Monday, November 4, 2013

Bob Lobel: Baseball Hoping David Ortiz is Clean This Time Around

By Bob Lobel  @boblobel

Editor's Note: Bob wanted it to be known that the point of his blog this week was not to assert that David Ortiz is using any type of performance enhancing drug, but rather to explain that Major League Baseball is hoping Ortiz is clean, given the backlash from the steroid era. The original blog title has been changed.

Remember when a Red Sox player interrupted manager Tito Francona’s press conference to complain about an official scorer’s ruling that took an RBI away from him, by calling a hit an error? 

It was rude, childish and selfish behavior, all done with no regard for public opinion.

David Ortiz wanted that RBI.  

Remember the incident when a Red Sox player, irate over a strike call by the home plate umpire, took a bat to the dugout phone, nearly hitting Dustin Pedroia’s ear in the tirade? It was the same David Ortiz that took most of the second half of last season off because of some injury issue, or whatever was going on with the team at that time. 

Yes, it’s the same guy that people are putting into Cooperstown for the nothing less than an incredible display of hitting, not just through the year, but especially in this past post season. 

That would be MVP, David Ortiz.

Baseball experts, including players, managers, writers, broadcasters and just folks in general can’t believe what they saw when Ortiz put up the numbers he did, many of them in clutch situations. One huge grand slam was enough, but he was robbed of another grand slam by a spectacular catch by Carlos Beltran. 

“Other worldly” would be a sufficient way of describing what the guy did on baseball’s biggest stage. Doing what he did could be a blessing or a curse. It could be a ticket to the Hall of Fame, or a seat next to baseball’s druggies testifying before congress. 

Oritz was on a list of 100 players "using" back in 2003. What he was using was not specified, but baseball compiled the list to get an idea of how pervasive their performance enhancing drug problem was. Most of the names on the list remain a secret. 

A few, including number #34, were leaked. So be it. The stain was applied.

That was then, this is now. David Ortiz has become the best story in the surge of the Redemption Red Sox. People joke about what they witnessed with Ortiz in the post season. They quote the best line from “When Harry Met Sally,” when Meg Ryan did the orgasmic thing in a restaurant, and a woman (actually, Billy Crystal’s mom) sitting near her said, “I’ll have what she had.”    

So people have said about Ortiz, “I'll take whatever he is taking.” It’s a terrific line get a laugh, but under it all there is a hint of suspicion. In this day there is no way a performance like Ortiz' could escape the PED connection.

There have already been columns in major newspapers across the country and editorials by commentators connecting the dots between list in 2003 and a world class performance in 2013. 

Ortiz has a couple of terrific things going for him: He is a lovable, emotional, passionate big guy that is the best that ever was at his position. He is Major League Baseball’s answer to hero of the season.  He is must-watch TV. He brought ratings, and a championship to a wounded city. He was deified for dropping the F-bomb on 38,000 families in Fenway, and who knows how many watching on television. 

He was blessed by the FCC. No small feat. 

The end result from this improbable sequence of events is that David Ortiz has lifetime immunity in the eyes of baseball. If, things went sour for David in the world of PEDs in the future, baseball would suffer greatly. This is their hero. 

Strange isn’t it? 

What would A-Rod give to get this immunity? There is no way. Baseball wants to bring A-Rod down. That would be a positive PR move for them. They could never afford to see David go down.

Lifetime immunity is better than a third World Series ring.         

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