Thursday, June 18, 2009

4 comments Howard Bryant Blames the Real Steroid Culprit, The Fans

I know a lot of people here are absolutely tired of talking about steroids and I really am as well too, but unfortunately Howard Bryant has sort of pissed me off with an article he has written and it deals with steroids. The media loves to start naming names of who his responsible for the steroid problems in baseball. They never seem to cast an eye upon themselves as a culprit at all though, they are funny that way. As I have said before, the media who interviews the players and those writers in the clubhouse are the ones who would have had great access to the players and could have had any suspicions, but they did not say anything. That won't stop writers like Howard Bryant from being completely innocent and blaming others though.

A saying exists in baseball that the smartest person in any clubhouse is the guy with either the highest batting average or the most consecutive zeroes on his paycheck.

Everyone without their ability either falls in line or risks the kind of peer-pressurized alienation most of us escaped moments after graduating from high school.

This is not a new revelation that the greatest players of the past decade or so have completely snookered the general public, the fans, and the other players in Major League Baseball. This is not a new or incredibly revealing idea.

For years, the discussion about performance-enhancing drugs has existed within a structure that always has benefited the players. In the late 1990s, there was the argument that steroids did not exist in large measure, that players were the victims of a "witch hunt."

I am sorry, who was the proponent and main arguing party of this "witch hunt" theory? Some of the mainstream media and yes, the fans.

The fans have an excuse though. They had no way of knowing whether a player was using steroids or not because they have, in general, zero access to the players. Many fans just want a player's signature and are only able to get close enough to talk to the player for 10 seconds max, which is not enough time to ask the player detailed steroid questions or ask to examine his ass or any other place on his body for needle marks. The fans want their players to be innocent of steroid use. Only in the media's messed up frame of reference could they ever infer that the steroid problem in baseball is even a great percentage of the fan's fault. There is a list of media members and players who could have blown the whistle long ago and they did not. The reason doesn't matter, the simple fact is they did not blow the whistle and the fans have to accept a tainted game full of tainted players who compiled tainted records.

The fans have accepted the steroid use willingly to an extent because it is already done and there is now testing in place. We can't go back and relive the Summer of 1998 over without steroids because there may not have been a Summer of 1998 without steroids. The fans have to accept steroids were being used and trust MLB to make sure fewer players are using now. When the media blames the fans for accepting the steroid use, it feels they are the police almost blaming the victim for the crime against them. Sure, we as fans could have suspected something, but the media wasn't reporting it so why should we be suspicious? There was no reason to be suspicious because none of the rumors were ever proven true.

The truth is quite the opposite, for it was the star players who used their power, their influence and their good standing to create a steroid culture.

I would agree with this comment but also throw in the caveat that the star players may not have been the star players if they had not been using steroids. Without steroids is Mark McGwire just a Dave Kingman clone through the latter half of his career and is Sammy Sosa just another flamboyant Latino outfielder who thinks more of his skills than the team does? The steroid culture was created by human nature to get ahead and to take advantage of the fact there was no steroid testing in place. If there is no speed limit posted, how fast are you going to drive? You are going to drive fast. These players cheated because no limits were given.

This steroid problem had a three headed cause: the lack of steroid testing by Major League Baseball, the player's need to get ahead through any means necessary, and no reporting by the media on what they saw, when they had access, in the locker room because the media was too busy keeping their access to the players up and did not want to rock the boat or piss them off.

Don't blame the fans for accepting the steroid culture they did not know existed and not being angry about something they can't change that happened ten years ago.

They knew that the fans would be more than forgiving, that the fans, in fact, would be determined soldiers against any negativity, even if that negativity happened to be the truth.

The fans were forgiving because they did not know the truth. There was no testing, there was no smoking gun, the fans only had the player's word and what little information was given. Now the fans know the truth, they condemn the player but also realize there is no much they can do about retired players and steroid accusations. Current players who have used steroids are going to be treated badly in every city they go to, except for their hometown team's city. Manny is going to get it bad in every city except for Los Angeles. It just works that way.

