Earlier today, I posted a video of Skip Bayless explaining why he was justified in wondering if Derek Jeter’s very successful 2012 season was the product of performance enhancing substances. At the time, I promised to present his opinion with minimal comment, believing that the idiocy of his clown show with Stephen A. Smith on ESPN spoke for itself.

At some point, between then and now, I began mentally listing the ways in which this almost-accusation was reprehensible, and I think it might be important to actually go through these. I don’t believe that I’m convincing anyone of anything here. At least, I hope not. But perhaps in the conglomeration of refutations to Bayless’ dangerous speculation, we might collect something for future use to argue against something that is not unique to the incendiary devices on sports television networks.

We’ve seen this type of “gotta ask the question” justification before in print media and even from some of the more respected sports journalists of our generation.

On the surface, it’s irresponsible for anyone to suggest wrongdoing on the part of another based on anything but actual evidence. It’s especially distasteful to witness these types of accusations from a source that has a platform from which they are heard by a wide array of individuals from varying cultural and educational backgrounds. Such statements have the potential to result in the widespread dissolution of a positive reputation. And even in 2012, this is something that still matters.

Once the accusation is made, it’s out there, and it’s picked up. Hopefully, many of us will consider the source of the accusation and dismiss their suggestions after considering the reputation that this source has earned in our minds. However, not all of us are as active with our critical thinking skills, and not all of us are as aware of the source’s reputation. And when the source is being presented as an expert in such matters by the structure of the television show, their status with a newspaper or their past publications, it becomes even more dangerous when its consumed by undiscerning eyes and ears.

Therefore, these type of statements become harmful. So, to play with them, to use them for purposes of igniting something in your audience between conversation and outrage is irresponsible and inconsiderate.

Adding to the madness, in terms of accusations of performance enhancing substances, is the ignorance of the very thing that they’re accusing someone of using. At least when a wrongful accusation of murder or racism or other types of prejudice occurs, the accuser is aware and understanding of what the outcome of the supposed action was. When it comes to the use of testosterone or steroids or human growth hormones, they have absolutely no clue.

Few of us do. And even fewer have any idea of how the supposed specific use of the substance affected the individual, let alone what that specific use was, whether it was to increase muscle mass, become leaner, or rehab faster from an injury.

I believe that sometimes we think of athletes as somehow being beyond human based on our witnessing of their most prized abilities. What they do on their particular fields of play are extraordinary, but that doesn’t mean that the extraordinary extends beyond their physical accomplishments. It’s not beyond reason to assume that socially and psychologically, they are not anymore extraordinary than you and me.

Let’s imagine that you have a bad year. I don’t know what happens: your partner leaves you, there’s a death in the family, the creditors you’ve been avoiding finally catch up with you. The details don’t matter. It can be any of those situations. It can be all of them. But the bad year results in a decreased performance at work, and a less happy version of yourself.

Now, let’s say that a year goes by, and suddenly things get better. Again, I don’t know what happens: you meet someone new, you get over the death in the family and it results in an inheritance that use to pay off your debts. Much like before, it doesn’t matter. However, after your year of misery and poor productivity, you improve. Suddenly, you’re getting things done at work and you’re a happier person.

Imagine a person coming along, someone with a voice in your industry who knows nothing about your personal life, seeing the difference in your results and personality, and then making a connection between recreational drug use and your improvements. How would you respond?

Derek Jeter responded to the Bayless accusation with the following:

What do you want me to say? Maybe Skip should be tested. I don’t know him.

He shrugged it off in a manner that makes me want to rethink my earlier assertion that athletes are no more remarkable than you or I in terms outside of their physical attributes. I won’t not be so kind.

Adding to the reprehensibility of this specific instance of accusatory speculation is that a sports reporter has tools available with which to investigate his assumptions. He could go talk to Jeter. He could look at his approach at the plate this season and compare it to last. He could look at his increase in BABIP. He could look at how last year represented an outlier in terms of power, and this year is closer to his career norms. He could look at the problems Jeter had with his right leg last year that seemed to have healed this year.

At least with the imaginary scenario I provided the person making the accusation has no way of determining other factors. That excuse simply isn’t there for Bayless and his sort.

I understand that human beings feel the need to explain happenings. Derek Jeter’s rejuvenation certainly qualifies as a happening, but there are multiple pieces of actual evidence that at least partly explain his superior numbers this season. Not only is suggesting that his success is rooted in performance enhancers irresponsible and ignorant, as I’ve already shown, it’s also just plain lazy.

It’s easy to dismiss this type of analysis as only giving attention to the child whose actions are perpetrated for the sole purpose of causing such a response. However, as I outlined above and as we’ve seen with the video of Mark Cuban confronting Bayless before, there is a reason to call these type of people out, and it’s to arm ourselves and others with counter arguments. I can think of no better way to combat such nonsense than merely using reason.

I once heard a story about training bankers. I don’t know if it’s true or not. It’s the type of story for which I don’t really care about its legitimacy because the real value of it is in the point it makes. Apparently when bankers train, they’re never given counterfeit bills. All that’s provided to them are genuine currency. They handle only the real deal because they grow so accustomed to the real thing that the moment a counterfeit bill makes their way into their hands they can realize the differences immediately.

