From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The title suggests an exposé of baseball's steroid problem, but that's merely the surface layer of Bryant's pervasive critique of how the sport has changed over the past decade. After professional baseball was derailed by a bitter strike in 1994, team owners searched for ways to bring fans back into the stadiums. The incredible boom in home-run hitting over the next few seasons offered such a motivation, and Bryant accuses managers and owners of actively ignoring the open secret of steroid use to keep sluggers like Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco in action. He's especially hard on commissioner Bud Selig, who "had the moral authority" to invoke a stiffer antisteroids policy and "did not use it." But he also considers how the rules were applied differently to favor hitters over pitchers, and details the intense battle between umpires and Major League administrators that ensued over attempts to reform the shrinking strike zone. Bryant's comprehensive reporting, based on a series of Boston Herald
articles, takes readers right up to the brink of the current season, when Canseco's tell-all, Juiced
, inspired Congress to issue subpoenas to the game's biggest stars. As baseball struggles to restore its integrity, this is the essential explanation of how things got so far out of hand. (July 11)
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sports columnist Bryant gives the full history behind the steroids scandal that has slowly but steadily enveloped major-league baseball over the past 10 years, a scandal that now calls into serious question the integrity of many of the records set during that time, if not the integrity of the game itself. Bryant begins with the disastrous strike of 1994, which cut short a memorable season and eliminated that fall's World Series. It was from the ruins of 1994 that baseball found salvation in the long ball, whose resurgence came as a result of smaller new ballparks, a reduced strike zone, and a ridiculously lax policy on performance-enhancing anabolic steroids. For example, offenders could be caught using steroids four times before finally receiving a one-year suspension. If players were the obvious culprits, the scandal, according to Bryant, was really the result of interlocking failures: a league that did not have the stomach in the face of record revenues to police itself, a players' union that fought every effort by the league to test its members, beat writers afraid to ask hard questions of the players they covered on a daily basis, and fans, who, fully aware their heroes might be juiced, still flocked to ballparks in record numbers. In presenting this thoughtful, detailed account of what one writer has called "baseball's Watergate," Bryant will bring baseball fans fully up to speed on both the steroids issue and the hoped-for reforms to come. Alan MooresCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved