Tomase: In defense of writer who left David Ortiz off his HOF ballot


One of the joys of covering David Ortiz was his unfiltered passion. If he believed it, he said it, and that's a reporter's dream.

One of the joys of reading Dan Shaughnessy is his fearlessness. If he believes it, he writes it, no matter who gets pissed off.

When the two butt heads, as they did periodically throughout Ortiz's career, it's a clash of formidable wills. And their interests have once again come into conflict this month with Shaughnessy revealing that he left Ortiz off his Hall of Fame ballot and Ortiz firing back with WEEI's "Merloni & Fauria" on Wednesday that Shaughnessy is an a-hole.

As a Hall of Fame voter who covered Ortiz, considers Shaughnessy a friend and colleague, and has been on the receiving end of that particular insult throughout my own career, I feel qualified to adjudicate this particular dispute.

And I am Team Shaughnessy.

First, some background. I am an Ortiz voter and will be for as long as it takes to earn enshrinement -- which looks like it will be this year, so this is probably a fight about nothing. I thoroughly enjoyed covering the guy, and I do not find the 2003 PED allegations against him strong enough to invalidate his candidacy. But more generally, I'm not holding pre-testing behavior against anyone, since MLB itself condoned it until Congress convened. I also vote for Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Gary Sheffield. That's just me.

Tomase: Why David Ortiz is the easiest HOF vote in years

Shaughnessy, however, is very clear -- he doesn't vote for anyone credibly linked to PEDs. And because Ortiz's name appeared on the 2003 list selectively leaked to the New York Times in 2009, that's disqualifying.

"Fair or unfair, I've never voted for anyone who got caught using PEDs or appeared to gain an unfair advantage by juicing," he wrote as part of The Boston Globe's staff ballot reveal "Granted, there is no way of knowing who was 100 percent clean and who wasn't -- and that includes (Ken) Griffey, (Mariano) Rivera, and (Derek) Jeter. We all make our own conclusions. And in many cases, writers vote for them even if they feel they cheated. It's the 'everybody was doing it' mentality.

"In my opinion, Ortiz will gain entry when voting is revealed Jan. 25. Good for him. But there's no vote here, because I'm trying to be consistent. Big Papi failed MLB's baseline testing in 2003. The commissioner asked us to ignore that failed test -- a presidential pardon not granted (Sammy) Sosa, A-Rod, or Manny (Ramirez), who also failed the same test. I didn't vote for the others. Not voting for David."

Hate the conclusion all you want, but respect the argument. The Hall asks us to consider character without defining exactly what that means. Shaughnessy believes steroids are cheating. If you fail a test, or your name appears in a report, or there are credible PED allegations against you, Shaughnessy is a no. He might be the most consistent voter in the BBWAA.

Fans being fans, they'll always side with the beloved athlete over the wretched sportswriter. I would've done the same before my first byline. But on this one, they're wrong, and no amount of snarky tweets or outraged blogs will change it.

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