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Author: Religion of Sports | PRX

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What happens when your love of a sport is built on a major-league lie? Sportswriter Joan Niesen was a kid in St. Louis in the summer of 1998, when the home run race made baseball magic. Mark McGwire was her favorite player, and she tracked his every move that season as he chased baseball immortality. But the spectacle of that summer was not what it seemed. McGwire and countless other players had been using anabolic steroids for years. Now, Joan is revisiting the steroid era to untangle the truth from its many myths and search for answers. What happens when our heroes let us down? What can those years tell us about sports culture in America? And what is the legacy of baseball’s farthest-reaching scandal?
8 Episodes
Trailer: Crushed

Trailer: Crushed


Sportswriter Joan Niesen is revisiting the steroid era to untangle its truth from the many myths, examine the legacy of baseball’s farthest-reaching scandal, and explore what it tells us about sports culture in America. Launching on April 1, Opening Day 2021.
In 1998, fans across the country fell in love with the home run race as Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa chased baseball immortality. Sportswriter Joan Niesen recounts her memories of that summer, examines the history and mythology of the home run and asks why people across the country wanted to believe they were watching heroes.
Episode 2: The Snoop

Episode 2: The Snoop


When reporter Steve Wilstein started asking questions about a bottle of pills in Mark McGwire’s locker, it set off a chain reaction that would cast doubt on the home run record and the power that had come to define baseball.
At the height of the steroid era, players across baseball had to decide if they should use—and reap the benefits—or stay clean. We meet two such players and follow the ripple effects of their choices.
Baseball has always had a murky code of ethics, a rulebook that feels more like a suggestion. Did that culture pave the way for steroids? And, in baseball and in life, where do we draw the line between advancement and cheating?
In the years after Barry Bonds was crowned home run king, baseball's steroid problem became too big to ignore. Fans began to look for someone to blame, a villain—but truth and accountability remained elusive.
Episode 6: The Reckoning

Episode 6: The Reckoning


In 2005, Congress forced star athletes and baseball leadership to finally confront their steroid problem on national television and answer questions on Capitol Hill. There were a lot of things the government got right that day, but some very important things it got wrong.
Episode 7: The Fallout

Episode 7: The Fallout


Baseball still feels the aftershocks of the steroid era. Has it recovered, or has it just forgotten and moved on? And what happens when a sport that's built on nostalgia ignores its own history?
Comments (1)

Andrew Smith

not a big fan of this one. Read "The Game" by Jon Pessah for a better retelling of how/why the steroid era happened.

Apr 19th
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