Tuesday, December 6, 2011

On the Ovechkin Steroid Question, Did Ryan Lambert Just Come Off as Dumber than John Steigerwald?

By Finesse

[For additional follow up, click here]

Ryan Lambert, the guy whose articles we intentionally skip on Puck Daddy, went on Trib Live radio today to confront/get confronted by John Steigerwald. On Sunday, Steigerwald wrote a column in a newspaper no one reads (the Somewhere Observer-Reporter) in which he says that it was his personal belief that Alex Ovechkin's decline in performance was the result of him stopping use of performance enhancing drugs (with some factual "updates" here).  Lambert responded on Monday, purporting to have "squashed" the accusation.


Let's be clear. John Steigerwald is generally a reprehensible human being. We dislike him, and so does almost everyone else. Imagine if Rush Limbaugh had a baby with Rush Limbaugh and named it Rush Limbaugh and then that kid inseminated himself and had a baby named John Steigerwald. That's what we're dealing with here. But if there's one thing we like less than John Steigerwald it's when the Internet hockey media community unites in smug disdain for anything, no matter what it is. Today brought out the worst in everyone, including Puck Daddy. If we ever longed for #nowords, today was the day.

Read on for the worst, after the jump...


The landscape is littered with nonsense. Let's start with Ryan Lambert. His first mistake was going on the radio with John Steigerwald. It's a scientifically proven fact that you will lose every argument against a conservative radio host, even if you don't actually lose the argument. That's how it works. But unfortunately for Lambert, he actually may have lost the argument. His blind defense of Ovechkin, and reference in his column to anyone who dares raise the question of PEDs in regards to Ovechkin's decline as "idiots" reveals a stunning and unearned hubris, as well as an alarming ignorance of the past 15 years of professional sports.



Then you have his cohorts in summoning indignation and outrage: Greg Wyshynski and Dmitry Chesnokov.

Chesnokov began his sarcastic and mystifyingly unnecessary Steigerwald rebuttal on Twitter by asking questions like: "Would that author blame Jonathan Cheechoo's amazing rapid decline on PED taking too?" and "so, every player who is not close to being what they were should be assumed to have used PED?"

He then picks a fight with what appears to be the Twitter boogey-man: "One note: it is plain wrong to assume the city of Pittsburgh and Pens fans are all like Steigerwald. That's not true."  I guess we kind of appreciate his defense of us, but it's an obvious point in response to an argument no one is making. 



Then there is Greg Wyshynski.  If you ever feel like following someone feeling good about himself in real-time, read his Twitter feed.  Among other things, he:

1) accuses Steigerwald of libeling Ovechkin while evidently being unaware of the elements and burden of proof of such a claim;
2) tells us, "Steigerwald makes a great point: Evgeni Malkin, Sergei Gonchar and Alex Kovalev grew up in a steroid culture," insinuating that if Steigerwald thinks Ovechkin is on steroids then those guys are using too, which of course has nothing at all to do with whether Ovechkin ever used steroids, and;
3) pronounces that "Lambert and I both did a search for Ovechkin's links to that steroid doctor. We found none outside of Pens messages boards."  One could argue this is about as thorough of an investigation as was conducted by the NHL and Capitals.

We have no idea whether Ovechkin, or his mom, or anyone else in the NHL has ever used steroids.  Neither does John Steigerwald.  But neither does Ryan Lambert.  For Lambert, Chesnokov, and Wyshynski to rule out PEDs from the equation entirely, and, at least Lambert's case, call everyone who brings it up an "idiot," is just as irresponsible as he accuses Steigerwald of being. The truth is that we don't know, but if history serves as any guide, and it almost always does, then there's a chance Steigerwald is right.

But wait. Who the hell cares what John Steigerwald thinks, anyway?

Whatever the case, we're not "idiots" for asking the question.

[For additional follow up, click here]

28 comments:

  1. I listened to the interview live, and again afterwords on Puckdaddy. Ryan Lambert is my least favorite author on the site, and I've voiced my opinion in the Puckdaddy comments in the past. Lambert didn't have a good argument, not what one would call a great debater. However, he never said that there is no chance that AO has used PEDs, he just says that it is irresponsible to form an opinion based on the fact that the doctor reportedly was connected to other DC area athletes.

