David Ortiz already showed he won’t let “The List” be a distraction – blasting a three-run home run to beat the A’s on Thursday, hours after his name was dragged through the mud — and the Red Sox can use the controversy as a rallying point to regain their mojo.
Circle the Papi. Batten down the hatches. It’s the Red Sox against the world.
Ortiz might want to consult the master himself, Bill Belichick, before taking the next step. The Patriots’ coach knows a thing or two on how to diffuse an embarrassing situation, handle a media firing squad and turn a negative into a positive.
How would Belichick approach the inevitable circus? Probably like this …
1. "I apologize to every person directly or indirectly associated with [Red Sox Nation]."
Do not follow the leads of Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa or Roger Clemens. Accept full responsibility. After getting busted for spying on opponents, Belichick expressed regret for the actions, which cost him $500,000 and the Patriots $250,000 and a first-round draft pick. The only punishment Ortiz faces is a bruised reputation, but people will respect him for saying "my bad." Rip it off like a Band-Aid, and don’t look back.
2. "My use of [supplements] had no impact on the outcome of games."
Whether it’s secret video or PEDs, it’s up to the athletes to make things happen on the field. There’s no magic pill that improves hand-eye coordination or helps hit a 95 mph fastball. Ask any doctor – or major league player.
3. "I wish all there was to it was to take a chair and throw it into a blackboard or something, and then all of a sudden, everything is (fine). I don’t think that’s really the answer."
It’s easy to scapegoat the players, but others were complicit in this debacle. What about the powers that be? How about revisiting who knew what when? We can handle the truth.
4. "I’m not really worried about anyone else."
Just because David Ortiz talked tough about steroid abusers in the past doesn’t make him a liar or a hypocrite. Maybe he really is innocent. Maybe he unknowingly took a banned substance. Maybe he knowingly did. Nobody knows what triggered a positive test result, yet everyone jumps to conclusions. Joe McCarthy would be proud.
5. "I don’t really care about that."
The List doesn’t matter. Whether they reveal every name at once or let one trickle out every three months, it’s old news. The sooner every other player in the major leagues encourages the release of every name the better everyone will be, and the sooner we can get back to talking about things that are relevant.
6. "We’ll take it day by day."
We will never know how many baseball players took steroids in the past or are taking performance-enhancing drugs now. The number is probably a lot less than it’s made out to be, but blowing the wrong subjects out of proportion has become the specialty of the house these days.
7. "I don’t want to minimize this, but we have more important things to worry about."
There’s a pennant race to win.
8. "I understand that in an age where there is so much ego, because of the camera, that it is very important to do the job the right way even if someone else gets the glory."
The New York Times’ report might not be the worst thing that ever happened to David Ortiz. Now he can relax and play the game he loves without worrying about any skeletons in the closet. The Red Sox also could benefit. They are a very good team that had a rough July, but they still believe in themselves. Wait until August, September and October when they ramp up to 11. The best is yet to come in Boston.
Just when we think we’re out, another steroid story pulls us back in. Somebody get Harry Potter on the horn — now you see the sideshow, now you don’t. It doesn’t matter who was juicing in 2003. Baseball needs someone to step up and be the pioneer who can stare down the barrel of the Steroid Era and put everything in perspective. David Ortiz is as good a candidate as anyone to educate the public, be honest with the kids and get past this chapter in baseball history.
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