This is a great story because it combines a few factors that are more recent phenomena and serves as a microcosm for the steroid era and internet age.
Assuming Raul did NOT take steroids, his anger is justified. But it shows how little perspective most baseball players have with regards to PED's and the average fan. Based on Ibanez's reaction, I don't think he actually read the original article by Jared Morris, which can be found here: http://www.midwestsportsfans.com/2009/0 ... eculation/
The original article appears to be an objective look at Ibanez's torrid start, and the writer grapples with how a 37 year old slugger with over 5,000 AB's could suddenly enjoy the most productive 200 AB streak of his career.
Ibanez's comments were probably the result of him reading (or someone rehashing to him) the ensuing article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, found here: http://www.philly.com/inquirer/sports/2 ... banez.html
In it, John Gonzalez takes Jared Morris to task - not for accusing Ibanez of taking steroids - but for simply saying it's fair to pose the question: Is Raul Ibanez taking steroids? Gonzalez essentially writes a puff piece for the hometown fans, assuring everyone that Raul's performance is legitimate, that mentioning steroids and Raul's name in the same sentence is going too far, and even landing a few veiled shots at the new internet age that allows uncredentialed hacks like Morris to have a legitimate voice in the debate.
Not 48 hours later, Gonzalez, Morris and Fox Sports Columnist Ken Rosenthal appeared on Outside the Line's (http://www.fenwaywest.com/2009/06/ken-r ... is-db.html
) to discuss the brewing controversy. Predictably, Morris gets excoriated from all sides and ends up meekly apologizing to Ibanez and giving a poor defense of his original article.
Is it really so unfair to publicly debate whether Raul Ibanez is using PED's? Ibanez's performance to date certainly appears to defy logic. Yes, he is known as a streaky player, and this could simply be an extended hot streak. But the usual metrics that define a player's improvement or a "lucky" start don't appear in Ibanez's numbers. His BABIP is in line with his career average, his ISO is almost 130 points higher than his previous career high, but he isn't walking more, striking out less, hitting more line drives, or even more fly balls. His previously god awful defense has even improved dramatically.
Raul's increased HR's can be attributed to his career high 26.0% HR/FB ratio, and as HitTracker bears out, he's been mashing the ball over the fence. Where does someone suddenly acquire the ability to hit the ball harder off the bat? Your guess is as good as mine.
How much responsibility do journalists assume for the steroid era? Weren't they the third party that was supposed to be blowing the whistle on this behavior? Did we expect players, owners, managers or trainers to suddenly come forward, in the absence of allegations or investigative reporting, and admit steroid use?
There were whispers of PED's in clubhouses and press boxes during the Steroid Era, but the community of baseball writers were too scared to fire the first salvo. It required someone with all the integrity of...Jose Canseco to come forward first.
And now, given all that we know about steroid use in baseball over the past fifteen years, it is considered ridiculous and out of bounds to openly ask if a dramatic improvement in on the field results at age 37 is somehow related to a change in his off the field...um, preparation?
No one should be accusing Raul Ibanez of taking steroids in the absence of any evidence, but we shouldn't be berating Jared Morris for stating the obvious, either.