Monday, April 25, 2005

I'VE FINALLY MADE UP MY MIND. Not to beat this to death, but since I've finally decided what I think about the Bob Ryan column on Nomar Garciaparra and his possible steroid use, I see no reason to keep it to myself.

1. It wasn't unethical. I don't really have a problem with a columnist writing about something that people have been talking about for years. It's inconceivable that anyone believes Garciaparra is (or was) a steroid user strictly as a consequence of reading Ryan's Friday column. The mainstream media's gatekeeper role is long gone, and it makes no sense for a paper like the Globe to pretend that if it doesn't cover something, people won't know about it. But -

2. It was useless. If a mainstream news organization is going to travel down speculative paths it might have avoided pre-Internet and pre-talk radio, it at least needs to add some value. Ryan's column was nothing more than what you might hear on sports radio. Obviously a columnist can't take the time to poke into a subject the way an investigative reporter would. But it strikes me that if you're going to speculate about Garciaparra's devastating injury, there are two obvious questions you might want to ask:

- Did Garciaparra stumble out of the batter's box in such an awkward way that anyone might have suffered the same type of injury, with the tendon pulling away from the bone?

- Was Garciaparra's injury of the sort that is known to be associated with steroid use?

Media Log reader E.K. offers some excellent ideas for a follow-up:

Rather than throwing out steroid claims which will never be proven, I'd rather see reporters check out the Athletes Performance Center in Arizona, where Nomar works out all winter. He, Schilling, and Arizona Diamondbacks Matt Kata and Robby Hammack also work out there and all have had some pretty unusual and serious injuries in the last couple of years (you can Google those last two to get the specifics). Maybe they're just doing the wrong exercises to be good baseball players. I'm sure David Wells would agree.

Finally, this is just hateful.


Stealth said...

Everything on BDD is hateful.

Anonymous said...

Dan, you're being way too easy on Bob Ryan. A couple of points:

- I'm not a physician, and neither are you or Ryan. But we know Nomar has had groin problems before. A tight groin muscle may have accounted for the batting slump he was in - very hard to open up the hips to swing with that kind of pain. If that's the case, the muscle may have already been so tight that simply digging out of the batter's box was enough to snap it.

- Ryan is a fat jealous old geezer. As someone else pointed out, lots of people at the right age and with good genes would add plenty of muscle mass if they were to undergo the kind of grueling weight training regimen Nomar did following his rookie season. I didn't start lifting weights until my mid-30s. I easily added 15 pounds of muscle in a few months, and have added about another 10 or so since. At my most fanatical, I'm sure my workouts are laughable compared to Nomar's, and he was at a more advantageous age when he decided to bulk up. Join a health club and start eating lots of chicken, fish, and fresh vegetables. You'll be amazed at what you can do without banned substances.

Anonymous said...


What is BDD?

Anonymous said... -- now owned by the Boston Globe

Anonymous said...

Two distinct matters:

A- Does Bob Ryan have the right to implicitly echo some rumors about Nomar's alleged stereoid use, in LIGHT of the injuries that do SEEM to confirm such use?

B- Is it unethical, unfair and completely out of the question for anyone to hint at Nomar's potential use.

In my mind, the answer in my opinion is :

B- No.

Bob is a member of the sports media that often feeds off rumors. If everyone is almost sure Bonds is using and all members of the media have been openly taking it for granted and even straight castigating Bonds for such use and lobbying for Hall ban. WITHOUT evidence mind you, for Bonds nor Nomar.
Bonds has shown signs of bulking, contacts with such companies through his trainer and most importantly his evasiveness. Nomar tries to make light of such inference in front of the media but I haven't heard any flat denials.

Remember his wrist injury that kept him sidelined for a long time. It was supposed to heal quickly with the treatment he received but it didn't. Bone fractures and injuries that do not heal normally are usually indictive of steroid use that alters bone growth. That's when rumors started flying.

He came back a couple of years ago to spring training much more bulked up and this groin injury is more likely to happen to steroid users.

SO please tell me why isn't just as fair to assume as we did do for Mcgwire and Bonds that Nomar has used some.

Sports world/media/fans seem to be more interested in sensationalist details behind the curtain details. Rumors are a common currency. From Kobe to Bonds and from Patriots to the Celtics and Bruins and so many storyline runing amock, I am not sure why we should muzzle anyone about Nomar.

I like Nomar as a nice guys and wish he'd stayed but he showed misjudgement at many levels. It is not our fault.

I am not a big fan of Ryan. He is an old grumpy f@rt if you ask me, NOT the best basketball writer at the Globe. And I hate how he handled the Walker/Ainge saga. Just like the late McDonough - not to bad mouth the dead- or even idiot opportunistic Shaughnessy but they tend(ed) to cede to their temper and opiniated stances, often wrong. But they did't/don't care what we think. They view themsleves as Boston sports media deans and we should just bow down.

But I don't believe Ryan has to be called that harshly on this Nomar thing. He's just thinking what we're thinking. And if you still believe in total Nomar innocense, you have a serious problem of not grasping reality.

Anonymous said...

Boston Dirt Dogs is a joke... always has been. Always will be.

Anonymous said...

This past Sunday's NYT Magazine essentially says that Dodger Adrian Beltre put on his 20 lbs. with more than just exercise,just prior to his UFA status. He signed a 64mil contract after hitting 25 more HR's than he ever jacked. Hmmmmmmm. Story was by the Moneyball guy,Michael Lewis.

Anonymous said...

"A- Does Bob Ryan have the right to implicitly echo some rumors about Nomar's alleged stereoid use, in LIGHT of the injuries that do SEEM to confirm such use?"

We wholly disagree. Without debating what Ryan has the right to write or say -- that's a legal issue, one I'm not qualified to comment on -- the qualifiers around Nomar's injuries are, well, crap.

Fact is, the injuries sustained by Nomar are NOT confirmation of anything. The first was a broken wrist, the result of being hit by a 90-plus mph fastball. The second was to his achilles, a common sports injury (and one which I have done more times than I can count), and which anyone who has had one knows that it can take forever to heal. The third was a groin tear, again, hardly uncommon for athletes (and which occurred on a wet field, regardless of whether Nomar chose to point a finger).

Now, if these injuries were correlated to steriod use, then there should be a hike in their frequency any time steroid use rises. But the exhaustive study that Will Carroll did on injuries for Baseball Prospectus ( if you are really interested; it's a pay site, and I don't have the exact link to the study handy but you can probably Google it) found that the number and frequency of these types of injuries has NOT risen from decade to decade. (Or perhaps you think Babe Ruth was on the juice too?)

That is of course just one sport and one study. But I don't recall Ryan quoting any doctors in his column.

If Ryan was interested in anything but throwing mud, he would know the Carroll's study backwards and forwards, and his speed dial would have a few MDs on it (right next to his anger management's number). It was shoddy journalism, and no amount of morning-after "what ifs" can hide that.


Anonymous said...

By coincidence, Will Carroll's book, "The Juice: The Real Story of Baseball's Drug Problems," just came out this week. I haven't read it.