Let's take a look at it, shall we? Here we have an author attempting to explain why Ibanez got off to such a torrid start. Things he considers and/or investigates:
- Recent track record
- Safeco and Citizens Bank park factors
- Road stadium park factors
- Quality of opposition
- Sample size and luck
- History of fast starts
- Lineup protection
- Anomalous career path
- Changes in preparation routine
- Performance enhancers
As for that last one - the unpleasant and volatile point that set off this whole explosion - why don't we see what the author actually says?
...it’s time for me to begrudgingly acknowledge the elephant in the room: any aging hitter who puts up numbers this much better than his career averages 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. And since I was not able to draw any absolute parallels between his prodigously [sic] improved HR rate and his new ballpark’s hitter-friendliness, it would be foolish to dismiss the possibility that "other" performance enhancers could be part of the equation.
It will be a wonderful day when we can see a great start by a veteran like Ibanez and not immediately jump to speculating about whether steroids or PEDs are involved. We certainly are not at that point yet, however.
Notice that nowhere in there does the author ("JRod") accuse Raul Ibanez of using. He only acknowledges that it's a possibility, which, well, yeah. It is. Nobody wants to bring it up and nobody wants it to be true, but the fact of the matter is that Ibanez's start does look funny, and because he's 37 years old, that's going to raise some eyebrows. It's not the author's fault that Ibanez has to deal with this sort of speculation. It's the fault of all the players around him who decided to use, players whose chemical dependence and positive tests have given the world reason to be skeptical of unexpected performance spikes. Raul Ibanez has every right to defend himself against potentially damaging press, but fans also have every right to be a little suspicious. This is just a fact of the times that we live in. I, for one, would love to take every athlete at his word, but considering everything we've seen take place, that would be more than a little naive.
Both parties here are right, and both parties here are wrong. JRod is right for acknowledging the possibility, and wrong for writing what he did in such a way that it could be interpreted as an accusation. Ibanez, meanwhile, is right to defend himself and go on the offensive, but wrong to target this particular article, which didn't say anything unfair. In the end, all we're really left with is the realization that steroid speculation is to baseball players as basement speculation is to bloggers.