Yesterday we learned that A-Rod tested positive for anabolic steroids in 2003. Today, the media vultures are out, picking at the bones of the player that they had previously trumpeted as the great clean hope. Buster Olney believes Alex to be tarnished forever, and luminaries such as John Kruk, Tom Verducci, and Bill Madden feel that he should never be allowed into the Hall of Fame. Once again, the sanctimonious media is telling the masses that we should be livid, shouting their righteous indignation from the rooftops over the fact that they were, gasp, lied to by another superstar.
The hand wringing in the media is designed to distract us from one simple fact that the Olney’s and Verducci’s of the world desperately want us to ignore. Those guys were in the Yankee clubhouse in the late 90’s all the time. They criticize GM’s for not knowing what was going on in terms of baseball’s drug culture, yet they spent more time around these players than anyone but the managers and trainers. How did they miss what was going on?
The answer is quite simple, and is so damning as to pretty much disqualify any moral haranguing that you read from any reporter who worked during that era. They did not miss it, they just chose to ignore it. Home runs were good for the game that they cover and love, and they did not want to be whistle blowers. Whistle blowers are left on the outside looking in at all the fun, and the media members loved being insiders, loved being in on the grand party that was major league baseball at the turn of the century. Why turn Mark McGwire in when it will cost you his trust and your access to other players? So they just turned the other way while the players flaunted their use. In 1998, when someone asked McGwire about the andro in his locker, the writers skewered him for digging into someone else’s business. Now those same writers applaud when one of their colleagues procures sealed evidence of a supposedly anonymous drug test. The double standard and disingenuous nature of their actions make their moral proclamations “in the defense of the game” seem ridiculous. Suddenly you find it vitally important to defend the game? Where was that moral imperative as the players were bulking up around you?
Ultimately, the writers are just as culpable in creating the steroids morass that has engulfed the sport as anyone else. They only took heed once players like Canseco and Caminiti forced the issue out into the open. So spare me the moral indignation from the sports writers, as they are bemoaning the very situation that they helped create.