The 2003 List Gets More Public

Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz had their names leaked this morning as being part of the list of MLB players that tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in 2003 during what was supposed to be a secret test conducted by Major League Baseball to find out the extent of the problem. They are not the first, proceeded by Sammy Sosa and Alex Rodriguez among others. For Ortiz’s part, he did confirm that he was informed that he was on the list.

Ortiz was supposed to be one of those names that would elicit a big reaction from the baseball fandom at large. Roughly 12 hours after the news first started breaking, it seems that the expected reaction amongst fans is far more tepid that the one the media forecasted. Big surprise there as it certainly appears that fans, for the most part, simply do not care anymore. Ortiz did not let the media storm deter him from leading the Red Sox comeback win over Oakland in Boston today.

I am not writing to discuss what should be done about the 2004 record books, or anything like that. It is my, unsubstantiated, belief that a large portion of baseball (and football and basketball and and and…) players were juicing in some form or another. And that includes pitchers as well as hitters before you start mouthing off about how home run records from the era all need to be asterisked.

I did want to point out though that probably the best result for MLB at this point would be if that entire 2003 list was leaked at once. That way the media could handle it all in one news cycle and be done with it instead of names getting floated out piecemeal every couple of months to start the story anew. Of course, MLB itself cannot just release the list as per conditions of getting players to agree to the test in the first place, but I wonder if there is not a way for MLB to engineer a way for the list to become public knowledge while avoiding liability.

Whatever happens, I am glad that the reactions that I have been reading and hearing since the news broke has mostly been one of uncaring. Let us move on already.

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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

36 Responses to “The 2003 List Gets More Public”

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  1. Mike says:

    The agreement was that the names would not be released. I wouldn’t abandon that just because it is convenient to do so.

    The mistake here was devising a system where you could correlate the names to the results when in fact only the aggregate data was relevant. I wouldn’t compound those mistakes by reneging on the deal and releasing all the names. It’s probably government sources that have leaked this info anyway, not MLB or MLBPA sources. Either way, MLB or the MLBPA shouldn’t facilitate the release of the list, as they’d lose what little integrity they have left. If a player wants to out himself, fine.

    I’ll be sure not to enter into any agreements with you.

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    • I at no point said MLB __should__ release the names. I said it would probably be best for them if they could and I am wondering if they might not try to find a way.

      Try not to read more intent than actually lies in the words.

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      • Mike says:

        I understood what you said and I disagree that it would “be best for them if they could”. The truth is like a diamond: you can over it up but it’s still there. MLB somehow manipulating the situation so that the names could be leaked would be potentially MUCH more damaging than the prolonged period of bad press caused by the list being released piecemeal.

        Assuming that the agreement was made in good faith, and that it’s legal, then all involved parties should adhere to it despite the efforts of other to undermine it. What’s the point of negotiating something if one side can unilaterally decide that it no longer works for them?

        I’m not really sure of the distinction between “MLB __should__ release the names” and “it would probably be best for them if they could”. I’ll just accept that the latter is your stance. :)

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  2. Matthew says:

    you guys here just LOVE talking about the red sox dont you?

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  3. Adam says:

    Matthew – I would suggest clarifying your wording in the first paragraph: “For Ortiz’s part, he did confirm that he was informed that he was on the list.”

    This could suggest that he was informed by MLB/MLBPA in 2003/2004, which is not the case. He was informed earlier today by the MLBPA.

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  4. TIM says:

    I wouldn’t read to much into the reaction over Ortiz. It was always pretty obvious he was on steroids, and once Ramirez got busted…how surprised are people supposed to be?

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  5. Samg says:

    I agree with you. This needs to be done with, and put past us. Only then can we begin to fix the underlying issues.

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  6. Joe R says:

    I can think of two reasons why:
    1) His OPS is .738. Pretty dramatic drop, which of course could be just a decline, but also raise an eyebrow
    2) It’s true, it was so common for years that at this point, who wasn’t using? Griffey and Thome are some of the few power hitters of the steroids era that look to be coming out of this clean.

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  7. B says:

    I can’t stand this stuff. My opinion is either release every name on the list or don’t release any of them (not that that’s a realistic suggestion). I just can’t stand that certain players get singled out when we know there are so many more people out there, that also used and/or got caught, that don’t have to deal with this kind of thing.

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    • BX says:

      Yeah, I pretty much agree with this. Now that some names are out, just get all of them out .

      I just never want to hear about this roids stuff again, even though I know that is an insane, insane pipe dream.

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  8. R M says:

    These news stations are pissing me off….talking about whether the 2004 and 2007 championships are tainted just because David Ortiz failed a drug test in 2003…fuck off CBS, seriously.

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  9. CJ says:

    Releasing the list at this point can’t be done legally. The players who tested positive have a contractual committment that the names will be anonymous. If the player’s association or MLB did anything to facilitate release of the names, they could be sued by every one of the players who tested positive. Also this is subject to a much more significant legal issue regarding the ability of government to engage in unlawful searches and seizures. It is just plain wrong to let “leakers” accomplish something that the constitution wouldn’t allow them to accomplish under law.

