Shoddy and Irresponsible Journalism - Mike Lupica Edition

| by Sliding Into Home

With the untimely demise of Fire Joe Morgan, I cannot help but feel that terrible sports writing has run amok, unchecked and unchallenged. While FJM wasn't necessarily mainstream, it was well-known in the sports fan community, and did gain a bit of mainstream notoriety from time to time. To me, the legacy of FJM is very important - for that, I decided to pay dak, Junior, Matthew Murbles, Coach, and Ken Tremendous a tiny homage. The target: this horrific article by Mike Lupica.

"Alex Rodriguez, who is supposed to end up hitting more home runs than anybody in history, cheated on his sport when he used steroids."

In my mind, this can be picked apart in two different ways:

First, so did hundreds (thousands, perhaps) of other professional baseball players. While this does not necessarily make the use of PEDs ok, it goes a fairly long way in explaining why so many fans (rabid and casual alike) are distancing themselves from the faux-outrage that used to be the norm.

Second, there is strong evidence that Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Mike Schmidt were among the dozens (hundreds, perhaps) of professional baseball players popping amphetamines like tic-tacs in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s – I wonder if you would like to see their plaques removed from Cooperstown.

"A-Rod's cheating - he says it was only when he was with the Rangers - isn't really an issue at all with the Yankees, with their fans, with Major League Baseball, with anybody."

You could insert the name of most any active player in place of Rodriguez’s without changing the validity of the statement.

"Why? Because he's a winner now, that's why. We've been over this. He's a big winner Yankee. They couldn't have gotten to No. 27 without him. CC Sabathia was a horse last fall, Mo Rivera was unhittable, Johnny Damon stole two bases on the same play and changed Game 4 forever."

What have Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Mark McGwire, Jason Giambi, Ivan Rodriguez, Rick Ankiel, Troy Glaus, Jose Guillen, and Guillermo Mota won since being implicated? How often do you hear outrage about their implications nowadays?

Oh, that’s right – never.

"The Yankees don't go all the way without A-Rod hitting the way he did the whole postseason. He copped to steroids in spring training and by the time he was on his float in the Canyon of Heroes he was riding away from Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds and any other current or former juicer you care to mention."

I noticed that you didn’t explain what you meant by “riding away from… other current or former juicer(s)” here, or anywhere else in the article. What does that mean, exactly? Other implicated juicers have won rings – JC Romero, Andy Pettitte, David Ortiz, and Manny Ramirez come to mind. Ivan Rodriguez is being treated as a conquering hero in Washington D.C. nowadays.

"That's not just the power of winning, it's the power of the Yankees, even if he is the most complicated great Yankee of all time."

I noticed that you didn’t explain or defend this, either. More complicated than Babe Ruth, who frequented prostitutes, drank and smoked to excess, and out-homered entire teams? More complicated than Mickey Mantle, who was equally revered and reviled for his entire career? More complicated than Yogi Berra, who uttered more incoherent sentences than any professional athlete ever?

"Rodriguez will pass 600 home runs before he turns 35 in July. If he stays healthy, he should pass 700 before he turns 40. After that, even after 40, he can eventually pass the great Henry Aaron and Bonds.

If he does, when he does, how will you feel about that?"

I think it would be pretty exciting to watch a great player chase the records set by some of the greatest players in the history of the game, and I feel like most would agree.

"What will make him different from Bonds? Or McGwire? What makes him different from any of them? If you can forgive A-Rod now that he is a big winner Yankee, does that mean you have to forgive McGwire and Bonds, too, and stop worrying about what Sammy Sosa - who grew big and strong and hit 60 home runs three times in four years - might have been taking?"

Bonds, McGwire, and Sosa put on an inordinate amount of muscle when their bodies should have been breaking down, and they also refused to cop to their “sins” (though, McGwire did come clean a decade after the fact). Rodriguez did get bigger as his career went on, but his physical peak came around his mid-twenties – he may’ve maintained it longer, but there’s a big difference here.

