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August 8th, 2013
thesmithian

In 1961, writers had the privilege of reporting on Roger Maris’s doing the near impossible and breaking the Babe’s single-season record of sixty home runs. At the turn of the twentieth century, they got to see Ruth’s record surpassed six times, including McGwire’s truly impossible seventy, in 1998, and [Barry] Bonds’ seventy-three, in 2001. It’s almost touching now to read the breathless…embarrassing “Special Commemorative Issue” that Sports Illustrated published in 1998 to honor the “Great Home Run Race” between the juicers McGwire and Sammy Sosa. The steroid era was a moment of deception but also of starry-eyed self-deception; if it was a breakdown of integrity on the part of baseball’s stars it was also, in some measure, a failure of sports journalism. Because the steroid story usually takes the form of a blame game, there doesn’t seem to be much room for reflection on the role that they, the baseball writers—or, for that matter, any dedicated observer of the game—may have played as enablers of cheating.

homerun.

In 1961, writers had the privilege of reporting on Roger Maris’s doing the near impossible and breaking the Babe’s single-season record of sixty home runs. At the turn of the twentieth century, they got to see Ruth’s record surpassed six times, including McGwire’s truly impossible seventy, in 1998, and [Barry] Bonds’ seventy-three, in 2001. It’s almost touching now to read the breathless…embarrassing “Special Commemorative Issue” that Sports Illustrated published in 1998 to honor the “Great Home Run Race” between the juicers McGwire and Sammy Sosa. The steroid era was a moment of deception but also of starry-eyed self-deception; if it was a breakdown of integrity on the part of baseball’s stars it was also, in some measure, a failure of sports journalism. Because the steroid story usually takes the form of a blame game, there doesn’t seem to be much room for reflection on the role that they, the baseball writers—or, for that matter, any dedicated observer of the game—may have played as enablers of cheating.

homerun.

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