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    • B says:

      True CJ, my take is these names are coming from somewhere, who’s the little weasel leaking them and why are they choosing to leak the ones they do (while not releasing so many others)? I’m sure the media prefers it this way, instead of blowing their load all at once they get a big news story from each individual name that comes out.

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    • Eric says:

      The suggestion is that the players & player’s association agree to make the list public, with the argument that it’s going to leak anyway (clearly), so it’s better to just rip the band-aid off. However, since you’d need the ok from everyone who tested positive, and some are likely to be free agents next year, it’s unlikely you’ll see this happen at least until they all sign contracts

      I think there’s two further issues that I’m extremely curious about:

      1) If Ortiz isn’t blatantly lying about not being informed he tested positive until today (which would be pretty stupid, since it’s not so difficult to disprove), that’s a problem – I thought the word when the A-Rod test leaked was that all 104 players were notified by the player’s association. If they weren’t, they should be, and it’s possible a few of them would come out and admit it anyway.

      2) I’m really interested to see what winds up happening once a few more names leak; obviously it depends how the contract was worded, but it seems there’s an obvious enormous opening for a class action suit by the players against MLB for keeping the tests non-anonymous. If it’s just A-Rod, he’s not likely to keep pushing the steroid story by suing by himself; if there’s a hundred, though, they can hide in numbers and pursue it (and I think there’s clearly going to be financial impacts for the players down the road, whether it’s in ability to get signed for baseball or just future sponsorships / etc).

      I mean, seriously, what level of incompetence do you have to have to not be able to handle randomizing tests?

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      • K-M says:

        From what I’ve read, this is also to blame on the player’s union. Placing all the blame on MLB and this possible class-action suit is irresponsible. What level of incompetence / arrogance do you have to have to not at least try disposing of these tests?


        “We know that the players’ union had an opportunity to destroy the 2003 survey testing, but inexplicably, did not. The union could have negotiated with the federal government to have investigators subpoena only the 2003 test samples for BALCO-involved players such as Bonds and Jason Giambi. But because the union appears to have overplayed its hand, the government succeeded in acquiring all of the 2003 samples.”

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      • B says:

        “ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson said Canseco’s claim of a class-action lawsuit is probably baseless on several fronts.

        “One reason is that the government is involved,” Munson said. “The FBI and the IRS came into those labs and took those samples and the scorecards to tell who was who on the list. If the players sued the players’ union and Major League Baseball, those two would say it wasn’t them, it was the government.

        “Could they get a lawyer to file a case? Without a doubt. But I don’t see it as a really strong case. It’s an interesting idea, but it would probably be dismissed quickly.””

        It doesn’t sound to me like there’s much of a case against the players union or MLB. The time frame to destroy the results was very small, once the government got involved/search warrant was issued they no longer could destroy the results, it turns out (as of the present) the government acted illegally in seizing those files but you can’t sue the government, and whoever leaked the names was likely acting illegally…but that’s not on MLB or the players union.

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  10. Matthew says:

    ken griffey used steroids too… i know you guys dont want that to be true.. but lets face it.. he used steroids just like every other big time power hitter did the last 15 years

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    • B says:

      Wait, you mean a guy that had an incredibly healthy career his first 11 years in the league (playing 140+ games every year but his rookie season, the strike year, and one other year) all of a sudden started doing things like tearing hamstrings and ligaments/tendons, all at the time steroids were supposedly getting big into baseball? Steroids? Nooooo, couldn’t be possible. Honestly, people seem to love Griffey and he gets this amazing pass (see the negative votes for Matthew for even suggesting it) despite the fact that there’s more reason to believe he did it than the average player in this era.

      All I’m really saying is it’s possible he did it, and somehow Griffey is treated with kiddie gloves. I mean, you never see anyone mention his recliner in the clubhouse, yet somehow it’s a big deal that someone like Bonds had one (of course people have lots of other issues with Bonds, but the point still stands)…

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  11. Phil says:

    Weird that no one has mentioned that it’s in the media’s and mlb’s best interest to release names a few at a time. It’s more pub, it leads sportscenter, sometimes crosses over into mainstream media like the today show, tonight show, daily show, etc. Why would MLB want to piss away all that free pub? That’s why they don’t release the whole list. Instead of arguing over semantics and what is “agreed upon” in the first comment.

    You know what wouldn’t shock me? If the last names on that list are A.Pujols and D.Jeter.

    You know why I actually don’t think Grif used? Because he never healed faster. I remember back in 05 or 06 tejada got hurt they said it was a 2 month injury, he was back in like 3 weeks(i dont remember that for fact fyi). Most of the guys use it to stay, younger, and what do younger people do? heal faster. If grif was juicing maybe they were slipping him a placebo or something, cause that guy was not healing quick. Because of this he would be one to surprise me. Him and Big Hurt, that dude was a beast throughout his life, and another guy who didn’t head particularity quick.

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  12. Havoc says:

    I hope when this all ends…Griffey JR. and Pujols are on that list.
    And I hope the whole Asterisk BS goes away too….I mean….Seriously?

