Part two of an unending series in which I rant incoherently about my hate for the state of sports journalism
I have an unofficial contest in my mind for "Worst Columnist in America". Jay Mariotti has a website devoted to his stupidity, as doesBill Plaschke. But I'm not aware of a Bill Conlin website. I smell an opening for an enterprising blogger because my God, he spews pure drivel on ESPN. But he has outdone himself in his recent column proclaiming our current baseball era as a shameful era driven by money. And maybe it is, and the ethics of the steroid era is a worthwhile debate to have. However, Conlin has nothing to contribute to the debate. In order to make the point that steroids are bad, he makes some truly stupid and ill-informed statements including:
So let's imagine that early in the 1962 season, Mays was suspended 50 games for using a banned substance to enhance his already-vast ability. What if a half-dozen other power hitters from that amazing era were also found to be dirty? What if the great pitchers were taking illegal drugs to gain more velocity and stamina?
The players WERE taking illegal drugs. They were called greenies. Greenies are amphetamines, and it's the worst kept secret in baseball that the sport was drowning in illegal drug use as far back as the 1950s. Mike Schmidt has admitted to greenie use. Willie Mays and Willie Stargell were implicated in greenie use during the drug trials of the 1980s. Jim Bouton outed Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams for greenie use in Ball Four. Is there a person on earth who follows baseball who does not know about the illegal drug use, other than Bill Conlin?
We don't have to imagine that the players of the 1960s were using illegal drugs. We know they were. This is just an unacceptable column. It's lazy. It's plainly false. It's unnecessary hero worship of a bygone era. I don't mind if a former player goes on a "back in the day things were so much better" speech because, hey, that's what old players do. But someone posing a journalist should never, ever write a column that is so fundamentally wrong.
He's parading out a lie that the world was so much simpler back in some mythical time and if we all just click our heels and say "there's no place like home," we'll go back to a time when kids did their homework without being asked, every Sunday the hometown nine play a day/night doubleheader, and every player signed every autograph while addressing everyone as "ma'am" or "sir". A serious journalist should never even dream of writing something so hackneyed. But I don't take Bill Conlin seriously. Nor is he a journalist.
It amazes me that someone can draw a salary to write about a subject they so clearly know nothing about.