Jeff Pearlman, writing over at Slate, takes sportswriters to task for not asking harder questions of baseball players, especially as it concerns ongoing steroid use:

Is Pujols abusing steroids or human growth hormones? I don't know. But what's alarming in this era of deceit is that nobody seems interested in finding out. A little more than one year removed from congressional hearings that produced the most humiliating images in the game's history, baseball writers have a duty to second-guess everything. Instead, everyone is taking Pujols' test results at face value. Have we forgotten that Barry Bonds has never failed one of Major League Baseball's drug tests?

In Sports Illustrated's baseball preview issue, Tom Verducci, who has done great work exposing the proliferation of steroids in baseball, credulously praised the likes of Pujols and Twins catcher Joe Mauer. Verducci exclaimed that baseball is now "a young man's game, belonging to new stars who, certified by the sport's tougher drug policy, have replaced their juiced-up, broken-down elders who aged so ungracefully. It's baseball as it ought to be. A fresh start." In other words: Masking agents? What masking agents?

I worked with Jeff at Sports Illustrated back in the day, he's a guy who busts his ass for a story. But there's something about the scolding tone of this Slate piece that strikes me as the worst kind of sanctimony, especially given the fact that Jeff failed, just like all our colleagues, to do this tough reporting in the past.

The situation in baseball now as it pertains to steroids has reached the level of the classic "When did you stop beating your wife?" question. Pearlman slams sportswriters for not asking players if they're juicing; I'd prefer that there be some reason to ask the question beyond a general suspicion of all players before you ask it.

I agree with Jeff that over the course of years, sportswriters ignored many, many signs that some of the game's biggest stars were using performance-enhancing drugs. But I don't know that going on a witch hunt now is really the remedy for that shortcoming.

AuthorMark McClusky