David Ortiz defiantly answers his critics who say he’s taken PEDs. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
David Ortiz in The Player’s Tribune — In some people’s minds, I will always be considered a cheater. And that’s [expletive]. Mark my words: Nobody in MLB history has been tested for PEDs more than me. You know how many times I’ve been tested since 2004? More than 80. They say these tests are random. …. I have never failed a single one of those tests and I never will.
But that doesn’t matter to some people. Some people still look at me like I’m a cheater because my name was on a list of players who got flagged for PEDs in 2003. …
Most MLB players take a dozen pills a day just to get them through the season — multivitamins, creatine, amino acids, nitric oxide, all kinds of stuff. Whatever you tell them is legal, they’ll take it. …
In 2003, MLB wanted to measure what players were taking and figure out some kind of standard. We all got tested and MLB sealed the results. The next year, they said, “Okay, you can’t take any pills with this, this and this,” — all kinds of stuff that was previously in supplements that anybody could buy. They used our tests to figure out what should be considered a performance-enhancer. …
In 2013, I came off the DL and started hot. My first 20 games I was hitting like .400. And the reporter with the red jheri curl from The Boston Globe comes into the locker room says, “You’re from the Dominican. You’re older. You fit the profile of a steroid user. Don’t you think you’re a prime suspect?”
He’s saying this with a straight face. I had taken like 70 at-bats. Anybody can get hot and hit .400 with 70 at-bats. I was stunned. I’m like, I’m Dominican? I fit the profile? Are you kidding me? …
Man, I get tested 10 times a year and I’ve helped win this town two World Series titles in 2004 and 2007 and this guy who has never played a game of professional baseball in his life is telling me I’m a suspect.
My test was clean just like the other 8 or 9 tests that season. My batting average settled down to .300, because of course it did. I hit like 30 home runs and we won the World Series. Was that acceptable for the reporter? Were my numbers too high for a player from the Dominican? Should I have taken another blood test before popping the damn champagne?
He never apologized. …
I’ll never forget coming into the clubhouse before a day game against Oakland in 2009 … when I see my face pop up on the TV. I see “Failed Test. 2003.” No one had ever told me I’d failed any test. Now six years later some documents get leaked and they’re saying I’m dirty. I called my agent and asked what was going on. He didn’t have any answers for me. I called the MLB Players’ Association and they didn’t have any answers for me. To this day, nobody has any answers for me. Nobody can tell me what I supposedly tested positive for.
I apologize for the long excerpt, but this was one of those articles that’s so jam-packed with goodness that cutting any of it out is like hacking off a limb. A few thoughts on this:
— I like defiant, rage-aholic David Ortiz as much as the next guy. I get that he gets motivation from hearing every criticism and taking every doubt to heart. I feel like the blend of pride and resentment that fuels him to prove people wrong also drove him to drop that perfectly placed F-bomb on Boston Strong Day.
— That said, I never really get why he’s so angry. When it comes to being beloved, he’s breathing some rarefied air. Fans, teammates, management, opposing players … everybody loves the man. In terms of popularity, he’s a combination of Derek Jeter, Justin Timberlake and Nelson Mandela. If you absolutely had to switch lives with someone else, he’s on a short list of guys you wouldn’t mind trading places with. But he’s got rabbit ears when to those very few voices serving up the HaterAde.
— The crux of this is his claim he never took banned performance-enhancers. That the test in 2003 was just to give Major League Baseball a baseline of what guys were using and there was nothing in his system but stuff you’d buy at GNC. I know I’m in a minority on this, but I couldn’t care less either way. I lost my innocence on PEDs a long time ago. There is literally no one in baseball over the last generation that you could tell me was on steroids and it would surprise me. Or with any other sport, for that matter. If the Olympics have proven time and again, testing is a joke. I’ll take Papi’s word for it, but honestly I’m fine either way. If taking something helps you drive in runs, fine. All I ask is that you have a really good masking agent.
— MLB players take a dozen pills a day? Are they playing baseball or running the Kentucky Derby?
— It’s always comforting to know another of our fellow human beings is motivated by his contempt for Dan Shaughnessy. Ortiz’ “Dominican, older, fit the profile” is my “fan-boy comedian.’‘ And make no mistake, “the reporter with the red jheri curl from The Boston Globe” is going right into the lexicon for later usage.
— The timing of this is really odd. I mean, this is pretty much an answer to a question no one was asking. But it’s obvious he had never gotten over the slight of having his reputation harmed by that leak in 2009. This is the equivalent of telling your wife you’ve been working hard and she brings up the time three years ago you went out and had a good time while she was home all day taking care of the kids. Some old grudges never die.
— I suppose his motivation is to start laying the groundwork for him to get into the Hall of Fame. Which seems like a curious thing to be worried about with Opening Day coming up in a week and a half. But I’ve just learned to accept with Papi that he’s never not thinking about his legacy or whatever. This isn’t that far removed from busting into a Terry Francona press conference to gripe about an official scorer’s decision. It’s not what you want, but if it’s what he needs to turn on sliders in on his fist and hit them into the bullpen, well that’s just the price we pay.
— I wish there was something I could take to make me write as well as David Ortiz does.
— Actual baseball can’t get here fast enough.