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Good Guy or Not, David Ortiz Doesn’t Belong in the Hall of Fame

Let me preface this article by saying that if I had a Hall of Fame vote, I would definitely vote for Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Mike Piazza. When the time comes, I’d gladly put Alex Rodriguez in as well. 

I grew up during the steroid era. I was playing Little League when some of the game’s biggest stars were having exciting home run races and breaking records left and right. It was fun. I loved it. 

Perhaps it’s generational, there’s definitely the possibility of that. But I can’t see how the greatest home run hitter in history and most feared hitter in my lifetime (Bonds) isn’t in. I can’t see how Clemens, who was dominant and has the most Cy Young Awards ever, isn’t in. I’m a New Yorker and lived through Piazza’s greatness, but he’s the greatest hitting catcher in baseball history, and he’s being held out of the Hall of Fame due to a suspicion of using steroids.

The simple fact of the matter is that if worthy first-ballot Hall of Famers such as Piazza are being held out due to a suspicion, there’s just no way that David Ortiz should be let in with a failed drug test on his resume.

The interesting thing is that most people either forget about Ortiz’s run-in with performance-enhancing drugs or just don’t care. It’s truly fascinating, and it may just have to do with the fact that Big Papi is a well-loved guy around baseball. It’s well known that he has a great personality and is a class act, so people seem to give him a pass due to it.

Unfortunately, we see this happen more frequently than you think.

It’s the reason Andy Pettitte, who admittedly used HGH, just had his number retired by the Yankees and now has a plaque in Monument Park among some of the greatest to ever play the game, and Clemens is essentially blacklisted from baseball. It’s the reason Ortiz is being considered for the Hall of Fame while notable baseball villain A-Rod, who blows him away in every statistic, is widely regarded as having no chance.

For Ortiz, it was a failed drug test 13 years ago with tricky circumstances, as his name was leaked from a list that was supposed to remain anonymous. He wasn’t even told he tested positive until years later.

Ortiz thinks he should still be in the Hall of Fame regardless of the test results. After all, he has been dominating opposing pitchers for nearly a decade and a half since with no other failed tests in between.

“If one day I’m up for the Hall of Fame and there are guys who don’t vote for me because of that, I will call it unfair,’’ Ortiz said, per Bob Hohler of the Boston Globe.

Now, Ortiz jokingly swore in his first-person story on Derek Jeter’s The Players’ Tribune that the only things drug testers will find in his urine are rice and beans. Still, he claims to have been tested over 80 times since 2004 and has never failed one of those tests.

He’s mainly frustrated because he’s never been told which substance he tested positive for back in 2003, when he was less careful with the substances he purchased and put in his body. He claims to never have knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs, which could very well be true. In a sport that was once infested with steroids, PEDs in locker rooms were probably more plentiful than chewing gum was in dugouts.  

Here’s Ortiz’s bottom line when it comes to his run-in with PEDs, per his essay on The Players’ Tribune:

Let me tell you something. Say whatever you want about me — love me, hate me. But I’m no bulls—–r. I never knowingly took any steroids. If I tested positive for anything, it was for something in pills I bought at the damn mall. If you think that ruins everything I have done in this game, there is nothing I can say to convince you different.

There’s no denying that Ortiz has put together a remarkable career and has been the key cog in three championships for a franchise that didn’t have one in 86 years. When you think of the great Red Sox teams over the last few decades, Ortiz’s name, along with Pedro Martinez and slugger Manny Ramirez, likely comes to mind. 

Ortiz has become the unlikely face of a franchise after being a relative nobody over his first six seasons in Minnesota. He has revolutionized the game and is undoubtedly the best designated hitter the game has ever seen. In fact, his prowess at the position is likely one of the reasons that Major League Baseball, though it has increased interleague play, has elected to keep the DH in the American League

Here’s a look at how Ortiz’s numbers rank all-time: 

What’s missing on Ortiz’s resume? An elusive MVP award.

While he has five finishes in the top five, he has never been able to win one.

His closest finish was in 2005, when he finished second to Rodriguez, who posted a monster season for the Yankees. Ortiz finished just one home run shy of A-Rod’s league-leading 48 homers, although he led the league with 148 RBI himself.

One obvious knock on Ortiz would be his lack of a defensive position. He is nothing more than a liability at first base when the Red Sox play National League teams, and that’s something that would likely be counted against him even if he never tested positive for any PEDs in the first place. 

No gold gloves, no defensive metrics to judge him by.

Not to keep bringing Rodriguez into the discussion, but he was a two-time Gold Glove shortstop before voluntarily switching to third base with the Yankees, alongside Derek Jeter. He was a plus third baseman as well, showcasing his defensive prowess and versatility. Bonds won eight Gold Gloves in a nine-year span with the Pirates and Giants.

So the DH argument can work both ways. While he is likely the best DH in the history of the game, it’s still a position in which there’s less attrition due to its one-sided nature. 

If circumstances were different, I wouldn’t mind putting Ortiz in the Hall of Fame. The problem is that current voters are trying to play judge, jury and God while deciphering who to let pass and who to deny at the gates of the Hall. 

