Hysteria Loosening Up in the On-Deck CircleCall it a failure of moral imagination. Try as I might, I cannot think of a single reason why the news that some ballplayer tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003 should affect me or any other baseball follower in any way given the fact that today's date is July 30, 2009.
In fact, the New York Times report that unnamed lawyers have risked disbarment to unethically leak information that David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez did just that back in the day has prompted an opposite reaction of extreme emotional violence. I'm at a loss for words, at least for nice words, to describe my feelings.
This blogger tries to avoid cuss words, since this is a family Internet, but profanity and obscenity are in the English language for a reason, and there are times when nothing else is "le mot juste." Ergo, the following paragraph contains what is now the permanent stance of Michael Gee on the burning issue of drug use in baseball.
I don't give a shit. If it's possible to give less than a single shit, that's what I give about news of drug use that took place in the increasingly distant past.
As a matter of policy, I will not discuss the issue beyond this post. There's no need. Baseball now has an official drug use policy, and if players fail test, they are penalized. Right, Manny? I'm a lot less judgmental than in my reckless sportswriting middle age, so these reports will not affect my personal opinions of the players in question at all. Barry Bonds was an antisocial egomaniac long before he heard of human growth hormone. I always liked Ortiz as a person when I covered the Red Sox, and I see no reason to change how I feel.
I have a Hall of Fame vote. Several years ago, I came up with an unscientific but satisfactory method of accounting for PEDs at election time. I discount a player's stats from the Steroid Era (roughly 19993-2004), by approximately 20 percent as raw numbers. The continuing increase in evidence that users outnumbered users by a 10-1 margin during that period may, if anything, make me reduce the discount. If a 'roided-up slugger takes a 'roided-up pitcher deep, what exactly was his competitive advantage?
In short, my policy is more or less amnesty. If everyone's cheating, nobody's cheating, because cheating only makes sense if you're doing something your opponent isn't. I'm sure we're just days away from a report that some undernourished specimen like David Eckstein tested positive, too. It's only logical. If the stars were taking PEDs, the benchwarmers, middle relievers, and September 1 call-ups would have had to be either puritanical or daft not to be taking even more PEDs than the big fellas.
I would like to address the last portion of this post to Red Sox fans. Two basic points. First, if anyone tries to tell you your pleasure in the memories of the 2004 season should somehow be damaged by today's report, that person is feeble-minded. Ignore them.
My second point is more personal, since I have reason to believe it is addressed to a group that includes both close friends and possibly family members. Ortiz was/is a popular player (Consider how a similar slump to Papi's 2009 debacle would have been treated if the slumpee was Ted Williams. Ortiz is getting off easy). That's understandable, as Ortiz has been a very productive player and is a very likable man. I know that many of his fans view the issue of PEDs differently than I do, and are currently sad, disappointed, and a little angry at their hero.
I sympathize with that position. Really. It's far more pleasant to think of one's baseball idols as not possessing cleats of clay. Drugs of any kind upset some people a great deal. Disillusionment hurts whether you're seven years old or 70.
So I say this as kindly as I can. Grow the fuck up, will ya?