8 episodes

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?

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    • Sports
    • 4.6 • 249 Ratings

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?

    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 5: The Dirty Truth

    Episode 5: The Dirty Truth

    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.

    • 35 min
    Episode 4: The Cheater's Rulebook

    Episode 4: The Cheater's Rulebook

    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?

    • 33 min
    Episode 3: The Magic Shot

    Episode 3: The Magic Shot

    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.

    • 38 min
    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.

    • 34 min
    Episode 1: The Feel-Good Story

    Episode 1: The Feel-Good Story

    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.

    • 37 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
249 Ratings

249 Ratings

SW$S ,

Amazing podcast for that everyone can enjoy

This is really one of the best podcasts I have listened to. It strikes me as a perfect balance of deft storytelling and a return to another era that should appeal to baseball devotees as well as many others. I couldn’t stop listening. It was riveting and professionally produced. Kudos to Religion of Sports and their producers for raising the bar.

Every single episode so far (6) is first rate. It explores themes that extend beyond sports—and they do it such a engaging way. These are complex issues made beautifully accessible. Every episode is important and compelling.

kennafern ,

Kenna

Excellent podcast! Extraordinarily researched. All by a brilliant, fascinating, passionate female sports voice. YOU GO GIRL.

z1g702 ,

Slow down

Whoever is speeding up Joans voice needs to quit the crap. Or if Joan speaks that fast normally, she should look into a rap career cause she talks as fast as a bone thugs and harmony song

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