If it seems like the media is a lot "tougher" on Major League Baseball players associated with performance-enhancing drugs than it used to be, well, no kidding. Just look at the Hall of Fame voting totals for Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and others who have been implicated, and compare the results to coverage of the athletes when they played. The press has been making up for lost time.
An engaging post by Grantland's Bryan Curtis tries to explain what the media has done, and what it hasn't done, in reporting the history of PEDs in MLB. Curtis' own reporting is replete, and he tells a good story, but many of his conclusions are unsatisfying. Something is missing; perhaps it's that his analysis isn't critical enough. He lets his interview subjects tell the story, but the reporters' explanations are fraught with excuses, rationalizing, ignorance, arrogance and stunning admissions of incompetence.
That's not Curtis' fault, but ... OK, here's an example, using slugger Mark McGwire, who was referred to as "shy" twice in the story:
After he retired in 2001, Mark McGwire vanished. "People need to understand that he didn't run and hide [because of the steroid revelations]," said ESPN's Tim Kurkjian. "He was going to run and hide no matter what." But the allegations multiplied his natural shyness.
McGwire's unwillingness to talk — whatever his motivation or lack thereof — made it difficult to get him to incriminate himself. So what? As if that's the only way to investigate a story. Well, Curtis writes, it's the only way a baseball reporter apparently knows how to investigate a story.
And even if McGwire would talk, once manager Tony La Russa found out, he'd try to ban the reporter from the clubhouse for causing problems. It's probably true, but why should we accept this? Because these are the only baseball writers we have?
This is what Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe thinks of his own job:
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