Thomas Boswell’s Outrageous Ethical Breach

In the first installment of Ken Burns’ latest addendum to his epic documentary “Baseball”, there is a considerable discussion of baseball’s steroid problem, and its effect on the game, its image, and integrity.  Washington Post sportswriter Thomas Boswell is one of those interviewed, and caused quite a few PBS watchers, including me, to drop their jaws when he volunteered this:

“There was another player now in the Hall of Fame who literally stood with me and mixed something and I said ‘What’s that?’ and he said ‘it’s a Jose Canseco milkshake.’ [ Note: Star outfielder Jose Canseco was widely believed to be a steroid user from early in his career, and he finally admitted it after retiring.] And that year that Hall of Famer hit more home runs than ever hit any other year. So it wasn’t just Canseco, and so one of the reasons that I thought that it was an important subject was that it was spreading. It was already spreading by 1988.”

Boswell, who knew exactly what the player meant by “Jose Canseco milkshake,” never reported the apparent use of steroids—illegal in 1988, as it is now— to the team, Major League Baseball, or the public. He had an obligation, as a reporter, to tell the public that baseball stars were cheating. He he had a duty, as member of the larger baseball community, to alert the game to a serious threat to the game’s integrity and take measures to see that action was taken. If he didn’t realize the significance of what he witnessed in 1988, he certainly came to realize it within a few years, as he saw sluggers like Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds mutate themselves into muscle-bound home run machines. What possible justification can there be for only telling this story now. more than 20 years later? Was he holding on to the incident for a book? Was he protecting the player? Neither of those are his jobs, as a journalist. His duty is to let the public know what is happening in baseball, and if the players are cheating, if games are being altered by prohibited substances acquired illegally, that is something the fans…and the authorities…must know.

It is worse than that. Boswell knows that Mark McGwire and Raphael Palmeiro have been rejected by Hall of Fame voters because of the widespread belief that they used steroids. The controversy will continue when Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and other presumptive performance enhancing drug-users come up for eligibility in the next few years. Yet Boswell, apparently, knew that a candidate who played in 1988 was a steroid cheat, and kept quiet about it, apparently allowing a steroid-user to be voted into the Hall without that factor being taken into consideration. That was unfair to voters, future candidates, and the fans. Maybe, at some point in the future, it will become the consensus that players from baseball’s steroid era should be honored whether they were proven users or not, but that is not the prevailing attitude now.  If Tom Boswell knew that a steroid-user was going to be voted into the Hall under the false assumption that he was not a cheat, he was obligated to let the public, his colleagues who voted the honor, and Major League Baseball know about it too.

Finally, Boswell’s innuendo in Burns’ documentary was irresponsible and unfair to all the great players who have been admitted to the Hall of Fame since 1988. Because he didn’t name the player he saw, Boswell cast suspicion on all players, leading to published speculation about which Hall of Famer was a “juicer.” The baseball blog Weezen-ball, for example, listed its eight most likely candidates for Boswwell’s un-named cheat, including Tony Gwynn, Kirby Puckett, Wade Boggs, Paul Molitor, Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson, Cal Ripken, Jr., and  Rickey Henderson. Most of those players—indeed, all but one of them—have exemplary reputations that have been free of even casual suggestions about steroid use. (If Ryne Sandberg or Cal Ripken used steroids, I’m  Gloria DeHaven.) No more: they’ve all been sullied now.  I don’t blame Wezen-ball at all; Boswell’s statement invited the inquiry.

The ethics verdict, then, is this: Boswell betrayed his journalistic duties by withholding important information from the public. He aided and abetted the spread of steroid use in baseball, when he could, and should, have sounded an early alarm. He allowed voters to put a cheat in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame when he knew they did not want to admit steroid users, thus assisting the deception of  the voters, who were his sportswriting colleagues, degrading the Hall’s membership, and creating a precedent for admitting future P.E.D abusers. And he harmed the reputations of some of baseball’s greatest, and most honorable, players by refusing to name the player he saw drink the steroid milkshake.

