Ibanez Firestorm: Where Do We Go From Here?

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Ibanez Firestorm: Where Do We Go From Here?

The recent Midwest Sports Fan (MSF) article titled, "The Curious Case of Raul Ibanez: Steroid Speculation Perhaps Unfair, but Great Start in 2009 Raising Eyebrows" is not news to anyone. 

In fact, by now, the once obscure regional blog source probably needs no introduction.  The recent media firestorm surrounding the blog, including a piece on ESPN's "Outside the Lines," has churned over 250 comments and been viewed 14,000 times. 

It's yesterday's news.

But if I didn't give my two cents, I feel like I would be missing an opportunity to make a important plea to take a step towards turning the page on the steroids era.

Living in Philadelphia means that I have a responsibility to root for my home team and since this is something that has been in the national media that concerns one of my own, my knee-jerk reaction was to feel like we were being attacked. 

As the defending world champions, this team and its players might as well paint an 8,000 square foot bulls eye on the infield dirt at Citizen's Bank Park. It's reasonable to understand why anyone in my situation would feel appalled at the remarks. 

But in retrospect and in combination with the barrage of biased things that I have heard and read from the local media outlets, I think that it's important to put aside my hometown bias and make a case for Commissioner Selig and Ibanez to do the right thing:

Let's take the test and get it over with.

It's pretty clear that blogger J-Rod stopped short of accusing Ibanez but it's still shocking for us to read an article that links a player to possible steroid use without any hard evidence. Journalists typically shy away from libel and slander. 

But this was no ordinary journalist (bloggers don't really count, do they?) and the subject matter is the black cloud that continues to loom over baseball; performance enhancing drugs.  

As I write this, the greatest right handed hitter of this generation is serving a 50 game suspension for using Performance Enhancing Drugs.  

It's pretty clear that while awareness and testing may be improving, the threat of testing might not be enough.  

We can't turn our heads at situations like this; it starts with vigilance and needs to end with accountability. 

You see, speculation without accountability is what allowed this problem to exist in the first place. We were all skeptical about what we were seeing; longstanding records were being shattered with relative frequency by towering middle aged giants. In hindsight, it was fairly obvious what was going on but no one wanted to step up to the plate and hold these guys accountable 

In my opinion, it's grossly unfair to Raul but it's almost necessary. His training regiment and desire to live up to his contract surpasses even his lofty output and for that reason I do trust his word.  However, I also recognize that vigilant skepticism is the only thing that is going to bring back trust. 

In this situation, my hometown bias takes a backseat to the game.  

Ibanez says that he is willing to be tested and I would like to see him go through with it.  In fact, as a clean player, he needs to realize that the skepticism is healthy and embrace it. 

I don't blame him for reacting the way that he did; it's wrong for any member of the media to mention, by name, a player in a speculative piece like this.  But his indignant denial is not going to cure the issue. 

We need a figure that we can root for and trust.  This is an opportunity to have the entire baseball fan-base saying, "RAAAUUUULLLL!"

My $0.02.

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