“Careless” is an easy word to employ as a defense against a failed PED test. Just ask David Ortiz.
“I definitely was a little bit careless back in those days when I was buying supplements and vitamins over the counter,” the Red Sox DH said yesterday as he offered up a half-hearted explanation of his failed 2003 PED test. With the Players Union looking over his shoulder, Ortiz stressed his desire for “more information” concerning his failed test and claimed he wasn’t a steroid user.
No one was really buying it. Even with PA General Counsel Michael Weiner force-feeding everyone ready-made excuses — Ortiz can’t get the information he needs to defend himself — the attempts to deflect guilt sounded empty.
Across the park, in a manner of speaking, was another star who found himself outed for a failed 2003 PED test. Alex Rodriguez says he slept through David Ortiz’s press conference. A-Rod also says he feels unencumbered by steroid use after his Spring Training admission of guilt. “I took a lot of things off my chest and, to me, since that press conference, I felt like a new man,” Rodriguez said to Jack Curry yesterday. “I feel like I’ve been embraced by not only the city of New York, but my teammates, my coaches and my manager. I just feel liberated by just the way I came out and did things.”
Ortiz, meanwhile, will try to move on. Since The Times outed him on July 31, he is just 4 for 35 with a home run and a double. Against the Yanks this weekend, he is 1 for 14 with 1 walk. Distracted, slumping, or finished. Pick one. Or more.
Ortiz’s faux-admission press conference, coming just under 12 hours after Alex Rodriguez delivered a dramatic win for the Yanks on Friday night, provides a juxtaposition for the steroid era. A-Rod joined Andy Pettitte and Jason Giambi as players willing to admit to illicit drug use. David Ortiz joined Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and, to a degree, Roger Clemens as players never willing to admit to any wrong-doing.
The players who dance around the issue curry no favor with anyone while the players who fess up to something of the truth earn a modicum of respect. In the end, that’s how it should work. But though years have elapsed since Game of Shadows, the Steroid Era won’t end. Names drip out. Players don’t know how to respond. One day, it will all be over, and with each name, it inches closer to the end. Yet, Ortiz’s PED dance yesterday showed just far away that day is.
This weekend, the Yankees are beating the Red Sox on the field when they need to the most. They’re also beating them off the field and in front of the PED-tainted microphones. I don’t like seeing the game’s faces taken down, but at least our guys have been mostly honest when it came time to face the music.