03.25.05

Raismann On ‘Roid Mania

Posted in Baseball at 2:40 pm by

It’s not whether you ratted anyone out, but rather, how you sell the beer. The Daily News’ Bob Raissman on a dilemma facing MLB mouthpieces.

Already, in the wake of last week’s congressional hearings, rumor and innuendo are still presented as facts. Forget about callers to sports-talk radio; so-called legitimate broadcasters are getting into the act.

On Saturday, during an interview with KSLG-AM in St. Louis, Wayne Hagin (above, right) , a Cardinals radio play-by-play man, said Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton had used “the juice” early in his career. Hagin was a Rockies voice from 1997-2002.

“I know he (Helton) tried it because (former Colorado manager) Don Baylor told me, ‘I told him to get off the juice – you’re a player who doesn’t need that. Get off it. It’s made you into a robot at first base defensively,’” Hagin said on KSLG-AM. “And (it) may have altered his swing. He got off it.”

Helton vehemently denied Hagin’s allegation. The broadcaster backtracked, saying he was referring to Helton’s use of creatine, not steroids. Helton wasn’t buying Hagin’s explanation and indicated he might sue the announcer.

Hagin’s big mouth not only presents a predicament for all baseball voices, but sets up a huge dichotomy in the Cardinals’ broadcast booth. At one end is Hagin, who is not averse to going public with information he has heard – no matter how inaccurate. At the other is Joe Buck who, in January, told HBO’s “Real Sports” that if he found out a St. Louis player was on steroids he would not report it.

“I’m not in a position, as the Cardinal announcer, to break stories,” Buck said. “… I’m not a journalist.”

Spoken like a true spokesman for Budweiser.

Baseball’s corporate sponsors, and companies that advertise on a local basis, no doubt would like team broadcasters to take Buck’s speak-no-evil approach. That way, the subject of steroids would not cut through the airwaves on a warm summer night. It also will mean certain voices are sitting on information and not truly serving fans.

No one is looking for any baseball voice to take Hagin’s irresponsible, slanderous approach. And yet, if any baseball broadcaster has facts, or wants to offer an opinion on baseball’s steroid controversy, he should be encouraged to bring it to the microphone.

Don’t hold back. Tell the truth. Even if it is not good for baseball’s business.

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