Wednesday, the Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy suggested that David Ortiz might be using performance-enhancers because "it is not natural for a guy to hit .426 out of the gate."
He said that David's 27-game hitting streak was suspect, in part, because older players "do not get better" and, most disturbing to me, because he is from the Dominican Republic.
The story soon became Topic A on talk shows, on ESPN.com and on NESN. In fact, Wednesday night, Tim Wakefield was drawn into the conversation and tried to restore order by saying, "I'm tired of people pointing fingers because somebody is doing well. David is producing because he is a great hitter."
The swirling story prompted Ortiz, after going 0-for-5, to tweet, "End of my hitting streak tonight, the season still going and I hope Dan Shaughnessy is a happy man now. ... Not more .426 enjoy it."
Earlier last week, a Toronto radio host accused Clay Buchholz of doctoring pitches. He made this claim despite the fact that no Major League player that Buchholz faced this April had made any such suggestion regarding how Clay had pitched this year. Instead of Boston celebrating Buchholz's 1.60 ERA, we had to read and hear these charges, which went viral. Clay was naturally frustrated and had to issue this comment, "To have somebody say that I'm out there cheating is doing me an injustice."
I fully acknowledge the right the media has to ask difficult questions and to express controversial opinions. Freedom of the press is fundamental in our culture.
They had the right, but was it right?
We're in a new media world, and fact-less accusations stick.
Those who publicly ask questions must take responsibility for their words.
David Ortiz estimates he has been tested five times this year -- plus a blood test.
Furthermore, it is well known that the World Anti-Doping Agency has called MLB's testing program the toughest in all of American sports.
Why then, should a writer publicly assert a presumption of guilt -- without any foundation, without any basis, and without any evidence?
Does this mean that whenever an athlete -- particularly a Dominican athlete -- does something exceptional, we have to assume he cheated?
In today's media world, the question -- even if it's false, inflammatory and without real basis -- can become the story.
This new model tarnishes the public's enjoyment and appreciation for exploits well done.
Perhaps it reflects our society, but do we not have a responsibility to improve it? Baseball has done so much in recent years to improve its quality and defend its integrity. Should we not also speak out and insist upon solid journalistic standards and not stand by complacently and silently, lamenting their erosion?
The relationship between Globe writers and Ted Williams was notorious, and even so, did a Globe writer in 1953 ask a 35-year-old Ted Williams, who practiced only 10 days after flying missions in Korea, how he could hit .407 in 37 games?
In the movie "42," which depicts Jackie Robinson's pioneering effort breaking the color barrier, we are reminded that baseball sets an example for society. Let's ask the media to also set an example.
Tom Werner is chairman of the Boston Red Sox.