Comcast SportsNet Bay Area San Francisco Giants beat reporter Andrew Baggarly was caught in a conundrum three weeks ago. He was hearing rumors of Melky Cabrera possibly being suspended for a positive PED test, but he did not have facts. All Baggarly had were some rumors emailed and tweeted to him, and nothing else.
He decided to take the accusation to the accused. On July 27, Baggarly asked Cabrera about the PED test rumors.
Baggarly tweeted: "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. ..."
The Giants outfielder did not accept the question with open arms. According to CBSSports.com, Cabrera "was upset and even contacted his agents in an attempt to find out what was happening."
Baggarly's question backfired, as Cabrera, the Giants and fans expressed disgust over Baggarly's curiosity. The journalist, seeing his subjects and readership turn against him, publicly apologized within hours.
Here is some of what Baggarly said:
"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."
In the post-steroid era of baseball, the media can jump to conclusions when players have breakout seasons. Jose Bautista went through a similar scenario in 2010. Baggarly paid the price for what seemed to be a mistake.
Now who's laughing?
On Wednesday afternoon, Baggarly's Twitter handle heated up and his followers could see Baggarly's vindication through every tweet: "Rumors were true: RT @MLB BREAKING: Giants OF Melky Cabrera suspended 50 games without pay after testing positive for Testosterone," Baggardy tweeted at 2:42 p.m. ET.
He followed two minutes later:
Baggarly continued to send out tweets about Cabrera's statement and his playoff eligibility. Baggarly went from zero to hero, villain to genius, gossip to reliable, all within the few minutes of MLB's announcement.
Tim Kawakami, his former colleague at the San Jose Mercury News, paid Baggarly the respect he deserved. He tweeted at Baggarly at 3:10 p.m.:
Baggarly proceeded to retweet Kawakami.
But Baggarly was not in full I-told-you-so mode. In a two-part tweet at 3:23 p.m., he admitted he still did not have enough facts to put Cabrera on the spot in July. However, he also felt he should not have been the only person apologizing:
The ball's in your court, Melky.
Right now, baseball fans everywhere are standing by, waiting to hear more about the largest-scale steroid bust in the MLB since Manny Ramirez's second PED suspension. Cabrera had a .346 batting average this season and was the All-Star Game MVP. He will become a free agent in the offseason and was set to sign a hefty contract.
If the Giants make the playoffs, Cabrera would have to miss the first five games. But Baggarly, who appeared on four Jeopardy episodes in July, won't.
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