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"I wasn't willfully-blind when I wrote 'Summer of '98' -- not ME!"

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Ben_Hecht, Dec 3, 2006.

  1. Montezuma's Revenge

    Montezuma's Revenge Active Member

  2. leo1

    leo1 Active Member

    sorry sir spnited. i won't talk about this issue any more. i have no credibility because i wasn't covering baseball in 1998. /sarcasm

    look, spnited and montezuma's revenge, i'm not in the camp that blames the media for not breaking this during the 1998 run. so don't tell me i wasn't a good reporter back in the day when i was a reporter and that i don't have a clue how journalists do their jobs. even though i'm not in the business any more i constantly have discussions with friends and coworkers and random people who bash the media for not uncovering this or not covering that and i explain how the actual job works.

    my post was that if a columnist did write the speculative column, if it was couched in a way that didn't throw any accusations around, it would look a lot stronger if it ran with a series of 15-18 pictures, starting from when mcgqwire played on the olympic team until 1998. period.
  3. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    No, it would be lazy and irresponsible. Photos don't prove anything. Bruce Springsteen was a skinny little puke in the 1970s and turned really buff by "Born in the USA." Was Brucie on 'roids? I doubt it. One of his bios says Springsteen started working out after some dude kicked his ass.

    So we print before-and-after pix of Springsteen and "couch it," as you say, so we don't directly accuse him but indirectly plant the suggestion to our readers? That's disgusting. I'm glad you're out of the biz -- we don't need people like you.
  4. EE94

    EE94 Guest

    what he said
  5. D-3 Fan

    D-3 Fan Well-Known Member

    It would be much easier and believeable if each of them said "I knew something was wrong, but I wanted to think about warm fuzzies of the '98 season. We duped all of you, the readers, for pretending that the Cinderella story was real. We take responsibility and to be honest, we were not duped. We didn't give a shit about drugs in baseball then."

    Anyhoo this is my favorite line in Wally's column:
    He hit the money shot dead on with that assessment of McGwire prior to him going to St. Louis.
  6. "Pretended the Cinderella stiory was real."
    Again I ask, what was the real-time alternative, besides truly baseless speculation?
  7. leo1

    leo1 Active Member

    so you discount all the talk (online, in newspapers, magazines, etc.) in which bonds' old photos are put next to his current photos? nice. way to put your head in the sand, frank. you've always struck me around here as one of the more rational posters but i guess i was wrong. no, in fact, i'm sure i was wrong. did i say, either in this post or my earlier ones that the bonds photos prove anything? no. of course not. but it raises the issue. photos don't prove anything. no shit. who cares about bruce springsteen's photos. i don't know why i have to even write this but a photo array coupled with his previously unfathomable displays of power hitting plus other reports like the above-mentioned bob nightengale report are more than enough to run a column speculating.

    oh, and i'm glad i'm out of the business too because i don't have to work with dinosaurs like you. this kind of attitude is one of the (many) reasons newspapers are dying. reporters are losing their bullshit detectors. again, i don't have proof and never did. and if you indict the entire industry then i'll gladly accept blame for being in the industry at the time despite not having covered baseball back then. and no, i don't think photos prove a damn thing. and having been a beat writer i know it's far more complicated than going up to a [insert random player who suddenly became a slugger in the late 90s] and ask if he was on 'roids. i get that part of it.
  8. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    It's not "head in the sand" -- it's basic human decency. What you suggest is downright sleazy. If you think it's going to help us as a business to smear someone without proof, I can tell you that you're absolutely wrong. You might draw some scuzzy readers for the freak show, but advertisers want nothing to do with that kind of product. Why do tabloids have the worst profit margins in the business? Why can't the New York Post even break even? Because advertisers are repulsed by the kind of sleazy, irresponsible tactics you suggest and don't want to have their stores associated with that kind of journalism.
  9. Elliotte Friedman

    Elliotte Friedman Moderator Staff Member

    I didn't cover the 1998 home run race, but I did cover baseball. A few of my friends (none of whom are in the business) have asked me about that year, the steroids suspicions and how the media covered all of it. They've asked me, if I could do it over again, would I do anything differently.

