If Papi isn’t a Hall of Famer, it’s the Hall of Fame’s loss

(AP Photo)
Bill Foley (@Foles74)
Contributing Writer

David Ortiz announced he will retire following the 2016 season, and immediately the Big Papi Hall of Fame discussion kicked up again.

Peter Abraham of the Globe believes Ortiz will eventually get in the Hall, but it won’t be on the first ballot in 2021.

ESPN’s Buster Olney, on the other hand, says Ortiz’s chances of making the Hall are not looking good because of the suspicion that accompanies Ortiz’s name. Ortiz, remember, was on a list of players flagged for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs during the 2003 tests that were supposed to be anonymous.

Ortiz’s name came up in steroid suspicions long before the 2003 test results were selectively leaked. Players from the Dominican Republic are unfairly considered guilty before proving their innocence beyond the shadow of a doubt in this category.

I’m not going to try to defend Ortiz for having his name on that list, other than to say that if he did in fact take PEDs he was like the majority of players playing in the Steroid Era. And, let’s face it, we are still in the Steroid Era.

We can’t count on the Baseball Writers of America to declare that the Steroid Era is over.

Remember, as crazy as it sounds, Jose Canseco is still the most credible voice when it comes to steroids in baseball.

Baseball writers, and the rest of the sports media, collectively turned a blind eye to steroids, and that helped dirty the game. They theorized about the “juiced” baseballs instead of the juice that everybody else could tell was going into the veins of sluggers and power pitchers.

Yes, somehow writers threw out the juiced ball theory as guys looking like they walked right out of a Mr. America competition stepped into the batter’s box. They even shouted down any voice that attempted to raise the topic of PEDs.

Remember the outraged directed at AP writer Steve Wilstein when he pointed out the bottle of Androstenedione on the top shelf of Mark McGwire’s locker during his steroid-induced chase of Roger Maris in 1998?

Wilstein should have respected McGwire’s privacy, they said. My, how times have changed. Now the writers have turned into the guardians of the game, or at least of the Hall of Fame.

Still, by my count, there are three journalist — Wilstein, Peter Gammons and Bob Costas — who have any credibility when it comes to steroids in baseball. If those three want to vote against the likes of Ortiz and Jeff Bagwell and others who have suspicion cast on their Hall of Fame-worthy numbers, then that is fine. I’ll respect that.

Most of the white knights of the keyboard, though, are hypocritical at beast. They never wrote a word about the use of PEDs until Mr. Sosa went to Washington and revealed that he really can’t speak English after all.

Ortiz said his test was likely from over-the-counter supplements he bought in the United States. That’s the weak excuse used by 99 percent of people who are pinched in a steroid test.

Still, Ortiz put up the numbers against pitchers who were on the juice. He also came through in the clutch like no other player in Red Sox history. He led the team to three World Series titles that, frankly, would not have been won without him.

If you don’t believe me, just ask Torii Hunter.

The man we call Big Papi made life better for Red Sox fans like generations of players wearing the same uniform never could and probably never will again. Yankees fans would still be chanting 1918 at our beloved team if it wasn’t for Ortiz.

Ortiz was one of the most dominating players of his generation. He’s also the best designated hitter that ever lived, although some Seattle fans might disagree. That, folks, is Hall of Fame worthy.

Yet, it seems very likely that baseball writers will keep Ortiz out of the Hall of Fame forever. Then he’ll join the company of baseball payers like Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Pete Rose, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and Maris who will never have their busts in Cooperstown.

Really, that’s OK. As long as those legends aren’t there, the Hall of Fame has no credibility in the first place.