For those who have been at work all day, one little blog posting has caused some strong reactions.
Yesterday 'JROD' over at midwestsportsfans.com posted an article about Raul Ibanez's great start over in Philadelphia. The article, entitled "The Curious Case of Raul Ibanez: Steroid Speculation Perhaps Unfair, but Great Start in 2009 Raising Eyebrows" got a response that the author never could have imagined.
"Hugging Harold Reynolds" picked it up on its twitter feed and it spread like wild fire. The Philadelphia Inquirer called it "a cheap shot." Before you know it Ibanez himself is returning fire. When asked about the story he passionately denied ever using steroids, would submit to any test, and then took shots at the blogger.
The quote, "there should be more credibility than some 42-year-old blogger typing in his mother's basement" pretty much sums up his opinion.
The article itself has some nice statistical analysis and is actually pretty well written. JROD basically suggests what we are all know; a sudden increase in offensive numbers makes us all suspicious. He never says that he thinks Ibanez does steroids, and even suggests some good alternate explanations. I can understand Ibanez's reaction to a degree, but he acts like he's never heard steroid talk before, much less any criticism.
This isn't the first time he's made a loud steroid denial before. JROD pointed out that in 2007 the Seattle clubhouse was rocked by some allegations and Ibanez didn't hold back then. Working against Ibanez is that he has spent the last few season putting up great numbers in the Northwest, playing for a mediocre team.
The bottom line is that we have heard the strong denials again and again, and usually the strongest and loudest denials end up coming from users.
We also hear crazier stuff out there in blog land all the time and it rarely gets picked up by anyone, much less the player the story is about. So why is Jerod Morris aka "JROD" now receiving interview requests from ESPN and a ton of angry e-mails?
Evidence points to a sports reporter from the Philadelphia Inquirer bringing this thing to Ibanez's attention.
I'm sure the conversation started like this, "hey Raul, did you hear that some blogger says you use steroids?"
Getting a player all riled up at the expense of a blogger does two great things for the reporter. It makes for a great story and it directs anger towards an outsider, even if that guy says something that we are all thinking.
When it comes to steroids I blame all the players the most, followed by the owners and MLB. There is no way that more people did not know what was going on in those clubhouses and did nothing. But this entire occurrence has less to do with steroids and more to do with the established sports writers trying to hit back at bloggers.
This blogger is bringing up what the Philadelphia media is afraid to say. Maybe this is due to a post "World Series win brotherly love fest." Now yes, Phillies fans and the media are some of the craziest and most emotional in sports, but usually the only emotion we see from them is hate.
Maybe they just don't know how to like a good team without becoming part of their PR department.
Ibanez doesn't need PR. He is a great player and from all accounts a really stand-up guy. I've seen nothing to suggest he's juicing and think there is nothing really to that part of the story.
I am not saying there shouldn't be accountability for anyone making crazy accusations, but the article itself didn't actually say that the author though Ibanez used steroids. He is just trying to be a voice of the everyday fan. There is a good chance that Ibanez never got a chance to read the article and this whole thing is the creation of a cowardly sports reporter.
It is also proof that no really believes steroids are out of baseball. Manny just slipped up somehow. I doubt that if when he comes back his numbers slip, he won't go back to using. He'll just be a little bit smarter about it.
Bloggers are now a vital part of the sports world because they are the fans and the fans make the sport. Obviously some in the business of sports aren't going to take this lightly.