On Tuesday Dan Shaughnessy got to Fenway Park at 3 pm when the ballpark opened looking for David Ortiz. Ortiz was busy talking with someone else so Shaughnessy moved to a private corner of the room waiting for Papi to finish his conversation. Ortiz came over and Shaughnessy explained that he was uncomfortable asking the questions he was about to ask but wanted to get the straight poop from Ortiz.
During the course of the Q&A Shaughnessy explained that in all fairness he had to ask Ortiz about PEDs. Guys in their late 30s who miss spring training and hit .460 out of the gate immediately get caught in the crosshairs of suspicion. The questions could not have come as a shock to Papi. This is, after all, a guy who tested positive in 2003. Shaughnessy was doing his job.
The interview concluded cordially. Shaughnessy published the article and the sports world exploded. Shrill comments rained down from the blogosphere. Fans got worked into a lather over the allegations. Site upon site shrieked that Papi was “hurt” and “upset” by the allegations. Duh! They also lashed out at Shaughnessy as an irresponsible journalist. Get a grip group.
Dan Shaughnessy is a pros pro. He’s forgotten more about great sports writing than many of those who pounded him and the story will learn in their lifetime. What was the guy supposed to do, shy away because the questions were uncomfortable or controversial?
During the height of the steroid scandal through the 90s the press was excoriated, branded as co-conspirators along with MLB management as parties to the scandal; an institution that looked the other way as heads, necks, biceps and batting averages bulged.
The story really wasn’t so much about Shaughnessy’s article as it was the overreaction and hysteria surrounding it.
Shaughnessy’s well-reasoned comments about the specific tenor of his conversation with Ortiz as well as his rationale for covering the story can be found here.
To quote the beginning of Shaughnessy’s article on Ortiz:
“How do you think he does it? I don’t know! What makes him so good?’’
“Pinball Wizard” – Pete Townshend
What do you think? Was Shaughnessy correct covering the story?