David Ortiz weighs in on Fernando Tatis Jr.’s PED suspension
David Ortiz has entered the Fernando Tatis Jr. chat.
On Friday, news broke that the young San Diego Padres superstar had tested positive for a banned substance and received an 80-game suspension effective immediately. The scandal rocked the baseball community, especially with Tatis offering a dubious explanation for the failed test: ringworm medication.
However, the substance, Clostebol, is also not approved by the FDA, so where did he get the goods? Tatis has been in the United States for most, if not all of the 2022 season, poking a significant hole in his story. Why would he choose ringworm medication that’s harder to obtain if he could get an approved kind here in the U.S.? The San Diego Union-Tribune pondered a slew of explanations.
Numerous baseball notables have also weighed in, most recently, Eric Hosmer, Jonathan Papelbon, Tatis’ father, and Ortiz. On Monday evening, the Boston Red Sox legend issued a statement through MLB insider Héctor Gómez:
"“David Ortiz on Fernando Tatis Jr.’s suspension: “MLB needs to have some regulations before they made public news like the one that happened to Tatis Jr. I think they haven’t handled this situation the right way. We can’t kill our product, we’re talking about an amazing player.”"
There’s a lot to unpack here.
Is Ortiz saying MLB insiders are somehow to blame for reporting news that was going to break anyway? They break PED news all the time. Does he think this situation is somehow different because Tatis is a superstar, and therefore he should be treated differently? Perhaps even let the infraction slide because it hurts the “product?” Hopefully not, but that’s how it sounds.
There’s some merit to the argument that MLB should handle PED suspensions in a more sensitive manner, but it’s unlikely to change. Consider as past precedent that Commissioner Manfred claimed the 2017 Houston Astros’ real punishment would be public shaming.
Besides, Tatis elected to accept his suspension, which speaks volumes. Why wouldn’t he appeal if it was truly an accident? If he was appealing and media members broke the news prematurely, leading to the public forming an opinion before a verdict was reached, Ortiz would have more of a leg to stand on.
As an aside, this won’t help sway those who believe Ortiz also used steroids during his own career. Though he never failed an official test when the stringent policy began in 2005, and he played the best seasons of his career under said rules, the reputation persisted among those who wanted to believe he was just as dirty as the rest of the ‘roiders. Rationally, it’s hard to believe a nobody like 2003 Ortiz would dope once during spring training and then never do it again. It’s also worth noting that he was exonerated by the commissioner in 2016; no other player received such treatment.
Nuance like that won’t matter to Ortiz haters, though. When Gómez tweeted his comments, baseball fans all over Twitter began ripping the new Hall of Famer for supporting a fellow ‘cheater.’
Still, it’s a bad look for Ortiz to suggest that Tatis get a free pass. Loyalty is respectable (to an extent), but advocating for preferential treatment is a dangerous precedent.