Baseball and the Media: How Fans Lose in Today's Coverage of the Game

By George Castle | Go to book overview

TWO
Old-Time Players and Scribes

Baseball is all about truth. Yet myths comfortably coexist with black-and-white facts.

The fans always deserve the truth about their most traditional game, though they haven't always gotten it. On the other hand, they would not have fallen in love with baseball without its excess of myths.

A core of hard-bitten, almost elitist writers brought forth dollops of the truth, a heavy dose of myth, and a lot of gray-area material in between, ever since baseball became America's first mass spectator sport in the mid-nineteenth century. It was a three-way relationship—between players, writers, and readers—that worked far more often than it didn't for more than a century until exploding player salaries, burgeoning new media, rising costs, declining circulation, a thirst for profit margins, and an overemphasis on “local” coverage made serious dents in the traditional way of conveying baseball news through daily print journalism.

Indeed, where would baseball be without myths such as Babe Ruth's “called shot” in the 1932 World Series—a seeming invention by newspaper lyricist Paul Gallico? How about the standoffish Joe DiMaggio's supposed regal elegance? Even in a more cynical world, the Red Sox's Curse of the Bambino and the Cubs' Billy Goat Curse—both of which were utter nonsense—give color to the sport that simply doesn't exist in baseball's more expertly packaged athletic competitors like the NFL and NBA.

“One of the great things about baseball is that it's everyday and it's accessible,” said Scott Reifert, Chicago White Sox director of

-19-

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