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Come To Think of It: Moral Outrage over Raul Ibanez Steroid Blog Misguided

Bob Warja@@bobwarjaSenior Writer IJune 11, 2009

First of all, let me make clear that I’m not taking sides as to whether or not Raul Ibanez is on steroids. But I am taking offense to so-called mainstream journalists who are outraged by a blogger who goes by the handle of jrod, who wrote an article on the topic.

From the blog:

“…the 37-year old Ibanez has been so good that it has led to the inevitable speculation that his improvement may be attributable to factors other than his new lineup, playing in a better ballpark for hitters, or additional maturation as a hitter. In this day and age of suspicion at any significant jump in numbers, even over small sample sizes, it is what it is - and such speculation is to be expected.”

That seems more than fair to me.

But why I have a problem with the outrage generated based on this blog, is that even those who are morally outraged are saying that it’s natural to speculate about steroid use by players.

Alright, then. If it is acceptable to do this, why is it not also acceptable to write about it?

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Look, I would be the first to admit it would have been reckless for jrod to have written a post that came out and directly accused Ibanez of using performance-enhancing drugs. But that’s not what he did. In fact, he went out of his way to offer other considerations in defense of Ibanez.

ESPN.com is reporting a harsh response from Ibanez.

"I'll come after people who defame or slander me," he said Tuesday night before the Phillies played the New York Mets, according to the report. "It's pathetic and disgusting. There should be some accountability for people who put that out there."

But the premise of the article was to point out that we are living in an age when there is speculation about any player—especially at an advancing age—who suddenly puts up career power numbers.

Instead, the media (as it usually does) blows this up and turns it around to make it appear that jrod was recklessly accusing Ibanez. Ken Rosenthal, the blogger and others appeared on ESPN’s Outside The Lines. Rosenthal was one of those apparently outraged.

Should jrod have left Raul’s name out of it? While that might have satisfied Ken Rosenthal and prevented this from becoming such a drama, it also would have been like ignoring the 800-pound gorilla in the room.

Everyone would have known who he was referring to.

Another opinion I have is that these writers should look at themselves in the mirror for a minute and take a long, hard look at what they should have written about the steroid scandal themselves.

Perhaps if they had articulated their own suspicions, this era would have been exposed a long time ago. In fact, maybe that guilt is part of what’s causing the outrage.

They say there should be standards that bloggers need to follow. Hey, you may call them standards; I may call it collusion. It sounds as if some writers are in bed with MLB, helping baseball to rid itself of steroid talk in the hope that it will all just go away.

But no one who has played in this era should be above suspicion. And if that’s not fair, well, it’s the players' own fault. I don’t think Ibanez is on PEDs, but then again I never thought that Rafael Palmeiro or Manny Ramirez were either.

Journalistic integrity is important. But so is having an opinion and being willing and able to express it.

But again, jrod never said Ibanez did steroids. He merely pointed out what a lot of fans are thinking—that any player whose power numbers spike to where they fall well outside his normal career arc, especially late in their career, will be subject to speculation. And rightfully so, in my opinion.

Meanwhile, this isn’t really about steroids; it’s more about freedom of speech and the whole argument about the perceived differences between mainstream writing and the blogosphere.   

It’s an interesting debate.

Writers who would question the right to speculate are just as guilty of turning a blind eye to the truth as they were when they initially ignored the onset of the steroid era.

I’m not accusing, mind you. I’ve just come to think of it, that’s all.

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