Michael Kay And Steroid Hypocrisy

From Bruce Jenkins:

At the height of Barry Bonds’ pursuit of the home-run records, Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow made lively, enthusiastic calls on the Giants’ network. They always loved Bonds as a ballplayer. They knew that whatever the extent of his plunge into steroids, it didn’t tarnish his reputation as one of the greatest and most entertaining hitters of all time. Most of the Giants’ fans knew this, as well, and they cheered their hearts out whenever he went deep. Kuiper’s home-run calls, in particular, go down with the most inspiring of modern-day broadcasting.
It seems this didn’t go over too well in other cities. Kay, who anchors the Yankees’ telecasts, ripped Krukow and Kuiper in a public forum for getting so excited over a steroid guy. Steiner, part of the Dodgers’ radio team, made some equally rude comments (off the air), establishing himself as a real high-and-mighty beacon of integrity.
Except it doesn’t work that way. Alex Rodriguez opened the season in disgrace after the steroid-related embarrassment of spring training, but that didn’t stop Kay from going nuts when A-Rod slugged his first home run. Presto — instant hypocrite!

I am throughly unsurprised that a member of the media would be hypocritical regarding this issue. Many writers and other media types have done this dance before, ripping players when it was convenient while lionizing them when that was the more profitable course of action. Here is what I wrote on the issue in February:

The hand wringing in the media is designed to distract us from one simple fact that the Olney’s and Verducci’s of the world desperately want us to ignore. Those guys were in the Yankee clubhouse in the late 90’s all the time. They criticize GM’s for not knowing what was going on in terms of baseball’s drug culture, yet they spent more time around these players than anyone but the managers and trainers. How did they miss what was going on?

The answer is quite simple, and is so damning as to pretty much disqualify any moral haranguing that you read from any reporter who worked during that era. They did not miss it, they just chose to ignore it. Home runs were good for the game that they cover and love, and they did not want to be whistle blowers. Whistle blowers are left on the outside looking in at all the fun, and the media members loved being insiders, loved being in on the grand party that was major league baseball at the turn of the century. Why turn Mark McGwire in when it will cost you his trust and your access to other players? So they just turned the other way while the players flaunted their use. In 1998, when someone asked McGwire about the andro in his locker, the writers skewered him for digging into someone else’s business. Now those same writers applaud when one of their colleagues procures sealed evidence of a supposedly anonymous drug test. The double standard and disingenuous nature of their actions make their moral proclamations “in the defense of the game” seem ridiculous. Suddenly you find it vitally important to defend the game? Where was that moral imperative as the players were bulking up around you?

Ultimately, the writers are just as culpable in creating the steroids morass that has engulfed the sport as anyone else. They only took heed once players like Canseco and Caminiti forced the issue out into the open. So spare me the moral indignation from the sports writers, as they are bemoaning the very situation that they helped create.

Hypocrisy is the name of the game when it comes to the steroid story. It has become difficult to read anything on the issue with a straight face, as writers have the audacity to suddenly decide that they are the protectors of the moral fabric of baseball after letting the issue stay untouched for many years. Michael Kay should be making dramatic home run calls when Alex hits one out, as that is his job. However, he needs to realize that he cannot separate announcer Kay from talk show host Kay, and needs to be consistent from one role to the next. Otherwise, he is no better than those that he criticizes.

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