You knew the PED talk was going to be amplified. David Ortiz, at 37 years old, can't just go out and hit an absurd .688/.760/1.188 in the World Series and win the MVP award without plenty of people thinking he's juicing.
ESPN radio host Colin Cowherd has been one of the bigger names spouting skepticism of Ortiz this week. Partially because of Big Papi's age, partially because Ortiz has been linked to PEDs in the past, partially because in this era of baseball you can be suspicious of anyone. In one particularly juicy rant on Wednesday, Cowherd said:
"David Ortiz, who was shot two years ago, is now Babe Ruth,” Cowherd said. "Last time I saw a guy like this it was Barry Bonds. But sports is about storytelling and hero worship and cool nicknames and fanaticism. Fans get mad when you derail that ... The story of David Ortiz hitting .733 — about as believable as Big Foot.”
Cowherd is hardly the only person saying this. It's a rather popular claim by Internet commenters. They're just not heard on nearly as many radio stations across the country. Cowherd didn't go full Jack Clark-vs.-Albert Pujols, he stayed strictly in the "when it’s too good to be true, it is" school of disbelief instead of outright allegations.
So Friday, Red Sox teammate Jon Lester — who himself had a good case for World Series MVP were Big Papi not on such a tear — came on Cowherd's show to defend Ortiz and talk about his own experience being called a cheater during the World Series.
"You couldn't be more wrong," Lester said about Ortiz. "You really haven't seen the power numbers spike up. He's really just become a more complete hitter. It's not like he's all of a sudden hitting 50 homers and driving in 140. He's done it the right way for a long time."
Lester, of course, was accused of cheating during the World Series too, after a St. Louis Cardinals prospect pointed out a green glob on the pitcher's glove during Game 1. The Cardinals didn't care. MLB didn't take action. And it was pretty much forgotten about by the end of Game 2.
"It didn't bother me," Lester told Cowherd. "Because I know what I do on a day-to-day basis. I think when you accuse someone and they immediately jump down your throat, that's when they have something to hide."
Lester said those allegations were a distraction — they became the story instead of the Red Sox winning Game 1. And the same thing is happening now that the Red Sox have won the series.
"I'm talking to you about this," Lester said. "Instead of talking about the World Series."
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