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  13. The Typical Idiot Fan says:

    Release the whole list? But then the person leaking the one or two names every few months wouldn’t be able to make anymore money! What are you, a communist?!

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  14. Brian Recca says:

    asterisks are a joke. there are players in the hall of fame right now who are known cheaters, yet there are no asterisks next to their names. Some of those people include Gaylord Perry, Mike Schmidt, Whitey Ford, Willie Stargell.

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  15. Deep Throat says:

    The list:

    It’s been out for a little while. Whether it’s true or not is for you to decide but it’s worth the read.

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    • Joe R says:

      most blogs are blocked at my job.
      I found one list but immediately knew it was crap; Grimsley wasn’t on it.

      I don’t even want to know to judge guys, I just want to know so it’ll finally just die.

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    • Tom B says:

      you do realize that the site you linked to even says that list is bogus.

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  16. Drew says:

    I bet there’s literally hundreds of guys who aren’t on any “list” who used performance enhancers and simply didn’t get caught, or used some other type of legal performance enhancer.

    The best way to shut the idiots up about asteriks and “inflated numbers” is to show them park/league/era-normalized stats – but, then again, in my experience they usually aren’t smart enough to understand even something that simple anyway.

    And I think they should ban Lasik surgery. Maybe even Tommy John surgery.

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  17. Tom B says:

    releasing the list all at once allows any remaining players to deflect critisism because the media will be over-busy with it. release 2 names every week until the list is completely out there. that at least gives them a week of shame before the media moves on to the next guy.

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  18. David A says:

    “And that includes pitchers as well as hitters before you start mouthing off about how home run records from the era all need to be asterisked.”

    From what I understand about pitchers and steriods, most who were juicing were doing it to improve their stamina and recovery time, less so to improve their velocity or anything like that. And while I suppose that the reduced fatigue could lead to improved control, I have a hard time believing that pitching performance, overall, was really improved that much by the use of steroids. Maybe I am wrong and you or others here are aware of some research on this. I would love to see it if it exists.

    Hitters clearly benefited though. They added muscle mass and hit the ball over the fence at a rate that in retrospect, really looks ridiculous. Even if they got the same amount of hits as before (or even less) a higher percentage of those hits were going out of the park. This was a phenomenon that we experienced league-wide, and when you look at individual players from this era you can see some really extreme examples (Bonds, Sosa, etc.–or David Ortiz for example). That’s why I think the argument for the asterisk is legitimate. It’s sad, really. But I think the farther we get from this period, the clearer it becomes.

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    • Joe R says:

      case by case basis imo.
      A-Rod, for example, showed no real “steroid” peak and should be treated as such.
      Sosa, on the other hand, showed a clear one, both statistically and aesthetically. Went from a solid hitter than kind of hacked at everything to hitting opposite field flat footed homers.
      Ortiz, eh, it’s 50-50. Obviously he was busted when he was breaking out, but he kept on hitting way past 2005 when testing really picked up, so who knows.

      It’s just dumb. How many people are going to remember Rodney Harrison being busted for roids when he hits the NFL Hall of Fame ballot? Same goes for Shawne Merriman.

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    • B says:

      Asterisks are stupid for a number of reason, a couple which stick out to me. First of all, we don’t know the effect steroids have. It’s certainly reasonable that being stronger makes you hit the ball farther/harder if you use them and train properly, but how much does that help? Which players were using, and what effect did it have? How much was taken away because of pitchers using? Were there any other factors in play, like juiced baseballs?

      Second, and this one really stands out to me, why do we need an asterisk? What is it supposed to accomplish, other than to try to remove legitimacy from what happened? Look, fans aren’t completely stupid (even if many are mostly stupid), we know the steroid era happened. We know to be skeptical of comparing steroid-era numbers to other eras. Why do we need someone to tell us how to think about the steroid era? We can make a decision on our own about how to view it. It’s not like we need something there telling us it happened…we know already. I don’t think there’s a right answer in how to view this stuff, so I don’t see what the point of trying to force a view on everyone is. Let them decide on their own.

      My last point is quick: steroids have been in baseball since the ’60’s. Greenies have been in baseball forever. Spitballs/scuffing and other forms of ball doctoring. Segregation. All morally objectable actions that have an effect on statistics. We only want to put asterisks by one generation of players, though?

      Just some of the many reasons the concept of asterisks is stupid…

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      • Joe R says:

        Very true. Wonder how many players used in, let’s say, the 80’s, before the real designed stuff hit.

        Didn’t Hank Aaron used andro or something, too?

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  19. Joe R says:

    Excellence in journalism from the curly haired girlfriend *eye roll*

    Read if you dare:

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  20. Rich says:

    We should move on, but let’s end the hypocrisy.

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  21. Trenchtown says:

    I want to see the whole list, it is incredibly unfair to release only 4 names from a list of 100+ players. Whoever has access to this list should be ashamed of themselves. They never should have released anonymous test results in the first place but if they are only going to release a couple names to smear those individuals that is a lot worse. Let’s see the list, if Pujols and Griffey are on in then so be it

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