It isn’t fair whatsoever that just because the circumstances of Big Papi’s test have been muddied in recent years by backtracking from Rob Manfred (ironically now trustworthy, we guess), he now gets an asterisk next to his name that says “It Was Different” even though Sammy Sosa, positive on the same “anonymous survey” test, has never been similarly exonerated.
This is to say nothing of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, neither one of whom has a positive test to their names, and whose steroid cases amount to nothing beyond, “…come onnnnnn.”
But, semantics, timing, and unfairness aside, Ortiz has been a Hall of Famer since the minute he first slipped on the Boston uniform, and though some may choose to focus solely on the injustice, we’re able to appreciate Big Papi’s greatness in the same way his Yankees peers have been able to in the wake of the voting results being publicized.
Mariano Rivera, the Only Unanimous Hall of Famer Always and Forever, was gracious to Papi after dueling with him multiple times a season from 2003-2013.
Naturally, most of Rivera’s problematic outings in his prime occurred against Boston — as is the case for most Yankees — so he couldn’t help but give shine to someone who’d bested him on more than one occasion.
Yankees Mariano Rivera, Alex Rodriguez pay tribute to David Ortiz.
Rivera, of course, found himself compared to Ortiz in other ways ahead of Tuesday’s big reveal; Joel Sherman used his MLB Network pulpit to compare the two, obliquely claiming being a very good DH was the same as being history’s iconic closer/someone who redefined the position.
That strange statement is where the Rivera comparison begins and ends, though. Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez will be forever linked.
Both men turned in positives on the ’03 survey test, the first time either had been connected to PEDs. Rodriguez, of course, went on to test positive after MLB instituted policies/bans around using steroids. Ortiz stayed clean for the remainder of his career.
Now both inexplicably together on FOX’s baseball coverage — how Rodriguez ever went from taking the league to court to this, we have no idea — the slugger whose first year on the ballot did not go as planned paid the level of tribute you’d expect to his former rival (now coworker).
Rodriguez received 135 votes in the balloting process, otherwise known as 34.3% of the electorate. That leaves him 40.7% short of election, and 170 votes behind Ortiz.
We understand the circumstances of both men are different, but it remains surprising that Rodriguez’s PR push, which led him to not one but two prominent positions in baseball television, did not translate into votes in the same way Papi’s redemption tour did.
Congratulations to Rodriguez for releasing a polished statement, as well as being more gracious than we ever would’ve been.