    My answer is this: I thought where the media made mistakes -- and I include myself in this, obviously -- was in our willingness to dig. It had been 37 years since Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth's record, baseball was in trouble, and this was an exciting thing. It was easy to get caught up in it. Even though I wasn't there in person, I was watching every night as the Blue Jays broadcasts interrupted their own game coverage to show McGwire & Sosa's at-bats, live.

    There was obviously some evidence about a steroid issue. Bob Nightengale's article was out there. Steve Wilstein saw the andro in McGwire's locker. And, even though it was an easily available product, it should have got us thinking, "Is this the end of the story, or the beginning?" Instead, Wilstein caught hell. We were excited. Interest in baseball was renewed. TV ratings were huge. Roger Maris was finally getting the credit he deserved, since his record stood longer than Ruth's.

    I agree with Frank & Fenian in the sense that posting pictures and saying, "Look at how he's grown," isn't the right answer. Neither was rummaging through players' lockers like one guy did with Dante Bichette. And, you couldn't do a responsible job without a Jose Canseco or a Ken Caminiti or a Victor Conte. In 1998, Canseco was just missing another 40-40 season, Caminiti was still a good player and Conte wasn't yet in the general consciousness. You know what, you may not have found a single person willing to go on record. But there just wasn't the willingness to try.

    Things have changed. There was a home-run chase every year, which ruined its magic and jaded all of us. A surly, pouting superstar threatens sport's most hallowed record. As a group, we're motivated. That led to BALCO reporting, the Williams/Fainaru-Wada book, etc. But, still, it took time. How much crap Canseco take for telling the truth?

    If I could do it over again, I would have tried harder to investigate. I'm still not sure I could have proven anything, but I would have made more of an effort to do so.
  10. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    For those who think being loud and calling bullshit and taking a tabloid-style approach is the answer to our circulation woes, consider this: Large circulations mean nothing for the bottom line if advertisers perceive your product as being downscale.

    The Daily News remains much the stronger paper financially, earning in excess of $15 million on revenues of about $340 million in each of the past two years, according to an authoritative source. The Post has lost so much money for so long that it would have folded years ago if News Corp. applied the same profit-making rigor to the tabloid as it does to its other businesses. ...

    Lachlan Murdoch refuses to disclose the Post's annual loss -- pegged by outsiders at $15 million to $30 million -- but acknowledges that it widened when the weekday cover price was halved, to 25 cents, in 2000.


    OK, so you have the healthier tab earning a profit margin of 4.4 percent and the other one still losing many millions per year despite nearly doubling its circulation since Rupert Murdoch reacquired it. What does that tell you? That tabloid-style journalism may sell, but it doesn't pay.

    Same problems with the Boston Herald and Chicago Sun-Times.

    So when people say that the cure for our ills is a go-for-broke tabloid approach, I say that the numbers don't support that strategy. What good is gaining readers if it costs you advertisers who pay the freight?
  11. D-3 Fan

    D-3 Fan Well-Known Member

    Fen, my assertion is those who did have a feeling of something was wrong about HR Derby, but there were no evidence to support their speculation, it was spun into a fairy tale story. The last thing anyone wanted to hear is something bad about the game in general or the principal individuals involved in the Derby (Mac, Sosa, Bonds, et al.). I'm not a journalist, nor do I pretend to be one either. As a fan back in '98, I felt in the pit of my stomach that something wasn't "right" about HR Derby. I wasn't in the locker room or hearing such rumors of illegal supplemental use. But how can I prove something I have no fucking clue about then. That's why it became the Cinderella story that it was.

    To answer your question, what baseless speculation do I have? I have plenty. That is translated
  12. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    Whatever evidence writers had in '98 is not the issue now. What is at issue is said writers inability to admit now that they were duped into somehow believing that what happened was truly magical and not chemically driven.

    Lupica in particular always seems to get caught in these binds, where it becomes impossible to reconcile his positions, since they are so far apart.

    With McGwire coming up for HOF vote this will certainly be a much debated topic. With "The Summer of '98 " still on book shelves it will not be easy for Lupica to take a strong stance against Mac getting in.

    Bill Plaske set the tone for how to handle this issue. Back in March he wrote very insightful column where he admitted that he was duped by Bonds and should have know better.
    Admitting something like this shows a great deal of respect for his readers. It also clears the slate and gives Plaske the ability to become a credible voice on steroid issue.
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