"It could be 15 years or more before Alex Rodriguez is up for election to the Hall of Fame, maybe having finished out his career with 800 home runs in the big leagues. Does he go right through the front door if a lot of other drug guys are on the outside, still looking in?"

All McGwire has are his home runs which, for better or for worse, are intrinsically linked with the explosion of PED use. Bonds, Clemens, Palmeiro, and Sosa haven’t had their day in court, so to speak, so it’s difficult to draw any conclusion on the Hall’s treatment of juicers.

"He is, in so many ways, the greatest show on earth. He gets into it with Dallas Braden."

This is relevant… how? Prince Fielder charged the Dodgers locker room last year – ridiculous conflicts like this happen all the time. I’d also note that Rodriguez was much more professional about this situation than Braden.

"He is in this story with Dr. Tony Galea, even though he still hasn't given a straight answer about why a Canadian doctor had to give him anti-inflammatories."

Aside from stating numerous times that Galea treated him with anti-inflammatories and did not provide him with PEDs, I suppose this is right. There’s also the matter of Galea being under criminal investigation, which leaves Rodriguez legally obligated to keep his mouth shut on certain matters, but I guess your questions are more important than the law.

"The Yankees privately wrung their hands about the steroid confession last spring, and about Galea. It won't be the last time they do that. Doesn't matter."

Much like, I’m sure, every team does whenever any player has to discuss damaging, damning circumstances.

"Where's A-Rod going? Here's where: Six hundred home runs. Seven hundred home runs. And the Yankees will ride him for all he's worth."

Should they… not ride him for all he’s worth?

"Derek Jeter is one face of the team, representing all those old-Yankee values."

Those old-Yankee values, eh?

Are you referring to Ruth, DiMaggio, and Mantle’s womanizing? Jackson’s third-person references and show-boating? Jeter’s throwing Rodriguez under the bus for his first several years with the team?

"A-Rod? He's the face of who they really are."

And who are they really? A bunch of juicers? A bunch of overpaid professional athletes? A bunch of winners?

Oh, crap – just another statement that you refuse to back-up with… anything.

"There was a time when A-Rod opted out of his Yankee contract during a World Series the Red Sox were winning. It wasn't just Yankee fans who said good riddance at that point, it was some members of the Yankee high command. Who know who they are. There was already tabloid coverage of his own infidelities and then came steroids and now his ties to Dr. Galea.

None of it matters. Sometimes you love guys because you need them. Or at least like them a lot."

Should a player’s personal life matter? Should a player’s business decisions matter? In my mind, so long as the player’s performance isn’t negatively impacted, absolutely not.

"Mark McGwire, retired player, admitted to steroids, apologized, can't get close to the Hall of Fame."

You alluded to this earlier, and you still fail to realize that McGwire’s the first poster-boy for PEDs to hit the ballot – and he’s still on the ballot, and will be there for the next decade or so. Plus, last I checked, Rodriguez isn’t in the Hall of Fame, nor will he even have a chance to be for a fairly long time.

"Alex Rodriguez, Yankee star, admitted to steroids. When he was tied with McGwire at 583 career home runs, a graphic went up on the Game of the Week and nobody said a word about performance-enhancing drugs."

What should they have said? “Look at all the juicers on that list?”

I wonder how you would react if they had pointed out that Griffey’s physical ailments parallel the negative impact of steroid use and abuse… probably with the same outrage you’d display if you read my point about amphetamines.

"Six hundred home runs soon. Seven hundred eventually. Maybe 800. How are you going to feel about all that? If A-Rod is different from the others who juiced - why is he?

Because he can still do it, that's why."

Manny Ramirez is playing pretty damn well this season. David Ortiz has been on a tear since the end of April. Andy Pettitte looked like the best pitcher in baseball for the first month or so of the season (oops, I apologize if he represents the ‘Old Yankees’ like Jeter).