I’m sure Boswell could have handled this more unethically, but I don’t know how.

30 thoughts on “Thomas Boswell’s Outrageous Ethical Breach

  1. I’m torn in whether he had an obligation to tell baseball at the time but I think he has write about and tell everyone.

    He also now has an obligation to name the player. Its not fair to other players in the Hall that he doesn’t.

    I use to not care if someone had taken steriods. My thinking was that it didn’t help you hit the ball. But after seeing how it changed the way Bonds hit tH ball I have changed my mind.

  2. I know almost nothing about baseball, but when you listed Cal Ripken on that list, I thought, “If he used steroids, then what would he look like without them? Wasn’t he pretty skinny? And known most for attendance?”

    And yeah, my father is dismayed that I’m discouraged with baseball (never liked it much anyway) because of this scandal. But what other reaction is reasonable in the light of such behavior?

    • Yes, but would have to be specifically designated so by the Mystery Juicer. The presumption must be that in the presence of a journalist, everything one says and does is ON the record—we call it “The McCrystal Principle.” This is unlike the presumption with a client in a lawyer’s presence, where the lawyer is bound by confidentiality unless the client specifically waives it.

      In Boswell’s case, I also doubt that journalist ethics should have stopped him from reporting that he saw “a player” using steroids.

  3. Never a fan of Tom Boswell, I am certain he didn’t take action at the time because he wanted to be (or think he was) an “insider” with the players. I don’t think that confidentiality attached to the player in question (as a “source”): just that he wanted to maintain what he thought were positive relationships with baseball players. Today he must reveal who that player was. He can’t make such a statement on video and expect to keep the name to himself, now that it is verboten to use steroids in baseball.

    He didn’t need to make the statement. He could have just kept it to himself. To make the statement on tape for Ken Burns is simple grandstanding — inside knowledge about steroids in 1988 — and he can’t be allowed to get away with it. He has to come forward with the name.

  4. The ignorance here blows me away.
    For starters, steroids were not illegal in 1988. The anabolic steroids act of 1990 outlawed them.
    By criticizing Boswell these critics hang a sign around their own necks reading “I have no credibility.” EVERYONE knew what was going on with steroids. Coaches, front office, ownership, they all knew. They didn’t care. Steroid use in MLB was an open secret. It’s widely believed one of the reasons owners forced Fay Vincent from the commissioner role was because he wanted to clean up the sport. If you believe all of these non-playing individuals who now claim they had no idea what was going on, you’re far too naive and clueless to be a journalist.
    Nobody cared until Congress told them to care. Congress starting threatening baseball’s anti-trust exemption – that’s when action started.

    • Steroids were not controlled substances before the late 80’s, but were prescription-only, and using them for strength improvement was not a legitimate medical reason—their use was still cheating, and recognized as such. No player would admit to it—what was that, if “nobody cared”?
      You are wrong about everybody knowing. Jose Canseco was widely suspected of using steroids during the this period, and received abuse from fans about it—your everybody didn’t include, for example, knowledgeable fans like me, who read everything available about the sport. Fay Vincent, who is not a liar, says he didn’t know, and I believe him. Your characterization of the period is admirably assertive, it just happens to be fanciful.

  5. One small problem:
    The whole premise of this article is wrong.

    “[Jose Canseco] is the most conspicuous example of a player who has made himself great with steroids.”
    — Thomas Boswell writing for the Washington Post in October 4, **1988**

    And the irony is that at the time Boswell wrote that, he was lambasted by many people (including ABC commentator Reggie Jackson and other reporters covering the Redsox-A’s ALCS at the time) for reporting un-sourced allegations that amounted to character assassination.

    http://articles.latimes.com/1988-10-06/sports/sp-4330_1_red-sox

    • Huh? The premise of the argument is that Boswell didn’t report the un-named player and the open use of steroids in the club house. Everyone knew that Canseco had used steroids—the issue was him using steroids in the clubhouse and ANOTHER player using them. Canseco never confirmed or denied his use, but every fan assumed it. But I assumed, for example, that he used steroids in the past, training, not while in the majors.

