Raise your hand if you were surprised by the Robinson Cano PED rumors… I certainly wasn’t; and there is no name in Major League Baseball that would surprise me if linked to steroids at this point. Sure, there are some that would disappoint me more than others—Cano’s name being one of them. But it would be disingenuous for me to tell you that I didn’t buy-into the rumors Thursday afternoon. The purpose of this article is not to recap the history of steroids in Baseball however, because I think that is a story we are all too familiar with. Instead, I am going to attempt to delve into why, as sports fans of the social media generation, we believe every rumor that pops-up in our Twitter feed.
Why were we all too quick to believe the rumors? What had Cano done in the past to warrant that type of response from the media and fans—other than be close friends with Melky Cabrera, who was busted for PED use earlier in the summer? If simply being friends with a PED-user is evidence enough then I guess Derek Jeter, someone who has never been linked to steroids—with the exception of that buffoon Skip Bayless, is in trouble for being close teammates with Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens.
Am I saying that Cano and Jeter are off limits as far as steroid allegations go? Of course not. I don’t think you can place anyone in the ‘no chance in hell did they do steroids’ category. But with every diehard sports fan—myself included—tweeting and blogging, there are millions of opinions constantly swirling on the web that can saturate the real stories. So when Dan Tordjman, a TV Reporter out of Charlotte, NC—who may or may not have as many credible sources at his disposal as I do—tweeted that Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano not only failed a PED test but would face MLB suspension as soon as this week, we all believed it. Tordjman obviously had reason to post the story; whether it was because he had a trusted source that informed him of Cano’s test, or because he knew the power of social media would allow him to have fifteen minutes of fame if he outed Cano as a PED user. Regardless, the facts are that we all believed a no-name TV Reporter with barely over 500 Twitter followers because he posted a loaded Tweet for the world to see.
Within minutes the Tweet sparked reactions on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and sports radio. The story gained steam because the power of social media allowed it to. A non-story has the ability to reach millions of different outlets in a matter of minutes because everyone is all too interested and anxious for news. And by no means am I ruling myself out of the masses on this one. When the story “broke” on Thursday I was all too willing to believe the rumors. Not because I think Cano is a steroid-user, but because I am addicted to up-to-the-minute news; whether it is game updates, trade rumors, or steroid-allegations. Like the rest of our attention-span challenged generation, I will give merit to what comes up in front of me if it is interesting enough. And if Dan Tordjman was taking advantage of that weakness in our generation, then hats-off to him.
So when the next TV Reporter, Writer, Blogger, Tweeter, or regular Joe-Schmo posts that Robinson Cano, Evan Longoria, or your local sports star failed a PED test, we will probably all believe them. And shame on us.