Howard Bryant is a douchebag for trying to pin the fans as neanderthals who stand by their man no matter what happens. No one reported the truth so the fans were only soldiering against their own perceptions of the players in question.

Even as the card house collapsed, the players knew the fans were just red-blooded capitalists who would forgive lying and cheating because there was big money at stake.

I don't know who or where these fans who forgive cheating are, but I think players should be suspended for a year at the first negative drug test. It think there should be serious consequences. What columnists and mainstream media types like Howard Bryant like to do is transfer their guilt on to the fans, and they use the 5% of fans who support a player no matter what as if that represents the majority of Major League Baseball fans.

They like to say, "we are really laying it to the players now and are exposing all their previous dirty deeds, but the fans are the real problem. Look at them still supporting the players who are caught."

This is disingenuous.

The media seems to be under the impression that because they are coming down hard on players in lieu of actually attempting to do something about the problem, like report what they knew, they are now in the right. Sure many media types did not know for sure if a player was using steroids, so they did not report it, but imagine how much less a fan knew about that same player, yet Bryant thinks the fans are for some reason to blame. Yes, there is a sub-section of fans who will still be in Mannywood, but there are more fans that want him out of baseball for the year.

When this attitude was coupled with an era when powerful entities ranging from the White House to the military to the blogosphere have skillfully turned the mainstream media into the ubiquitous enemy, the players knew the strategy all too well: They used the fans' loyalty against them.

The mainstream media is not the enemy. Don't use the fans loyalty as a reason to excuse the media for turning a blind eye though. The media was too busy being fans to the players and not actually attempting to figure out how two players in the same year could come near a homerun record that only one person had even come close to over the last 50 years. Fans can be loyal, especially in the absence of evidence that would prove their loyalty to be misguided.

Ironically, it is the Phillies' Raul Ibanez, burned by a blogosphere that does not have to adhere to traditional journalistic standards, who now turns back to the mainstream media -- with all of their supposed "agendas" -- to defend his name.

What journalistic standards? Turning a blind eye to steroids? Beating the same story about Brett Favre, Manny Ramirez, and Terrell Owens into the ground? Daring a player to pee in a cup and taking credit for being ahead of the curve while ignoring the puff piece that you wrote about another steroid user? Writing an entire book with accusations based on anonymous sources? I want to hear all about these journalistic standards because I don't see them today. If you ask me, the media is being a little naive in defending Ibanez.

Fuck Howard Bryant. What he calls not adhering to journalistic standards I call exercising freedom of speech using a well thought out and reasoned argument that included evidence. That blogger who accused Ibanez of steroid use, or suspected it at least, did more research for that post than many journalists do for an entire year. The mainstream media jumped all over him. That would have been a very similar reaction had the same thing happened in the 1990's. The media would have served as cheerleaders instead of reporters.

The fan has been the greatest enabler of the steroids era. Face it: Had the paying customer revolted, the institutional reaction would have been decidedly different. The superstars knew the paying customers were either too forgiving of their golden heroes or too selfish to have their fun and games interrupted (or both) to hold them accountable.

When do we revolt? All of the major steroid users had the allegations proven AFTER they retired. Why would the fans stop watching baseball games to punish the active players when the retired players were the ones who were the newsmakers? In regard to the active players, people like baseball, they aren't going to let a few active players who have tested positive ruin that for them. I am absolutely furious at this trumped up piece of shit for calling the fans enablers during the steroid era...and Bryant knows it is wrong. Who is the real enabler? The fans who had no knowledge or the sportswriters who get paid to gather facts and report? The writers did not want to report the facts, they were having too much fun watching the home runs fly out of the ball park and writing stories about it. Even today when the fans revolt and start getting suspicious of players, like Ibanez, the mainstream media steps in and defends the player. The media would have also defended McGwire and Sosa if they were accused by a blogger of steroid use. Howard Bryant is full of shit.

Some in the media are equally guilty by intellectual laziness, the bait-and-switch thinking of the apologists for whom there is no way out.

At least he admits this.

