Inconsistent chatter from a Sacramento-based 'Sconi attorney.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Jason Stark gets a fisking

Jason Stark says that he will vote for Rafael Palmeiro when it comes time to answer the call for the Hall of Fame. Why, you ask?

"Because I'm not a cop. I'm just a guy who covers baseball for a living."

Hmm. You would think, Jason, that if it was your job to cover baseball, that you would report about a substance that magically makes players 50% better than they were before ingesting, injecting, or applying it. You think that if you saw players A, B, and C take this substance, that you, out of an interest in the sport and reporting the activities around it, would have put it on page 1 that A, B, and C were using some pill, drug, or cream that made them instantly better. You would think that many people would be interested in knowing that players weren't just magically good. And you would think that law enforcement officers would have liked to have known that this substance was - in fact - illegal.

Performing such a task doesn't make you a cop. It makes you a reporter. The news happens and you report it. You didn't need to make anything up, just write about what you were observing. However, you are hinting that you did not report all that you saw because it wasn't your job. Hmm...

"So it's not my job to police this sport. It's the sport's job to police itself. And for 15 years -- maybe 20 -- baseball's police station was a place where the cops just sat around, played cards, smoked cigars and let the inmates hit 900-foot home runs."

But Jason, wouldn't that also had been a story? Wouldn't the paying public like to have known that players were injecting, ingesting, and applying a substance that made them artifiially better than they naturally were, and that management knew about it? That everyone allowed in the clubhouse was aware of it? I mean, would it not be a story that even all sport reporters knew about this (criminally) illegal and unhealthy behavior, and did not report about it - at all? Isn't that - in of itself - newsworthy?

Didn't sports reporters feel any obligation to present their readers with the truth? If you knew the truth, why didn't the people deserve to know as well? Were we too immature? Could we not handle the truth that all of our stars were in reality fakes? Is that what you really felt?

Or was it that you didn't want to lose the contact and connection you had gained from covering the individual players of the team?

The friendly hellos, the rounds of golf, the free meals. The exclusive interviews, the exclusive parties. Just the feeling of being "one of the guys". I bet this all played a bigger role in you and your cabal not "policing" the sport for the benefit of your readers.

"So if they "cheated," it wasn't because I let them cheat. It was because baseball let them cheat. Now it's too late -- for me, for any of us -- to retroactively pronounce these guys guilty of something baseball now considers illegal. It wasn't illegal then."

Jason, you are wrong. Steroids was illegal then as it is illegal now. Just that it wasn't against the MLB rules doesn't make them legal. These players can't legally purchase steroids in the states, and thus must make runs south of the border in order to obtain them. Wouldn't that have been newsworthy? Back in the early 90s, a report on McGwire and Canseco heading down to Tijuana, Mexico, with a rented U-haul. The coming back to the clubhouse with big boxes full of pills and injection needles. Wouldn't this have been newsworthy?

And what makes it too late? If you saw this all back in the 00s or even the 90s, what makes it too late to come clean now? If you saw something back then that was fishy - i.e. McGwire and Canseco sharing the toilet stall, a gushy sound, and then McGwire following with a yelp would have been fishy in many, many ways - now there might be a less lurid reason behind it . Now you can report it.

You can clear the smell of impropriety that is hanging over all of baseball. You can also clear the smell the impropriety that is hanging over you and the rest of your sportswriting cabal. Cause, if we are going to declare all of the players guilty unless proven innocent, then we may as well hold all sportswriters as knowing partners in the most ugliest of black eyes the sport has received.

"So they took what they took. They did what they did. And now, all I can do as a voter is vote on what they did on the fields they were allowed to play on. Sorry. That's the deal. So all I know is that Rafael Palmeiro had a Hall of Fame career on those fields he was allowed to play on."

But Jason, if Raffy was using steroids, he was cheating. He was using an criminally illegal drug. This drug made him better than he was naturally. It was nothing the opposing team could combat. It deceived the fans, and the record book by allowing him to put-up statistics that weren't the result of his natural ability of playing the sport of baseball.

Now imagine if the rules were changed from baseball where the fences were moved into to 100 feet from the plate, and instead of having a batter attempt to hit a ball thrown by a pitcher, the batter actually picked up a ball and just had to throw it to get on base. Besides not being an entertaining game, such play would call into the integrity of the sport as being played. It would make most fans of the previous era question whether these new HR "throwing" players would be really worthy of their place in the hall of fame, based solely on standards established by previous eras. You wouldn't be likely to put someone into the hall just because he had "thrown" 400 HRs that season, or ended with 1354 in his career, thus demolishing Hank Aaron's record.

So why are you using the previous era's standards to adjudge Palmeiro? He doesn't deserve it. No hitter from this era does.

"The problem is, I still don't know who, from that generation, "cheated" and who didn't. Baseball has provided us with no evidence to go on here. None."

I don't buy it. Not one bit. You and your cabal are in the clubhouses everyday, mingling about the players and their lockers. You are in the training rooms, at dinner, and interviewing these players at their homes. Don't give me the crap that you didn't see things that were fishy. If you didn't see or hear about players taking the "sauce" it was because you had selective sensory functions during those moments. You chose to look away, or put down the notepad, or turn off the tape recorder. You compounded the probelm by acquiescing to the actions of the players.

You were the accomplice to the players and management keeping this under the rug, away from the fans. You had a choice - serve the readers, the reading public, those not-in-the-know, who are collectively and constantly seeking the truth, or the billionaire management or millionaire players. You chose on the basis of your love of fine wine.

It was that choice that has doomed baseball. And soon enough, when more players are exposed, they will begin to close ranks with you. And then you and your sportswriting - or nonreporting - cabal will be exposed. Then we will finally know the truth.

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