Skip Bayless is a counterfeit, and unfortunately we’re not all experts in the currency of reasoned sports analysis, and so from time to time we might rely on sports bankers to point out the unreasoned ramblings of accusing parties. Also, it just makes me really mad that someone can make suggestions like this without repercussions. Perhaps that’s playing into his hand, but it certainly makes me feel better to express my disdain.

Comments (24)

  1. According to Wikipedia, the definition of defamation that may be sued for under libel law is as follows:

    Defamation per se

    The four (4) categories of slander that are actionable per se are (i) accusing someone of a crime; (ii) alleging that someone has a foul or loathsome disease; (iii) adversely reflecting on a person’s fitness to conduct their business or trade; and (iv) imputing serious sexual misconduct. Here again, the plaintiff need only prove that someone had published the statement to any third party. No proof of special damages is required.

    I’d say Jeter could consider a case under i) and iii). Why shouldn’t someone stand up against this crap?

    • That’s US libel law, obviously.

    • I don’t believe using PED’s is a crime, but is possession. There may be a possibility in the hypothetical in which Jeter wouldn’t be in possession of PED’s, but be given them by someone else.

      But definitely he has a case for iii).

    • Bayless could argue that he was only positing a hypothesis/saying that he felt he should be asking the question. Also, his words would certainly be covered under the First Amendment protection of freedoms of the speech and the press.

  2. *Clap* *Clap* *Clap* Skip is a moron.

  3. Skip and Cox should give each other a Dutch Rudder

  4. Acknowledging Skip Bayless’s incendiary comments is exactly why this fool still has a job. Way to feed the monster, Parkes.

    • Did you read the post? He acknowledges that.

      • Nope. I don’t read anything from or about Skip Bayless. I don’t need to develop blood pressure issues at this age. But I’m not sure why he would acknowledge this and then write the article anyway. I guess it is because, like Bayless, he just wants to hear/read himself talk/write..

  5. ESPN has a few clowns on their network now who are trying to be a “shock jock” or the next Geraldo. Skippy is the worst of this cancer. When he talks, its like listening to the local drunk who you are not sure to laugh at, be annoyed or feel sorry for them

  6. Bayless is an idiot. Still, a more legitimate testing program would end this kind of speculation, would it not?

  7. I hate Skip Bayless too. He’s a fucking tool who jerks off to a Tim Tebow poster 17 times a day. There’s no base to this.

    Having said that, give the man credit. His job is to bring ESPN publicity by saying crazy things on daytime television. He’s brought this First Take show, a shitty attempt, yet again, at an ESPN daytime talk show that got zero ratings before he showed up, to the forefront of the discussion every day on Twitter and all over the Internet on blogs like Getting Blanked. So when he’s busy blowing Tebow for ESPN or saying shit like “Derek Jeter is on steroids”, all he’s doing is bringing the attention to his show, which in turns brings ratings and web page hits from people wondering what stupid thing he’s going to say next, which in turn brings advertising partners and ad money to ESPN. That’s how this thing works. ESPN pays him the big bucks to say libellous shit like this, and man, he sure as shit earns his salary!

  8. Nice article Parkes. This was well done.

  9. Should have titled this, Book of Morons.

  10. Didn’t ESPN fire a copy guy almost instantaneously earlier this year for making an accidental racial slur against Jeremy Lin in a caption? How this jackass keeps his position with the same company is beyond me.

    I once heard an athlete refer to Bayless on air as “Skip Sayless”. Now, he should just be shut up for good.

  11. Totally agree that Bayless is a doofus and a blathering moron, and what he inferred about PEDs is definitely lazy.

    BUT

    Jeter’s improvement is questionable. The man is near 40 and playing one of the most intensive positions in baseball, and somehow he improves drastically. And I mean DRASTICALLY. Now I wouldn’t say that it’s because of PEDs, because like you said, that’s lazy and unmitigated. But, I also don’t think it’s fair to simply accept his improvement as the result of personal progression. As we’ve seen with Colon, it’s not a stretch to say that older players who are declining in quality have the option to juice. Of course, Bayless articulated it like a bleating sheep, but if he would have weighed both cases of Jeter’s rise, one being legal and the other illegal, then I would have accepted it.

    • Everything after the BUT is still lazy, acknowledging it doesn’t make it better.

      Your evidence:
      Derek Jeter is old
      Old people are no good at everything

      Your conclusion: You gotta ask the question!

      Did you check Jeter’s BABIPs for the last few years? Did you consult heat/spray charts? Did you watch a damn Yankee game to see the man play?

      And the big one: Did you conduct a blood test on Mr. Jeter?

      No you didn’t, and neither did I, and neither did Skip Bayless. And until we do, none of us is qualified to “ask the question.”

      Defending Skip hurts. So does drinking bleach. They are both dumb ideas. Don’t do them.

  12. How does skip bayless still have a job? all he does is create the most bogus stories and then act as if he doesn’t have to stand behind his words. Parkes has it right, it’s truly just maddening.

    • The same reason Damien Cox got the Primetime gig AFTER he spouted obnoxious,baseless crap about Batista.

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