North of the 400

North of Toronto, South of a championship

Just asking a question about Damien Cox asking a question

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The weird thing about Toronto’s sports media is just how vicious is it, regardless of the organ.

Take the Star’s Damien Cox, for instance. Here is a man who is probably a nice guy most of the time. He writes for a paper known for a liberal, left-leaning editorial slant. And yet, he’s writes so many reactionary columns, often trying to stir up smoke where there isn’t fire.

His post on Sunday was vintage Cox.

“At least gotta ask the question.”

The question Cox is referring to is one combining Jose Bautista and steroids in some fashion. It’s one about how Bautista, who to this point in his career, had never hit 17 home runs in a season. It’s one inspired by the recent perjury charges leveled against Roger Clemens – himself a former Blue Jay – over his steroid use.

And it’s honestly not that imprudent a question. Bautista is hitting more then twice his usual number of home runs (indeed, he’s hit close to half of his total this season alone). His power numbers have jumped dramatically from last season: his slugging from .408 to .600, his OPS from .757 to .973 and his Total Bases from 137 to 264.

But Cox’s question on Sunday was fairly typical for his column. While most sports fans treat him as kind of a professional troll – somebody who says intentionally outrageous things to get a reaction – those who only occasionally follow sports find him a great columnist. And his post on Bautista is a great example of why.

If you’re somebody who only casually follows the Jays, chances are you feel one of two ways about Bautista’s season. Either you’re impressed and considering going to a cheap matinee game to cheer him on, or you vaguely remember how a bunch of people took steroids and got good… and wonder why Cox is taking so much heat for his line of questioning.

But the difference between them and more hardcore fans is how the steroid era is remembered. Yes, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGuire and Barry Bonds probably took steroids and starting mashing monster home runs. But they also began exposing monster muscles and gigantic, Pantagruel-ish physiques.

Bautista’s look has changed too. He’s grown a beard.

Cox’s post completely sidesteps that, as well as anything that could be taken even as circumstantial evidence. Instead if offers up how former Jays like Clemens, Gregg Zaun and Troy Glaus all have been alleged to use PEDs (then again, find me a team that’s completely clean).

All of which point at one thing to me: this is just Cox being Cox, a guy who just kind of comes up with contrarian ideas because it’s more or less his gig. This is a guy, after all, who has a televised segment where plays a renamed version of Devil’s Advocate.

Speaking of TV gigs, Cox appeared on TSN’s The Reporters on Sunday morning. While on the show, near the end of a segment discussion Bautista, he offered the same question he posed in his blog. The show aired at 10:30am; Cox’s post went up just after noon that same day.

Did he write a post on something he came up with on TV that morning? Or is it something he’s been thinking about and used his position on The Reporters to try and promote his column? He does work for a rival news organization, it’d make sense.

Just asking the question. Gotta ask. Don’t blame me.

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Written by M.

August 25, 2010 at 10:04 am

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