It is one thing to be taken, quite another to make excuses for the very people who perpetrated this fraud. And it is even worse to reward them with induction into the Hall of Fame. The players got to keep their money. Why should they be rewarded for their deceit?

Again, I absolutely want to agree with this. I don't think these players should be allowed induction into the Hall of Fame. They cheated and they should pay this penalty. I don't want them in the Hall of Fame if they cheated to put up their career numbers.

Then again I am a little torn with leaving these steroid users out of the Hall of Fame. I don't want them in there but many of these players who cheated may have been in the Hall of Fame anyway. Would Barry Bonds really not be in the Hall of Fame if he had not used steroids? I think he would have made it regardless. It also brings up another factor, which is we will be leaving nearly an entire generation of sluggers out of the Hall of Fame. It would feel slightly incomplete. Not to mention the Hall will probably include someone who never got caught using steroids (I am looking at Mike Piazza) who most likely did use. How is that fair to include that person in the Hall just because his name did not get leaked? These are people who hold all-time Major League records and they are not in the Hall of Fame. It would feel slightly incomplete to me.

I would rather the Hall of Fame be incomplete than tainted though, so I vote no for these steroid users. When I visit the Hall of Fame, it is good to know cheaters are not allowed in there. I also would feel a little sadness at some of the big names who cheated who aren't allowed in because their names got leaked or they were the ones caught, while others made it because they weren't caught.

The real value will come from the superstar who actually uses his celebrity for reform, the star player whose Hall of Fame plaque might actually say "was instrumental in the fight against drug use in his sport."

That would have to have been someone from the mid to late 90's who blew the whistle or tried to warn everyone. I don't know of anyone who did this. Most of those I have heard come out against steroid users like Chipper Jones and Curt Schilling are told to shut up and then they are suspected of steroid use. I am not naive but I think the age of prevalent steroid use is over. I would like to think Major League Baseball testing will be able to keep up with science...I hope that is true.

Regardless, the fans are not at fault for the previous use of steroids by baseball players. We as fans did not know and were not in a position to know. Fans today that support steroid users are only doing it because they are trying to support their team and those fans I would think are in the minority.

4 comments:

The Casey said...

What, exactly, was I supposed to do? I've been to probably 10 MLB games in the past 10 years. Do you think the Braves would shut down if I hadn't gone to those games? What, exactly, were the fans supposed to do? Turn on people for no reason? I'd rather wait for a confession or some evidence first. If only there were a group of people who had access to the players and could somehow report information that I have no way of finding out myself. Somebody should invent something like that.

AJ said...

what does this part even mean:?

"Even as the card house collapsed, the players knew the fans were just red-blooded capitalists who would forgive lying and cheating because there was big money at stake."

What the heck is he talking about? Do you know any common fans that MAKE money on baseball games? I don't know about you, but I pay for my ticket, buy a few hot dogs, a pop or beer, etc...where exactly am I making this "big money" that he is talking about?

There isn't money at stake at all, not from the fans point of view. We pay, we dont receive money. The owners on the other hand are different...but he's not talking about them, he's talking about fans.

How does this guy have a job?

The REAL people to blame is the players themselves and no one else. They did these PEDs, and if they didn't do them, they failed to report others doing them.

Bengoodfella said...

To start boycotting games would be to also cut off your nose to spite your face. The fans love baseball, to completely ignore it because of the actions of the few would be really, really dumb. Also, it doesn't make sense to boycott the Red Sox-Braves blow out I am going to in June because Manny used steroids and because Sammy Sosa did as well. It just doesn't make sense to me. The past is the past and the fans shouldn't punish themselves and baseball just because we didn't have any knowledge of steroid usage.

I wish there was a way to come up with a group who could report information I can't find out. I will find out if we could have start one of those type things.

I think he is implying the fans understood the athletes need to make money. Which of course is absurd because I don't know any fan that understands and feels bad for a player who needs to make more money. If anything it is the opposite.

I think the blame is on the players, baseball and the media just a little bit for not reporting it. Though the more the media pisses me off, the more I will blame them.

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