      • Thomas Boswell named Jose Canseco in October 1988 and called him the “most conspicuous example.”

        He made it extremely clear to the public in 1988 that he felt that cheating by baseball stars was a serious problem.

        Not only did he write about it, but he spent 2 full days (by his own account) giving interviews and firmly standing by his claims.

        And for his efforts, he was widely doubted and heavily criticized at this time.

        Meanwhile, Canseco adamantly and categorically denied ever using steroids. In an on-field interview with Reggie Jackson on national TV. I remember. I was watching.

        Did you bother to read the LA Times article I linked to? Direct quote of Canseco:
        “Actually, it hasn’t been that hard to handle. If I was guilty . . . but I’ve never done it. I’ve never been involved with steroids.”

        • What part of “the post was about the un-named player” don’t you understand? Why was Boswell only recently telling us that the steroid-using was spreading beyond Canseco in 1988? Why didn’t he name the name? Your article is irrelevant to the post.

          • What part of your demonstrably false claims above don’t you understand?

            1) You argue that Canseco denied steroids use and yet that is demonstrably false.

            2) In the article you argue that Boswell:

            “had an obligation, as a reporter, to tell the public that baseball stars were cheating.”

            And yet I’ve demonstrated that he did EXACTLY that. And he didn’t just do it once, he stood by his claims repeatedly as he took heat for them. And for his efforts he was met with widespread skepticism, scorn, and criticism.

            And instead of issuing a “mea culpa”, you’ve chosen to move the goalposts to something about naming more than just one person (I can’t find any reference to that benchmark in the original article).

            Just as a matter of common sense: if Boswell wasn’t believed at the time about Canseco, how would more name-dropping have enhanced his credibility or helped bring more serious attention to the issue of steroids use in baseball?

            • Nicely done Michael. No reply Jack Marshall? Could that have anything to do with the fact that you just got owned? Ridiculous article. Accusing the guy who broke the story on steriods in baseball 15 years before anyone else wanted to talk about it of not naming enough people is outrageously unethical. He broke the story, at considerable risk to his relationships and thereby access to players. What did he get for his trouble? The same kind of character assasination that you are now engaging in, 25 years later. You are the lowest kind of journalist. No courage, no honor, no story.

              • It wasn’t nicely done, and the reason there was no reply from me is because I just saw the comment. Thanks for pointing it out. Here’s my response to Michael, and you:

                “There was another player now in the Hall of Fame who literally stood with me and mixed something and I said ‘What’s that?’ and he said ‘it’s a Jose Canseco milkshake.’

                You can’t find any benchmark in the original article that indicates that I was writing about Boswell’s specific inference NOW? This quote was the premise and starting point for the entire post! The post was not and is not about what Boswell did or wrote about Canseco, or steroids, in the 80′s. It is about his statement, in the Burns documentary, indicating that he has evidence of steroid use by a current HOF player.

                The issue regarding whether a player currently in the Hall of Fame used steroids is especially relevant now, as that is one of the (invalid) justifications being made to admit known cheats like Barry Bonds. Boswell 1) impugned by implication many Hall of Fame members by his cowardly, anonymous accusation, and 2) withheld valuable information that the public has a right to know.

                The article was about Boswell not telling which player currently IN THE HALL OF FAME admitted to using steroids. You keep blathering about Canseco, and what Boswell did or didn’t say about Canseco, and what Canseco did or didn’t say. I didn’t move the goalposts. You went off on a tangent. I’ll take your word for it that Boswell fingered Canseco during one of the periods when he was denying steroids. Canseco was the Bonds of his day—whether Boswell was attacked for stating the obvious, I do not recall, nor especially care: he had plenty of company. Nevertheless, it has little to do with Boswell, now, this year, on video, saying that he knows a HOFer used steroids, and not telling us who. That’s the post. It is clear that that is the post.

