August 05, 2009
Bronx Banter's Alex Belth recently took a break from blogging on anything but Yankee baseball to wonder why David Ortiz(notes) seems to be getting "a pass" when it comes to last week's PED report from the New York Times.
With the exception of opposing AL East fans — Yankee fans are surely sharpening their knives for this weekend's series in the Bronx — I'd agree with Belth's observation of selective scorn.
After all, last Thursday went like this: The news broke last Thursday, we all wrote posts about how we weren't surprised, Big Papi made an OJ-like promise to get to the bottom of things and then we all moved on with our lives. Though the Boston media has continued pursuing the story, it's definitely been the shortest cycle (no pun intended) in the history of recent steroid revelations.
A few reasons on why I think that's been so:
Repetition: As a wise old editor of mine once said: "The definition of news is 'new' and this ain't." After a year that's been saturated with PED reports concerning Alex Rodriguez(notes), Sammy Sosa(notes) and Manny Ramirez(notes), it was hard to be surprised at more names surfacing (especially when Ortiz was already among those suspected by the public).
Timing: When it comes to the timing of breaking news, Ortiz and Manny Ramirez couldn't have been luckier. The NY Times report was released just a day before the MLB trading deadline, a time when most of the league media was focused on the whereabouts of Roy Halladay(notes) and Victory Martinez or the ever-evolving needs of their team. Columnists already had their topics selected for the weekend and talk radio was already buzzing. They really weren't interested in topics that had already been discussed to death.
The source: Initially, the only reason we know that Ortiz and Ramirez were on the 2003 list was that a few agenda-driven lawyers violated a court order and revealed their names to a NYT reporter. Ortiz later confirmed his presence with the player's union — though he reportedly knew all along — but I still think the public is uncomfortable with the NYT's anonymous sources and their slow drip of guilty parties. After anonymous source after anonymous source, we'd like harder evidence.
Big Papi's a nice guy: Or at the very least he's perceived that way. For years, I've contended that Barry Bonds(notes) wouldn't have been demonized for PED use as much as he's been if he had just treated those around him in a decent manner. Ortiz's situation validates that belief as many people just find it hard to find a reason to dislike him.
History (or lack thereof): Bonds also would have benefited from not being in a position to break Hank Aaron's record as I think it's a truth that fans only care when the record books or Hall of Fame are threatened. Ortiz has been a nice and above-average player, but he was never going to be discussed among the all-time greats or be the subject of an intense HOF debate. (The counter arguments to this point are the two World Series the Red Sox won with the duo on the team and I expect they'll be given a critical eye as time goes on.)
More important news: You know, like Plaxico's gun charge, Paul Abdul leaving "American Idol" and whether or not Tiger Woods passed gas during a tournament? Honestly, though, we're living in the day of the 24/7/365 news cycle and if it didn't happen in the last 10 minutes, it didn't happen at all. That Erin Andrews video tape story? Occurred some time during my senior year of college, if I remember correctly.