Trial by Twitter

Chris Davis is having a good year, good enough to cause people to wonder openly if this good year is also an honest one. Patrick Smith/Getty Images

I hated Twitter. Now I love Twitter. Because the most cover-your-mouth-and-howl things happen on it, things that make me wonder why we need sportswriters at all.

Take, for instance, Chris "Crush" Davis, the Baltimore Orioles first baseman who's suddenly hitting like he was bitten by a radioactive spider. He has 31 home runs. That's two fewer than his career best, and it's not even the All-Star break. Entering Wednesday, he's hitting .329. That's 59 points higher than his lifetime average. He's on pace to double his best RBI season. And in a contract year, no less.

So say it with me: "It's gotta be the steroids."

Which leaves baseball beat writers craning their necks to see if there's any new "vitamin" bottles on Davis' shelf, any new "doctors" meeting him in the hotel lobby, any new convention of pimples on his back. But now, with Twitter, fans like 17-year-old Michael Tran of Kelloggsville, Mich., can just flat-out ask him, which he did Sunday.

Now, if I went up to Chris Davis in the clubhouse and asked that, he'd stomp out, leaving cleat marks in my forehead as he went. I know. See: Sammy Sosa and me, 2002.

But, in the age of Twitter, Davis simply answered him:

This caused a twitter twunami. Hundreds of people decided this meant Davis was innocent. Hundreds decided this meant Davis was guilty. One guy said that because Davis didn't have a period after the "No" he was admitting he'd done something.

It was a milepost in player/fan history, the modern-day equivalent of "Say it ain't so, Joe."

And it raised two questions:

1. Where did the kid get the guts to ask?

"Really, I wrote it just as a joke," says Tran, who will be a high school junior this fall. "I never, ever dreamed he'd respond back."

2. Why did Davis answer him?

"I was scrolling through and happened to land on that one," says Davis, 27. "It was the first time I'd really seen anybody just ask me. I mean, I've seen a lot of people accuse me, say stuff like, 'Ah, he's GOTTA be on steroids.' But at least this kid was asking me. And I get it. I remember, when I was a kid, being disappointed in players later on. You know, [Mark] McGwire and Sosa. So I understand."

But since Michael couldn't ask any follow-ups, I did.

You said you weren't on steroids, but have you ever done any performance-enhancing drug, period?

"I have not," Davis said, simply. "I have not ever taken any PEDs. I'm not sure fans realize, we have the strictest drug testing in all of sports, even more than the Olympics. If anybody was going to try to cheat in our game, they couldn't. It's impossible to try to beat the system. Anyway, I've never taken PEDs, no. I wouldn't. Half the stuff on the list I can't even pronounce."

Which is a great answer. And carries less power with me than a mosquito's burp.

I've lived through the entire steroids era. I've heard every impassioned denial from every accused baseball superstar since the Reagan Administration.

"It was my wife's!" "He's lying!" "I don't speak English."

Most of them wound up being liars.

And yes, Davis has passed all three drug tests he's taken this season, he says. But Barry Bonds passed every test he ever took. So did Lance Armstrong. Tells me nothing.

That's not fair to Chris Davis -- who can prove a negative? -- but it's what baseball deserves. So many players cheated, so many trainers looked the other way, so many suits left holes in the testing process, that anybody who has an out-of-the-blue season makes us all go, "You figure it's the cream or the clear? The HGH or the Deca? In the butt or under the tongue?"

Davis can explain everything, of course. He says he went from Bernie Williams to Ted Williams because "I'm just making more consistent contact," he says. Also, he switched to a bigger bat. And he fixed a couple of holes in his swing.

But this is a guy who's spent most of his career bouncing from the bushes to the bigs. In fact, in four seasons of facing Triple-A pitching, he hit only 54 home runs. Now, in one major league season, he's on pace to hit 62? That must be some new bat.

"I know, I know," Davis shrugs. "I have to take the heat for other people's mistakes. I guess it's kind of a backhanded compliment. If people accuse me of steroids, I must be doing something right."

Or something wrong. Which is why Michael Tran and I will wait 15 or 20 years to see if anybody comes forward with used syringes, injection calendars or photos of him licking Chinese deer antlers.

If nobody does, then congrats to Chris Davis. See you in Cooperstown!

In the meantime, I'm hanging around Twitter to see what young Michael comes up with next.

"Hey, Kim Kardashian, is that really your baby?"