                Your conceit is that since Boswell reported on Canseco, my contention that he failed his obligation in 1988 is false. Baloney. In 1988, he mentioned one star. Everyone knew that Canseco was a steroid-user, and the consensus was that he was an aberration, being a spectacularly slimy character and dumb as a brick. If I had been writing about Boswell in 1988, I would have written this: “Hey, Boswell, you’re a reporter. Don’t just point to the guy with the huge muscles and the home runs. If you know other players are juicing, tell us. That’s your damn job.”

                I’m writing that now, based on what Boswell is saying, or refusing to say, now. The fact that Boswell flagged Canseco in 1988 is tangential to the post.

            • “There was another player now in the Hall of Fame who literally stood with me and mixed something and I said ‘What’s that?’ and he said ‘it’s a Jose Canseco milkshake.’ You can’t find any benchmark in the original article that indicates that I was writing about Boswell’s specific inference NOW? This quote was the premise and starting point for the entire post. The post was not and is not about what Boswell did or wrote about Canseco, or steroids, in the 80’s. It is about his statement, in the Burns documentary, indicating that he has evidence of steroid use by a current HOF player. The issue regarding whether a player currently in the Hall of Fame used steroids is especially relevant now, as that is one of the (invalid) justifications being made to admit known cheats like Barry Bonds. Boswell 1) impugned by implication many Hall of Fame members by his cowardly, anonymous accusation, and 2) withheld valuable information that the public has a right to know.

              The article was about Boswell not telling which player IN THE HALL OF FAME admitted to using steroids. You keep blathering about Canseco, and what Boswell did or didn’t say about Canseco, and what Canseco did or didn’t say. I didn’t move the goalposts. You went off on a tangent. I’ll take your word for it that Boswell fingered Canseco during one of the periods when he was denying steroids. Canseco was the Bonds of his day—whether Boswell was attacked for stating the obvious, I do not recall, nor especially care: he had plenty of company. Nevertheless, it has little to do with Boswell, now, this year, on video, saying that he knows a HOFer used steroids, and not telling us who. That’s the post.

              Your conceit is that since Boswell reported on Canseco, my contention that he failed his obligation in 1988 is false. Baloney. In 1988, he mentioned one star. Everyone knew that Canseco was a steroid-user, and the consensus was that he was an aberration, being a spectacularly slimy character and dumb as a brick. If I had been writing about Boswell in 1988, I would have written this: “Hey, Boswell, you’re a reporter. Don’t just point to the guy with the huge muscles and the home runs. If you know other players are juicing, tell us. That’s your damn job.”

              I’m writing that now, based on what Boswell is saying, or refusing to say, now. The fact that Boswell flagged Canseco in 1988 is tangential to the post.

  6. In 1988, he mentioned one star. Everyone knew that Canseco was a steroid-user,

    You offer no supporting evidence whatsoever for that assertion. I challenge you to show us one mention of Canseco and steroids in the same sentence before Boswell’s October 1988 column.

    In fact, the backlash to Boswell’s reporting and the threat of lawsuits and the rallying of support around Canseco after Boswell’s accusations are evidence to the contrary of your claims.

    Furthermore, BOSWELL TOLD THE MILKSHAKE STORY TO THE ENTIRE WORLD ON CBS NIGHTWATCH IN OCTOBER 1988. HE DID EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE ACCUSING HIM OF NOT DOING. And the world responded to his brave act with ….. crickets….

    San Francisco Chronicle, October 5, 1988:
    Thomas Boswell, the Washington Post writer who dropped such strong hints about Jose Canseco and steroids, didn’t appear for the midafternoon workouts at Fenway Park yesterday. The Post office had no idea as to his whereabouts but said he was “en route” to Boston, where the A’s and Red Sox open the American League Championship Series tonight.

    When he does arrive, he’ll have some explaining to do. A lot of people are outraged about Boswell’s comments on CBS-TV’s “Nightwatch” program last Wednesday, and there remains the possibility of legal action by Canseco and his representatives.

