The greatest clean home run hitter in baseball history said last week he wanted the entire list of 104 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003 exposed. I don’t know how much Henry Aaron’s comments weighed on authorities but we can scratch two more names off the secret list.
The New York Times reported that Manny Ramirez — who already has sat out a 50-game suspension this season — and his former Boston Red Sox teammate, David Ortiz, tested positive in 2003. And for those deluded fans who still believe performance-enhancing drugs do not hugely impact the game, Ramirez and Ortiz were big reasons the Red Sox won World Series titles in 2004 and 2007. So Ramirez and Ortiz join previously outed druggies Alex Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa. I guess this thing is being released piecemeal.
Attention Braves fans: If you’re interesting in venting on this subject in some place other than in the commenting section below — which we always encourage — the Braves would love for you to attend Friday’s series opener against Ramirez and his current team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, at Turner Field. I believe it’s souvenir syringe night.
Baseball screened players for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003. The results were expected to remain confidential. But for some reason the list of 104 players who tested positive was not immediately destroyed and it soon ended up in the hands of the federal government as part of its investigation into BALCO, which provided PEDs to several high-profile athletes. The investigation led to Barry Bonds’ indictment for perjury. (You might’ve heard rumors that Bonds also took something on the way to breaking Aaron’s home run record.) The Major League Baseball Players Association has been fighting to keep the list confidential and obviously wants it destroyed. Legally, the union probably has a point. But the prevailing anti-drug sentiment in sports currently might trump that position.
In my conversation with Aaron last Sunday, he said, “If there’s another 102 players on that list, that would be my position — bring it all to light now and get it over with. The game has come through things before. It needs to come through this. If there are a hundred and some names on the list, let’s just get them out and get this over with so we can get on with the game.”
Angels center fielder Torii Hunter seems to agree with Aaron — to a point. He told ESPN: “Whoever got that list is just playing with Major League Baseball right now. Either put [the list] away, or just put it out. It was anonymous and now the names are leaking out and it’s a joke.”
Yes. But let’s not forget how this “joke” was made possible.