It has come to my attention that Miami Herald columnist and guy-who-frustratingly-isn't-Tony-Kornheiser on Pardon the Interruption Dan Le Batard is in possession of incontrovertible evidence that Albert Pujols is older than he says he is. The evidence comes from his girlfriend, who is really hot, and always ready to make out, if you know what I mean, like, banging-wise, and—look, she's from Canada, you couldn't possibly have met her, but maybe—oh, now that I check her schedule she's not going to be back in town until that time when you're going to be gone. Crap.
Don't worry about clicking the link, I'll quote the damning part:
That's insanity, especially since, like a lot of teams, the Marlins believe Pujols to be older than the 31 he claims to be... [cut] [N]ow they're offering nine to Pujols, whose age they don't even know.
There are a few other times when he says everybody knows it, and it's super cool but I don't want to quote too much. Did I forget to mention that Dan Le Batard's Canadian girlfriend works with the Marlins? She's—well, I can't really tell you what she does, it's kind of secret. Anyway, everybody knows Albert Pujols is like 50 there, because of—she showed the evidence to Dan, but he promised he wouldn't show anybody else. But don't worry about it, everybody knows it.
I told you that the number of people who knew it was "all people," and that they had very important baseball jobs, right?
Apparently Albert Pujols AgeGate, for the first time in six or seven years, is going to be a Gate again this offseason. We ran a piece on Baseball Nation yesterday in which Rob Neyer, the first sabermetrician I ever read, and Jason Brannon, whom I don't know but is apparently a Pujols birther in some just-kidding-but-seriously way, ran with much the same innuendo, and now that Le Batard has gotten pageviews for his trouble and run up the Google Trend you can expect to see more pieces about this in the next few weeks.
The frustrating thing about it is that it might absolutely be true. Albert Pujols could well be older than he says he is, and it could be an open secret throughout baseball. It's just that every time this comes up all the Miami Herald columnists who supposedly know exactly what everybody knows refuse to be actual journalists and tell us what or how they know.
Right now, this is all we know about Albert Pujols being older than he says he is:
1. He's from a place where people have falsified their birth certificates in the past.
2. His wife is older than he is, and he looks older than he is.
3. He was great when he was 21, but was not widely scouted when he was 18.
4. Dan Le Batard and some number of other sportswriters and sports-talker-abouters have heard that other people think he's 33 or 34.
If just one of the Le Batards and sub-Le Batards who are convinced he's 34 because Everybody Knows It, many of whom went to j-school much longer than I did without failing out of it, leaked the information he'd ostensibly gotten from an MLB front office, it would be news, and we would know something we didn't already know. Right now it's just the meaningless, accidental amplification of a rumor.
This isn't a case where we've gotten more evidence about this question over the years, it's just a case in which the people who believe it, after shutting up for a few years, have gotten louder again. In the absence of some insider or hanger-on willing to leak the actual reasons they believe what they believe, columns like Le Batard's and thought exercises like ours are basically irrelevant.
I know we're inured, by now, to the unnamed source, but what's being done here isn't at all what Joe Strauss does. Joe Strauss might tell us, after suggesting we check in at the P-D round midnight, that anonymous Cardinals sources confirm that a statue of Joe Strauss really delivering the zinger he's always wanted to deliver to Tony La Russa while everybody cheers and loves him, finally, will be unveiled outside Busch Stadium tomorrow. If he had information about Albert Pujols's age he'd probably tell us that unnamed sources confirm that Albert Pujols is 33 years old, and give us some idea of how they know that.
That's all right—sources can't always be named, for various legitimate reasons. But Dan Le Batard is telling us that unnamed sources with important jobs think Albert Pujols is 34. If you can't tell us who your source is, and you can't tell us what your source knows, or how, you haven't told us anything. That's not journalism yet.