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The strange part is that even now, after all this time, those of us who cover baseball—players call us The Media—still seem to have no idea how to write or talk about performance-enhancing drugs. Best I can tell, the time line goes something like this.
1901--1958: Baseball players drink milk to build muscles.
1959--1986: Weightlifting is bad for baseball players—it tightens the muscles!
1987: The baseball is juiced.
1988--2000: O.K., well, apparently weightlifting is good for baseball players.
2001--2005: How could we have missed the steroid story?
2006--2009: None of these guys are going to the Hall of Fame. None of them!
Obviously, this is a generalization. There were people writing about steroids before 2001, and there were outraged writers long before 2006. And Mark McGwire does receive the occasional Hall of Fame vote.
But, all in all, we sportswriters have been at least one step behind the Selig Era, caught in a rundown between what we think and what we know, what we suspect and what we hope, caught celebrating big home run numbers or being sickened by them. Smoke is to the left of us, fire on the right, and here we are, stuck in the middle with the Mitchell Report, congressional hearings, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez and a disbelieving public.
This all surfaced again last week when a young man named Jerod Morris wrote a blog post for an Internet site he started, MidwestSportsFans.com. Morris says his posts generally get 300 or so hits—many of those from friends. He decided to write about his most excellent fantasy baseball draft pick: Raul Ibañez. At the time, Ibañez led the NL in homers (he had 22 through Sunday) and RBIs (59)—a fantasy gold mine—and Morris wanted to respond to a jealous team owner who (in the lowercase-letters-and-multiple-question-marks way of e-mails) pointed out that Ibañez is 37 and having an out-of-character power surge. To quote the owner: "i thought they were testing???"