Did the Herald do David Ortiz wrong? Globe columnist Jackie MacMullan ups the ante today with a lengthy piece on the fallout from the headline on a short Michael Silverman item in Tuesday’s Herald. The headline: “Papi unwitting ‘roid user?”
MacMullan writes: “The headline was a disservice to Ortiz, and to Silverman, who does not write his own headlines. In fact, no writer at a major paper writes his or her headlines.”
OK, the headline was kind of idiotic. But, as these things go, it wasn’t that bad. Here’s how Silverman’s item begins:
On the topic of steroids, Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz said he is not 100 percent positive that he’s never used them. If he did, it happened when he was much younger.
“I tell you, I don’t know too much about steroids, but I started listening about steroids when they started to bring that [expletive] up, and I started realizing and getting to know a little bit about it,” Ortiz said Sunday. “You’ve got to be careful…. I used to buy a protein shake in my country. I don’t do that any more because they don’t have the approval for that here, so I know that, so I’m off of buying things at the GNC back in the Dominican [Republic]. But it can happen anytime, it can happen. I don’t know. I don’t know if I drank something in my youth, not knowing it.”
I’d say the headline was an exaggeration of what Ortiz actually said, but not by that much. MacMullan says this about the Herald’s headline:
It was an inflammatory rhetorical question that set off a national chain reaction of speculation. One of the first hints was when Red Sox manager Terry Francona said a Toronto reporter entered his office and declared that Ortiz had exposed himself as a steroid user.
The Toronto reporter needs a reading-comprehension lesson.
This is the second time the Globe has let Ortiz vent about the Herald; here is Gordon Edes’ piece from Thursday’s paper. And yes, I think the Herald could have written a more deft headline to describe Ortiz’s remarks.
But the real story here is that Ortiz let himself get caught thinking out loud at a moment when everyone is baseball is freaked out about steroids. He said nothing wrong, but, sadly, in the current climate, he probably shouldn’t have said anything.