    I didn't even know who John Steigerwald was before today, and after hearing his immature argument where he made it apparent that logic doesnt matter in his opinions.

    His sign off, calling Lamberts opinion of his brother a "Piece of shit" was all I needed to put him on the "Do not read articles by ____" list. And it also removed Lambert from it.

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  2. Danny, we agree that Steigerwald is vile. Can't stress that enough.

    The part about Lambert and whether AO had used PED's was from his column. I know he starts by sort-of qualifying himself, but check the last sentence:

    "It would be stunningly naïve to think professional athletes do not have access to and make use of performance-enhancing drugs these days. You can probably say the same thing about their abilities to mask its use to some extent.
    But to draw this kind of line just because of dropping shot totals is wildly irresponsible.
    It's amusing that Steigerwald's personal (and awful) blog is called "Just Watch the Game," because anyone who did that with Ovechkin these days would see that it's in-your-face defense, a drop in power play time per game over the last two seasons, and career-low shooting percentages, that's making the league's former Sniper Supreme look less than himself. Not a lack of PEDs."

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  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  4. This post is as conclusory and unsupportable as anything it criticizes. Two things:

    1) why exactly are you restating what Chesnokov said about Cheechoo? Were you trying to rebut the statement but forgot to do so? Chesnokov's point is well-taken and relies on the same amount of evidence -- and points out the logical flaw -- in Stiegerwald's argument/hunch/whisper/whatever-it-was.

    2) do you know the elements and burden of proof for a libel claim? You seem to think -- though again forgot to actually make the point -- that putting the word "opinion" in front an impliedly false statement of fact insulates one from liability. You're dead wrong. Expressions of opinion that imply the allegation of defamatory facts as the basis for the opinion (e.g. it's my opinion that AO does steroids based on some circumstantial evidence) always have and always will form the basis of a defamation claim.

    I would say you should forego law school and stick to your day job, but if writing vague and conclusory statements as if they are fact is your day job, then you should quit working altogether.

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  5. Nothing makes me want to turn back the clock and forego law school as much as people like Anonymous.

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  6. I hope Anonymous comes back to listen to our Bachelor Raw Emotion podcasts.

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  7. 2) tells us, "Steigerwald makes a great point: Evgeni Malkin, Sergei Gonchar and Alex Kovalev grew up in a steroid culture," insinuating that if Steigerwald thinks Ovechkin is on steroids then those guys are using too, which of course has nothing at all to do with whether Ovechkin ever used steroids,

    Did you listen to the interview? Steigerwald boldly stated that all Russian Olympians did steroids and that Ovechkin grew up in that culture, so Ovechkin must be on steroids. Greg was simply making the point that he's an idiot because if using that line of thought, all Russian athletes use steroids. So yes - it does have to do with Ovechkin using steroids because Steigerwald blatantly told us it did.

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  8. I gotta say I agree with a lot of these other "anonymous" responses.

    Your best point is your first: "His first mistake was going on the radio with John Steigerwald. It's a scientifically proven fact that you will lose every argument against a conservative radio host, even if you don't actually lose the argument."

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  9. Legitimate and unrebutted criticism met with 3rd Grade level snark. Keep up the good work!

    "what interview?" Boom. Way to answer the call finesse.

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  10. I'm pretty sure Finesse is busy right now defending a client against a libel claim brought by a misinformed Puck Daddy commenter, so I'll take this one. Just two points:

    1) We're not defending Steigerwald's reasoning. We don't like him or his casual put-downs of Russians and Russian culture any more than Chesnokov. And we're certainly not saying it was smart to take suspicions that Ovechkin took PEDs and put them into a "guilty until proven innocent" column. We are saying Lambert was overly preoccupied with the messenger and willfully ignores a legitimate question. We're talking about a player who looked nothing less than superhuman prior to a steroid investigation which - according to the New York Times and Sports Illustrated - involved the Washington Capitals, and who subsequently struggled to match the production of Pascal Dupuis. You don't think it's fair to ask if he might have had a little artificial help? Really? You're naive.