    Boswell, long regarded as one of America’s most eloquent baseball writers, accused Canseco of using steroids to bulk up to 230 pounds. “He’s the most conspicuous example of a player who made himself great with steroids,” Boswell told “Nightwatch” host Charlie Rose. “I’ve heard players, when they’re talking about steroid use, call it a `Jose Canseco milkshake.”‘

    Boswell’s reputation among writers is that of an entertaining conversationalist who can occasionally get carried away. “Last year, he flatly stated that the Twins won the A.L. West because they were stealing signs,” said a Twin Cities writer. “That was all very interesting, except he had no factual basis whatsoever.”

    http://www.wezen-ball.com/2010-articles/september/more-on-the-qjose-canseco-milkshakeq.html

  7. I’m no ethics expert, but methinks that smearing someone based on falsehoods and then ignoring it and not correcting those falsehoods when they are pointed out is pretty unethical.

    Let’s recap the falsehoods and misrepresentations presented in this article:

    Boswell, who knew exactly what the player meant by “Jose Canseco milkshake,” never reported the apparent use of steroids—illegal in 1988, as it is now— to the team, Major League Baseball, or the public.

    Completely false. Boswell reported it to the public in 1988 and went on a media blitz to discuss it with anyone who would listen.

    This was not only documented in several media reports readily available online (see links above), but in the Mitchell Report — which if you bothered to check (http://files.mlb.com/mitchrpt.pdf) — devotes several pages to Boswell’s accusations. It claims that Commissioner Ueberroth took no action because there was no hard evidence. (Note that the MLBPA was vehemently opposed to PED testing or penalties).

    Commissioner Fay Vincent (who took over in September 1989) states in the Mitchell Report that the mistake was HIS and that he was “totally wrong.” He was well aware of Boswell’s accusations but he incorrectly thought “steroids was [mostly] a football problem” and he was focused on the problem of cocaine use in baseball.

    He had an obligation, as a reporter, to tell the public that baseball stars were cheating.

    Which as we’ve seen is exactly what he did.

    He he had a duty, as member of the larger baseball community, to alert the game to a serious threat to the game’s integrity and take measures to see that action was taken.

    Again, which he did. What did the public and “the game” do about it?

    If he didn’t realize the significance of what he witnessed in 1988, he certainly came to realize it within a few years, as he saw sluggers like Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds mutate themselves into muscle-bound home run machines. What possible justification can there be for only telling this story now. more than 20 years later? Was he holding on to the incident for a book? Was he protecting the player? Neither of those are his jobs, as a journalist. His duty is to let the public know what is happening in baseball, and if the players are cheating, if games are being altered by prohibited substances acquired illegally, that is something the fans…and the authorities…must know.

    Where was Jack Marshall in 1988? What possible justification was there for Jack Marshall and the general public to ignore Boswell’s claims in 1988? While Boswell was mercilessly mocked and disparaged for smearing a player for using steroids without offering any hard proof?

    And now Jack Marshall wants to hypocritically complain more than 2 decades laterthat neither he nor the public was told that there was any cheating going on? And that this was Boswell’s failure?

    What possible justification was there for Tony LaRussa — Canseco’s & McGwire’s manager — who Boswell said was one his sources for Canseco’s steroids use — to change his story after Boswell came forward — and then change his story again in 2005 when he was interviewed by 60 minutes (claiming he knew Canseco was a heavy steroids user) — and then change his story AGAIN in 2007 when he was interviewed for the Mitchell Report (he knew nothing)? But that was all Boswell’s fault.

    Boswell, apparently, knew that a candidate who played in 1988 was a steroid cheat, and kept quiet about it, apparently allowing a steroid-user to be voted into the Hall without that factor being taken into consideration. That was unfair to voters, future candidates, and the fans.

    He didn’t keep quite about it — he told the world. And the world mostly didn’t care because he didn’t present hard proof. He didn’t have hard proof. He had anonymous and off-the-record sources and one on-the-record source who kept changing his story.

