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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Bill James interviewed by Dan LeBatard

Scroll down to 790 the Ticket “On Demand” section. Bill James talks steroids and the Hall of Fame.

peace,kid Posted: August 05, 2009 at 12:25 PM | 46 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: books, media, sabermetrics, steroids

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   1. bjhanke Posted: August 05, 2009 at 04:44 PM (#3281200)
I found this a very placid, very well conducted interview. The interviewer made no attempts to trap Bill with some clever pseudo-logic, nor did he go all morally fanatical about the issue. Bill was able to make his points clearly and without interruption. What struck me most is how much of Bill's arguments are years old. You can find back in the Abstracts a comment about French law, where everything is illegal, but the picky laws aren't enforced except when the policeman wakes up on the wrong side of bed, in which case he can easily find someone who has broken a dozen laws today. That's a lot of what happened in steroids. The actual Steroid Era started up in the 19th century, no LATER than the 1880s, when cocaine was openly advertised as a PED for baseball players. We've been through illegal alcohol, cocaine, strychnine, amphetamines of various strengths and steroids, plus who knows what else. To decide to stop at steroids, draconianly enforce rules that didn't even exist at the time of the "infractions", and say that the other PEDs don't count as being bad is logically indefensible. The Witch Hunters are just the French police waking up to have a bad day.

He also has said (I'm paraphrasing here) that the Hall of Fame, given enough time, will focus on the player's career stats and forget everything else. There are candidates (Joe Jackson) who he doesn't want to see benefit from that, but there are more players that he does want to see benefit, and the steroids crowd is just one of the groups he wasn't to see that happen to. As is usual for Bill, he tried to stay within the parameters of his original article that caused the interview. His opinion that steroids are drugs whose main effect is to "keep you young" is not in the normal observer's list of arguments, but he refused to elaborate on what the phrase "keeps you young" means. Since the two main accusations, Mc Gwire and Bonds, rest on the assumption that steroids allowing the players to perform BETTER than they did in their youths (which I believe I can pretty much prove is NOT the case for the big feature players such as Mc and B), not just recapture that time, Bill has to keep his particular viewpoint narrowly applied where it is obvious, or he will get hammered.

All in all, I recommend this interview. - Brock Hanke
   2. Steve Treder Posted: August 05, 2009 at 05:07 PM (#3281240)
To decide to stop at steroids, draconianly enforce rules that didn't even exist at the time of the "infractions", and say that the other PEDs don't count as being bad is logically indefensible. The Witch Hunters are just the French police waking up to have a bad day.

Precisely.
   3. fra paolo Posted: August 05, 2009 at 05:38 PM (#3281298)
The problem with the Steroids Era is how do we treat it? Now that steroids are formally considered cheating (as opposed to Something We Don't Talk About), where does that leave these players? It's actually the opposite of the kinds of arguments that Brock is using here. Cocaine wasn't illegal in the 1880s. Alcohol was illegal in the 1920s but then became legal. Amphetamines without a prescription were illegal. Steroids without a prescription were illegal, but MLB, as with amphetamines, didn't do much about this issue.

David Ortiz tested positive in 2003, we hear. Manny Ramirez tested positive in 2009, we know. These are not the same thing. Ortiz' HoF case, such as it is, is in a grey area. Ramirez can genuinely have his cheating held against him.

I return to the Ty Cobb Question. If Ty Cobb was up for election to the HoF, would he get in nowadays?

Bill James is basically arguing that Ty Cobb would still get elected. I'm not so sure. The world has changed. If that's the case, James's fatalistic argument falls apart, because it means the defenders of the anti-Steroid Bastille merely have to stand at the barricades and fight off the Steroid apologists.
   4. ValueArb Posted: August 05, 2009 at 06:03 PM (#3281325)
I think the hysteroid crowd loses strength over time as home runs continue to pile up post testing. While steroids had to have some effect, it's clear that there are many other forces at work and getting worked up over one minor component of a higher offense era is silly. Esp. when it's hard to call it cheating by baseball rules and the CBA in force at the time.
   5. Repoz Posted: August 05, 2009 at 06:06 PM (#3281332)
The problem with the Steroids Era is how do we treat it?

Until the offensive numbers go down...was there ever a Steroids Era?
   6. Steve Treder Posted: August 05, 2009 at 06:17 PM (#3281353)
Until the offensive numbers go down...was there ever a Steroids Era?

