Popular Papi will be an important Hall of Fame litmus test

With the help of old foe Mariano Rivera, David Ortiz gets a peek at the painting the Yankees presented him during his 2016 retirement season. AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Long before baseball writers place the final 'X's on their Hall of Fame ballots this year and lock in their votes, they need to ask themselves a question that should shape their decisions this year and into the future, a question that should coax hundreds of writers out of their self-appointed roles as baseball's morality police. It's a question which, when applied logically, should lead to the election of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

The question: What are they going to do when David Ortiz's name appears on the ballot in five years?

You might've heard of Ortiz this year. He's the highly respected and much-loved slugger widely celebrated throughout the sport throughout 2016, by rival teams and by the entire industry. He was given standing ovations everywhere from San Diego to Yankee Stadium, honored for his years of home runs and smiles. They had ceremonies for him from Fort Myers to Seattle, at the end of a career in which he generated production and moments that make him overwhelmingly qualified for induction to the Hall of Fame.

And the folks who run the sport did all of this in spite of what everybody knows: In 2009, the New York Times reported that Ortiz tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs during the sport's initial steps toward policing the use of the substances.