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.

Diamondbacks, A.J. Pollock avoid arbitration with two-year contract

Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock drives in two runs against the Cincinnati Reds during the eighth inning of a baseball game, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
AP Photo/Gary Landers
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Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.

Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.

Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.

Report: Blue Jays and Josh Donaldson agree to two-year, $29 million extension

Toronto Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson celebrates his two run home run against the Kansas City Royals during the third inning in Game 3 of baseball's American League Championship Series on Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, in Toronto. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.

Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.

The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.

Giants and Brandon Belt have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Wednesday

San Francisco Giants'  Brandon Belt reacts after being called out on strikes by home plate umpire Jim Joyce to end the top of the first inning against the Colorado Rockies in a baseball game Friday, Sept.. 4, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.

Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.

Padres sign veteran utility player Skip Schumaker

Cincinnati Reds' Skip Schumaker is tagged out at home plate by San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey during the seventh inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.

While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.