Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Baseball Players Did Steroids?

In the October issue of Editor & Publisher, "Senior Editor Joe Strupp interviewed more than a dozen beat writers and sports editors about what they should have covered as far back as 20 years ago when steroids are believed to have entered baseball at a measurable level. Overwhelmingly, the consensus was that signs of a problem, and potential proof of abuse, were there as far back as the mid-1980s."

Hmmm….you think there might have been a problem with steroids in the late 80s and early 90s? When Brady Anderson hits over 50 home runs in a year and never more than 30 any other time in his life? That should be a red flag. What about when Luis Gonzalez hit 57 homeruns in 2001 and never more than 28 in any other year?

Look at some of the homerun leaders in the 1990s:

1995: Dante Bichette (Col) 40
1996: Andres Galarraga (Col) 40
1997: Larry Walker (Col) 49

I understand these players batted at Coors field and the ball is lighter, the air is lighter, yadda, yadda, yadda. These players are not Hall of Fame-type material and never led baseball in home runs at any other time in their careers. Reporters should have stopped to say, "Hmm…there is something wrong with this."

Here are some reasons why they didn't address the issue?

* Most sportswriters love the game of baseball and do not want to believe athletes would cheat to ruin "America's pastime".

* Their readers didn't want to wake up in the morning and learn that their heroes are cheaters.

* There was no factual evidence. Who was going to talk? If a columnist wrote a story that steroids were used all throughout baseball, people would question it without the facts. Reporters and fans didn't want to believe it had entered the game.

Last, and most importantly, is the commissioner's office was doing nothing about this "black eye." If the commissioner’s office has a story it wants to get out, they can call a plethora of national reporters who will cover any news item. If they had wanted to, they really could have done a better job controlling how fans found out about steroids in baseball.

People thought the strike in 1994 would kill baseball. It's no where close to being dead, but the steroid issue will definitely leave a black cloud over the sport moving forward.


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