Why certain MLB PED users are forgiven or not

By Daniel Johnson, Staff Writer

Published in print Feb. 25, 2015

Last week, the New York Yankees announced plans during the upcoming season to retire the number of former player, Andy Pettitte. The act generated some controversy since Pettitte, arguably the best pitcher the team has had since the 1980s, has admitted to using performance enhancing drugs or PEDs.

Pettitte stated he used some, but not a lot and only to help heal an elbow injury he had suffered. Generally, fans and media have not cared of Pettitte’s past.

Yet, Pettitte’s former teammate, Roger Clemens, arguably the greatest pitcher in the modern era of baseball, has been ostracized from the game he dominated for 24 years. While Clemens, and another of Pettitte’s former teammates, Alex Rodriguez, are routinely vilified by the media and public, Pettitte is welcome by most in baseball.

Since PEDs first came to light about a decade ago, I have seen some patterns that either allow a user to be forgiven or blacklisted for their actions.

5. They told the truth

Think back as a kid. When you scratched yourself playing outside, your parents would put on a band-aid. Then, after a couple of days, the cut was gone, and you would remove your band-aid. Due to the sticky texture of the patch, it would hurt plenty whenever you took off a band-aid. In order to make you feel better, your parents would tell you, “just do it fast and be done with it.” That being said, I am not implying that players like Clemens and Barry Bonds, who claimed to never knowingly taking PEDs, are lying. Yet, when you slowly rip that band-aid from your skin, in the form of multiple denials and court appearances, the slower it is for the public to forget the fact you were accused of something. Users like David Ortiz and Pettitte got caught, said sorry, and moved on. The longer you fight, the more worn down people get.

4. They had careers after the accusation

I believe a big reason why Clemens, and Bonds have problems in the court of public opinion is because their careers were ending as they were accused. It is basically having this great ballet performance, and during the final scene, the main dancer trips. That is it. Close the curtains, the show is over. That is the last thing people will remember about the performance. By comparison, in 2009, David Ortiz’s name was on a list of over 100 players who tested positive for PEDs. Since then, he has had time to recover his image by spectacular play. Ortiz has been to four All-Star games, won a World Series, and has become one of the faces of baseball. His career after the allegation put more positive final images in fans memories.

3. Likability

We as a society, generally have an easier time forgiving people we like. Barry Bonds was known in clubhouses as a jackass who was disagreeable with teammates and the media. David Ortiz is a big smiling man who has been in commercials, and has some quirks which make him seem like a nice guy, We forgive one, and ostracize the other because we like one’s personality.

2. Playoff Performance

Again, going back to how we act as a society, fans like people who win.  Combined, Andy Pettitte and David Ortiz have led their teams to eight World Series championships, and have become two of the most clutch athletes of the millennium. By contrast, Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds have a history of poor postseason performances, causing fans of their own teams to sometimes not even side with the players.

1. Records

Baseball, unlike any other sport is a game based heavily on numbers. They are the holy jewels of the sport that allow fans to examine the difference between so many beloved players across the different eras of the sport. Ask baseball people about the numbers 755, .406, and 511, and they would know those numbers instantly. So, for players to allegedly use PEDs to break those records, you might as well spit in the face of fans. Andy Pettitte did not break any major records, neither has Ortiz. Barry Bonds broke the all time home run record: The holy grail of baseball. Alex Rodriguez was on and currently is seeking to shatter that record. Roger Clemens was racing to break the strikeout record, and won a record seven Cy Young awards. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa both broke the cherished single season homerun record held by Roger Maris. There is a reason these are the faces of steroids, and not Pettitte or Ortiz or the other fifty-two players who have been suspended for PEDs. It is because those players did not profit from their use as much as others.


Categories: daniel johnson, Sports

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