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A defense of David Ortiz and a lot of history about the Twins

  • Blog Post by: Michael Rand
  • May 10, 2013 - 3:24 PM

The best and worst of the Internet age of writing can be found at an SB Nation piece today by Steven Goldman on David Ortiz and the latest steroid dust-up, this time with Boston writer Dan Shaughnessy.

Unlimited space means the chance to get lost within words, and we're of the mind that the Ortiz piece might have been twice as good at half the length. Maybe that's just a guy with print roots talking. Maybe not.

In any event, there are some moments of interest and clarity, particularly if you are a Twins fan and/or an Ortiz fan.

First, a description of the small-ball Twins during the late 1990s/2000s, when Ortiz was trying to break into the league and subsequently thriving in Boston:

Ortiz began his professional career in the Mariners organization, but he had the misfortune to be dealt to the Twins after his first season in A-ball. The Twins have long had an odd way of doing things; I don't think it's unfair to say that they have spent a good chunk of the present millennium avoiding power hitters and, since they heyday of Johan Santana and Francisco Liriano ended, strikeout pitchers. The policy seems foolish to the point of perversity, but you can't say that the Twins weren't successful with it until recently: from 2002 through 2010 they won the AL Central six times.

Still, they presently rank 14th in the American League in isolated power (slugging percentage - on-base percentage), a position they have held five other times since 2000 -- their highest ranking this century has been sixth; they have never been more than .005 above the league average. As such, they didn't quite know what to make of Ortiz, a dead-pull power hitter.

Avoiding power hitters might be a bit much, and the description of Ortiz as a dead-pull power hitter is also a bit off. But the phrase "didn't quite know what to make of Ortiz" is an apt way to describe the Ortiz era here.

Later, we get to Ortiz defending himself in the wake of Shaughnessy's column:

"Yesterday, the guy came to see me and asked some questions about steroids, and when you see the writing, it basically focuses on the fact that I'm Dominican and that many Dominicans have been caught using steroids. And what about the Americans?" Ortiz said.

"If you're from the Middle East, because there are some people there who put bombs and terrorize civilians, I have to see you like that, as well? If you are a white American, I have to call you a racist because white Americans were in the Ku Klux Klan?"

Whether you believe Ortiz or not, the logical fallacy he exposes -- and which Goldman notes -- is notable. A player like him is operating in a no-win situation in 2013. If he fails. he's off the juice. If he's on a hot streak, he must be juicing again. After years of PED saturation, we are in guilty-until-proven-innocent mode.

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