After this article by Bill Simmons appeared in the same publication, you would think that there would be a healthy cynicism to any kind of late-career production or performance surge by an athlete, especially a baseball player. Their stats are quantifiable, they're not as affected by a slumping centreman, or a lousy offensive line. There can be variations from season to season, but abrupt spikes? Those would leave me dubious, if I cared about baseball anymore.
Here's a thought: why don't baseball reporters/investigators/authorities measure a player's bat speed, and see if they can use that metric as a sure sign of cheating? Just spitballing, free advice, because it's Thursday.
Anyway, even to the casual observer, who is subjected to baseball highlights when he watches SportsCentre despite his best intentions, David Ortiz is obviously a cheater. We saw him in his prime as a massive, mountain of a man, a superhero who maybe didn't watch his calories, but with superpowers nonetheless. Then, when the drug testing programs got stricter, and players were warned that HGH would soon be tested for, Mr. Ortiz, along with his compadre Manny Ramirez shrunk like raisins over the course of a season. It's maybe not detectable to the rabid Red Sox fan, since they're tuning in every day and the change is somewhat gradual, but to the person who sees that transformation from one season's highlights to another's lowlights, it's obvious that there's been a drastic, transformative weight loss. As was also immediately apparent in Albert Pujols, for exhibit 'C'.
We've seen athletes undergo shocking anabolic spurts in too short a time for those to not raise suspicions. We're now beyond that period. Athletes don't just do steroid or HGH cycles in the off-seasons, they're now cycling through their careers. David Ortiz was skinny, then he was a grizzly bear of an all-star, then he got smallish in the shoulders and chest and doughy, and now apparently is back on the horse and he's using and producing again. And we shouldn't act surprised, or even care.