On Thursday, most of the baseball world was rattled with the news that Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in 2003. Sure, we were all half expecting the news would come some day, but that doesn't mean we wanted it to be true.
Now that the cat's out of the bag, former teammate Bronson Arroyo added a comment about performance enhancers yesterday. Admitting to using amphetamines and androstenedione while with the Red Sox from 2003 to 2005, Arroyo said he would not be surprised if he was on the list as well.
"Before 2004, none of us paid attention to what we took. That's why I said anybody could be on the list. Back then, nobody knew what was in stuff, because the FDA wasn't regulating all of it."
Arroyo had started taking andro in 1998 while in Pittsburgh's farm system. Arroyo said he didn't see a sizable boost in performance, yet continued to believe it helped.
"I'd take anything I could get from a nutrition store if you tell me it would make me better on the field."
After androstenedione was banned in 2004 and amphetamines in 2006, Arroyo said he now only takes legal supplements; protein, vitamins, ginseng, and a caffeine drink he said was introduced to him by Curt Schilling.
So there we have it.
Back to Ortiz, would it now be possible to consider that the "performance enhancing drugs" that Big Papi took were simply amphetamines or andro? Of course. There is still no word of precisely what substance Ortiz tested positive for.
All we know at this point is that Ortiz tested positive for something, but we don't know what. We know when, but now we want to know how many other instances there were, if any.
With a majority of the facts surrounding the situation yet to be revealed, one need look no farther than the Boston Globe to see Big Papi, the fallen hero, chastised and crucified by Boston's own.
In his piece "Big Papi Revealed as a Myth," Tony Massarotti says, "Now we know, with 99.9% certainty, what we have long suspected and feared: Big Papi is a myth." 'Mazz' goes on to suggest that "the World Series trophy is nothing but a hologram, generated by science and appealing to the eye but impossible to touch."
"He wasn't just a slugger, he was a good guy, too," continued Massarotti.
Well, 'Mazz,' why isn't Ortiz a good guy now? Sure the news was just broken this week, but Ortiz tested positive in 2003.
Since 2004, David Ortiz has almost singlehandedly delivered a World Series trophy to the city of Boston, established the David Ortiz Children's Fund to benefit critically ill children in New England and the Dominican Republic, was issued the 2008 UNICEF Children's Champion Award, and has done work with the Boys and Girls Club of America and other charities for children.
If that's not a great guy, I don't know what is. Just because Ortiz made one mistake is no reason for Ortiz to be vilified the way he has been by the Boston Globe.
David Ortiz may be a myth to the Boston Globe now, but for me it doesn't change the fact that he is a New England hero. What he did won't be affected in my opinion whatsoever.
No matter what drug he took.
Excuse me, Mr. Massarotti, but if David Ortiz is nothing more than a myth to you now, does that mean you won't be accepting any more royalties from his autobiography, that YOU co-authored?
I didn't think so.
And Dan Shaughnessy brings it even further in his piece "Suffering from 'roid rage."
Referring to Ortiz, he says, "He was ordinary before 2003. Then he cheated. Then he was great. Now there is testing and he is less than ordinary. You don't need Jose Canseco to connect the dots."
If only it were that simple.
The only thing wrong with what Shaughnessy said was...scratch that. It's all wrong.
Ortiz was ordinary before 2003. Before 2002, Ortiz was a kid in his early 20's averaging 213 at-bats per year while hitting around the likes of Matthew Lecroy and Jacque Jones. I would love to see someone excel under those circumstances.
Then he cheated. Wrong again. Assuming the substance Ortiz took was indeed anabolic steroids, they weren't tested for or reasonable grounds for suspension until drug testing was introduced in 2004. While Ortiz did break US law, it wasn't exactly cheating.
Then he was great. Point taken. He certainly was great. Then again, that's what happens when a talented player is surrounded by talent.
Now there is testing and he is less than ordinary. Hardly the explanation. Since testing has been introduced in 2004, Ortiz has hit .291 with 215 home runs with 690 RBI. All without failing a single drug test.
For all those who believe that only the superstars of our era are the tainted ones, one need look no further than the 1960s and 70s to disprove that theory.
Nearly every single player in the 50s, 60s and 70s took greenies, amphetamines. Known as a pep pill, players often took the drugs as a stimulant before and during games, sometimes even to dispel a hangover on gameday.
The drugs are also well known for their performance enhancing effect.
Among the list of high profile greenie users are Pete Rose, Mike Schmidt, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, and Hank Aaron. During the Pittsburgh drug trials in the 1980's, some players went as far as testifying that they received greenies from Bill Madlock, Willie Stargell, and even Willie Mays.
Where is the parade of baseball writers and quasi-journalists from ESPN calling for asterisks to be branded on those Hall of Fame plaques?
The Commissioner's Office later cleared Madlock, Stargell, and Mays of any wrongdoing, but the connection still lies.
After retiring, Tony Gwynn spoke out on the issue, estimating that in 2003 at least 50 percent of position players were using greenies on a regular basis. Chad Curtis mentioned after his retirement that players were under pressure not to play without speed, a nickname for the drugs.
With all that being said, what do greenies actually do? Well, amphetamine is known to increase wakefulness and focus while decreasing fatigue and appetite. There are prescription forms of the drug used to treat narcolepsy, but the drug is also used illegally as a recreational drug and a performance enhancer.
The drugs can also be used to control and lose weight.
Some notable physical effects of taking the drug include increased blood pressure, blurred vision, anxiety, and impaired speech. Chronic use of the drug can lead to convulsions.
Greenie use has widely been ignored and excused in the game of baseball, so why all the hoopla over steroids? Greenies have since been banned from the game, but a player can test positive for amphetamine more than four times and still not get a lifetime ban from the game.
For steroids, it only takes three positive tests to get a player ousted for good.
Nobody looks at all the great greenie users in a different light. Nobody looks at all the great steroid users in the same light. It's such a nasty double standard, I couldn't refrain from writing this article any longer.
Both players who took greenies and players who took steroids were in the wrong. Both were against the law, but not against MLB rules.
So why is it that the greenie users are still viewed as American heroes in the game of baseball while the steroid users are being chastised and vilified?
I refuse to listen to a single word of it anymore.
Barry Bonds is the home run king. Alex Rodriguez is going to be the home run king. Barry Bonds holds the single season home run record. David Ortiz is the best clutch hitter in Red Sox history. Roger Clemens is one of the best pitchers to ever touch a baseball.
Mantle, Williams, Schmidt, Aaron, and Mays are in the Hall of Fame. If the Baseball Writers Association knows anything about the history of the not-so-perfect game, then one day Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, and Roger Clemens will join them in Cooperstown.
Without the drug cloud.
Without the asterisks.
If this isn't going to change the Boston Globe's opinion on the drug using ways of our baseball heroes, then I expect to see Ted Williams next in line for the crucifixion.