The Times on Beltre steroid rumors
(working down the article request queue)
The Seattle Times ran a Bob Finnigan article on the suspicion that Beltre was on steroids in 2004 and the M’s got sold a bill of goods, so to speak.
I don’t have a strong opinion here. It’s a fairly detailed look at the evidence he’s not, from reasons why he’s struggled to different people, including Beltre, denying he’s used.
I do disagree, though, with the Times’ decision to run this without a clear reason. There’s no one quoted accusing Beltre of using steroids. If no one was willing to put their name on a statement, there’s no story. But the thing is, there are. You can listen to sports talk and hear the hosts fish around the subject (I’ve been asked directly on air if I thought that Beltre juiced), there’s no shortage of people on ESPN or MLB’s forums you can quote. If there’s no pressing reason to run it now, then why run it all? If they’re not running articles on any player someone’s whispered might be have been on steroids, where’s a Pineiro column, or heck, a Sexson column? Was Bloomquist juicing that September call-up? I know it’s always a tough decision on whether the presence of rumors is itself a story, or whether writing a piece like this one gives them legitimancy, and I’m fine with running the article. I don’t understand why they’d run this article now, without putting someone on record as making an accusation that’s newsworthy.
We’re left with a couple of different explanations for Beltre’s 2004:
– finally put it all together
– injury forced beneficial changes to approach, when injury healed
– started using steroids in 2004, escaped detection, and then stopped after he got his contract for some reason (pick one: didn’t like the injections/feared for his health/thought it would be funny)
If he has another good season, it’d start to undermine some of those, but unless he has a couple of 2004 seasons, there’s never going to be a way to definitively disprove the contention he used drugs in 2004. And unless evidence surfaces that supports the speculation, there will be no reason to believe the rumors either, and no reason we should spend time trying to refute them.