Different messages from Hamilton, Ortiz
While Rangers slugger offers a human response, Big Papi toes the MLB line on steroids
Josh Hamilton, the troubled and talented 28-year-old center fielder for the Texas Rangers, became a truly extraordinary figure in the world of baseball Saturday, and his team hadn't yet begun its key game against the Los Angeles Angels. Hamilton did the unthinkable: He admitted he was that most common of creatures, a human being.Hamilton is a recovering addict, both of alcohol and a host of drugs, crack cocaine among them. Before the spiral, he was the first pick overall in the 1999 draft, but addictions derailed him from the game for more than three years until 2007, when he finally found his way to the big leagues. He said he had been clean since 2005. He said he was now a man of God. His wife, children, organization and support group sustained him. He had become an inspiration for recovering addicts about what was possible even when things appeared to be their worst.
But Weiner also signaled, quite expectedly, that on the issue of performance enhancers, nothing has changed. Ortiz said he never used steroids, and the public has the right to believe him or not, but then he said he did not know what substances he took, and offered no insight on what may have triggered a positive test.
The reason for the charade, naturally, is both the level of the public breach when it comes to steroids and, for the elite player, the ultimate consequence of likely being barred from the Hall of Fame. But, it is a charade. If you took Weiner at his word, the entire steroids era has merely been a misunderstanding, naive but well-meaning guys mixing the wrong powders in their protein shakes.The common talk is for everyone to "move on," but truth and reconciliation cannot occur when the particulars -- management and players -- don't want to admit the truth. Howard Bryant is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He is the author of "Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston" and "Juicing the Game: Drugs, Power and the Fight for the Soul of Major League Baseball." He can be reached at Howard.Bryant@espn3.com.