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Sports Illustrated: April 14, 1997

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by 85bears, Jun 11, 2006.

  1. 85bears

    85bears Member

    Hello all.

    I haven't posted here in a long, long time, but while doing some spring cleaning today, I came across something interesting and wanted to share it.

    I lifted a box lid - god knows how long it's been in storage - and inside were hundreds of Sports Illustrateds from the 1990s. I was flipping through and came upon the one dated above. The cover story interested me - I'll get to that.

    But before I reached the cover story, I found something even more fascinating. A piece on Brady Anderson, and whether the Baltimore outfielder could keep up his 50-home run pace from the season before.

    It's by Michael Bamberger, and titled, "Brady Hits 'Em in Bunches: After surpassing all expectations with an unworldly 50-home run season, what on earth can Brady Anderson do for an encore?"

    Nothing against Bamberger, who is an excellent writer, but it's essentially the standard love letter-puff piece about a standout player. But it's definitely got an interesting news peg - where in the world did Brady Anderson's power come from!

    It's a pretty lengthy piece, but here are some excerpts. Read carefully:

    "Anderson loves numbers; numbers swim in his head nearly all the time. But there is one category for which the Baltimore Orioles' centerfielder and leadoff hitter will make no recorded commitment: home runs.
    "Last year Anderson did something rash in the department of Long Balls, something historic. He walloped 50 home runs."

    "Two aspects of his outburst are particularly odd. First, Anderson is no kid; he turned 33 on Jan. 18. And he's no Ruth, either. ... Before last year, the msot homers Anderson had hit in a season was 21, in 1992."

    "For most categories, Anderson has no trouble writing down goals. ... But home runs are where Anderson draws the line. He won't dare write down a goal, let alone discuss it."

    "His upper arms are immense, with veins that look like swollen rivers running across them in every direction."

    "The most obvious question is the one most difficult to answer: Where did last year's power surge come from? ... Did he suddenly bulk up? No. ... So how did he do it?"

    "But on the subject of home runs - even acknowledging that his power surge coincided with a leaguewide rise in home runs that was often attributed to a combination of poor pitching and a juiced ball - neither he nor his teammates, coaches and manager can settle on a single theory, except to say that his mental game caught up with his physical attributes."

    "His monster season, Anderson says, was the culmination of 20 years of devotion to the game."

    Anyway, back to the cover.

    SI that week featured a bulging, flexed bicep on the cover, with the wrist pushing a syringe into it.

    The headline: "Bigger, Stronger, Faster: Don't be fooled: Athletes of all kinds are still using drugs to improve performance - and they're getting away with it."

    The package is long - 25 pages (including splash art pages and ads).

    The main story, the "Special Report," begins on the page after the Anderson story. It's called "Over the Edge: Aware that drug-testing is a sham, athletes seem to rely more than ever on banned performance enhancers."

    The main bar is followed by a lengthy piece on swimmer Michelle Smith and the controversy surrounding her suddenly increased performance. After all, that is the indicator, right? At least the first one to raise suspicion?

    Both steroids pieces were written by the same writer (with help from Don Yeager):

    Michael Bamberger.

    This is not to pick on Bambi. But if you want to find the exact date and publication where our heads were clearly in the sand, it wasn't 1998. It was April 14, 1997, in the most respected sports periodical in the country.

    I wonder how many of us read the stories one after another when they came out and didn't blink? Michael Bamberger didn't seem to.
  2. Song Seven

    Song Seven Member

    thanks for sharing that. and there were a lot of heads buried in the sands of the nation during that time period. stories like these are why i also have boxfuls of old SIs in storarge.
  3. pittsburgie

    pittsburgie Member

    nice work, that is pretty amazing
  4. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    Go back to 1987 and dig up one of the dozens of stories on Tony Mandarich, "the greatest offensive lineman of all time."

    They knew then, too.
  5. CarlSpackler

    CarlSpackler Member

    I've always felt that Brady Anderson was the poster boy for steroid use. Guess it's all hindsight now, but it should have been freaking obvious. That's when the bells should have gone off. The fact both pieces were written by Bamberger does add a bit of irony, though.
  6. jay_christley

    jay_christley Member

    I think one of the biggest thing we've missed in this whole steroid mess is who we suspect.
    Brady Anderson. Barry Bonds. Sammy Sosa.
    Well, yeah, duh.
    But look at who the drug tests have turned up. And look at Jason Grimsley.
    Guys who didn't go through sudden body transformations. Or had sudden career spikes. The latter was a career journeyman who struggled to find a roster spot.
    It's easy to point out the freakish monsters.
    But if Grimsley has taught us anything, it may be the people we least suspect (at least visual and by the numbers) who are doing the biggest cheating.
  7. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Good point, Jay. And if I may tangent this, I think that's part of Whitlock's point (as convoluted as it can be sometimes) of the public not seeming to care who's using or who doesn't. Maybe it's a matter of convenience. Bonds gets a lot of grief on this issue, and rightfully so because of the evidence. But look at ALL the other guys that are popping up via positive tests or elsewhere ... specifically the pitchers and minor leaguers ... who aren't the target of public outrage. I doubt many people could even name half (50%) of the players who have been suspended for steroids the last two years ... without looking it up.

    So is it that we (the public) don't KNOW which pitchers and marginal players are doing it, so we don't care until it comes out?

    Or is it that we only care about the home run hitters, and the records that are being broken?

    And I know it's more complicated than that. But what happens if we find out that 21 members of the Royals were juicing with *something* in, say, 2001? Does it matter? What happens if we find out that some random, servicable starting pitcher -- I dunno, like John Lackey or Matt Morris or Derek Lowe or Mark Buerhle, someone who doesn't stir up opinion one way or the other -- is using PEDs like Grimsley? You wouldn't notice it by looking at their bodies, and it hasn't seemed to make them pitch any better or worse ... but it's there. What does it mean? What do we do with it?
  8. CentralIllinoisan

    CentralIllinoisan Active Member

    You break the rules, you are a cheater and should be punished.

    Deep down what drives us to despise Barry Bonds is his continuing to get paid large sums of money, and being lauded for his exploits -- while we all see he obviously has an unfair advantage and breaks the rules. I have the same lack of respect for any player who breaks the rules, be it home run hitter or utility man. Barry Bonds gains more attention for the same reason he gains more attention for the positive aspects of his career -- he's a star. I do not agree with this treatment, nor do I endorse it. When stars succeed, we overcongratulate them. When they fail, we berate them moreso than the average player. Not right, but it's the way of the sporting world.
  9. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

        Dear 85Bears: That's what I call reporting. Outstanding work! Of course, back then (and I covered Michelle Smith in the '96 Olympics) the standard idea was that performance enhancing drugs only worked in straight line or straight ahead sports, track, swimming, weightlifting, etc. Now we know better.
  10. Seabasket

    Seabasket Active Member

    Not really. I think most sports journalists are woefully uninformed about steroids. Most don't even know the difference between a corticosteroid and anabolic steroids.
    They know what they hear, and a lot of what they've heard up to now has been wrong.
  11. ballscribe

    ballscribe Active Member

    Well, they probably could have run the Brady Anderson story any time.
    The fact that they ran it in this issue implies they didn't exactly have their head in the sand. But since Brady wasn't going to come out with it, what could they do?
    I doubt it's a coincidence.
  12. Claws for Concern

    Claws for Concern Active Member

    I heard Brady Anderson on a sports radio talk show in Los Angeles last week. He's one of the many owners of an ABA team in Hollywood. I wish they'd have asked him about steroids in baseball.
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