I am certain Rick Reilly is on something.
I have no proof for this. But I look at his columns today and they're much, much longer than they used to be. You can't tell me he's writing this much without stimulants. I mean, you look at his back page pieces for SI back in the day versus his longer-form essays for ESPN.com now and he's producing way more words than he ever did before. It's not like he's suddenly going to acquire a larger vocabulary, not at his age, so he's got to be on something.
And sure, I've talked to writers who swear they don't need anything to help them write, but hey, I've been to enough writers' conventions to know differently. Plenty of books and articles and blog posts have been powered by something more than just Warriner's basic grammar textbook.
Sure, I know in this country we're supposed to believe in innocent until proven guilty, but come on, the evidence is right there in front of us. We know better than to believe Rick Reilly when he says he's not on something, or that he's not recycling columns, or that he's not taking cheap shots by making unsubstantiated claims of substance abuse by players. Hell, if Reilly claims he's clean and he's not taking performance enhancing drugs to help him write, let's have him deliver a urine sample right now so it can be tested. I'm right here, Rick. Any time you and your bladder are ready. Why wait?
Yeah. Sounds kind of messed up, doesn't it? Sounds like the sort of thing that people read and say "You can't post that!" about, when it's about some guy. Of course, that's exactly the sort of thing that stunt columnist Reilly just pulled on Orioles slugger Chris Davis, but because Davis is an athlete, we're happy to let Reilly swing away. He's not "some guy", he's famous, and he's hitting more homers than he used to, and an underdog story stops being fun once the underdog turns out to have grown into a wolf. So he piles on the unsupported assertions, and the false equivalencies, and the sneering generalizations, and voila, people take that crap seriously.
Maybe Reilly will see this. Maybe he'll be read it, and he'll be mad, and he'll rant and rave about how he has been unjustly accused. And then maybe he'll think about his shtick, and how he's got no grounds to fling around accusations, and he'll modify his approach. Show a little journalistic integrity, even.
But I doubt it. The last part, at least.