Cooperstown has become a haven for solely clean players, whether it is just in the mind of the masses or not.

Ortiz is a great guy and a great player. He’s had a great career. But there are better players with steroid connections who have been blocked from entering Cooperstown. Unless voters change their minds and let those guys in first, Ortiz shouldn’t get preferential treatment and a free pass based on personality alone.

It’s either they all get in or they don’t. There’s no in-between.


Daniel Ferrara is a featured MLB columnist for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter to contact him and stay in touch.

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MLB Playoff Picture: How Each Contender Can Win the World Series

As August comes to a close and September draws near, playoff baseball is just on the horizon.

The dog days of August have separated contenders from the pack, obliterated the pretenders back to earth and created some interesting playoff races. 

Anything can happen once a team makes the playoffs, so this article will be encouragement to fans as to why their team can do the distance this season. They’ll have renewed and justified hope that their team can win the World Series in 2015.

Realistically, not every team near a playoff spot is a contender but merely just an average, flawed team that is hanging around with a sub-.500 record. Not to seem harsh, but that’s why teams such as the Tampa Bay Rays (60-61) and Minnesota Twins (60-61) have been left off. 

Of course, some teams have a better chance than others, while a few have more work to do to get in, but there are still plenty of chances for floundering franchises such as the Washington Nationals to right the ship.

Here’s your guide as to how each contender can win the World Series. 

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MLB Waiver Wire: 10 Players Most Likely to Be Picked Up

The trade deadline has passed, but players will still be dealt throughout the month of August due to the waiver system.

Teams who wrongly decided to bet that they would get hot and reach a second wild card spot will now have a second chance to unload some dead weight that won’t help them moving forward. This is good news for contenders who are still searching for that one extra piece that can get them over the hump.

There are certainly some high profile names on this list, which has been assembled due to the likelihood that each respective player is dealt. Certain factors, such as team position, player salary and player value are all taken into account. 

It would be interesting to see whether the fans would want their respective teams to trade for these players, so be sure to chime in with some comments. 

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MLB Waiver Wire 2015: Teams That Have to Make a Move

Many star players switched teams before the July 31 trade deadline, but more could still be changing their jerseys in August thanks to the waiver wire. In a sport stricken by parity, in which a whopping 13 teams are within just three games of a wild-card spot, there are plenty of teams who will be looking to add pieces through waivers.

Although it is unlikely that a star will be placed on waivers, it does happen on occasion if the organization feels as if a drastic overhaul is necessary and wants to shave payroll.  The Boston Red Sox traded Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 25, 2012 when they knew they were out of contention and wanted to clear up some money for the future. 

While trades like those aren’t likely, would anyone be surprised to see the San Diego Padres sell a couple of pieces during this month? After all, Padres general manager A.J. Preller forgot to set his alarm last week and inexplicably slept through the trade deadline. 

ESPN’s Buster Olney even reported that ace James Shields is expected to be a trade candidate during the month.

It’s certainly possible that some players will become available who can make an impact or help a team in the race for a playoff spot. With more teams than ever sniffing the playoffs, including franchises who haven’t played in October in quite some time, there may be an aggressive group of buyers looking to gear up for a long postseason run. 

Here’s a look at some teams who should make a move on the waiver wire and why.


New York Yankees

The Yankees uncharacteristically made their blue-chip prospects unavailable at the trade deadline and elected to pass on aces such as Cole Hamels. This shift in philosophy demonstrates that GM Brian Cashman is committed to building from within, something the Yankees haven’t done since the “Core Four” emerged in the mid-90s and carried the Bombers to several championships. 

Although the Yankees were inactive in July, they need to respond in August. Erik Boland of Newsday reminded Yankees fans that a dormant trade deadline doesn’t necessarily mean the team is done trading for the rest of the season.

They are currently 59-45 and have a six-game lead over the second-place Orioles and Blue Jays in the American League East, but the Yankees are a flawed team.

The team needed a starting pitcher before Michael Pineda hit the DL with a right forearm strain, as they rank last among teams in a playoff spot with a 4.37 ERA from starting pitchers. CC Sabathia (4-8, 5.54 ERA) has been nothing short of a train wreck, and the team would likely be better off if he were lost for the year to injury so it would give them an excuse not to run him out there every fifth day. 

The Yankees were reportedly seeking bullpen help before the July 31 trade deadline, but it has become increasingly clear that none of their shaky, inconsistent starters can be counted on.

If a player like James Shields becomes available and can be had at a reasonable price, they should jump on him.

His contract is set to pay him $63 million after this season, and he has proved that he can be successful in the American League East. Landing Shields would be an appropriate response to Toronto’s huge deadline splashes of David Price and Troy Tulowitzki. Although the Yankees are calling up prospect Luis Severino to make his next start, it is unknown what kind of immediate impact the 21-year-old can have.

If no worthy starting pitcher hits the waiver wire, the Yankees could certainly upgrade at second base. 