Manny's getting caught with his hand in the cookie jar is a pretty good indicator that the Steroid Era shouldn't be discussed in the past tense. And the notion that it suddenly started out of nowhere in the early 1990s is quite far-fetched; exactly when it did begin is an awfully vague concept as well.
   7. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: August 05, 2009 at 06:24 PM (#3281369)
I think the Baseball Hall of Fame may stop considering numbers and accomplishments at all in a few years. The media in general seems to just hate actually existing baseball and regret that it didn't cease to exist after the 1994 strike. So why not make the Hall of Fame a nostalgia exercise like everything else?
   8. Chipper Jonestown Massacre Posted: August 05, 2009 at 06:41 PM (#3281396)
Pass.
   9. Srul Itza Posted: August 05, 2009 at 06:49 PM (#3281416)
rest on the assumption that steroids allowing the players to perform BETTER than they did in their youths (which I believe I can pretty much prove is NOT the case for the big feature players such as Mc and B), not just recapture that time


Even if you believe this, an interesting take is that, as ballplayers age, they gain experience that makes them better players, along with some muscle mass over time, but have their reflexes and recovery ability slow, which cuts against them, with age 27 or 28 being the cross-over point where the aging process overpowers the gain in experience.

But if you could stop or slow the aging process, while continuing to gain muscle mass and experience at the same time . . . .

Now, anyone who thinks the hGH can stop the aging process is sadly deluded, but if you had the money, wouldn't you want to try?
   10. asinwreck Posted: August 05, 2009 at 07:01 PM (#3281445)
The media in general seems to just hate actually existing baseball and regret that it didn't cease to exist after the 1994 strike.


This, this is the real issue. The hatred from the media may be worse in the twenty-first century, but I've always been amazed at the volume of sportswriters who appear deeply unhappy to cover sports. (Dick Young comes to mind.) The sports media have played the wounded innocent for decades, and it's tiresome. Should a Rick Morrissey, Skip Bayless, or Jay Mariotti have Hall of Fame votes when they lack any evidence of actually enjoying the performances of any of the people they are supposed to evaluate? If you don't like baseball, maybe you should consider another line of work. Kvetching does not equate to hard-hitting journalism.

The Joe Posnanskis and Dan LeBatards -- writers who clearly enjoy the game, look at it with clear eyes, and offer genuine insight -- are too rare. And that's the real problem with the Hall of Fame voters.
   11. phredbird Posted: August 05, 2009 at 07:06 PM (#3281458)
The media in general seems to just hate actually existing baseball


i can agree with this. msm has been predicting the death of baseball since before the first work stoppage. steroids is the latest hook to hang it on. i think it has a lot to do with free agency and the rise in salaries. those two events put the players in a position where they don't have to feel like they owe anything to the press, or anybody else for that matter. so you have players behaving in an indifferent manner toward writers -- and of course a lot worse in some cases -- and so now the contempt goes both ways and steroids is a convenient weapon.
i know mantle and others were less than accommodating to the press back in the day, but superstars could always kind of name their own tune. but in the slow buildup to a time when they had more control over their contracts, the players as a group tended to want to have good relations with the guys who could present their case to the public. once the players union won the kinds of things the players wanted, and felt empowered, the writers were the odd guys out. especially once the mlb minimum started to go into overdrive. scrubs were making 5 or 6 times as much as the best writer on a paper, it was guaranteed, and the pension kicked in. who needed some jock sniffer after that?
there's other factors, like the advent of tv and more media choices for fans. the writers have been getting pushed aside from the role they think they are entitled to play and as a body they don't like it.
   12. phredbird Posted: August 05, 2009 at 07:10 PM (#3281462)
and they don't help themselves when they say stupid things like 'at least pete rose hustled' ... bill james' prediction is going to come to pass, steroids aren't going to be seen as the end of baseball, and everybody who wanted to shrug off pete rose while crucifying players like bonds and palmeiro and ramirez are going to be sorry they didn't have a little more perspective.
   13. Greg Goosen at 30 Posted: August 05, 2009 at 07:24 PM (#3281483)
Bill Madden should have done this interview.
   14. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: August 05, 2009 at 07:54 PM (#3281544)
I return to the Ty Cobb Question. If Ty Cobb was up for election to the HoF, would he get in nowadays?

Of course he would. If he were a marginal candidate, perhaps not. But no slam dunk candidate has ever been blackballed for the reasons you're thinking about. He might lose a handful of votes, but in spite of what gets implied here, the BBWAA isn't interested in any kind of a general witchhunt against nasty people.

-----------------

The media in general seems to just hate actually existing baseball

Another ridiculous overgeneralization. Some of the media hate some aspects of modern baseball, just like some Primates hate the DH and interleague play. Does that mean that Steve Treder "hates baseball"?
   15. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: August 05, 2009 at 07:57 PM (#3281552)
I think I get the drift, though. If you hate steroids, you hate baseball. Or maybe if you wish that they'd turn down the volume in the ballparks, you hate not only baseball but all young people in general. But if you hate the DH or interleague play, you're an informed critic who just wants to make the game better and more enjoyable.
   16. bunyon Posted: August 05, 2009 at 08:02 PM (#3281561)
Andy, it is certainly a generalization but it's pretty clear in their writing and what they say on TV that a lot of celebrity sports journalists don't like baseball and, in many cases, sports.


