Fernando Tatis’ silly PED excuses belied by lack of action

The made-up stories of a PED taken for ringworm and/or a fungus for a “bad haircut” coming out of Fernando Tatis’s camp belies the reality that he never said a word when it mattered. Upon hearing of his failed drug test a few weeks ago, Tatis did not object, did not protest and ultimately did not force the issue of his test result to an arbitrator, as is his right. Word is, Tatis was one of the clearest cases of drug cheating in memory, with the failure coming only a couple of weeks before the announcement, possibly only delayed by a few hours or a day to bury the news on a Friday night.

Of course, there was no burying this, as Tatis is a “transformative” player who helped turn San Diego into a baseball hotbed, arguably one of baseball’s greatest talents and the signer of a record $340 million contract. While Tatis is now unavailable well into the 2023 season due to a combination of mistakes of his own making, including motorcycle accident(s) and the wrist injury kept secret until he arrived hurt in spring, barring further developments that contract will likely stand.

The drug foray was just dumb according to people in the know. “Clostebol is not what makes him a great player,” is one informed person’s belief. At best, it helps “at the margins.” What’s more, Tatis wasn’t even playing when busted in mid-summer.

In any case, there hasn’t been much sympathy for Tatis – not from teammates, media or fans – since he failed the steroid test and his camp followed up with a statement making the ridiculous claim he got busted because he inadvertently ingested the anabolic steroid when he took a drug for ringworm. Anyway, if some quack prescribed the wrong drug, he’d also have documentation from a doctor or pharmacist for a real grievance, not just wild words for the internet.

San Diego Padres' Fernando Tatis Jr.  walks to the dugout
Fernando Tatis offered excuses for his PED suspension, but did not challenge it.
AP Photo:

None of the drug cheats ever comes completely clean, but Tatis may be the first case where the parents have gotten into the well-worn denial act. While they didn’t sway anyone, perhaps it shone a light on exactly why Tatis would go that route. First the mother attempted to bolster the ringworm tale with pictures on Instagram (apparently it has since been deleted), then the father, the former St. Louis Cardinals player, came up with the fantastic story that it came from a spray he used to treat a “fungus due to a haircut,” in his telling to esteemed journalist Hector Gomez.

Nobody outside the Tatis family actually believed either of these stories, of course. Padres leader Joe Musgrove summed it up nicely, saying he was “a little bummed, a little pissed.”

Only a couple of former stars blamed MLB, including David Ortiz.

“MLB needs to have some sort of regulations before they make public news like (what happened) to Fernando Tatis Jr.,” Ortiz said (also via Gomez). “We can’t kill our product. We’re talking about an amazing player.”

Of course, MLB can’t decide to only suspend average players, so it’s unclear what Ortiz is thinking – although Rob Manfred’s continuing support of Big Papi after he was revealed by the New York Times to have failed the 2003 survey steroid test clearly has gone unappreciated

Anyway, Tatis has time to resurrect his reputation. Starling Marte has done it. He failed a test, but didn’t make up any BS excuses and continued to put up similar numbers while testing clean. Tatis should have admitted he took the PED but suggested he was anxious to get back on the field after his severe injury – if that was indeed the reason. He’s got 13 more years to go on his deal, plenty of time to change his ways. Tatis needs to surround himself with a better class of person. He’s only 23, so hopefully it’s not too late.

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