place.

This after strong denials by players such as Rafael Palmeiro, who later tested positive, and Roger Clemens, a study in the art of saying no while all evidence about him indicates otherwise.

Big Papi has been criticized since his name leaked out for making a strong and unequivocal statement this spring against any use of steroids and suggesting at least a year’s suspension for those found to have the junk in their systems.

Papi a hypocrite? Not necessarily.

Again, he is linked to a test done six years ago. Was he among the many using at the time? That is a question he must address.

Nevertheless, that was then and this is now. Going forward, Papi is correct. Use the stuff and get hammered by a lengthy suspension, as was handed to Ramirez this spring when the Dodger sat out 50 games after a positive test.

In the meantime, Manny being Manny is not saying much. Papi, we hope, will tell his story completely and truthfully, something rare among baseball’s elite.

Williston resident Mal Boright has been an editor, columnist and reporter for several Vermont newspapers. He covers local sports as a correspondent for The Charlotte Citizen and the Williston Observer.