By Bill Foley (@Foles74)
Mr. Doom and Gloom, Dan Shaughnessy, says he will not give his Hall of Fame vote to Boston icon David Ortiz.
Suspicions of steroid use by the slugger will prevent the Boston Globe columnist from giving the greatest clutch hitter in Red Sox history a scratch when his name appears on the ballot in five years or so.
Shaughnessy made that declaration over a weekend when he was honored with the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for writers at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
As every Yankees fan has reminded us 10,000 times over the past seven years, Ortiz was supposedly one of the approximately 100 players who tested positive for a banned substance during a survey 2003. The tests were supposed to be anonymous, but Ortiz still never gave a good explanation as to why his was among the players whose names were leaked.
I have no problem with a writer questioning the merits of the remarkable career of David Ortiz. Asking questions is what journalists do, and clearly Shaughnessy has earned the distinction of a good journalist.
However, when it comes to being a protector of the game from the evils of performance enhancing drugs, Shaughnessy is being completely hypocritical.
Actually, it is fair to say that he was an enabler during the Steroid Era, like so many baseball writers were by turning a blind eye to an obvious problem in baseball.
Remember Steve Wilstein?
Wilstein was the Associated Press writer who noticed a bottle of androstenedione in Mark McGwire’s locker in 1998. So Wilstein asked a few questions about a drug that was banned by the NCAA, NFL and the Olympics.
For those questions, Wilstein was stunned by the media so star struck by the great home run chase of McGwire and Sammy Sosa that it couldn’t see straight. There was talk of stripping Wilstein of his credentials for doing what should have been considered doing his job.
So many media members turned on Wilstein, and Shaughnessy, that righteous guy who is so judgmental on Ortiz, was worse than most.
“No wonder players loathe the media,” Shaughnessy wrote in a column in the Globe about how wrong Wilstein was to raise the andro question.
Years later, Shaughnessy was asked about the steroid issue, and he said, “I’ve never been an investigative reporter. I’m not really interested in that. It’s not what I got in this for.”
Fair enough, but you did not have to be an investigative reporter to realize there was something wrong when McGwire and Sosa were making their bulked-up assault on Roger Maris in 1998.
The entire nation was swept up in the great chase. News of McGwire and Sosa home runs got standing ovations at ballparks all around the country. By late August, each home run made the national news.
The summer of 1998 was definitely a fun one, and it helped bring baseball out of its hangover from the 1994 strike that wiped out the World Series.
It was also the high point of the Steroid Era, and it should have been obvious, especially to journalists who made their living covering baseball. Yet, only Bob Costas, Peter Gammons, Wilstein and maybe a few other said a word about baseball’s dirty little obvious secret.
The rest of the baseball writers, who had a heavy interest in baseball’s regained popularity, were enablers. Those writers aided and abetted the dirty players in the era, dropping the ball when the game needed them the most.
Now, Shaughnessy and the other blind-eye writers sit in judgment of the players they drove the getaway car for?
No wonder the players loathe the media.