I really don’t want to belabor the Raul Ibanez story anymore past this morning (although it has been a nice distraction from the continued awful play of the Chicago White Sox). So I will use this space here today to collect my final thoughts on this whole Ibanez brou-ha-ha and then move onto something else as the 24-hour sports news cycle hopefully and most likely moves onto something else.
(Quick aside: We know one thing about the White Sox: while everyone now knows that I believe all baseball players are up for steroids suspicion, I doubt anyone is sniffing around for syringes in the White Sox clubhouse. With an offense like ours, no one will be discussing steroids and the White Sox any time soon.)
After reflecting more about the interview on Outside the Lines yesterday, just a few more thoughts:
Ken Rosenthal asked at one point, “how did we get here?” What I wish I had said was: “We got here because one newspaper mischaracterized what I said, because a reporter from that same paper went running to Raul Ibanez for a comment without (ostensibly) Ibanez or the reporter reading the actual article I wrote, and because the mainstream media and its holier-than-thou high standards decided to run with the story. If none of that had happened, the Raul Ibanez story would be making its way towards 300-400 views right now and fading from relevance even here at MSF, as opposed to being a national story.
I wasn’t setting out to create a firestorm, but it is curious (there’s that word again) that the MSM was so quick to jump on the story. Could it be because the MSM salivates anytime the terms “steroids” or “PEDs” and an actual player’s name are in the same sentence? Might such stories drive pretty high traffic and viewership? Seems to me they would (and, admittedly, the last few days have proven it for us here at Midwest Sports Fans. Thanks mainstream media!).
I could have written that Player A took steroids and that I saw it with my own eyes, but unless the MSM picks up on it, only my small legion of readers will see it. So blame me all you want for “how we got here” Ken, but once again we are misdirecting our anger and the responsibility from where it truly lies.
I wish I could have seen John and Ken’s faces during the interview. A lot of people have emailed me to say that I did a good job of staying composed. Had I seen Ken Rosenthal rolling his eyes and looking at me like I’m some sort of lower life form, staying composed might not have been so easy — and perhaps I would have said a few more things I wish I’d said…which, in hindsight, might not necessarily have been a positive.
So much has been made about my credibility and making claims that aren’t true. The problem is that, if you read my original article that started all this mess, I make no claims that aren’t true and make no accusations. I speculated.
And by the way, if you believe that speculation is a mortal sin, I’m not going to convince you of my viewpoint so you should probably just move along from blogs and the MSM, because the mainstreamers can walk around with their nose in the air, but they speculate too. And about steroids. And about specific players.
Go read these two articles, both of which were posted recently at ESPN. They have been emailed to me over and over the last 24 hours repeatedly and commented about on MSF, and both of which I’d read before all of this madness began:
Sure looks like speculation with a name attached to it to me, doesn’t it? And you can say that Bryant’s article includes quotes from Ortiz and provides a complete, balanced picture; but what about Simmons? He casts aspersions on Pedro and Ortiz, not to mention pretty much every other hitter on his beloved Boston Red Sox team that broke the curse.
And before you think I’m attacking Simmons, remember my point here. I think it’s a great article by Simmons and that every single iota and insinuation and speculative statement that he includes is warranted and within reason. I guess the difference is that he’s The Sports Guy and I’m the Mom’s Basement Guy so I’m not allowed to do the same thing.
Standards and integrity and balanced reported indeed MSM. Bravo.
I was attacked yesterday by many in the MSM for doing exactly what so many in the MSM do already. Yet, I don’t recall a whole lot of outrage when Simmons’ or Bryant’s articles came out.
And you know what? I don’t care. It is what it is and if there is one group of people that I truly am not concerned about how they view me or Midwest Sports Fans, it’s mainstream media members who have an inherent bias about bloggers and see us only a threat to them. My peers in the blogging community had my back yesterday, and nothing meant more to be than that.
What happened yesterday is a perfect illustration of one reason why the mainstream media finds itself in the troubling times it is in. There is absolutely a way for blogs and the MSM to co-exist, but the delicate balance between the two gets shaken every time the hard work that I and other bloggers do is cast aside as “cowardly” and “pathetic” and “irresponsible.” Well you know what else is cowardly, pathetic, and irresponsible? Making specific accusations, attacking, and calling people out publicly when you haven’t even read what they wrote or investigated what the supposedly said, or at least have a funny way of showing it if you did. And I’m not addressing any one person in particular here, but rather the entire group of people who have jumped on the bandwagon while forgetting to read the post that started all of this. Well here it is right here:
Feel free to go read it and tell me if this is what you take from it: “Until there’s proof to the contrary, shouldn’t all of us – from the traditional mainstream media to bloggers – be judicious about calling people cheaters?”
