(video link courtesy ESPN.com via Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

The Seattle Times’ Geoff Baker has observed the firestorm resulting from Midwest Sports Report’s Jerod Morris raising the question of Raul Ibanez’ hot start to the 2009 season, ie. is-he-or-isn’t-he using PED’s. Citing his own investigative journalism in revealing former Blue Jays manager Tim Johnson being a big fooking phony (“I believed in what I was doing, didn’t go at it halfway, and was ready to take the consequences”), Baker insists “it’s always better to err on the side of caution — and do a little more legwork — than to have Ken Rosenthal destroying you on national TV, when your only defense is mere cliches and half-hearted insinuations.”

In this case, the blogger really didn’t have a leg to stand on. That much was clear when he was eviscerated on national television by Fox Sports columnist Ken Rosenthal, a longtime baseball writer for the Baltimore Sun. I’ve seen some commenters to various fan blogs the past 24 hours try to say the blogger “held his own” but let’s get real. It was ugly. I give the blogger — I won’t mention his name because I’m reluctant to give him his 15 minutes — credit for going on with Rosenthal. If it was me on the air instead of Rosenthal, I would have torn the blogger to shreds in much the same way. Maybe even worse. I know Rosenthal and spoke to him at the ballpark yesterday after his ESPN appearance with said blogger. When you go on TV and radio a lot, you learn how to destroy people like the inexperienced blogger on-air. It was like that Korean dude pounding on Jose Canseco in Japan the other day.

But I give the blogger props for standing up and taking his blows like a man. There is not enough of that in the internet world these days. Not enough accountability. And the fact he was ready to stand up for what he believed in gives me hope that he can one day rise to better things. That his blogging career was not just ruined by this one misstep. I don’t think his was. It took some guts to wade into this topic.

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 he went in only halfway. He tried to raise the “steroids issue” then claimed he really wasn’t pointing a finger at Ibanez.

Maybe he didn’t read his own headline.

And maybe Rosenthal didn’t read Morris’ original post. Baker deserves considerable praise — from people other than himself, even — for exposing Tim Johnson, but the level of invective aimed at Morris seems in stark contrast compared to say, the way Bob Ryan was treated after hinting Nomar Garciaparra’s decline was related to PED’s. There’s been no shortage of speculation surrounding David Ortiz’ recent struggles, much of it from accredited colleagues of Baker as opposed to shifty, innnuendo-addicted bloggers. Rosenthal and his brethren presided over an era in which numerous superstars and scrubs alike have since been cited for PED use ; it’s all well and good to say the wannabes and basement dwellers oughta grow a pair and learn how to Woodward & Bernstein this stuff, but not every print journalist is nearly as heroic as Geoff Baker. Ken Rosenthal’s awesome at delivering trade scoops, but perhaps not nearly so adept at reporting on steroid use happening right under his nose.