phpdWRSa1Yesterday on Twitter, Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated wrote the following:

many bloggers are great, but ibanez has a point about unfounded PED speculation. it’s garbage. #phillies

This was in response to one blogger’s efforts to see if there was a statistical basis to disprove the notion that Raul Ibanez of the Phillies is using steroids (here is a link with a full run-down).

So Heyman thinks, like many others, that bloggers should not speculate on the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) without evidence. Certainly Heyman must think the same rules apply to the mainstream media, right?

Wrong.

In June of 2007, Heyman wrote the following for SI.com about whether he will vote for Sammy Sosa to enter the Hall-of-Fame. And let us remind you, that no matter what you think of Sosa, there has never been any evidence linking Sosa to steroids.

Did [Sosa] use steroids when he hit his 66 home runs in the summer of 1998? Is he getting some sort of outside help now that he’s back to being a power hitter for the Texas Rangers? Tough call.

Sure sounds like Heyman is speculating to us. And why is it a “tough call” for Heyman?

Then when Sosa was called upon to speak (before Congress), he struggled to find English words. I know Sosa’s English is better than it seemed that day. But maybe he was nervous. Can I know for sure?

If faking poor English is a sign of steroid use, then half the 2007 Mets roster was juicing. Let’s continue…

No one has ever had the goods on Sosa. No one has ever said he failed a test. Unlike Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield, he never bought from BALCO. I can assume the worst. But I’m not sure that’s fair.

No Jon, it is not fair. And according to your Twitter account, it is “garbage.” Now the big finish…

And unlike McGwire, Sosa has returned to play and thrive after baseball instituted steroid testing. The testing is imperfect, and Sosa is, too. Maybe he’s just as guilty as McGwire. But how am I going to know that for sure? Am I going to be able to count assumption and innuendo against Sosa? Am I going to assume the worst? Tough call.

We don’t know if it is ok for bloggers to speculate on the performance-enhancement of professional athletes. In defense of the blogger writing about Ibanez, he was trying to disprove Ibanez’ usage. But in the end, this is the sports world we live in now. Every athlete is guilty until proven innocent.

And no matter what your view is on this issue, Jon Heyman can’t be a hypocrite. At least the blogger was making a statistical argument. Heyman’s speculation is based on whether or not Sosa can speak English.

There cannot be one set of rules for the mainstream media and another set for bloggers. Garbage is garbage, whether one has media credentials or not.

[Update: Let me say that I am a big fan of Jon Heyman's work. He is a great writer. And he was far from the only mainstream media member to jump on the blogger in question. And I am certain that many of the other writers also have instances in the past in which they have speculated about Sosa or Brady Anderson or Luis Gonzalez or Brett Boone or another player. The intent of this post was simply to point out one blatant example in which a media member is critical of bloggers for something the mainstream media does all the time.]

Tough call [SI.com]
The Curious Case of Raul Ibanez: Steroid Speculation Perhaps Unfair, but Great Start in 2009 Raising Eyebrows [Midwest Sports Fans]

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7 Comments

  1. Rayhawk says:

    Good job Cork

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  2. Demetri says:

    Great point. Ken Rosenthal and John Gonzalez' stance on an espn.com interview with JRod (the author of the "offending" blog) that the blogger does not understand the power of the written word and is being irresponsible to speculate in writing about Ibanez is clearly debunked by the countless instances during which mainstream journalists have speculated about Sosa, McGwire, Boone and others, as you say, though there's no proof about any of these players.

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  3. Joe D. says:

    The main line/quote that I've seen posted from Midwest's blog is this:

    "It's time for me to begrudgingly acknowledge the elephant in the room: Any aging hitter who puts up numbers this much better than his career averages is going to immediately generate suspicion that the numbers are not natural, that perhaps he is under the influence of some sort of performance enhancer."

    To me that doesn't sound like Jerod Morris is straight up accusing Ibanez, just as he says in the title of his blog piece "Raising Eyebrows"

    and like the NY Daily News notes: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/mets/2009/06/11/2009-06-11_ibanez_resents_steroid_speculation.html

    Two years ago Tom Glavine said that these thing would happen.

    I also think that this whole uproar was created with Phillidelphia Inquirer misrepresenting the original post, I think of they don't pick up on the story then it's not a story.

    http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/homepage/20090609_Gonzo___A_cheap_shot_at_Ibanez.html

    And props to Ibanez, of standing up for himself, and saying the things he said, the blogger Morris even noted that 19 of Ibanez's homeruns are hitter friendly parks.

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  4. Amanda says:

    Excellent, Cork. This is why I now feel my journalism degree from USF is not worth the paper it's printed on. I couldn't stand the arrogance and the institutional predjudices. (I stood up to a reporter who shouted "All Republicans are a**holes" in the middle of a newsroom ... he just insulted my father without ever meeting him. That *really* pissed me off. There's a LOT of "All _________ are __________" in newsrooms, and they think they're not prejudiced.) This is right up the same alley, Cork. It's "all bloggers are inferior to mainstream journalists." If you're a "mainstream" journalist writing this story or commentary, and you're going into it thinking that a blogger can't possibly be as intelligent, as thorough, as eloquent, and/or as perceptive as a university-trained journalist, then you're going end up with a slanted story.

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