Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bayless Claim That Jeter Uses Roids Comes With Asterisk

ESPN's Skip Bayless has often been known as the most hated journalist in America for his over-the-top commentary and seemingly ridiculous claims. Bayless appears to feed off of this kind of negativity; he apparently enjoys being the lightning rod for criticism amongst sports fans everywhere, even if he is completely wrong. He lives off the hard edge.

That extreme took a new turn on Wednesday, when Bayless said on ESPN's "First Take" that Derek Jeter must be using steroids, or he wouldn't be hitting .320 with 13 home runs.

The claim drew anger out of his "First Take" partner and ESPN NY radio host, Stephen A. Smith, who chastised Bayless for the claims.

Watch here. 

While the argument between Bayless and Smith appears staged, and it is clear that they are doing this for entertainment purposes, the claims, while interesting, are probably false.

Bayless feels that Jeter must be using 'roids to up his performance after he struggled offensively leading up to the 2012 season. Like most athletes, i.e. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, et al., Jeter presumably used 'roids in order to prevent the aging process.

The claim is a bit nutty since Jeter has never shown signs of getting larger; his musculature has not grown to the size of Popeye the Sailorman, nor has he become a monstrous power hitter.

Jeter's home run total has only increased from 6 last year to 13 this season. Jeter has always been a 10-15 home run player; moreover, it is not as if he hasn't hit 20 homers before; Jeter has done it three times in his career and hit 18 homers as recently as 2009. He has always been a .300 hitter, and steroids does nothing to improve a hitter's hand/eye co-ordination when it comes to swinging a bat.

Keep in mind, Jeter was injured during the 2011 season, playing in only 131 games, which is the lowest total of his career since his rookie year of 1995 when he played in 15 games. This is his first season healthy since the Yankees won a World Series in 2009. That year, Jeter hit .334 with 18 homers and 66 RBI and was an MVP candidate, just like he is this year.

The fact that Bayless makes these claims without full support or research is silly, and the tactic screams of "cry wolf" exaggeration.

Jeter's response was ever so slight, yet classy, when he said, "Maybe Skip should get tested" when he heard about the on-air discussion.

Bayless invoked Jeter's name in the same sentence as Melky Cabrera who was found guilty of using synthetic testosterone to up his baseball performance to an unlikely All-Star level. Bayless feels, and he is correct about this with regard to the state of the game, that players have found ways to fudge the system masking steroids with other substances.

The only point that Bayless makes with any credibility is that Jeter might have considered using steroids since it helps players play longer. That might be true; however, there is no proof. Nothing. Thew charge just fills air time for Smith and Bayless to scream at each other.

As O.J. Simpson's attorney once said: "If the glove don't fit, you must acquit."
This incident represents another sad commentary on what has become of the journalism profession: claims and opinions are floated without any substantive reserach or facts to back them up. They are just empty assertions; keeping Bayless on air and giving him a platform to vent week in and week out is the real problem with what passes for journalism today. It behooves Mr. Bayless to paraphrase the remark made during the McCarthy hearing: "Mr. Bayless, have you no shame?"

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