The Breakdown: I’m sorry, but it wasn’t me who did it
summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado
After watching Alex Rodriguez confess to using a “banned substance” on ESPN the other day, I felt inspired.
Not because I found his words overly believable, or that I thought what he did was noble.
Really, I felt that I too needed to make an apology to fans of baseball, and sports everywhere, for that matter. And I wanted to make it in the “Great Athlete” way of directing blame toward other people.
So, here you go.
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(Ten second break to channel my inner A-Rod … OK, got it.)
On behalf of all sports writers everywhere ” though I don’t have any of their consent or support ” I’d like to apologize for making the “Steroid Era” bigger and more important than it actually had to be, though it wasn’t me who did it.
You see, as A-Rod said Sunday, it’s a culture thing. The culture of sports writing in the 21st century of 24-hour sports news has changed the way we view sports, literally and figuratively. Everything that happens gets reported, taped and played in order to fill the time slots. Basically, sports reporting has become similar to what tabloids do with movie stars ” the sexiest news sells.
Did you hear anyone discussing who the other 103 players in the report with A-Rod were? Did you hear anyone questioning how Sports Illustrated obtained and released A-Rod’s name without knowing any of the others? Did anyone question SI releasing it, even though no member of their staff actually saw the report itself?
No, of course not, because everyone found their way to fill their TV slots.
This is how people in my field have handled the entire era. I apologize for that, though I never did it myself.
You see, other sports writers ” again, not me ” aren’t enraged about steroids in the way they should be.
They don’t care that the drugs are illegal. If they did, they’d worry more about making sure these “criminals” are brought to justice, and not just knocked down from their idol status.
They don’t care about making sure that athletes have high morals and character. If they did, how could they give Shawn Merriman votes for the NFL’s defensive MVP the same year he was suspended for four games after testing positive for steroids?
Writers don’t care that a drug may have given the player an advantage against their opponents. If they did, how could they glorify Curt Schilling in the 2004 World Series for shooting his ankle up with cortisone ” which is a drug ” in order to pitch in his famous bloody sock game.
None of that is ever the true issue behind these stories. When writers are crusading against the alleged juicers, it’s only with athletes of historical significance, only ones that are bidding for their place amongst the game’s best.
But I’ve got news for everyone, you can’t compare across generations, no matter how hard you try.
It would be the biggest disservice to the game to tell every fan that what they’ve paid to watch for the past couple decades wasn’t real.
And I am here to say sorry for all the people insinuating that.
Every generation has its baggage.
Ruth played in an all-white MLB, Hank Aaron played more games than Ruth, Barry Bonds was accused of steroids. No generation was pure.
Those who say the greats of the game would never do what modern players have done, watch the Sept. 30, 2008 episode of Costas Live (aired on HBO, easily found online) and listen to Willie Mays answer Bob Costas’ question about people in his era taking drugs. To paraphrase, he said that his trainers used to give him a bag full of pills and he’d take them without asking any questions. Hmmm … that sounds a lot like what his godson said.
Really, what the media should be doing is pushing for stricter testing and penalties. They shouldn’t worry so much about records and the Hall of Fame (which they vote on anyway) rather than what’s next or how to clean up a dirty sport.
Writers should worry more about the kids sitting in the bleachers dreaming of playing on the field bellow. They should worry about what that kid thinks he or she has to do to reach that top level.
Baseball should be about inspiring fans with seemingly ordinary people achieving great things. That’s what we, as sports writers ,should be worried about.
And I’m sorry that some of us haven’t been doing that.
Whew, that felt good to get off my chest. Now I can go back to ripping Phelps for taking a rip on a bong (that was a joke).
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