Dan's Dugout: Will David Ortiz reach Cooperstown? • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Dugout: Will David Ortiz reach Cooperstown?

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A failed drug test in 2003 could keep David Ortiz out of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

David Ortiz, at age 40, says he'll retire after 2016 Image Credit: Bill Menzel

David Ortiz, at age 40, says he’ll retire after 2016
Image Credit: Bill Menzel

Even though substance abuse penalties were not imposed by Major League Baseball at that time, writers have long memories.

Thus far, they have kept Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire, and other Hall-worthy candidates out of Cooperstown.

Though none of them was ever convicted of using steroids, the evidence was painfully obvious.

How else does a player get better as he gets older?

Fortunately for Ortiz, he passed every drug test he took over the last 12 years.

The determining factor for his Cooperstown candidacy could be the selection or rejection of Mike Piazza in January. The paintbrush of suspicion has already delayed Piazza’s entry but the former Dodgers and Mets catcher came oh-so-close last year with nearly 70 per cent of the 75 per cent needed for enshrinement.

No previous candidate who reached that plateau has ever been denied admission.

Fun-loving slugger David Ortiz was a mentor to Hanley Ramirez and other young Red Sox players

Fun-loving slugger David Ortiz was a mentor to Hanley Ramirez and other young Red Sox players

As for Ortiz, his numbers are overpowering: 503 career home runs, three World Series rings, and MVP awards in both the American League Championship Series and the World Series.

The burly Dominican slugger, who hit 447 of his home runs as a designated hitter, holds a host of DH records. But that might hurt him too, as writers seem to prefer position players rather than someone who spends most of his time on the bench.

Edgar Martinez, the long-time DH of the Seattle Mariners, is a prime example. Had he played a position, he’d be enshrined by now.

At least the M’s know they’ll have a sure-fire 2016 Hall of Famer in Ken Griffey, Jr., the sweet-swinging centerfielder who finished his career with the Cincinnati Reds.

Junior is the only sure thing on the new ballot, though Trevor Hoffman should be enshrined too after

Ken Griffey, Jr. could wear a Reds hat in the Cooperstown gallery

Ken Griffey, Jr. could wear a Reds hat in the Cooperstown gallery

recording the most saves in National League history. He ranked tops in the majors before Mariano Rivera passed him.

Since writers are limited to 10 names per ballot, here’s how the Latino Sports ballot should look:

1. Ken Griffey, Jr. — Gold Glove centerfielder hit 630 home runs

2. Trevor Hoffman — 601 saves, more than double Bruce Sutter’s total

3. Mike Piazza — Couldn’t throw but hit .308 with 427 homers

4. Fred McGriff — Had 493 homers, same as Lou Gehrig, with no drug suspicion

5. Jeff Bagwell — A 30/30 guy with Gold Glove at first and 449 HR but was he clean?

6. Gary Sheffield — Dangerous but outspoken slugger who won batting crown, hit 508 HR

7. Edgar Martinez — Voters ignoring his .312 lifetime average compiled mostly as DH

8. Tim Raines — Former speedster (808 stolen bases) got 55% of vote last year

9. Curt Schilling — Pressure pitcher who won more games (216) than Don Drysdale or Sandy Koufax

10. Lee Smith — Like Sheffield, hurt by bouncing around a lot, but saved 478 games

Elsewhere in baseball:

Francisco Rodriguez is changing uniforms again

Francisco Rodriguez is changing uniforms again

After spending all of 2015 trying to patch a leaky bullpen, the Detroit Tigers did well to siphon Francisco Rodriguez from the woeful Milwaukee Brewers for a minor-leaguer and player to be named later . . .

Congratulations to Texas pilot Jeff Banister, named American League Manager of the Year in his first year on the job . . .

Trade rumors often get wild at this time of year, but a blockbuster could be brewing between the Braves and Diamondbacks involving Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock of Arizona and Shelby Miller, Julio Teheran, and Freddie Freeman of Atlanta . . .

Would have been nice for Yogi Berra to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom when he was still around to appreciate it . . .

Now that they’ve obtained Aaron Hicks from Minnesota, the Yankees don’t feel any qualms in placing

Are Brett Gardner's Yankee days over?

Are Brett Gardner’s Yankee days over?

Brett Gardner on the trade market . . .

Here’s betting that Zack Greinke stays in California, though perhaps moving up the coast from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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