Yesterday Gio answered questions from the media, and if you read different accounts you get a different story. Some local accounts and a national one had a confident and happy Gio, answering questions straight fowardly and oh by the way did we mention he got invited to play for the USA in the WBC!? Other national reports took a more matter of fact approach ignoring impressions and relegating the WBC point to a mere sentence. The local guys seemed inclined to let this sit on the back-burner, at least until the MLB investigation gives us a definitive response by baseball. The national guys have no such inclination. Jayson Stark even went ahead and posted an opinion piece that questioned Gio. The nerve!
I don't necessarily agree with Mr. Stark but I'm very glad he wrote that up. The national reports - AP and ESPN's non-opinion piece are reporting the straight news. While it comes across as dry, it also is the most fair. Gio's attitude is not relevant. His call to the WBC is at best circumstantial evidence in his favor. Instead what we need to know is what happened, what Gio says about it and that MLB is looking into it. On the other side, the local guys come across as a bit soft toward Gio. They know Gio. He doesn't seem like a user. I assume there hadn't been hints or insinuations floating around. The hard evidence is not strongly aligned against him. As long as they keep on putting relevant information out there, what's the harm in not grilling the guy? Is the story a little unbelievable? Perhaps. But it's certainly not impossible so why not give Gio the benefit of the doubt?
Thing is, while Gio the individual may deserve the benefit of the doubt, Gio the ballplayer lost that benefit a long time ago. It wasn't his fault, but that's the truth. As a ballplayer there is zero tolerance now. You even associate with one dirty person and you are going to be questioned over and over about it until most people are satisfied. Above and beyond that, you are going to have to accept the fact that a few people are NEVER going to be satisfied. That's the life of a modern ballplayer. Stark comes from this other side, after seeing ballplayer after ballplayer flat out lie to our faces, he wants Gio to accept the fact he's going to be basically interrogated by the press. He wants us to see how silly Gio's story seems if you take it on face value so that if Gio is found to be guilty we don't sit around and talk about how shocked we are. It's may be a little harsh but that's reality now.
It's not that I expect the beat guys to be doing this. I would imagine in any town we'd see the same type of... let's not say kid's gloves, maybe "older teen's gloves", treatment for a nice guy who has given no indication of guilt where the current known evidence does not clearly convict him. But this type of colmun should have already been out there* already.
Gio's name was in a book of a known dealer of banned substances, where nearly every other player name in the book is someone who is strongly connected to banned substances. His father's name is in there. The name of the guy he identified as his off-season strength coach is in there. There's far more circumstantially linking him to banned substances, than putting him on the side of angels.
*If we really want someone to put Gio and the team to task about this, it's Boz who should be doing it. It's a columnist thing. But God knows the Unofficial Mascot of the Washington Nationals is not going to be doing that anytime soon.