On July 30, the New York Times revealed that David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez — heroes of the Red Sox' 2004 and 2007 World Series wins — are on the (supposedly) secret list of a hundred-plus major leaguers who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) in 2003.
Three days later, the Boston Globe followed with a Sox shocker of its own. According to a Spotlight investigative-team story that was six weeks in the making, the Sox fired two security workers for involvement with steroids last September — one of whom was Jared Remy, the implausibly ripped son of Jerry Remy, the former Red Sox second baseman who now does team broadcasts for the New England Sports Network. (NESN is partially owned by the Sox, and thus by the New York Times Co., which owns part of the Sox' parent company and all of the Globe.) Prior to the firings, Major League Baseball launched an investigation into possible Sox PED use.
Impressive as the Globe article was, it also raised some questions. Why did it take the Globe the better part of a year to report on a bona fide steroid scandal that was brewing in its back yard? And whether that delay was caused by chumminess or cluelessness, did it cost the Globe a rare chance to rewrite Red Sox history?
MISSING THE CALL
According to Globe editor Marty Baron, the Times was practically destined to break the story of Ortiz and Ramirez's presence on "the list." "Anything is possible, of course, if you devote enough time and resources to a subject," says Baron via e-mail. "The Times has had one or two reporters covering the subject of performance-enhancing drugs for a very long time." Given the demands on the Globe's newsroom, he adds, this wasn't something the Globe could replicate.
Still, Sunday's story suggests that the Globe — had it acted more quickly and more aggressively — might have gotten to Ortiz's, as well as even Ramirez's, past PED use first.
Recall, for example, that "Big Papi" was a serviceable player with the Minnesota Twins, but morphed into a latter-day Lou Gehrig (complete with a beefy new physique) after coming to Boston in 2003. In May 2007, he told the BostonHerald that he might have unwittingly used steroids in the past. And in February 2009, the New York Daily News reported that Ortiz had a relationship with banned trainer Angel Presinal, who also worked with steroid scapegoat Alex Rodriguez. These facts weren't unreported by the Globe, but they didn't cause great consternation, either. (Former columnist Jackie MacMullan in May 2007: "The only connection between Ortiz and steroids is that he is a very big man and he hits very big home runs. And that's not fair.")
Now note that, in Sunday's Globe story, Jared Remy recalled swapping steroid techniques with Ortiz's former personal assistant. That's a bombshell of a claim. And if it had been unearthed after Remy's firing last fall, it could have been the catalyst for a broader, groundbreaking look at PED suspicions involving Ortiz and others. Ditto the fact that the other fired employee, Nicholas Cyr — who was busted with steroids at Wollaston Beach in July — ran errands for Ramirez.