Ever since returning to the Boston Red Sox lineup in mid-April following an Achilles injury, David Ortiz has been red-hot.
Entering Thursday's game, Big Papi was hitting .381, with 4 home runs and 17 RBI in 16 games. His 27-game hitting streak just came to an end Wednesday with an 0-for-5 performance that dipped his average below .400 for the first time this season.
|Photo by: Kim Klement|
All these factors were weighed by Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, and the conclusion he came to is simple; Big Papi is on steroids.
Now, I can't tell you if Ortiz is or isn't juicing. Quite frankly, neither answer would surprise me. I do, however, think it's pretty bold of Shaughnessy to make this type of accusation about one of the more beloved hometown players without some sort of compelling facts.
This, however, is the post-PED world we live in. Any player who is putting up big numbers will automatically be questioned, especially one who is seen as aging and might be willing to take some short cuts to hang on a few more years. Or one that is coming off an injury that has been linked to many steroid users (Achilles is a common ailment for users), and might be taking them to speed up the healing process. Or one that has been accused of using in the past (in 2009 the New York Times reported that Ortiz popped positive during the 2003 season). Or one from a country that has seen a high percentage of its players use.
You get the picture.
Fair or not, this is the collateral damage of all those years of rampant steroid use. Players as a whole will always be looked at with an accusatory eye when something about their stats looks askew.
In response to the allegation, Ortiz accused Shaughnessy of racism when he mentioned that being Dominican made him look guilty by association.
"Yesterday, the guy came to see me and asked some questions about steroids, and when you see the writing, it basically focuses on the fact that I'm Dominican and that many Dominicans have been caught using steroids," Ortiz told an ESPN Deportes radio affiliate. "What about the Americans?"
I have no clue what Shaughnessy's motive in making the accusation was, nor do I know if the man is racist or not. Perhaps he's just like the rest of us in that he no longer trusts the game of baseball in general, or more specifically, its players who lied to everyone for so long.
Again, I have no idea if Ortiz is juicing. He claims he has already been tested five times this season and passed every time. What I do know is, Big Papi won't be the last player performing above the level that most consider normal for his skill set and age who will be accused of using PEDs.
In fact, that may go on forever.