Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Raul Ibanez, Steroids and the Media

It is now time to comment on the infamous Raul Ibanez story. If you're not in the know, here's the short version: a blogger for Midwest Sports Fans wrote an article which happened to include a " what if?" about Ibanez's great start to 2009, and if it's possible that steroids could be the culprit. Well, after the post got some internet love, Philadelphia Inquirer journalist John Gonzales made the news national in his column, berated original poster "JRod" for insinuating that Ibanez is a cheater. Which, it should be stated, he did not.

If you don't automatically think of PEDs when someone comes out of nowhere and starts hitting the ball in a Bonds-ian manner, then you haven't been paying attention over the last decade. We thought Alex Rodriguez would be the Golden Boy who cleared Bonds' record. Uh-oh. Well, at least there are pure hitters like Manny Ramirez who don't need to cheat. Oops. OK, but we know that the pitchers these juicers are hitting are doing it the right way. Wrong again.

As in JRod's original story, I want to remind everybody that steroid allegations are not personal attacks on anybody, but the harsh reality of baseball. And while it was read for what is was worth through the tubes, when Gonzales "legitimatized" the story by reporting it in the Inquirer, he conveniently cherry picked a few quotes to make it look like JRod was accusing Ibanez of cheating.

This is what the media does. Mass media hounds bloggers like myself for wanting to be the story instead of reporting it, and condemning us for not researching the facts or not having the "inside information" unlike scholars like themselves. It's tired. Truth is, the hoopla didn't start until Gonzales made it front page news and - gasp! - made himself a part of the story instead of - gulp! - not giving us the real facts. Oh, mainstream journalism at its finest.

Please, read the original article. Don't let media heads like The Inquirer spin stories to get you riled up. I won't ever get a gig at a major newspaper because I don't have the credentials, mainly because I dropped out of journalism school. And why? Because after the first day I could tell that the plan was to mold me into the type of writer like Gonzalez, and I rather work my forty hours and do this in my off time than become that type of scum. The Inquirer's profile of Gonzalez claims that the writer was a wannabe politician who got creamed in a bid for Congress. Wow, I wonder where he learned his spin...

Again, if you don't think of steroids when a 37 year old is hitting out of his mind, then you are blind or lying to yourself. It's your duty to be skeptical. Giving the benefit of the doubt is what allowed the Steroids Era to happen, and until big hitters stop testing positive, we shouldn't let up. Get used to it.

By the way, for the real reason of Ibanez's success, Joe Posnanski has the answer.


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