Raul Ibanez—guilty (of doing nothing)


Just watched Jerod Morris’ appearance on Outside the Lines yesterday. Was a funny scene—the, ahem, geeky blogger, the cool columnist, and my friend and colleague Ken Rosenthal, defending the turf like Mr. T when those crooks tried overtaking the bank, then Clubber came along and, well, yeah. You get the idea.

Anyhow, let’s get this straight: In the year 2009, Morris has every right—and every reason—to question Raul Ibanez’s insane statistics. The guy wasn’t saying Ibanez is using; wasn’t even saying he’s probably using. What he said—and it can be read here—is that there’s reason to be suspicious. Wrote Morris: The truth is that I sincerely hope that Raul Ibanez and every other major leaguer is clean. And there is no way I could look him in the eye and tell him I think he’s on steroids — nor was that my conclusion. But I think it’s also true that Raul Ibanez would have a hard time looking baseball fans in the eye and saying they have no right to speculate.

Well, I agree.

Raul Ibanez is 37-years old. He’s spent his career as a good, solid major league outfielder. Never an All-Star; never even a sorta star. Just a quality guy you put out there for 145 games. Joe Posnanski compared him to Ben Oglivie, and I think that’s about right. So to see Ibanez suddenly tearing the cover off the baseball—it’s eye-opening. Certainly doesn’t mean he’s using (and from hearing his denials, I’ll guess he’s not), but the questions have to be asked.

In fact, this is where I disagree with Ken. Strongly. Ken took offense to Morris making the suggestion; he said we’ve abandoned our journalistic principles; etc; etc. Yet where were we during McGwire-Sosa? During Bonds? During Giambi? During Brady Anderson? Journalistic principles? I have yet to hear a member of the mainstream media (myself included) work up the guts to approach a guy like Ibanez and say, “I have to ask. Are you using performance enhancers?” I obviously don’t fully blame we, the media, for the steroid mess that has poisoned baseball. But I do blame us for being cowards; for not stepping up and asking what needed to be asked. So perhaps it’s left to the bloggers to throw stuff out there. I’m not proud of it—but that’s where we are.

One more point: While I understand Raul Ibanez’s anger, it has to be asked: Where was that anger four … five … six years ago? When he surely knew of steroids in baseball? All these players who had to have known what was going on, yet refused to speak out for fear of violating “The Code” … well, congrats. Here’s what you get—suspicion.