"I swear to you on my life," Street said, "I debated that long and hard."
Street ultimately sent the tweet, under his personal account:
Then he sent another one, thrusting himself into the conversation:
Smith and Skip Bayless, his partner on the ESPN debate show, "First Take," were reacting to a USA Today story in which Arrieta said he's "heard players, and I'm talking about some of the best players in the league, question whether I've taken steroids or not. Some of the things I hear are pretty funny, and some people are idiots, frankly."
Smith brought up all the reasons why others would be speculative of Arrieta's meteoric rise, citing how well he's pitched with the Cubs since the start of 2014, how little he did with the Orioles before then and how well his arm stood up to all of the workload.
"I'm just looking at it," Smith said on ESPN, "and I'm saying to myself, all right, I'm not going to accuse you of using performance-enhancing supplements, drugs, or whatever you want to call it. But I will say that you shouldn't just be laughing at those who are looking at you and saying, 'Excuse me, what the hell is going on here?' Because it's not like they haven't seen performance-enhancing drug users before."
Street said he watched the video seven times before commenting on social media. He sent the tweet because he wanted "accountability."
"You're attacking somebody's entire character," Street said. "You're attacking everything about Jake, just for your own attention, so people will tune in to you? That's wrong. There has to be a certain level of integrity in order for what they say to actually be true. Otherwise it's reality TV with talking heads."
Arrieta and Street's wife, Lacey, went to the same college, Texas Christian University. Street got to know Arrieta when Street would visit the campus when the A's played the Rangers in Arlington, and they've grown close through the years. They've trained together in the winter, celebrated Christmas and New Year's alongside one another.
"I'm obviously biased," Street said. "I'm obviously partial. But I was also with Jake when he was pitching in the big leagues and not having success. I've witnessed his becoming, I've witnessed him maintain that positive attitude, I've seen him never quit."
In the USA Today story, Arrieta alluded to passing 10 drug tests a year, talked about doing things "the right way" and said, "If there are guys still on it, I hope they get caught. I care about the integrity of the game."
Smith's comments caught Street's attention when he saw Arrieta's tweet:
"He deserves the credit," Street said of Arrieta. "He doesn't deserve the insinuation."
Street began his career in 2005, which many consider to be right around the end of the so-called steroid era. Major League Baseball has since implemented a stringent drug-testing program, but cynicism remains.
Street doesn't believe there should be.
"I honestly feel like MLB, the Players Association, has done a phenomenal job of changing the culture, changing the idea," Street said. "Heck you even hear the players coming out against other players after the fact. I think as players we need to stick together. We really do. I don't think we should support cheating, but that's why we agreed to those rules. They're pretty hard. They're pretty strict."