Fans have heard this story line before, about ballplayers who defy the aging process. In June the blog midwestsportsfans.com posted an article about Ibañez that included this passage: "Any aging hitter who puts up numbers this much better than his career average is going to immediately generate suspicion that the numbers are not natural, that perhaps he is under the influence of some sort of performance enhancer." The piece might have faded into cyberspace, but the next day Ibañez told The Philadelphia Inquirer, "You can have my urine, my hair, my blood, my stool—anything you can test." And if he tested positive? "I'll give you back every dime I've ever made."
For Ibañez, just making the blogs represents some sort of progress. After Philly's Game 3 victory on Sunday night, he reflected on his potholed path and laughed uproariously at some of the more difficult moments—.220 seasons, minor league demotions, the close call with Japan. "I'd be lying if I told you I always thought it would work out," Ibañez said, "but this is what you do it for."