Saturday, January 16, 2010

ESPN's conflict of interest

The worldwide leader in sports, ESPN, was not the network that aired Mark McGwire’s first interview. When Mark McGwire came clean (or as clean as he was willing to go) on television, he did so on the MLB Network with Bob Costas.

When Alex Rodriguez admitted to cheating, he was interviewed on ESPN by Peter Gammons. The interview and Gammons were mostly panned by critics since Gammons did not ask probing questions or follow up when necessary.

McGwire and his PR firm, the same firm that represents the reprehensible Bowl Championship Series, learned from A-Rod’s mistakes in admitting PED use. McGwire conducted a full court press with interviews to the AP, multiple newspapers, ESPN (via phone) and concluding with the television interview.

ESPN missed the boat on the steroid era. Their reporters never did any investigative reporting as to how these athletes were achieving these herculean results. Viewers were told countless times that these athletes are not cheating, rather it was an improved nutrition and workout program. The pundits always went back to the line of PEDs “don’t help you hit a fastball.”

No one ever doubted that. If I were to inject beef roids, I wouldn’t suddenly be able to launch moon shots in Yankee Stadium. If you believe that, I might need to confiscate your driver’s license. Where PEDs help baseball players is turning warning track power into home run power. Apparently, Mark McGwire didn’t get that memo by claiming he would have been able too hit all those home runs without the PEDs.

Did ESPN miss the story on purpose? It’s possible. After all, they are both a news gathering organization and partners with many sports when they produce and televise various events. Is it possible to do both and maintain one’s integrity?

It’s doubtful. ESPN’s fortunes were tied to the popularity of baseball. Why put a dark cloud on the sport by reporting that what the public was seeing was a sham? It would ultimately hurt ESPN financially if it was reported that were roids were rampant. Like the ad went, “chicks dig the long ball.” Apparently, everyone dug the long ball and there was no need to find out what caused the long ball.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Same song for Mark McGwire

The baseball writers have spoken. Once again, Mark McGwire was not deemed worthy of enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

McGwire finished with 23.7% of the vote. A player needs 75% to enter the hall. Apparently, the writers are either waiting for McGwire, the recently appointed hitting coach for the Cardinals, to address the issue of his PED usage to change their minds or they are content with excluding him. The writers and I are still waiting for McGwire to address the elephant in the room.

What's interesting to note at looking at the official results, David Segui received one vote. Segui was a main character in the Mitchell Report since he was a client of Kirk Radomski and spread the "good word" of PEDs throughout baseball since he was on several squads. Segui did not hide his usage. He was direct and honest with investigators. That behavior, while wrong to cheat, he is at least trying to make amends. Apparently, only one voter thought that was commendable.