Bloggers vs. MSM: Ibanez, Steroids and Credibility

The blog Midwest Sports Fans received criticism for a post about Raul Ibanez.  The post addresses Ibanez’ uncharacteristically hot season.  It uses an array of sophisticated statistical analyses to disprove steroids were the cause.  It concludes, soberly, that any such statistical leap by a player past his physical prime would be under suspicion.  He makes no claim that Ibanez used steroids.

A Philadelphia columnist labeled the post a “cheap shot,” strung together disparate quotations in a non-journalistic fashion to portray it as such.  Colleagues, who likely did not read the original post, agreed with him.  Raul Ibanez responded against an attack that was not issued.  The post raises two questions, the credibility of bloggers versus the mainstream media and how both should handle steroid speculation.

John Gonzalez claims he is “not a blog hater” during his screed, just as many claim “not to be a racist” before spewing racist euphemisms.  He disparages MSF by noting that it is “a small, regional site.”  He sarcastically calls the author, JRod, a “previously undiscovered poet.”  He laments that “the weakest voices can suddenly make the loudest noise.”

If we set the two writers together, one uses empiricism and rational analysis and the other twists quotations and evidence unfairly into an inflammatory assertion.  The first individual was the blogger, not the journalist.

What does the distinction between blogger and journalist mean when arguably the two most prominent “bloggers,” Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead (Discretion: he pays me to write for him) and AJ Daulerio of Deadspin are both journalists?  As the economy cripples the print medium ever further, credibility will stem from the quality of the work itself, not the eminence of its forum.

Regarding steroids, there are over 100 individuals who tested positive for PED in 2003 along with Alex Rodriguez.  It’s safe to assume that some players stopped using, scared by any testing.  The majority of those players remain in the league.  Speculation about steroid usage is not baseless, because we know these players exist.

It is unfair for Raul Ibanez to face steroid speculation.  That speculation was created, not from wanton individuals, but from a climate fostered by the players themselves through their Union and unchallenged by a reticent, hapless baseball infrastructure.  When given the opportunity, players did nothing to stop it.  No one stood up, not even Raul Ibanez.  However unfair it may be to players, it is dishonest to readers to pretend steroids and HGH are not plausible.

Ibanez has “denied taking PEDs on multiple occasions.”  So did Alex Rodriguez.  So did Manny Ramirez.  Rafael Palmeiro wagged his finger in front of Congress and denied it.  Nothing against Ibanez, but his word alone does not absolve him.  It shouldn’t be the journalist who needs that explained.

UPDATE: Here is a fantastic piece by Joe Posnanski you might enjoy better than my humble effort.

  1. Speculation about steroid usage is not baseless, because we know these players exist.

    Ok, so I said it over at TBL.

    Yes, I agree with this completely. Sums it up pretty plain and simple.

  2. Great job pointing out that it was the Inquirer that did the cut & paste haphazardly.

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