That is one of the final statements in the Inquirer article that took this story to the second level and led to the third level mushroom cloud that occurred when Raul Ibanez commented publicly about it.
To answer your question John, yes, we should be judicious about calling people cheaters. We should also be judicious about characterizing someone’s statements as calling someone a cheater when the reality is that the statements in question merely speculated that, like everyone else in his profession, he could be a cheater. There is a gigantic canyon of difference between the two, and I wish I’d been a little more on my toes during OTL and more effectively expressed this point.
At the end of the day, the point I just made is at the heart of why this story became what it did yesterday. I understand attacks on the Ibanez story because everyone is entitled to their opinion regarding the research, writing style, legitimacy of the speculation, etc. Without differing opinions, what the hell’s the point of blogging? But somehow I became the face the problem.
And really, that’s fine.
If anyone wanted me to kowtow yesterday or have a change of heart and start doubting what I wake up and do here every morning, it didn’t happen. Quite the contrary.
I have had Midwest Sports Fans for less than a year and work hard every day to build the site’s reputation among its peers, to build our readership, and to make sure that everything published on here is done so for the right reasons: because it’s genuine, heartfelt, compelling, informative, and thought-provoking. We don’t always hit on the last three despite our best efforts, but the first two have got to be there.
And I think that most bloggers, at least the ones I read, would tell you the same thing.
And when all is said and done, do we want to drive traffic, gain exposure, get a taste of what life in the MSM is like, come a little closer to our sports heroes, and — if we’re willing to really work at it — make a little money? You’re damn right we do. Every single one of us. And there is not a damn thing wrong with that in any way.
Find me someone who publishes their writing for public consumption and who tells you they don’t care about exposure or generating a reaction. I hear John Calipari is looking for a recruiting coordinator; said writer would be a perfect fit because their version of truth and honesty could unequivocally be questioned. (Damnit, there I go speculating again…)
Main idea time: Raul Ibanez is upset that his name got lumped in with the many, many people who have been specifically implicated in steroid use or actually tested positive. As I said yesterday, if all he heard was “some blogger accused you of using steroids” (which is what I’m beginning to think happened, though I don’t and can’t know for sure…so yes, I am SPECULATING…again!) then I understand him being upset. The problem is that I never accused him, and my post and my point have been bastardized and way over-simplified by people (I’m talking to you MSM) looking to capitalize on the “keyword richness” of the story.
So perhaps Raul Ibanez might be able understand why I’m a little upset too. Maybe, maybe not. At the end of the day, I guess it’s not really all that important.
But here is what is important, and it’s my final point this morning.
I’ve received a number of emails from supportive observers whom I appreciate. However, many of them have had made the following point, which I will paraphrase thusly: “Won’t be it great when Raul Ibanez tests positive for steroids!? You’ll be vindicated! I can’t wait!”
Let me be as clear as I possibly can be: I could not disagree more strongly with that sentiment.
Lost among the MSF vs Raul Ibanez battle that has played out all over the Internet for the past 24 hours, is that fact I like, admire, and respect Raul Ibanez. And I am rooting for him. If you made me bet my last $10 on whether or not he’s using steroids, I would say no he’s not. In fact, if I made a list of 10-20 baseball players that I “believe in” the most, he would be on that list. But the fact is that he plays Major League Baseball so I don’t believe totally in anyone and I would not be surprised if I never saw that $10 again either. Read a little more carefully if you think I’m indicting Raul Ibanez there. It seems like there is a much broader point being made to me.
Question the intentions of my post if you like, and many of you have and will continue to do so, but my goal was to find every reason I could to say “I am ruling out steroids as a reason for Raul Ibanez’s fast start because of the following objective statistical reasons…” Though I’ve since come across compelling reasons elsewhere that I did not originally consider, and that I’ve been genuinely excited to find, my initial analysis did not lead me to conclude that I personally could completely rule out at least considering the possibility of PEDs. And even with more information I still can’t totally rule it out in my own mind.
But I DO NOT want Raul Ibanez to test positive and I WILL NOT gain any sense of satisfaction if he ever does. I WANT to believe in baseball players again, and Raul Ibanez going down in such a way would further erode the trust that I and so many other baseball fans have lost. I’m glad Raul Ibanez defended himself strongly, and I support him wholeheartedly in any effort he wants to go to in an attempt to distance himself from PED speculation. If he wants to comment further, I’ll provide him an unedited forum on MSF in a heartbeat, regardless of what, if anything, he wants to say about me. If he takes a public drug test and it’s clean, I will post it here and promote it with the same focus and zeal that I promote any other piece of content on this site — and probably moreso.
I was backed into a corner yesterday and my words and thoughts have been made out to be something that they are not. But the corner that I started out in, and the corner I remain in, is Raul Ibanez’s corner. Does that sound incredibly ironic after the last 48 hours? You betcha. And you skeptical readers out there are free to speculate all you want about my intentions, my thoughts, my actions, my words, etc.
