EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 17, 2013

Legendary sports stories then and now

By Michael Muldoon
mmuldoon@eagletribune.com

---- — The way America covers its sports heroes has changed dramatically over the years. It was a mythmaking profession for generations. Now cynicism and scandal dominate the headlines.

Here’s how some major stories might have been covered today vs. in years gone by:

Babe Ruth’s ‘called’ home run

Today:

TMZ, with the help of Google Maps, shot down the fraudulent claim that Babe Ruth “called” his home run yesterday vs. the Cubs in Game 3 of the World Series. A Windy City stripper told TMZ exclusively that the Babe devised the outlandish claim as a cover-up. The married slugger was actually pointing to a girl he wanted to ask out on a date. Google Maps confirmed he was pointing at a young woman not a far-away seat.

Before:

Babe Ruth, the greatest slugger the game has ever seen, finally outdid himself.

The Sultan of Swat quieted his critics in a fashion our grandchildren’s grandchildren will be talking about. Yesterday in game 3 of the World Series, he pointed to the nether reaches of Wrigley Field, boldly predicting a round-tripper. While the Cubs and their boisterous fans mocked the portly power hitter, the mighty Babe lived up to his theatrics with a towering homer run.

Manti Te’o plays

after two deaths

Today:

Hopelessly naive or cunningly egomaniacal. Those are the only possible two descriptions of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, who is caught in a bizarre web of deceit which has embarrassed the linebacker, the university and the sport.

Before:

His girlfriend and his grandmother are in a better place. And the two, who passed away within six hours of each other, have to be weeping tears of pride about the performance the love of their lives put on yesterday.

The sports world is weeping with them.

Just days after the double dose of heartache, otherworldly linebacker Manti Te’o carried Notre Dame to a memorable win over Purdue and inspired a nation in the process.

Tour de France hero

Lance Armstrong

Today:

Every time he wore that yellow sweater it was tantamount to a swift kick in the groin to those great champions who wore it so honorably before him. Lance Armstrong thumbed his nose at the racing establishment and proved to be a serial liar. The cancer he beat paled in comparison to the cancer he was to the sport.

Before:

The yellow sweater fits Lance Armstrong like the Nemean Lion on Hercules. For an American to beat the odds and the cycling world in the Tour de France is magical. To do it seven times ... after beating cancer ... makes him inarguably the greatest sportsman to grace the planet.

Ever.