Late last week, I brought up Buster Olney’s article on A-Rod’s struggles and the possible link to steroids. In the comments, I noted the following:
There is no reason to assume Alex just went off steroids. Either he went off in 2003, or he is still on some undetectable stuff. Why not treat a slump like a slump? They had no such questions when he started off with three hot weeks. Did he go off steroids 3 weeks ago?
In his chat earlier today, Buster was called out on his story and tried to defend himself:
Alfredo (New York City): You wrote a recent article citing scouts that claimed A-Rod was declining rapidly. Shortly afterward, he got two days of rest and has been on a tear ever since. Perhaps reports of his long-term decline are premature?
Buster Olney: Alfredo: I did not write that he was declining rapidly. What I wrote was that as A-Rod struggled, a question that was being asked increasingly was whether he is going to be a lesser player since he presumably doesn’t use steroids any more. As I wrote in the piece, his struggles might have been based on his hip surgery, or it might be a combination of all of the above; nobody can know the answer to that. He has looked much better over the last five days, no question about it — but that doesn’t change the fact that the question of how much steroids aided him as a player is not going to go away during the last 8 1/2 years of his contract.
All I wanted to note here is the classic media deflection technique that Buster uses. Instead of asking the question himself, he pushes these doubts and thoughts onto nameless scouts and sources, so as not to besmirch his own reputation should his story prove groundless. Writers do this all the time, so as to maintain distance from any sort of critical opinion. They do so because they need deniability when the player accuses them of a hatchet job and is loathe to work with them on a subsequent story. A perfect example was the Raul Ibanez situation that blew up a few weeks ago. A blogger mentioned that you cannot rule out steroids as the source of a surge in performance in this era. A newspaper writer picked up on the story, and used the blogger’s words to bring the issue into the limelight. Predictably, the blogger received the brunt of the criticism while the writer escaped with only minimal damage. The writer was able to bring up steroids regarding Ibanez without actually voicing that opinion, leaving his relationship with Raul intact. It is a dirty trick, and hopefully most readers can see right through it.
Another interesting issue brought up in Buster’s chat:
Anthony (NYC): Larry Lucchino at a apperance in a baseball musuem commented that all the yankee gear on display was from so long ago obviously taking a shot at the yanks not winning it all since 2000 and couple that with John Henry twitter updates taking shot at tex and co are the red sox getting a little too confident in your opinion? i guess they have confidence now that Big Stein is out of commision.
Buster Olney: Anthony — personally, I think all that stuff was cheesy and classless. I thought it was when Steinbrenner was doing it, and I think it is now when the Red Sox are doing it.
I totally agree. I wonder what the reaction would be like if Hank did the kind of stuff Henry has been doing lately?
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