Josh Hamilton and the vanishing 20 pounds: Part II

So after my initial Josh Hamilton post was linked from Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk, I received several e-mails and replies along the lines of, “Jeff Pearlman is a writer. So I assume he’s plagiarizing. Ha ha ha! Fuck him!”

Stupid.

It’s not the same argument. It’s not even remotely the same argument. It sounds like something Fox News would use to tie Barack Obama to some third-rate terror group. Again, silly.

To explain: I’m not accusing Josh Hamilton of using PED. I’m REALLY not. What I’m saying is, based upon everything that’s happened over the past few decades and the past few weeks, journalists should ask questions when a gigantic, muscular ballplayer signed a huge contract, then reports to camp 20-30 pounds lighter. It’s something we’ve seen before, and before, and before—and, in the past, when we didn’t ask, we were slammed for it.

The plagiarizing comparison doesn’t hold weight. It would, if I were saying we need to ask B.J. Upton and Daniel Murphy and Ryan Howard and Bryce Harper and every single Major League player. In that case, one could say, “It’s like having Stephen Glass take place, and then accusing every journalist of being a fraud.”

No, this is different. This is: Over the past decade, one ex-Sports Illustrated writer after another makes the best-seller’s list. It happens time and time again. Then, one day, we learned that ex-SI writers were cooking the books; that they repeatedly cheated to make the list. So, now I make the list. Would someone be correct in asking me whether I cheated? Absolutely. Without question. Plus, they’re not saying I did cheat. They’re not even really suggesting I did cheat. They’re simply acknowledging that there has long been a pattern, and it needs to be addressed.

Same here. There has long been a pattern of players using, then not using, then getting smaller. There was also a prediction, from a Major League scout, that players would secure big contracts in 2012, then shrink with enhanced testing. It is a fair and righteous question to ask.

As I told Craig earlier today, I love his site, I love his work. But I do believe, in this area, he’s naive and overly trusting. For too long of a time, we (journalists) did not ask questions. One may say, “Eh, nobody would have told the truth anyhow.” Maybe, maybe not. But we at least should have asked.

And we still should.

PS: And if you think I’m writing this for “page views,” you’re on crack. I get it—98% of readers are tired of the PED issue. Hell, so am I. But I do believe it’s important.

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