But if you want the truth, I just gave it to you.
Based on yesterday, the Rosenthalian skeptics out there may never read this far to find out the truth; but then again, their opinion really isn’t all that important anyway.
Thanks for reading to those of you who made it all the way here. As your reward, here are a few of my favorite takes on yesterday, starting out with my favorite one from Joe Posnanski (which includes some of the additional compelling statistical evidence I described above). Not all of these are completely in my defense, but all of these people at least showed me that they took the time to read and not just jump on the bandwagon with ill-informed perceptions:
- What’s eating Raul? — (Joe Posnanski)
- What’s eating Raul? — (Joe P on SI.com, with my comments included at the end. This post, to me, is why Joe P is one of the best in the business.)
- Raul Ibanez: Know Your Role and Shut Your Mouth — (Black Sports Online)
- Ibanez vs Midwest Sports Fans Controversy: Blame the Philly Inquirer — (Hugging Harold Reynolds…with a great actual picture of me in my mom’s basement!)
- On That Raul vs Blogger Ordeal — (Crashburn Alley)
- The Article Behind Raul Ibanez’s Righteous Indignation — (Lookout Landing)
- The Real Deal on the Raul Ibanez Steroids Accusations — (Bleacher Report)
- Raul Ibanez steroid issue exposes sports journalism cliches — (Chicago Sun-Times Blogs)
- Raul Ibanez debacle: blame the Philly Inquirer, not blogger Jerod Morris — (AlanaG.com)
- Reaping what You’ve Sown — (18 to 88)
- Closing Time: Ibanez Defends, Madson Saves, De La Rosa Wins — (Yahoo! Sports Roto Arcade)
- Charlie Manuel has the last word on Ibanez and steroids — (The Fightins…I actually don’t think this is a fair assessment at all, and further proves how far removed from my original post the public commentary has gotten on this issue.
There are many, many other good posts about this issue as well. I’ll try to get more links up to them at some point later. The final place I will direct you to is the On the DL Podcast that I participated in. Give it a listen and support Dan Levy, whose been one of MSF’s biggest supporters throughout the whole.
Thanks again to all of those who supported Midwest Sports Fans this week. And to my blogging peers, I just hope I made you proud and have represented our profession and our passion well. Above all, that’s been the most important thing to me during this entire overblown and unnecessary saga.
(Why do I get the feeling that somewhere right now Ken Rosenthal is rolling his eyes…?)
Update: Adding more great links as I find them:
- Commentary: Raul Ibanez vs Blogger — (Macho Row)
- Ibanez’s Reaction Is What We Want — (America’s White Boy)
- On Raul Ibanez and Steroids — (Lady At the Bat)
- Quote of the Day: My Urine, My Blood, My Stool — (Circling the Bases)
- John Heyman Is a Hypocrite When It Comes to PED Speculation — (Rays Index)
- Raul Ibanez, Jerod Morris, and Cynicism — (Dan Shanoff)
- Ibanez Willing to Prove He’s Clean — (ESPN.com)
- Should the Media React to Blogger Speculation if There’s No Tangible Evidence? — (The Big Lead)
- Worldwide Leader Bullies Blogger with Unfavorable Light — (Cleveland Frowns)
- Ibanez Takes a Swing a Steroid Speculation — (Wall Street Journal Daily Fix)
- Ibanez Irate About PED Speculation, But Was Blogger Wrong? — (The Scores Report)
- The Truth About Bloggers vs Mainstream Media — (Chip Shots)
- ESPN OTL Segment Shows Journalists Still Dissing Bloggers — (DodgerFan.net)
- Ibanez Flap: New Media Isn’t At Fault; Bumb old Baseball Is — (AJC, Mark Bradley Blog)
- Here’s what bothers me about the Raul Ibanez controversy — (RotoInfo MLB Blog)
- It’s Irresponsible, It’s Unfair, It Needs to Stop — (J.Ellet Lambie)
- Blogger responsibility comes under scrutiny in light of Ibanez speculation — (Hot Stove Philly)
- The Unfortunate Ambushing of Jerod Morris’ Raul Ibanez Post — (Deadspin)
- Defending Maniacal Bloggers — (The Sweet Spot Blog by Rob Neyer)
- Raul Ibanez’s Stool Sample Angered by Raul Ibanez’s Comments — (Oh Murph)
- Judgment on Raul Ibanez and His Response — (From the Stands Sports Radio)
- The Curious Case of Ken Rosenthal and John Gonzalez: Retard Speculation Perhaps Unfair, but Lecture To Blogger Raising Eyebrows — (Drunk Jays Fans)
– Ken Rosenthal photo credit: 215 Sports