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Kindred: How he and others missed/ignored the real McGwire story

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by 21, Jan 14, 2010.

  1. 21

    21 Well-Known Member

    Seems like a journalism topic, so posting this here.

  2. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    It's fine if Dave wants to blame himself and other writers for missing this, although I don't think he should. But more than a decade later, his column still does not (cannot?) say exactly how he would have gone about connecting those dots. I'm not sure they could have been connected, even by those who covered McGwire and Sosa on a daily basis.
  3. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    It was unpopular to question McGwire and Sosa on their home run chase. But as Kindred said, you can't write innuendo. Tough situation.

    I am sure plenty of jock sniffers (not accusing Kindred of that) wouldn't report the story even if they had proof McGwire used steroids.
  4. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    What he said. I've said it a million times but once more: This story didn't break wide open until there were court documents. Absent paper or somebody coming forward, what were they going to write? "Geez, obviously Mark McGwire is doing steroids."

    There's no denying that there were baseball writers who didn't WANT to deal with this story and wouldn't have tried even if they had a way to go about it. But this drumbeat, particularly from outsiders, that all baseball writers had their heads in the sand is annoying. Not a single one of those critics ever writes, "And here's how you should have gotten the story."

    Dave's got some good points in here, but he had no way of getting at the story, either. And nobody was going to say, "It's a bogus home run chase, so I'm just going to ignore it."

    The andro thing? MAYBE underreported at the time, although I'm not sure. And that didn't connect necessarily to steroids.

    Although obviously now, it did.
  5. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    There are tons of current athletes people look away from when talking about steroids, but you cannot just print Player X, look at him, he/she has to be on the juice.

    Tons cannot pass the smell test, but you cannot print an accusation based on the smell test.
  6. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I don't expect baseball writers to break open the story or to print rumors but I still think they willfully ignored it while at the same tyme hyperventilating about the home run chase and the summer of fun and saving baseball and all that.

    Look at Kindred's own words and he's no pollyanna.

    Are we really supposed to believe that it never occurred to anyone in 1998 that athletes were taking steroids and maybe these sluggers were amongst them?
  7. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    True...but with America hyperventilating over the home run chase, and no proof, I guess I just don't now if any general sports columnist could just say, "I know better" and either hint at substance use, or just ignore the home run race.

    It's a tough call, Ace..it's certainly not black and white.
  8. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    And people are always focused on the hitters in baseball...
  9. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Also, the andro was legal in baseball and available over the counter. It is a big leap to connect the dots between that and illegal steroids. If you see a player downing a half-dozen shots of JD in a bar after a game, you cannot make the assumption he has cocaine in his hotel room. The andro was reported--what more could you say?

    As for the tone of the coverage, I really would not care if it were now revealed that McGwire had surgery to replace his arms with those of a gorilla in oder to hit more home runs. It was still a shitload of home runs, and most people found it exciting to watch and to read about. You cannot say to your readers every day, "Stop clapping, you morons! Turn and look the other way when McGwire is at bat! This is tainted (we think)!"
  10. 21

    21 Well-Known Member

    I can't help but wonder if it's somewhat irresponsible, if not dangerous, for an entire sector of the media--in this case sports--to look back on a major event that went unreported and simply declare, 'yeah, but we couldn't write it.'

    I get the argument, made it many times myself, here and elsewhere. But I have to wonder if there's a lesson to be learned from this, a better discussion to be had about how we'd do it if we had it to do over again.
  11. Dave Kindred

    Dave Kindred Member

    One thing I'd forgotten -- and didn't get in this column -- was how late in the season Wilstein reported the androstenedione. It was late August. By then, the McGwire-Sosa show had an unstoppable momentum (short of either guy driving his Escalade into a tree at 2:30 am). I also think none of us understood the ramifications of andro quickly enough to say, "Steroids." We knew andro was a steroid "precursor." Huh? What's a precursor? Is it bad, or what? By the time we did the kind of research that would connect the dots, both guys were past Maris and the country was transfixed. No one could report steroids because, as SF Express points out, there was no hard evidence until the feds, with their subpoenas and search warrants, opened the Pandora's Box. All of which is to say I went with celebration rather than innuendo.

    To 21's point, I'd say the lesson is that skepticism is always good.
  12. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    So Kindred didn't write about McGwire then and didn't write about Woods in the more recent past.
    So, wow, the biggest sports story of the 90s was missed and, potentially, the biggest story in the 00s was missed, until, you know, someone wrote about it.
    Not for me to challenge one of my betters, but it seems like a lot of the star columnists sure weren't and aren't still writing about the scandals untilsomeone else does the dirty work.
    For Ryan to say that the homerun chase was too good a story for him to worry about problems, is astonishing.
    Yeah, andro was legal, but, at the same time, baseball was desperate to save itself. The strike had done huge damage to the game and fanbase. Ballparks were getting smaller, the baseballs were getting tighter and flying deeper. Then, suddenly, power hitters got massive adding, in some cases, 50 pounds of pure muscle. Baseball looked the other way.
    The league.
    The broadcasters.
    The writers.
    The fans.
    McGwire and Sosa saved baseball.
    You write that they are cheating and you destroy the game. That lifetime membership in BBWA sure looks a lot less important when major-league baseball, as we know it now, gets destroyed.
    Hard to cash writing checks that suddenly aren't coming.
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