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Steroids and Roger Clemens: Jose de Jesus Ortiz Hits a New Low

Ladies and gentlemen, what you are about to watch is disturbing, and it might not be appropriate for young children, people with weak stomachs or heart conditions, or any person of average intelligence.

I give you Jose de Jesus Ortiz on ESPN yesterday, making the entire city of Houston look like country bumpkins.

Before I go on, I’m going to remind you of what Ortiz wrote on Sunday morning, following his morning Mass: “I don't know about any of you, but I think we're all sinners. Moreover, I find it pathetic that so many folks have decided to pile on Clemens and his family, especially since some trashy tabloid articles appeared. As folks rush to cast stones, somehow people forget that dumping on Roger Clemens affects his children….With that in mind, I'd like to say it's time for folks to leave Roger Clemens and his family alone. Some of you would say he brought this upon himself, and that may be true. But, really, who are we to judge?”

Now, help me here, because I don’t understand something. Why does he write that we need to leave Rocket alone on Sunday, yet on Monday he’s telling ESPN: “In Houston, it hasn’t been that big of an issue.” Or that there’s not that much pressure on him in Houston because we know him and that “[h]e’s not the caricature that some tabloids have come up with.”

That’s another issue to be addressed from Ortiz’s interview. The continued misuse of the term “tabloid.” I don’t know how many of my readers have ever spent time in New York City, but I’ve had the luck to do so and I’ve read all four of the city’s daily newspapers. Three of those four are tabloids. And they are tabloids because a tabloid format makes them easier to read in a taxi, bus or crowded subway car. They are not called tabloids because of their lousy quality – okay, that might not be the case with the New York Post. But they are legitimate papers serving legitimate newsgathering functions. They are not the National Enquirer. In fact, in many ways, Newsday and the New York Daily News are far superior in content and quality than our own Chron.

So Ortiz’s use of “tabloid” is definitely a misstatement meant to make people think Rocket is being smeared by a publication on par with the National Enquirer instead of one that is superior to the Chron. And this isn’t just a simple mistake on Ortiz’s part. He came to the Chron from the New York area where he covered the Mets for the Newark Star Ledger.

Ortiz also tells ESPN that Houston’s treatment of Roger Clemens is on par with San Francisco’s treatment of Barry Bonds. Now the only way this could truly be judged on a fan basis would be if Rocket were still playing for the Astros like Bonds played everyday for the Giants when he was facing very public scrutiny over BALCO. But I know of one area where Clemens is receiving better treatment from Houston than Bonds did while in San Francisco.

Two reporters with the San Francisco Chronicle were threatened with jail for their continued reporting on secret grand jury matters implicating Bonds. And the reporters weren’t covering for Bonds, they were exposing Bonds. They even wrote a detailed book on Bonds and his use of steroids. Unlike Ortiz, these reporters didn’t go on national TV defending Bonds and acting as his mouthpiece.

I’m not implicating the entire Chron sports department. Brian McTaggart has not been covering for Clemens, and Richard Justice took the toady that is Ortiz to task yesterday, reminding Ortiz that the only person to blame for Clemens’s problems was Clemens.

But the Ortiz statement that really pisses me off – and which I believe may further divide a Chron sports department which is already bordering on civil war – is when Ortiz tells ESPN: “This is pathetic. Only [McNamee] who may, or may not, have raped a woman in Tampa could sit there and cast stones on a guy who may or may not have cheated on his wife.”

This pisses me off because of something I wrote yesterday: Ortiz wants us to lay off Clemens because of the effect it is having on the Rocket family while asking who we are to judge, yet he has never asked Team Rocket to lay off of Brian McNamee.

And again, he asks ESPN who are we to judge Clemens. Yet he sits there spouting Team Rocket propaganda about Brian McNamee. About McNamee being a rapist. We are not to judge Clemens, but Ortiz can judge McNamee. It is okay to make it as ugly as possible for McNamee, but Clemens must not be touched.

Now we don’t know if McNamee raped a woman because charges were never filed. The police suspected this, but they couldn’t charge McNamee. Yet, for Ortiz, this is enough to damn Brian McNamee. And while we need to spare the Rocket family any of the ugly incidents of his affair with a 15-year-old country singer, the McNamee family is not worthy of such protection – somehow, this whole sordid affair doesn’t effect them.

Anyway, if McNamee is such a evil man doomed to damnation because he’s an alleged rapist, why did Rocket allow this man to be around his family for many, many years afterwards, even though Rocket knew of the allegations?

Apparently Rocket agreed with Ortiz at one time, finding that he was not without sin and thus could not judge others. But Rocket is a desperate and pathetic man, who will stop at nothing to destroy others as he, himself, is destroyed.

Jose de Jesus Ortiz, however, while telling me not to judge, has decided that he is without sin and that he can judge. And he has decided that while the Rocket family is to be spared, the McNamee is not. He has also decided that he is in the position to speak for the city of Houston, and for all journalists throughout the country.

Ortiz told ESPN that this whole thing has “just gotten ugly. It’s been pathetic. It’s sad. Every time I think it can’t get worse, it gets uglier.” And about that one thing he’s correct. But every time I think it can’t get worse, Jose de Jesus Ortiz opens his mouth and just makes it worse.

I can’t help but wonder what those two reporters in San Francisco think about Ortiz. And I can’t help but wonder what some of his colleagues over the Chron think – well, besides Richard Justice who called him a toady. But I do know what I think, and I’m going to cast my stones: Jose de Jesus Ortiz is an embarrassment to his profession, and for the Chron to retain any credibility, no matter how slight, the people in charge really need to get him off of the Astros beat.

Because it’s one thing for Ortiz to tell us to lay off Clemens, but it’s another, more disgusting and pathetic thing for Ortiz to go about calling people rapists who have never been found or judged to be rapists. But then again, unlike Ortiz, I don’t talk to God. – John Royal

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