Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
December 6, 2004
BASEBALL: Smear Job
I thought what the NY Daily News did to Jason Giambi on Sunday was just reprehensible. Giambi has a lot of well-deserved grief coming over his use of illegal and against-the-rules steroids and his lies to cover up that use. But the Daily News splashed a huge story across the back page about Giambi's love of Vegas nightlife:
Um, why would that be? What does Vegas have to do with whether the guy cheated and - the question of the hour - how seriously we should take that cheating? And what do you mean, "reckless"? Drugs? Sex? Gambling? Something else entirely? The News never precisely says, burying us instead in innuendo and a bunch of truisms about Sin City:
"Great guy," the bouncer says. "He's not cheap with his money. He likes to make sure everyone around him has a good time."
Giambi, who is married, is free to spend his nights as he wishes, of course, but his lifestyle has become a public matter after a season in which he was sidelined by a mysterious parasite, then a benign tumor that neither he nor the Yankees would discuss, all of it accompanied by suspicion regarding steroids use that has now been confirmed.
Basically, it seems, his body has been breaking down ever since he became a Yankee, and whatever role steroid use and perhaps withdrawal has caused, you have to wonder if there are other factors involved, and whether he is having trouble coping mentally as well.
A friend of his in New York has told the Daily News of wild parties that Giambi has thrown in his upper East Side apartment, and that Giambi went on a two-day binge in the city after the Yankees lost to the Red Sox in the ALCS. Though Giambi has told the friend he no longer goes to bars in the city as much as he once did because Yankee fans question him about his declining performance, he offered no indication that his physical ailments have caused him to change his partying ways.
Giambi has never tried to hide his enjoyment of the nightlife. In Oakland, where he became a star as the long-haired, anti-establishment leader of the young and rowdy A's, Giambi used to have a saying that eventually became a slogan the players wore on T-shirts under their uniforms:
"Party like a rock star, hammer like a porn star, hit like an All-Star."
OK, so Giambi likes to party and go to strip culbs, and cheats on his wife. The partying bit is maybe sorta relevant to his performance, although we could have been told with a bit less sensationalism if the story is just that he likes a drink and a late night. The sex is, frankly, none of my business, however much I may disapprove. Ballplayers like to go to strip clubs? This is back page news?
Lisa Olson piled on in the same issue, blaming Giambi's father and hinting darkly about Giambi's "destructive lifestyle habits."
I've stressed this before: if you've got the goods on a guy, that's one thing - but the press has no business spreading dirt it doesn't have. The News just didn't have nearly enough facts to justify a story that was clearly meant to imply much worse things about Giambi than it said.