Albert Pujols, home runs, and steroids

June 5th, 2006 → 8:46 pm @ // No Comments

Albert Pujols, the most exciting player of the 2006 season, is out for at least two weeks and maybe much longer with an oblique strain.
As former Sports Illustrated senior writer Jeff Pearlman points out in a recent Slate article, Pujols’ power surge–after 55 games, he was on pace to hit 74 home runs and rack up 180 RBIs, both of which would be new Major League Baseball records–has gone oddly unquestioned. (Pujols says he’s already passed three drug tests this season, and by all accounts is a great guy.) Pearlman makes an excellent point. After several years in which baseball has been regularly humiliated with steroid revelations, most of the sports media seem to be accepting what many experts call a seriously flawed testing program. Clubhouses, executive suites, and newsrooms alike know that the untraceable human growth hormone (HGH) is the new performance-enhancing drug of choice…not that anyone seems to really care. Jason Giambi’s performance fell off a cliff after he all but admitted using steroids; still, he was wholeheartedly embraced even after he appeared to have gained, lost, and re-gained enormous amounts of muscle. Pearlman’s article lays the blame for the lack of old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting into the performances of people like Pujols (and Roger Clemens and Joe Mauer) at the feet of the country’s sportswriters who fear being shut out by the teams they cover. Fans, who often turn a willfully blind eye to the foibles of their local stars, share in the blame. Sports, like movies, is an escapist pastime; unlike movie fans, however, sports fans often choose to willfully ignore their heroes’ warts.

Post Categories: Albert Pujols & Baseball & Steroids

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