Oh how the wheels can come off. In a Wednesday column posted on Boston sports talk radio station WEEI’s website, columnist Kirk Minihane makes a long winded case against the Red Sox pursuing Josh Hamilton. Seems like an easy enough stance to argue, doesn’t it? I mean, signing any player in their 30s at a purported asking price in the 7-year, $175 million range is bound to end in tears, right? Minihane travels down this path, albeit in a rickety manner that ultimately ends with the author’s own baseless claims that it’s “fair” to consider that Josh Hamilton was a user of performance enhancing drugs.

Hamilton’s drug fuelled past, and how it may or may not relate to his baseball career, is an issue that will never go away. It has been written about, suggested as a deterrent to signing him and referenced over and over and over again. Perhaps no one summed up how Hamilton’s past will impact his future better than our own former Getting Blanked editor, Dustin Parkes:

“While the Hamilton saga certainly possesses the narrative substance of which movies are made, we’re only interested in his past as it pertains to his future, or more specifically his future contract. Yes, it’s sad to think what he could have accomplished, and how seemingly random it is that one incident sets off a bizarre series that reduces someone’s potential, but he’s still managed to be a brilliant baseball player.”

In his WEEI piece from today, Minihane does his part to commend the accomplishments of Josh Hamilton, even going as far to say that whomever inks the slugger to a deal will be acquiring a potential MVP candidate for a few years. Then it really starts to fall apart. Minihane goes on to compare Hamilton to other players who signed massive deals in their 30s – the usual suspects of Jason Bay, Carlos Lee, Jason Giambi, et al – and then attempts to tear down Alex Rodriguez, chastising his pursuit of Barry Bonds’ home run records as “one cheat chasing another”. Then he drops this nugget:

“Steroids ruined stats forever in baseball, no one will care if Rodriguez limps his way to 763.”

Minihane speaks for everyone. Never mind that his assurances that no one will care about Rodriguez likely came from Doug the part-time producer, a die-hard Red Sox fan and Donnie the mailroom attendant who doubles as a fact checker while sporting his faded Curt Schilling t-shirt jersey.

Oh, but it gets much worse when he resets his sights on Hamilton with an open-faced compliment sandwich:

“And with that we return to Hamilton (not to accuse him of PEDs, though it’s always fair to harbor some suspicion). Josh Hamilton is older than any of those guys when they signed their deals. I’d give you the names of players who signed seven-figure deals in their 30s and were worth the money, but it has never happened. This isn’t an anti-Hamilton stance, I’d be shocked if he isn’t an MVP candidate the next couple of years, but his contract eventually will be an albatross for the team that signs him.”

Minihane provides no delineation point for why it’s fair to maintain a suspicion that Hamilton is a PED user. We’re left to assume that it’s fair to suggest believing such a thing because Hamilton has used illicit drugs before and he has been a very productive baseball player. That wouldn’t be flimsy evidence, it would be recklessly irresponsible. So, we’re left to wonder why Minihane suggests such a thing is “always fair”.

Minihane’s column on Hamilton is little more than a meandering piece of fanboy fare for Red Sox Nation. I can deal with the void in evidence when he elects to slam Blue Jays recent string of acquisitions, mostly because it comes off rather hilarious. The Alex Rodriguez bashing is to be expected, if not completely unfair. The jab at Josh Hamilton and suggestion that it’s reasonable to be suspicious that he may have used PEDs is about as ignorant as it gets.