    Murray Chass had a pretty good idea that Mike Piazza showed some classic signs of steroid use. But his editors at the New York Times would not allow him to write about it. It would have been an accusation without evidence, and the paper refused to print it.

    When Chass did ultimately print his observations — on his own blog — he was almost universally savaged and ridiculed for it. Smears and innuendo with no hard proof.

    Where was Jack Marshall defending Murray Chass for telling us that he had reason to believe a first-ballot Hall of Fame candidate was a steroids teacher?

    Finally, Boswell’s innuendo in Burns’ documentary was irresponsible and unfair to all the great players who have been admitted to the Hall of Fame since 1988. Because he didn’t name the player he waw, Boswell cast suspicion on all players, leading to published speculation about which Hall of Famer was a “juicer.”

    What innuendo? Repeating the same claims he already made on national TV 2 decades earlier is “innuendo?”

    Can you make up your mind? Did he need absolute hard proof that he could share? Or if he knew but he didn’t have the means to absolutely prove it to others was he supposed to shut up and keep it completely to himself?

    The ethics verdict, then, is this: Boswell betrayed his journalistic duties by withholding important information from the public. He aided and abetted the spread of steroid use in baseball, when he could, and should, have sounded an early alarm.

    Translation: after trotting out a collection of falsehoods and incorrect assumptions — that could have easily been avoided with some research — you’ve drawn conclusions based on those falsehoods.

    He allowed voters to put a cheat in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame when he knew they did not want to admit steroid users, thus assisting the deception of the voters, who were his sportswriting colleagues, degrading the Hall’s membership, and creating a precedent for admitting future P.E.D abusers. And he harmed the reputations of some of baseball’s greatest, and most honorable, players by refusing to name the player he saw drink the steroid milkshake.

    He ALLOWED voters to do this? You mean the same voters and colleagues — who by BBWAA rules were 10+ year veteran writers — who disregarded his reporting in 1988?

    Again, the double standard: should he have remained silent if he didn’t have air tight on-the-record proof? So that he doesn’t harm the reputations of anyone who might be innocent? Or was he supposed to name all names, regardless of how much evidence and what kind of evidence he had for each name?

    —-
    And then we get to the follow-up comments that repeat the falsehoods and defend the conclusions based on falsehoods:

    Canseco never confirmed or denied his use, but every fan assumed it

    Patently false. “Actually, it hasn’t been that hard to handle. If I was guilty . . . but I’ve never done it. I’ve never been involved with steroids.” –Jose Canseco quoted by the LA Times (Oct 6 1988)

    And you haven’t shown (because you CAN’T show) one citation that references Canseco and steroids suspicions pre-October 1988.

    Why was Boswell only recently telling us that the steroid-using was spreading beyond Canseco in 1988?

    Patently false question, in the mold of “when will you stop beating your wife?”

    The post was not and is not about what Boswell did or wrote about Canseco, or steroids, in the 80′s

    The post actually (falsely) states: “Boswell, who knew exactly what the player meant by “Jose Canseco milkshake,” never reported the apparent use of steroids—illegal in 1988, as it is now— to the team, Major League Baseball, or the public.

    I’ll take your word for it that Boswell fingered Canseco during one of the periods when he was denying steroids.

    Please don’t take my word for ANYTHING. Do research before you smear someone. I provided links to LA Times and San Francisco Chronicle articles and to the Mitchell Report. There’s no need to take anyone’s word here, much less mine.

    Boswell was attacked for stating the obvious, I do not recall, nor especially care: he had plenty of company

    Another falsehood. If Boswell had plenty of company, surely you can name ONE example of someone who is part of this “plenty of company.”

    In 1988, he mentioned one star.

    False. He said Canseco was the *most conspicuous* example.

    Everyone knew that Canseco was a steroid-user, and the consensus was that he was an aberration, being a spectacularly slimy character and dumb as a brick

    Again, if everyone knew this, surely you would be able to show us ONE citation to support this wrong-headed claim.

