Baseless speculation only bad when bloggers do it

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Yesterday Aaron wrote about Raul Ibanez
taking on the blogger who speculated that he may be on steroids. Since
then, the blogger went on TV with Ken Rosenthal to defend his claims,
such as they were, and the issue still continues to rattle around the
Internet, as these things tend to do. I don’t really have any opinion
about the whole Ibanez affair and nothing I’m about to write is
specific to the claims made about him. Rather, it’s about the curious
reaction to the claims. Or at least one curious reaction.

This morning the Seattle Times’ Geoff Baker writes about the Ibanez thing,
and in doing so, he has offered one of the more self-aggrandizing posts
I’ve seen from a member of the mainstream media in some time. By all
means read it all for yourself, but the short version is this: “sports
writing is deadly serious business and I, Geoff Baker, am personally
responsible for the ruined lives and careers of many a man. There are
dead bodies and broken dreams left in my horrible tracks. If you’re
gonna shoot the devil in the back, baby, you had better not miss, and
unlike the bloggers of the world, I don’t freakin’ miss, punks.” At
least that’s the effect he’s obviously going for.

Of course, just because he’s being dramatic doesn’t mean that he’s wrong. You do
have to have the goods if you’re going to accuse someone of something,
and that goes for bloggers and traditional reporters alike. Blogging is
just a medium, not a whole new realm of existence, and to think that
you’re subject to a lower standard just because you’re a blogger is
silliness. Credibility is bestowed on you by the readers, and the
readers don’t care what club you like to think you belong to. Which
makes this passage from Baker so curious:

But when you go
all-in, you’ve got to go all in. He didn’t do that. When you write
about topics like killers, or Hell’s Angels, or major leaguers and
steroids, you can’t pussy foot around. You’ve got to go at it hard,
directly, with no b.s. and be able to defend yourself afterwards. This
blogger couldn’t because in went in only halfway. He tried to raise the
“steroids issue” then claimed he really wasn’t pointing a finger at
Ibanez . . . I taught journalism at Concordia University in Montreal
from 1996 through 1998, before things like blogs were even envisioned.
Much of what I see written in the blogosphere today would have failed
my very rigid course.

Just in the past few months I have read
dozens if not scores of articles from honest to goodness newspaper
writers trafficking in steroid speculation and ending with words like
“I hate to make such broad statements, but unfortunately, that’s the
world in which we live.” I don’t recall Baker or anyone else for that
matter taking any of those guys to task. Likewise, I don’t see anyone
taking issue with the countless articles that have lumped Sammy Sosa in
with confirmed steroids users. The Sammy Sosa who, no matter what you
think of him, has never had a credible fact-based allegation hurled at
him. The Sammy Sosa who, in all likelihood, won’t get into the Hall of
Fame precisely because of this evidence-free speculation in which Baker
and his mainstream journalist brethren have so readily engaged.

So
yes, it’s fair to excoriate a blogger who hurls evidence-free
accusations. But please, mainstream media, do not pretend that you
don’t do the very same thing, and do not pretend that your vitriol for
this blogger has nothing to do with his medium as opposed to his
message.

Twins’ top prospect Nick Burdi will undergo Tommy John surgery

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Twins’ right-hander Nick Burdi is set to undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, the team announced on Friday. Burdi made 14 appearances for Double-A Chattanooga before succumbing to a torn ulnar collateral ligament and is not expected to make his major league debut until mid-2018 at the earliest. A UCL tear doesn’t always require Tommy John surgery — less severe cases can be treated with platelet-rich plasma injections, for example — but Twins’ chief baseball officer Derek Falvey told the press that surgery was unavoidable as Burdi had sustained a “full thickness tear” in his elbow.

Entering the 2016 season, Burdi was widely considered a top ten prospect in the Twins’ system. His exceptional velocity and potent fastball-slider combo made him a fearsome relief option as he came off of his first season in Double-A Chattanooga in 2015. During the 2016 season, however, the 24-year-old experienced a significant setback after a bone bruise cut his season short in late July. Prior to Friday’s diagnosis, he appeared to be staging an impressive comeback with the Chattanooga Lookouts this spring, decorating his efforts with a sparkling 0.53 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 10.6 SO/9 over 17 innings.

It’s a tough break for the Twins, whose farm system was ranked 21st in the league by Baseball America. “Obviously he’s proven when he’s healthy he’s an absolute premium prospect, and the Twins are treating him that way,” Burdi’s agent, Matt Sosnick, told Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. “We just want to make sure everything we do ultimately leads to the goal of getting him back on the field as quickly as he can.”

Brock Holt has been shut down from game activity

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Things have gone from bad to worse for Red Sox’ outfielder Brock Holt, who was shut down “for the foreseeable future” on Friday after meeting with head trauma specialist Michael Collins. The Red Sox placed Holt on the 10-day disabled list in April after he began experiencing vertigo, the latest in a series of head injuries he’s sustained since last spring.

According to the Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato, the outfielder was initially advised to attempt playing through his symptoms, but it quickly became apparent that the strategy wasn’t going to work. Now, the plan is to shut him down from any game activity in the hopes that he’ll be able to recover from all lingering symptoms before returning to the roster. Club manager John Farrell told reporters that the 28-year-old is still cleared to take batting practice and work on his defense, but won’t continue his rehab starts in Triple-A Pawtucket for the time being.

Holt had been making regular appearances for the Pawtucket Red Sox and was batting .209/.292/.372 with two home runs through 14 games this spring. This season marks his fifth run within the Red Sox’ organization. He experienced a bit of a slump at the plate in 2016 and slashed .255/.322/.383 after breaking out during his first All-Star year in 2015.

Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe suggests that the team’s concern for Holt extends past his setbacks at the plate. It’s still a long road to a full recovery, and while Farrell told reporters he believes the outfielder is on track to make a return sometime in 2017, he’ll need to make sure that Holt is both physically and mentally prepared to do so.