Volume 92, Issue 7

Tuesday, September 15, 1998

here we go


Sosa and McGwire: the people's players

By John Dinner
Gazette Staff

As every major North American newspaper has already done in covering the home run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, I feel it necessary to devote a lot of time and space to these two athletes. That is if we forget for a while that there are other athletes out there (especially at the university level) that deserve as much, if not more attention than these two overpaid ball players.

This will not be about the amazing feats that these two players are accomplishing. Nor will it be about the fact that they have brought back some positive attention to baseball or even that one of them is using a substance banned by some organizations, but not by baseball. This is not about how much the home run baseball is worth or whether to give it back to them or not. It's not about their lives away from the game or their families.

It is about the amazing patience these two gentlemen show night in and night out, day after day, in having to deal with the same inane questions from the media. Can you imagine having to tell the world day after day how it feels to be chasing such an elusive record or what you had for breakfast that morning and oh yeah, "what were you thinking about today on your way to the ballpark?"

And it hasn't gotten any better for either of them with McGwire's 62nd dinger of the year – it's probably gotten worse. Now the questions are "how does it feel to now be chasing McGwire and not Roger Maris" (former record holder) and "has it settled in yet for you the magnitude of what you've done?"

It makes me proud to be a sports writer when I hear these stupid questions coming from the "experts" of baseball. I hope that these people are still in the business if and when I get to their level because I want to learn how to make a question that has been asked fifteen times already sound fresh, new and different. It's a skill I do not possess but I see now that it is a necessity in becoming a successful sports journalist.

What's even more amazing to me is that the media, for once, is not even the worst. These reporters are actually trying to do what the public is asking of them, to know anything and everything about these two phenomenas.

There are people in every city wanting to talk to them, get a handshake, have their babies and of course get an autograph. It is truly amazing that these athletes are able to perform at such a high level or even at all, with the pressure and attention that comes with being successful.

But wait a minute. Isn't this what they get paid to do – entertain. Maybe we should start expecting this level of play and scrutiny from all pro athletes making disgusting amounts of money. If they expect to be paid so much, shouldn't we expect to be entertained equally as much. These guys shouldn't be paid more for their achievements. Everyone should get less for not performing to their standards.

This is not too much to ask, considering it is the public who pay their enormous salaries and ask for very little in return. We should begin to demand record setting performances like these, year in and year out.

More can be taken from these two athletes than just how to hit a baseball. And it is not us, the public or the media, that should be asking the questions – it should be the other athletes themselves. If there were performances like this in all sports, every year, then maybe it would be almost worth paying them ridiculous amounts of money.


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Copyright The Gazette 1998