The naming of David Ortiz to the list of offenders of 2003's Major League Baseball survey testing for steroids shined a brand-new light on the performance enhancing drug controversy. He was not the first to be named, as Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriguez, and Manny Ramirez have been reported by The New York Times to be on the list. In all, there are 104 names on the list and, with 30 teams, that makes an average of 3 players per team. Major League Baseball wanted to get a handle on how rampant the problem was, and the Mitchell Report found the 2003 "hit rate" was about 7.94%, or 104 of the 1310 players that appeared in a game in 2003 (643 hitters, 667 pitchers).
My guess is that every "big-market" team or team that was trying to contend in 2003 probably has more than average. Why? Two reasons are clear as to why players take PEDs: to get to the Show and to stay in the Show. The prospects and players hanging on who felt they had to get to the big leagues through questionable means probably amount to about the same for every franchise. Every farm system has those players trying to do whatever it takes to make the majors. But, big-money veterans are more likely to command big money and the teams in contention want the veteran presence on their ball club and are willing to pay handsomely for those services. So, how many juiced players did the teams in contention average? 4? 5?
One of the great "side effects" for players and an allure for PEDs is the thought of another big free agent payday. When age starts eroding their talents, get another payday by staying in the Show for a few more years. When free agency was still shiny and new, you had two big paydays: one in your late 20's and one in your early 30's. Now, you have three, and don't think that is by accident, as players in the mid-to-late 30s scored big when they peddled their services around the league.
Whether your team is a "big-market" team or not, it is all just speculation anyway. Right now, the whole PED drama is more about the trash talk if you root for one of those teams. If you root for the Red Sox before Thursday, you trash-talked the Yankees and their fans. You laughed about how their fan base was duped and how their numbers are inflated or you would be angry at the shot they cost your team from making the playoffs or winning it all. Their records and titles are tainted, you would say. You could say the same if you root for the Mets now. You could call out the teams and the fans who root for them. But, we all know that it is a matter of time before a big name who played for the Mets in 2003 is "outed". You know what they say about people in glass houses?
If a player you loved has not already been tied to "the list" or failed a test since 2003, just wait. Just about every baseball fan out there has a jersey or a poster or a piece of paraphernalia that touts a player who has or will be tied to performance enhancing drugs. The Ortiz situation has helped me arrive at a (possibly convenient) conclusion. Red Sox fans will most likely offer David Ortiz a pass, not because he may not be guilty, but because they cannot possibly fathom disliking him. We all have players we love and we may hold him up higher than we should. But, what is more important: a clean game or a beloved player? The answer is always "a clean game" until you hear a player you love is on "the list".