OK, so I’m super late with this, so I made it its own post. I got a little sidetracked because of all of the Damien Cox-sparked talk of PEDs out there on the interwebs today—which the slice of radio magic between Keith Law and John Shannon this afternoon on the Fan 590’s Prime Time Sports (audio here) relates to—and I wanted to look over a bunch of stuff relating to last year’s Jerod Morris-Ken Rosenthal-Raul Ibanez incident, because… frankly, we’ve kinda been cunts to tiny little Kenny ever since then, and I wanted to make sure I can navigate this one without being too much of a monumental hypocrite. (Also, because I was looking for a wicked-awesome picture of Cox with hair that I know I saw a while back in an amazing Zambonic Youth post, which—along with the entire blog, it seems—has disaperated.) (UPDATE: Found! Thanks, Godd Till!)
Fortunately for my conscience, Jerod’s piece proved to be mostly an analysis of possible reasons for Ibanez’s incredibly hot start (park factors, competition) that concluded with a lament about the inevitable PED speculation that would come. Cox, on the other hand, offered up counter-theories only in the most sarcastic, piece-of-shit-like way. So, while there may be a tinge of hypocrisy in my defending Morris and not Cox, I really do think that, if you actually read what Jerod wrote—which, if I recall correctly, was kind of the major fucking problem with how the media treated the Ibanez situation in the first place—he’s hardly being accusatory, if at all. Cox totally is.
Maybe that’s some serious pro-blogger bias shining through—and maybe it’s exposed by the fact that I’m completely with Law here in his exchange with Shannon and Rob Faulds this afternoon (and wasn’t with Kenny Ken Ken last year). But I’m especially down with the first bit, before he has to defend himself from Shannon’s incredible admission that he’s just fine with being a cheerleader for the NHL, and his baseless accusation that Law is probably the same same kind of complete fucking hack when it comes to MLB.
Here’s the exchange:
LAW: I think if you know anything about the science of Performance Enhancing Drugs, which is to say that there is not a whole lot of science on it, it’s just totally inappropriate to offer that kind of speculation. I expected it, I think I predicted it either in a chat or on Twitter, I said somebody in the media is going to do this—is going to ask this question—rather than just recognizing that this is the nature of baseball. We have these crazy, one year random outliers throughout history. Davey Johnson is the one I keep going back to—I think it was 1973. Guy had never hit 20 home runs in any big league season and he hit 43 that one year. Was he on something? No. This is just how baseball works, you’re going to get these crazy one year outliers. It’s just randomness, and people can’t accept that as randomness—they’re always looking for some kind of explanation, that’s human nature. Unfortunately, in baseball now we have this steroid conversation which combines, in my view, scientific ignorance with statistical ignorance, so you sort of get this perfect storm of bad conversation.
SHANNON: To continue the bad conversation, just for a little bit longer, does this mean that if he did it again next year and the year after that we have more of an opportunity to ask the question? To bring up, as Damien Cox did in the Star, that you have to wonder about the situation of Performance Enhancing Drugs?
LAW: This is the thing that I keep coming back to: you don’t have to wonder, in fact, you probably shouldn’t wonder, because we do not know that steroids take you from a 15 home run a year guy to a 40 home run a year guy. In fact, they almost certainly do not, because we’ve seen long lists of guys who’ve failed tests who were not 40 home run a year guys, who did not suddenly go from, essentially extra guys on big league rosters, which is what Bautista was, to a guy who, at least for one year, is—I don’t know—one of the ten most valuable hitters in the American League? I don’t think that’s a stretch to say that that’s where he is right now. There’s no drug in the world that’s going to do that—or, at least, if there is, nobody’s found it yet. So, to me, I just find the speculation to be completely inappropriate—because, again, the science doesn’t support it, and the statistics we have do not support it. So, why are we going there, except to create controversy?
FAULDS: And also it’s a great opportunity as he gets ready to renegotiate his contract. So… if you’re gonna do it, this is the time to do it! Right? You always have your career year in a contract negotiation year. [Yes, please, kill this actually interesting discussion with pointless sports cliches, Rob. Seriously, what the fuck?]
SHANNON: “No, actually, Keith, I understand what you’re saying, would probably protect the game of hockey in the way that you protect the game of baseball, in your own way, because baseball has been very, very good to you,” [Wait, what? Holy shit, this is completely making me regret all the times I have not bothered to point out what a completely useless twat I think John Shannon is.]
LAW: Well, I’m about as big a critic of the industry as you will find. I mean, I’ve been killing Major League Baseball on how they underpay amateur players coming out of the draft. I think if you call the Commissioner’s office and say, “Is Keith Law really protecting the game of baseball?” there’d be some unprintable words coming back from them. I feel like that’s a really unfair accusation.
SHANNON: OK, fair enough. But my point is I don’t think that it’s beyond reproach of someone in the journalistic world to ask the question [No, that wasn’t your point at all!]
LAW: If Bautista had failed a test this would be a different conversation, but he hasn’t. This is like Raul Ibanez last year—gets off to a hot start for the first two months, and a blogger raised the question, “well, should we be talking about Performance Enhancing Drugs? Why aren’t we asking this question?” Jerrod Morris was the poor kid’s name, and then he’s getting blasted on national television by mainstream media guys. Now we have a mainstream media guy doing exactly the same thing: offering completely unfounded speculation on a player who has never failed a test.
SHANNON: I didn’t view it as speculation, I viewed it as—I don’t think there’s anything wrong with asking questions.
LAW: That’s totally semantic. Completely semantic. You know what? I heard—I’m asking the question—is it possible that you’re just a terrible racist? Is it possible?
SHANNON: But I can shoot it down as quickly as that, and we can move on, right?
LAW: Jose Bautista can shoot down this speculation just the same.
SHANNON: As he should. As he should.
LAW: But the problem is, you’ve already planted the seed out there. That’s the thing. This is the Donald Regan line—he was an American politician—“Where do I go to get my reputation back?”