Ibanes Is Blaming The Wrong People

June 11, 2009 |

Raul Ibanez of the Philadelphia Phillies is not a happy camper right now. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
It’s hard to see why. The thirty-seven year old outfielder, who toiled in Seattle and Kansas City in relative anonymity for years, signed a big money free agent deal with Philly this past off-season. All he’s done since is go out and prove what many hardcore baseball fans already knew. That he was good. Damn good. Not great, like Ken Griffey Jr. But good enough that you put him in the outfield every day and you don’t worry.
Had Ibanez played in a bigger market, he probably would have been a bigger name. But for whatever reason, he did not. Until this year.
Philadelphia isn’t Seattle or Kansas City. It’s one of the top ten sports cities in this country. Philly fans are passionate (an understatement). If you don’t believe me just check out one of the two sports radio stations they have – WIP and WPEN. Both are online. You’ll hear the passion come through your computer speakers.
Since Philadelphia is big league, it really isn’t a surprise that Ibanez’ great start is getting some attention right now. After all, the guy is hitting .327 with 20 HR’s and 55 RBI in 56 games this season – easily the best start of his long career.
It also isn’t surprising that some would question that start, as a blog did just a couple of days ago. What was surprising was the way Ibanez reacted.
“I’ll come after people who defame or slander me,” he said on Tuesday.  “It’s pathetic and disgusting. There should be some accountability for people who put that out there.”
Ibanez also went on to say that he wasn’t surprised the steroid question was brought up.
“Unfortunately, I understand the environment we’re in and the events that have led us to this era of speculation,” he said. “At the same time, you can’t just walk down the street and accuse somebody of being a thief because they didn’t have a nice car yesterday and they do today. You can’t say that guy is a thief.”
Then the veteran outfielder laid down a challenge.
“You can have my urine, my hair, my blood, my stool – anything you can test,” Ibanez said. “I’ll give you back every dime I’ve ever made” if the test is positive.

“I’ll put that up against the jobs of anyone who writes this stuff,” he said. “Make them accountable. There should be more credibility than some 42-year-old blogger typing in his mother’s basement. It demeans everything you’ve done with one stroke of the pen.

“Nobody is above the testing policy. We’ve seen that.”

Again, surprising stuff from Ibanez. But his reaction was out of line.

Ibanez may very well be clean. I can’t say for sure because I don’t know. I do know he hasn’t failed any Major League baseball mandated steroids test. But until there is a test for Human Growth Hormone, who really knows who is clean? Remember, the chemists and the cheats always seem to be one step ahead of the people trying to stop them. If you don’t believe me, just go back and remember that it was years before anyone knew anything about the cream or the clear. Years. Who is to say that there isn’t some new synthetic steroid out there that we don’t know about? Who is to say players aren’t taking HGH?

I’m not saying they are. I’m not saying Ibanez is. What I am saying is that I don’t know for sure. And since I don’t know, I will presume guilt before I presume innocent. It might not be the American way, but history tells me I would be foolish to assume that anyone is clean.

If you don’t believe me, just go back to the day that Sports Illustrated broke the news that Alex Rodriguez used steroids. He was pretty much promoted by baseball as the anti-Barry Bonds. A lot of people were in some form of shock when they found out A-Rod had been using PED’s.

Then came the Manny Ramirez suspension. At that point no one was shocked that Ramirez used steroids. People were just shocked that Man Ram was stupid enough to get caught.

The biggest names in the game have been exposed as cheaters. Many other names also came to light thanks to The Mitchell Report. Hundreds of names – big and small. And those names were supplied by just two people – Kirk Radomski (a former employee of the New York Mets) and Brian McNamee (who worked with the Yankees). Two people from one city gave up hundreds of names. Do you think they were the only ones employed in Major League Baseball selling players and other trainers steroids and HGH?

If you do, you are incredibly naive. There are probably more names than MLB will care to admit to using steroids. Had they gotten more of these trainers to flip, we’d probably have a lot more names to talk about. Both big ones and small ones.

Fans – as I’ve said many times before – have gotten over the steroid issue. It’s the media that harps on it more than anyone else. And lately, even the media seems to realize that there isn’t much use in screaming your head off when someone tests dirty. The fans will still come to the ballpark. They will still shell out money for jerseys, shirts, and hats. The numbers over the last few years prove it.

Ibanez can be angry all he wants. But if he had been smart, all he would have said was “I’ve never tested positive.” Instead, he got defensive and promised to go after the people who raised the question.

It’s not a blogger’s fault that people seem to bring up these questions about players and their use of steroids and HGH. If Ibanez wants to be angry with anyone, he should be angry at all the players who cheated, a union which didn’t care what their rank and file were putting into their bodies, and  management that didn’t want to see there was a problem because they were making money hand over fist.

Those are the people Ibanez should blame. Not a fan who brings up a legitimate question.