Remember when Rick Reilly was good at his job? He used to find stories, research them, and make powerful, well thought out arguments on the back page of Sports Illustrated. Then he left for ESPN, and likely a bigger paycheck. Since then, Reilly has become the Shaun Alexander of journalism, cashing in on his payday and subsequently falling off the face of the earth with his production. Reilly’s recent ineptitude came to a head today, with an article condemning baseball’s steroid era by lazily ripping on any player associated with performance-enhancing drugs. Hence our surprise when amongst the likes of Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Ken Caminiti, and Jose Canseco whose name should appear but….Adrian Beltre?
The exact quote is as follows: “We’re throwing out Beltre [from NL MVP contention] since, while he denies ever using PEDs, he fell off the face of the planet once baseball put in stricter steroid suspensions in 2005. If he wasn’t cheating, I’m the Queen Mother (the full context of the article can be found HERE).”
The good folks over at USS Mariner have already got their Reilly potshot in with this brief article, and I reckon it’s only a matter of time before we get some feedback from the Mariners third baseman on the whole issue.
Now I’m all for allowing a columnist his opinions, but if you’re going to accuse someone of something so rash as steroid use, you better be prepared to back up your allegations with more than just a claim to the throne of maternity. Knowing Rick Reilly, however, he’ll revel in the attention this seemingly flippant remark brings him.
And what’s the deal with Reilly, anyways? Just a few short years ago he was an awesome columnist who represented the fans in his writings. He was the poster child for SI and a fixture on their final page, forcing many readers (myself included) to read their copies of the magazine backwards.
Since arriving at ESPN, Reilly has fully embraced his cynical side and has cut down on the number of positive, sports-related, human interest stories he came to be known for at Sports Illustrated. Maybe he’s been hanging around Skip Bayless too often, or maybe this is just who Rick Reilly has become: a complacent jerk. Now that he’s seemingly acquired a) money and b) fame, Reilly just doesn’t appear poised to do the job he was once capable of. Maybe he should reconsider his condemnation of steroids and get on the juice himself.