Stephen Drew is still on the interstate, hitting just .199 on the season. His 13 home runs and solid defense help his case, but if a player like Chase Utley is there, it’s hard to see the Yankees not taking a chance on him.

While the 36-year-old is currently on the disabled list and has been awful in his own right this season, his lefty swing would be tailor-made for the short porch in Yankee Stadium and he is a short-term commitment that could help the Bombers moving forward.

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick agrees that Utley would be a solid fit for the Yankees. 


Chicago Cubs

It was surprising that the brain trust of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer didn’t make a splash at the trade deadline, as the Cubs are sniffing the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

The Cubs are currently tied for the second wild-card spot with the San Francisco Giants, who just landed pitcher Mike Leake to help their starting rotation. The Cubs need to do something and capitalize on this opportunity for their loyal fans. 

The one area of obvious weakness on the Cubs is left field. Although it seems like just yesterday that Chris Coghlan won the Rookie of the Year Award, the now-30-year-old is batting just .249 with 24 RBI on the season. Rookie Kyle Schwarber can slide to left field when catcher Miguel Montero comes off the disabled list, but that still doesn’t make their lineup scare anyone.

Perhaps a player like Marlon Byrd would be able to help the Cubs.

Byrd has enjoyed a resurgence of late, hitting more than 20 home runs and driving in more than 80 runs in each of the last two seasons. He currently has 18 homers in 2015 and could provide Chicago with some more right-handed power and help them stretch their lineup. 


New York Mets

The new-look Mets and their young pitching staff looked extremely impressive in the weekend’s sweep of the Nationals.

Now tied for first place with Washington, the Mets proved that they can hang with the best and that they have a legitimate shot to make a deep run this season. 

Nobody wants to face the Mets in a short series. How can anyone stack up against Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and presumably Steven Matz?

With Yoenis Cespedes, Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe and Tyler Clippard now in the fold, it has become quite clear that the Mets are finally going for it this year. Captain David Wright is also on his way back to help bolster an improved offense, making the Mets that much more frightening.

The one area of weakness for the Mets is their bullpen.

Although adding Clippard was a great move, Jenrry Mejia was busted for using performance-enhancing drugs for the second time this year, resulting in a 162-game ban. Closer Jeurys Familia has been excellent this season, but he has blown three saves in his last four chances and has pitched to a 6.75 ERA since July 19.

Mets fans rejoiced when Jose Reyes was traded to the Rockies, envisioning a reunion with their former All-Star. Although that never happened, the Mets could still make a new connection with an old friend and pick up Francisco Rodriguez off waivers if he becomes available. 

Rodriguez saved 83 games over his three seasons in New York and although they weren’t all pretty, the 2015 All-Star could help the Mets make the postseason for the first time since 2006. His 1.46 ERA would be welcomed in Flushing with open arms.  


Houston Astros

Few teams had a better trade deadline than the Astros, who picked up Scott Kazmir and Carlos Gomez. Much like the Mets, their prospects finally came to fruition and are producing in 2015, making them a legitimate contender for the first time in a long time.

A six-game Angels’ losing streak has now given the Astros a four-game lead over their division rivals. While the slugging Astros could likely benefit from acquiring another player who can hit for average, as they rank No. 25 in baseball with a .246 team batting average, it has been reported that they are still seeking bullpen help.

While their relievers currently rank third in the league with a 2.68 ERA, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports that they are looking for a right arm out of the pen. 

Like the Mets, Francisco Rodriguez would fit in Houston. Veteran relievers Koji Uehara and Joaquin Benoit could help Houston down the stretch and in the playoffs as well. 

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New York Mets vs. Arizona Diamondbacks Live Blog: Instant Analysis and Reaction

The New York Mets roll out several young superheroes in their pitching staff and Friday night was Thor’s turn to wow the Citi Field crowd.

Rookie Noah Syndergaard didn’t disappoint as he pitched a gem against an impressive Diamondbacks lineup, propelling the Mets to a 4-1 victory.  

Syndergaard, in his first career start against Arizona, was absolutely brilliant after getting tagged for an early run in the first inning.

He blanked them from that point on and finished with a career-high 13 strikeouts over eight innings. He also threw a career-high 116 pitches, a benefit of having extra rest due to the Mets’ six-man rotation of late. With the third double-digit strikeout performance of his young career, the 22-year-old Syndergaard lowered his season ERA to 3.11.

The Mets supported him with back-to-back home runs by Lucas Duda and Michael Cuddyer in the bottom half of the first to jump ahead 4-1 against Chase Anderson, who lasted only 4.1 innings. Those four first-inning runs were all the Mets would need and the hibernation of their bats over the remainder of the game went seemingly unnoticed during Syndergaard’s masterful display.

All three of Syndergaard’s pitches were working on Friday night. He fanned six batters on his electric fastball, five on his sharp diving curveball and two on his 88 mph changeup.

With their victory, the Mets moved to within two games of the first place Washington Nationals in the East. The Diamondbacks fell back under .500 and will have to face Matt Harvey on Saturday afternoon. 

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