Curtis: What baseball writers did during the Steroid Era

From Bryan Curtis at on January 8, 2014:

As sports fans, we’ve decided two things about the annual Baseball Hall of Fame announcement. First, we don’t want to flatter the voters — that is, baseball writers — by talking about their nay votes for PED users, their moral preening, or their hand-wringing about the “soul” of baseball.

Second, we’ve decided that we can’t stop talking about this. Let’s expand the ballot, reimagine the electorate, etc.

What’s missing is a portrait of baseball writers during the Steroid Era. The Baseball Writers’ Association of America grants its nearly 600 voting members a curious privilege: They’re responsible for shaping a player’s reputation both during his career and after his retirement. They write the game story and then row the boat across the River Styx.

When a Hall voter sees the name of a PED user on his ballot, he’s not staring at an entry on That same voter was also the PED user’s chronicler and idolater; he covered his fall from grace; he heard his confession. The player’s doping had a direct and often negative effect on his career. Deacon White is an abstraction. Mark McGwire is a professional trauma.

The relationship between reporter and subject was never more vivid than between 1988 and 2010. In 1988, a Washington Post columnist leveled the first serious charge of steroid use in Major League Baseball. In 2010, McGwire confessed his own use and put a period on the era. (Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez continued the story from there.) Below, I recount scenes from that span in the form of a detective story — one in which the detectives were brilliant, buffoonish, or thoroughly uninterested in the job. For baseball writers, this period is when innocence was lost, when their jobs changed forever. The Hall of Fame vote is not some new expression of professional grief. It is an echo.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: January 9, 2014. Last Updated: January 9, 2014.