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Juicing the Game: Drugs, Power, and the Fight for the Soul of Major League Baseball Paperback – Bargain Price, February 28, 2006

3.9 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Paperback, Bargain Price, February 28, 2006
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Editorial Reviews

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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Boston Herald 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 Moores
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (February 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1615553223
  • ISBN-13: 978-1615553228
  • ASIN: B000VYLG7G
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,102,567 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Howard Bryant is a senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine. He has also served as the sports correspondent for National Public Radio's Weekend Edition Saturday since 2006.

Prior to joining ESPN in 2007, Mr. Bryant spent the previous two years at The Washington Post. He has worked at the Boston Herald, The Bergen Record, The San Jose Mercury News and The Oakland Tribune.

A native of Boston, Mr. Bryant is the author of three books: Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston, Juicing the Game: Drugs, Power and the Fight for the Soul of Major League Baseball and The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron.

He has also contributed to five other books: Thinking Black: Some of the Nation's Best Black Columnists Speak Their Mind (1995), Red Sox Century, Yankees Century, The Dodgers and The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This year's revelations about rampant steroid use in Major League Baseball has escalated to the point that virtually every professional who played during the past decade automatically comes under suspicion (especially the power sluggers). As a longtime baseball fan, I've found this perpetual witch hunt irritating and have rapidly grown tired of the media obsession and with the subsequent inevitable and often irrational rants by politicians and sports fans. Even more galling is MLB Commissioner Bud Selig posing before Congress about his "strong" efforts to clean up the game, and his hypocritical tough posturing proposed through the media after the hearings. These are tough times for hardcore fans, and many of us would like to bury our heads in the sand and just enjoy the current pennant races.

But that has become impossible. Jose Canseco's "tell all" book, the February Congressional hearings, and media coverage have all put baseball's steroid scandal on the front page of the nation's sports section.

Steroids headlines another landmark moment in baseball history-akin to the gambling scandals (personified by the 1919 Chicago Black Sox) as well as the demarcation of an era when power hitting proliferated beyond reason (radically opposite the "dead ball era" of the early 20th century and the "pitchers' era" of the 1960's). But to follow the complicated story through ESPN and print journals only leads to confusion and misperceptions. Thus, Boston Herald sports columnist Howard Bryant comes to the rescue with his remarkably perceptive Juicing the Game that provides the necessary background and historical perspective to understand the issue-making this the most timely baseball book of 2005.
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Format: Hardcover
Howard Bryant is a talented and tireless journalist. His book, "Juicing the Game; Drugs, Power, and the Fight for the Soul of Major League Baseball," is a fair and objective analysis of a complicated subject. It is also the most comprehensive book to date about the sensitive subject of steroids and its enormous impact on our treasured national pastime.

The author is also a teacher. He reports important historical baseball information that is critical to understanding the complexities of the crisis today. In particular, he properly dissects the semi-explosive variables that make for a tense relationship between the major league baseball owners and the powerful players union. The owner/union behavior pattern is a key factor in understanding why steroids have been allowed to enter the game.

Bryant demonstrates how players can enhance two elements critical to a hitter...speed & strength. In other words..."the science lab has found its way into baseball," according to the author. The book carefully explains how creatine, androstenedione and anabolic steroids are eating at the game's core. The presence of these drugs have baseball purists coast-to-coast livid that "cheaters" are destroying legendary home run records.

Before 1995, just eleven baseball players in the history of the game reached the magic number of 50 home runs. In 1996, Brady Anderson of the Baltimore Orioles hit 50, he had never hit more than 21 in a single season. Moreover, the 1996 Orioles shattered the storied 1961 New York Yankees (Maris & Mantle) team home run record of 247. Bryant explains that owners and players across the board raised eyebrows...
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Format: Hardcover
Although I had a ton of other reading that I had to do, I picked up Juicing The Game from the library, and once I started it in earnest (instead of flipping around), I could not put it down. Mike Wallace notes (on the back cover) that the book is both 'encyclopaedic and fascinating'. That's well said. If you care about Major League Baseball at all, then you will enjoy reading this book and getting 'up to speed' with all the different angles on the steroid problem rampant in baseball.

Even if the subject puts you off, I encourage you to read this book. I have to admit that I didn't pay much attention because I figured the users would get busted and disciplined in one way or another... but that never happened. Why didn't it happen? This book tells you why (incompetence on the part of MLB's leadership and obstuctionism on the part of the union are perhaps the main culprits). Bryant takes some significant time in the beginning of the book to set up the context for the decade's debacle, and it's worth it, because the reader needs to know why Selig is commissioner when '94 comes and what his objectives are, as well as the union's position.

The author does a great job with each of the various threads to be explored - the strike, creatine, 1998's pursuit of Maris and the resultant andro issue, and the figure of Barry Bonds. Of course, if nobody used steroids, there wouldn't be a problem, but Bryant does a great job showing readers that the game's leadership (as well as the union's leadership) bears the lion's share of the blame for the rampant 'roid use and the resulting fouling of the record book.
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