    2) This one is for the anonymous junior partner who thinks he's got a handle on libel law. Alex Ovechkin is a public person. As such, he would need to show malice or a reckless disregard for the truth - among other things - to get any traction against Steigerwald. That doesn't mean he needs to show Steigerwald was mean to him. It means he needs to show Steigerwald knew what he was saying isn't true, and he said it anyway. And if this whole episode has taught us anything, it's that John Steigerwald usually has no clue what he's talking about. So I think you've got a steep hill to climb with that claim, counselor. See NYT v. Sullivan. I'll look for your reply brief in the morning.

    Boom.

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  11. Did you go to Pittsburgh Upstairs Legal College? You guys must be so excited that this little dispute -- and a reference on Puck Daddy -- generated the most traffic in the history of your website. 13 comments! ... a bumper crop.

    Seriously though, stick to writing homer, low-rent blog posts and spare us your crack legal mind. True, reckless disregard for the truth may be shown where Stiegerwald knew he was wrong. But that is far from the only way to show it. Deliberate misediting of supporting evidence to make it more convincing or condemnatory may provide proof of actual malice. Reliance on one uncorroborated, biased and unreliable source, where bias is admitted by the defendant, is evidence of actual malice. Where a defendant had no reliable source or documentary evidence, denials and warnings of inaccuracy create an issue of actual malice. Moreover, a defendant cannot automatically insure a favorable verdict by testifying that he published with a belief that the statements were true.

    Your move, Dershowitz.

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  12. Oh, yes. We're thrilled by this. Because we don't get enough of dealing with obnoxious people who love to say "Moreover" in our day-to-day life. Tell you what. You would lose in court, but you win in the comments section of our low-rent blog. And we won't tell you where we went to law school because we don't want you to spend the rest of your day getting even more worked up because you couldn't get in there.

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  13. PULC is kind of an underrated school. Not really sure why Anonymous had to throw that under the bus. Really unfair.

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  14. Hmm, what does Anonymous mean vis-a-vis "insure" a favorable verdict? Can the defendant take out a policy on that? But to the point, a defendant cannot automatically [ensure] a favorable verdict wherefore the defendant testifies that he published with a belief that the statements were true, but he can in all likelihood [ensure] a favorable verdict by not having to be a defendant in a court of law at all, as Alex Ovechkin will not file suit because his IMG lawyers know their client would not be able to secure a favorable outcome, despite Anonymous's purely shameful sophistry in the comments section of this blog. This is AMERICA, Anonymous. You can get away with saying all kinds of untruths on the Internet vis-a-vis it is extremely difficult to prove intent. Though it's clear from his post that Anonymous intends to continue being a troll until he gets a job. Get a job, Anonymous.

    Moreover, NYT v. SULLIVAN 4 LYFE(!)

    -An enthusiast

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  15. Hmm yes vis-a-vis your comment vis-a-vis mine, I can respond that vis-a-vis your propensity to use the phrase vis-a-vis, you should probably start reading some caselaw ... a lot has happened since 1964. "The defendant in a defamation action brought by a public official cannot, however, automatically insure a favorable verdict by testifying that he published with a belief that the statements were true." St. Amant v. Thompson, 390 U.S. 727, 732, (1968).

    Read the case. Justice White said "insure" so take it up with him, though don't let me stop you from misquoting the court's language.

    Also, nothing says "a troll should get a job because they posted on a blog" like someone also posting on a blog to make that point. Also, I'm both a troll and employed and loving it.

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  16. Anonymous, you do realize L.A. was joking with the vis-a-vis and the wherefore? Of course you don't. Too much fun.

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  17. Well, I think we've all learned something today vis-a-vis the dangers of posting on the internet vis-a-vis a cloak of anonymous shame via-a-vis a blog. Haters gonna hate. Trolls gonna troll. I'd like to finish up vis-a-vis quoting my favorite professor at Pittsburgh Upstairs Legal Community College (still waiting to get into main campus -- fingers crossed!!): "What in god's name is St. Amant v. Thompson, 390 U.S. 727 (1968) and who gives a crap?"

