|Giants All-Star outfielder Melky Cabrera is enjoying a career year. (Getty Images)|
It's not often writer apologizes to a ballplayer and a team for perpetuating a rumor, but CSN Bay Area's Andrew Baggarly, much to his credit, has done just that.
The back-story ... Baggarly was bombarded via email and on Twitter with rumors -- rumors eventually revealed to be baseless -- that Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera had failed a drug test and would be facing a 50-game suspension. He had not, and he would not.
However, Baggarly, because of the seeming strength of the scuttle, chose to publicly acknowledge the rumors and then ask Cabrera about them ...
There's a rumor on Twitter that Melky Cabrera will be suspended for positive PED test. I asked Melky and he said it's totally untrue. ...— Andrew Baggarly (@CSNBaggs) July 27, 2012
Quite understandably, Cabrera was upset and even contacted his agents in an attempt to find out what was happening.
In the end, Baggarly had inadvertently given life to rumors that should've died out in the unfollowed haunts of Twitter. That's why he's apologized.
Obviously, Baggarly should've had better instincts in the early stages, but it speaks very well of him that he acknowledged the mistake and sought forgiveness from Cabrera and the Giants in a very public way. Baggarly writes:
We live in a different media universe and the rules are changing every day. Information is immediate. The level of interaction between fans and journalists is greater than ever. Anyone can self-publish any thought that rumbles through his or her head, true or untrue. It can be a confusing cacophony for any journalist, and it certainly is for me at times.
It's my job to serve readers. But what if it's just one tenth of one percent of my readership who are asking these questions? Is it my responsibility to respond to them in a public way?
Asking these questions from a different vantage point: If I were Melky Cabrera, would I appreciate a reporter who knocked down a rumor that was just a whisper in some corners of the Internet? Or would I be royally pissed to see my name mentioned alongside PEDs, no matter the context, by a credentialed, professional journalist?
It's obvious, isn't it? Well, it should have been obvious to me. It wasn't.
In retrospect, I made the wrong decision to address these rumors on my Twitter account and disseminate it to my 30,000-plus followers.
He's right, of course. One of the most frustrating aspects of "steroid-era" journalism is the tendency of some writers to float baseless accusations or to wonder aloud whether a certain player did a certain something just because that player is enjoying a statistical spike of some kind. It's lazy, and it undermines the profession. Those who traffic in words should understand the power of words, but too many writers have taken possible widespread PED use in the past as license to impugn any player who defies their expectations. (See Murray Chass's cave etchings on Mike Piazza's damnable "bacne" for an example that's remarkable for its irresponsibility and child's grasp of the issue.)
As for Baggarly, he certainly should not have given soft validation to those rumors by investigating them in a public fashion, but his willingness to recognize and avow his error distinguishes him from, well, too many of his peers. So good on him.
As for Cabrera's breakout season, the point is so banal that it's surprising it needs to be made yet again: outlying performances have been a part of baseball since the Knickerbockers were playing at Elysian Fields. They always will be. Writers would do well to recall this. Writers would also do well to recall Andrew Baggarly's self-awareness and sense of accountability.