Someone has to ask the tough questions.
Last week it was sportswriter Dan Shaughnessy who shamelessly asked (accused) Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz to respond to accusations of steroid use. Why was it shameless? Simple… Because there were no accusations. Shaughnessy invented them, and them scripted a piece (of garbage) centering on Ortiz’ response to the made-up controversy. Send in the clowns.
Now it’s my turn to leave no stone unturned.
Shaughnessy has had a busy couple of years. Back in 2011, his son Sam was arrested for assaulting police officers, being drunk and disorderly, and resisting arrest when he allegedly interfered with Brookline cops trying to take a criminal into custody. It was a sad day for the Shaughnessy family, and it left proud papa Dan, who chronicled his son’s senior year in a goofy book, as the laughing stock at The Boston Globe.
Over the recent winter, Shaughnessy penned the best seller “Francona”, an opinionated and largely irrelevant collection of drivel attacking Red Sox ownership and canonizing former manager Terry Francona.
And now, everyone’s favorite “Curly-Haired Boyfriend” (as former Red Sox outfielder Carl Everett refers to him) is creating a steroid rumor about Ortiz with absolutely no facts to speak of to back it up. No quotes from scouts about bat speed, no evidence of anything out of the ordinary, and no anonymous sources… nothing. Indeed, Shaughnessy has been a busy boy—which makes me wonder… how is he able to accomplish all of this at his ripe old age?
Here’s what Shaughnessy had to say about Ortiz after the Red Sox designated hitter denied steroid use, and claimed that he’s already had his urine and blood tested several times this season:
“Hitting is not this easy. Athletes do not get better as they mature into their late 30s. Baseball has been peppered with performance-enhancing drugs for the last 20 years. The cheaters are always ahead of the testers. A number of players from the Dominican Republic have tested positive for steroids. Injuries to the Achilles’ tendon are consistent with steroid use. It is not natural for a guy to hit .426 out of the gate without the benefit of any spring training.”
Touché. Ortiz simply must be cheating. Clearly, there’s no other explanation.
But what about Shaughnessy? He just turned 60. Sportswriters do not get better as they approach senility, do they? Shaughnessy seems more aggressive than ever right now. He’s juggling book deals, television appearances, newspaper columns, and post-game interviews. How does he do it?
Is he using illegal drugs to stay vigilant? Cocaine perhaps? Just a quick snort here and there to stay ahead of the game? Heck, just look at any police blotter. Men of Irish descent are getting caught with cocaine every day. And don’t forget that little family incident. He certainly wouldn’t be the first person to turn to the white powder in times of adversity and embarrassment.
Evidence? I don’t need any. I’m just asking the tough questions. Seems fair to me. Is Shaughnessy giving himself an unfair edge in the world of journalism? He seems to be doing quite a bit more than the others at his age.
Ortiz, meanwhile, was apparently so moved by the concern of the aging version of Napoleon Dynamite, that he decided to immediately clean up his act. Since his run-in with Shaughnessy, the 38-year-old is batting a miserable .138 in seven games. Now that’s more like it.
Wait. I just had another thought. Maybe—and I stress, maybe—baseball is game of streaks. Maybe good hitters like, say, David Ortiz, go on several hot streaks and slumps throughout the course of a 162-game season. Maybe you can’t judge a hitter by two weeks worth of statistics. Because if you could… you might just run into all sorts of suspicious characters.
In the last two weeks, 37-year-old Marco Scurato is batting .469. He’s never batted that high in his life. Steroids? In the last two weeks, 30-year-old Joe Mauer is batting .462. He’s a catcher. And he missed half of the 2011 season due to injury. Steroids? Forty-year-old Raul Ibanez is currently hitting at a .421 clip over his last 19 at-bats. Steroids?
One more… Are you ready for this?
Thirty-four-year-old Adrian Beltre, a native of the Domincan Republic, is batting .375 with four home runs and 14 RBI over the last 12 games. That calculates out to 54 homers and 189 RBI over 162 games. He had shoulder and calf injuries in spring training. Did I mention that he was Dominican? And he used to be teammates with Ortiz! Where’s Shaughnessy? Get on this!
But before you do, make sure your vial is full… if you’re into that sort of thing.
(JM Catellier is the author of the book Fixing Baseball, a guide to restructuring the Hall of Fame. Follow him on Twitter: @FixingBaseball and Facebook, and check out his site: www.fixingbaseball.com)