Bad News Bears

Jason Giambi’s bulging biceps and Pedro Martinez’s rippling pecs may set hearts thumping in Major League Baseball’s animated All-Star Game spots, but the pumped-up ads (a “super human showdown!” exclaims one) were too much for New York Times columnist Richard Sandomir, who accused MLB of glorifying steroid abuse.

Sandomir laid into MLB and McCann-Erickson in New York for the rendering of baseball’s best, charging the league with “[displaying] a willful ignorance of recent events.” Revving up his indignation like Randy Johnson winding up a sinker, Sandomir declares, “In a presteroid, preandrostenedione era, it might have been cute to hawk your biggest, baddest, Bunyan-esque stars as amalgams of the Incredible Hulk and Popeye.” Maybe it’s Sandomir’s writing that’s on steroids.

Still, the effort could be called out for poor timing, given Ken Caminiti’s admission of steroid use and Jose Canseco’s claim that 85 percent of Major Leaguers use steroids. Counters one McCann staffer: “Major League Baseball players are larger-than-life figures who do the athletic equivalent of leaping tall buildings in a single bound, so it seemed only natural to portray them in this fashion.”