    And if everyone knew this, why would the San Francisco Chronicle article cite so much outrage towards Boswell for saying it? And why would their article imply that Boswell was a loose cannon prone to making accusations with “no factual basis whatsoever?”

    If I had been writing about Boswell in 1988, I would have written this: “Hey, Boswell, you’re a reporter. Don’t just point to the guy with the huge muscles and the home runs. If you know other players are juicing, tell us. That’s your damn job.”

    Whose job is it to verify what Boswell actually said in 1988 before they smear him based on false assumptions about what he didn’t say then?

    • 1. Your whole over-heated and obnoxious argument is based on an inability to read. The Mitchell Report says that Boswell fingered Canseco in an interview in 1998, not 1988. If Boswell knew in 1988, he had an obligation in 1988. It’s hard to tell what he meant, because he doesn’t say what locker room he was in. He just casts guilt on a slew of players. Nor does the Mitchell report devote lots of pages to Boswell’s 1998 statement. Boswell is mentioned by name twice on the same page, in relation to that single statement. There was no 1988 Boswell crusade that I know of.

      2. The post referred to the unethical statement Boswell made on the Burns documentary. It was unquestionably unethical. He left an innuendo about a Hall of Fame player without naming him, and never publicized this accusation at the time he learned about the player, nor publicized that information, based on substantial observation, testimony and evidence, at time the HOF member was being considered. It was unfair to the player when Boswell made the taped statement, a breach of duty to the voters (did Boswell vote for this un-named player?) by not giving them the benefit of what he knew, and a violation of his duty to the game not to forthrightly name that player in 1988.

      That was what the post was about. To wit. “Finally, Boswell’s innuendo in Burns’ documentary was irresponsible and unfair to all the great players who have been admitted to the Hall of Fame since 1988. Because he didn’t name the player he saw, Boswell cast suspicion on all players, leading to published speculation about which Hall of Famer was a “juicer.” The baseball blog Weezen-ball, for example, listed its eight most likely candidates for Boswwell’s un-named cheat, including Tony Gwynn, Kirby Puckett, Wade Boggs, Paul Molitor, Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson, Cal Ripken, Jr., and Rickey Henderson. Most of those players—indeed, all but one of them—have exemplary reputations that have been free of even casual suggestions about steroid use. (If Ryne Sandberg or Cal Ripken used steroids, I’m Gloria DeHaven.) No more: they’ve all been sullied now. I don’t blame Wezen-ball at all; Boswell’s statement invited the inquiry.”

      • Your whole over-heated and obnoxious argument is based on an inability to read. The Mitchell Report says that Boswell fingered Canseco in an interview in 1998, not 1988.

        No, it was 1988. You cherry-picked one clearly typo’d reference and were STILL too lazy to research and check the multiple independent sources which confirm the correct date.

        Not just the San Francisco Chronicle (I already provided a link) but the footnote cited by the Mitchell Report itself– the St. Louis DIspatch:

        [184]See Report That He Used Steroids Denied by Athletics’ Canseco, St. Louis Post- Dispatch, Oct. 1, 1988, at C3.

        But don’t let that fact stop you from re-stating your conclusions and disregarding reality.

          • You can’t have it both ways with innuendo.

            You WANTED him to tell about “the apparent use of steroids” in 1988 — even though that was completely innuendo. Boswell had no presentable hard evidence.

            And he DID tell about it (even though you recklessly accuse otherwise). That sullied everybody (or should have sullied everybody unless you failed to take Boswell’s claims seriously) right there and then.

            If on the other hand you insist he needed hard presentable evidence so as not to possibly sully anyone who might be innocent — and/or you blame Boswell for a source (LaRussa) who repeatedly changed his story — then it’s complete hypocrisy for you to argue that he had an obligation to tell everyone what he knew.

            • What? You are hilarious! Who was Boswell referring to in the Burns documentary, Michael? If you know, please let me know, because that would prove your point that I am being unfair to Boswell, and only that. But you can’t, because he didn’t say who it was then, when the HOF voted on this player, to Burns, or now, and that was what I wrote was unconscionable, that is what is unconscionable, and all your yelling and screaming still can’t change it. Who was it, Michael?