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  18. Let's take Anonymous on a spin through the GTOG Translator.

    "Hmm yes vis-a-vis your comment vis-a-vis mine, I can respond that vis-a-vis your propensity to use the phrase vis-a-vis"

    [translate]

    "I have no ability to understand when I'm being made fun of. When I write the word "Moreover" and string together large blocks of text copy/pasting from legal treatises, I'm being serious. I don't get why people think I should be embarrassed."

    --

    "you should probably start reading some caselaw ... a lot has happened since 1964. "The defendant in a defamation action brought by a public official cannot, however, automatically insure a favorable verdict by testifying that he published with a belief that the statements were true." St. Amant v. Thompson, 390 U.S. 727, 732, (1968)."

    [translate]

    "Much has happened since 1964. For example, 1968 happened. Nothing has happened since 1968."

    --

    "Read the case. Justice White said "insure" so take it up with him, though don't let me stop you from misquoting the court's language."

    [translate]

    "I do not misquote language from the courts, however, I often take language from the courts without quoting at all."

    --

    "Also, nothing says "a troll should get a job because they posted on a blog" like someone also posting on a blog to make that point. Also, I'm both a troll and employed and loving it."

    [translate]

    "I spend an awful lot of time trolling a blog that I think is low-rent. But then again, my job doesn't pay much."

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  19. That was a joke? Hilarious! I truly missed the sarcasm in LA's use of vis-a-vis in that post. And, if it was sarcastic, then what passes for humor on this blog is funnier than the "jokes" and reflects an understanding of sarcasm truly befitting the mental midgets who run this page. I apologize in advance for the use of "befitting." I'm just not used to speaking to third graders who think words like "moreover" are funny.

    Alright, let me see if I have this. You make a post criticizing someone else as "evidently being unaware of the elements and burden of proof of [a libel] claim." I cite legal analysis that shows you're wrong. You provide your own legal analysis by citing NYT v. Sullivan and using (what must be by your standards) incredibly hilarious words and phrases like "malice" and "reckless disregard for the truth." I respond with language from actual cases -- including (try not laugh) hilarious words like "moreover." L.A. responds with his own legal analysis, using the phrase "vis-a-vis." Is the funny part that we all used big words defending our legal analysis? Or is just the word "moreover" funny? Is the funny part that you made any claim to legal knowledge in the first place? Were you just "joking" about Puck Daddy "evidently" misunderstanding the law? Granted, "evidently" is a hilarious word.

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  20. You apologized in advance for the use of "befitting" after you had already used the word "befitting." Aw, Anon...

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  21. First off, cool down and go try to make a friend.

    Second, you haven't proven anyone wrong (except yourself) about anything, but we're glad that you think you have. We stand by everything we said about Puck Daddy. The comment section for this website is not a place where we are going to debate every legal nuance with you. But trust us -- and I don't mean to be arrogant here -- if we really wanted to engage you in that battle, you would lose. If you want to continue cherry-picking quotes from some case you found on Wikipedia, that's something that you're going to have discuss with someone who cares more than we do.

    Third, you've now referred to us as third graders twice, which we would take as an insult if we weren't so concerned about an adult chatting so passionately on the internet with what he thinks are third graders.

    Your best bet right now is to just stop, but my hunch is that you're going to fire off another comment about how we've been proven wrong, or we're not funny, or simply asking a whole bunch of rhetorical questions in a row. If that's the path you choose to take, if that's what makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside, then we look forward to your response.

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  22. Jay Beagle to Aaron Asham: "trust me -- and I don't meant to be arrogant here -- but if you really want to engage in a fight, you'll lose. So just give up now and save us all the time."

    This was all incredibly fun, though. I mean, seriously, is this the most commentary you've ever had on a blog post?

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  23. is a blog's quality measurable by its traffic? maybe, maybe not. but dude, beyond hypotheticals and bad inferences, the only thing you're doing for sure is being pathetic. you'll keep responding as long as someone pays attention to you. the sad part is that you seem capable of intelligent, reasonable discourse if you'd give it a shot.

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  24. Randy!, you are always our #1.

    Anonymous, I think it's time we part ways. Good luck with the law school applications.

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