              Because if Boswell didn’t say, then my post stands, and you are all hot air and bluster.

              • I see. So 3 paragraphs of nothing but smears based on falsehoods is completely fair and doesn’t warrant as much as an “oops.”

                As long as you still stand by one attack from your fourth paragraph, it’s all good and who cares about accuracy anywhere else.

                Of course your entire premise for that last attack is that “innuendo” is “unconscionable” — it sullies innocent players — at least it does if the calendar year is 2010.

                But if the calendar year is 1988 then reporters have an OBLIGATION (says you) to spew innuendo — and sully players. And if the reporter is not taken too seriously when he names the most egregious ringleader — and if no one is interested in more names — not the Commissioner, not his interviewers — he just needs to blurt out names anyway.

                Of course, who are you to say he didn’t share additional names? You haven’t bothered to check a single original source or contact the target of your attacks, have you?

                • In other words, you can’t name the player, because all Boswell had the guts to do was make a general smear 20 years after he should have made a specific accusation. Got it. Thanks for the clarification.

                  • Hypocrisy. YOU originally argued that he was OBLIGATED to make this “general smear” 20 years ago:

                    He had an obligation, as a reporter, to tell the public that baseball stars were cheating.

                    And then you mocked him for supposedly NOT making this “general smear” 20 years ago:

                    What possible justification can there be for only telling this story now. more than 20 years later? Was he holding on to the incident for a book? Was he protecting the player?

                    Must be nice to be able to have it both ways.

                    And of course Boswell was the only reporter who had the guts to name ANYONE. And the Commissioner responded to his naming of Canseco with this gem:

                    A spokesman for the Commissioner’s Office said that baseball would not investigate Canseco’s possible steroid use because baseball had “no information about his usage or the usage of any other player in the major leagues.”

                    And Boswell’s key source — LaRussa — changed his story.

                    But, sure, you think he had the obligation to dig himself deeper and name all the other players who talked about Canseco milkshakes. Then everyone would suddenly take steroids seriously. Right.

                    • “He had an obligation, as a reporter, to tell the public that baseball stars were cheating.” Those were not the words he was supposed to use, and the post was clear. He knew specific stars were cheating, and he had an obligation to expose those stars who were, not say “I know that stars are cheating.” Obviously. If I knew which star, by name, Boswell was talking about, the sentence would have read, “He had an obligation, as a reporter, to tell the public that X and Y were cheating.” I did not endorse a general smear, and the post made that clear to everyone except you. I endorsed Boswell telling what he knew, when he knew it. Obviously that means a specific, not a general, disclosure.

                      What’s the matter with you?

                      By the way, the Piazza comparison is terrible. Chass had no evidence against Piazza at all—he noticed that Piazza had back acne. So does my son. The fact that such acne is one of the side effect of steroids in no way means that everyone who manifests it is a steroid user, but that was Chass’s who brief against Piazza. The accusations against Bagwell are similar…he was big and muscular when he once was not, thus he was cheating. That’s garbage.

                      Boswell had a verbal admission and observed the steroid use. You’re making the argument that Chass was ostracized for an unfair and unsubstantiated allegation, so Boswell was justified in not revealing actual steroid abuse. Nonsense.

  8. You’re making the argument that Chass was ostracized for an unfair and unsubstantiated allegation, so Boswell was justified in not revealing actual steroid abuse.

    You continue to insist on having it both ways.

    In what universe was Boswell’s accusation in 1988 against Canseco a “substantiated allegation?” If it was substantiated then why did practically everyone include the Commissioner disregard it? Where is your complaint that Major League Baseball — and the entire baseball world — ignored a “substantiated allegation?”

    You originally pointed out:

    Boswell, who knew exactly what the player meant by “Jose Canseco milkshake”

    Clearly what Boswell KNEW and what he could PROVE were very different animals. And you very clearly took Boswell to task for not telling us MORE of what he knew but couldn’t prove.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.