It isn't anything like a majority of the BBWAA but it's not an insignificant number, either.
   17. Lassus Posted: August 05, 2009 at 08:05 PM (#3281565)
i can agree with this. msm has been predicting the death of baseball since before the first work stoppage turn of the previous century.
   18. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: August 05, 2009 at 08:12 PM (#3281574)
Andy, it is certainly a generalization but it's pretty clear in their writing and what they say on TV that a lot of celebrity sports journalists don't like baseball and, in many cases, sports.

It isn't anything like a majority of the BBWAA but it's not an insignificant number, either.


Maybe not, but I'm not sure that you can infer their influence by the number of times Repoz sticks their ramblings up here on BTF. And what I often see here as evidence of "----- hates baseball" amounts to little more than a column saying that steroids are cheating. And as I said above, nearly everyone detests at least something about baseball.

I've got a pretty simple test here: If someone really does "hate baseball," they're usually not too shy about saying so.
   19. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: August 05, 2009 at 08:16 PM (#3281580)
i can agree with this. msm has been predicting the death of baseball since before the first work stoppage turn of the previous century.

You mean a handful of people trying to get a rep for being brilliantly contrarian may have said that a handful of times. But the first time that "the death of baseball" ever really got any traction was in the 60's, which was the first time that football overtook it in the opinion polls. And even then it never amounted to much more than a few slumming cultural anthropologists who had no real connection to the game itself.
   20. bunyon Posted: August 05, 2009 at 08:19 PM (#3281586)
I'm not just basing it on here or basing it on their stance on steroids or the DH. A lot of the sports columnists turn into real "Inside Baseball" guys that only like talking about personalities and trades and the business end (BTF suffers from this on occasion). I've heard plenty of talking heads and columnists say they don't really care for watching a midseason game outside the big markets.
   21. phredbird Posted: August 05, 2009 at 08:30 PM (#3281604)
i guess i should cop to generalizing, sure. but the tone of almost any commentator seems to be 'baseball is in a crisis', which is funny when you think about how many people still go to games, how much fan interest is out there, etc. ... the overall health of mlb as an entity is really robust, isn't it?
are writers and other observers unhappy with the quality of play? what?
what got them so worked up about steroids when it can't possibly be the sole reason for the surge in offense in the last 20 yrs., if that is in fact what offends the media's sense of order? when there's so much conflicting evidence about steroids' efficacy? when nobody can quantify what effect those peds have had? is it the uncertainty itself?
   22. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: August 05, 2009 at 09:06 PM (#3281642)
I'm not just basing it on here or basing it on their stance on steroids or the DH. A lot of the sports columnists turn into real "Inside Baseball" guys that only like talking about personalities and trades and the business end (BTF suffers from this on occasion). I've heard plenty of talking heads and columnists say they don't really care for watching a midseason game outside the big markets.

Well, I usually stick to Yankees or Red Sox games during the regular season myself, with an occasional dabble in the Rays or the Phillies or the Pujolses. Most fans tend to stick to their favorite team, and don't go out of their way to watch the Royals or the Orioles or the Diamondbacks and the Rockies, unless they live in one of those four metro areas. I don't see that as evidence that they "hate baseball," only that they find some teams more interesting than others.

I don't disagree that there's a fair number of sports media types who don't seem to enjoy sports in general, and baseball in particular. But I don't think that they represent a significant number, and in many cases I think all it means is that they know that their ratings depend on controversy.

And in some cases, it may only reflect their audience. If I can indulge in a generalization of my own, I doubt if more than 10% of the sports radio listenership in Washington has the remotest interest in baseball, as evidenced by the paltry number of hours spent on the subject, as opposed to the first week of Redskins training camp---and as opposed to Redskins talk from February to June, for that matter. Like it or not, in many markets, this seems to be the rule rather than the exception.
   23. Steve Treder Posted: August 05, 2009 at 09:13 PM (#3281650)
the tone of almost any commentator seems to be 'baseball is in a crisis', which is funny when you think about how many people still go to games, how much fan interest is out there, etc. ... the overall health of mlb as an entity is really robust, isn't it?
are writers and other observers unhappy with the quality of play? what?
what got them so worked up about steroids when it can't possibly be the sole reason for the surge in offense in the last 20 yrs., if that is in fact what offends the media's sense of order?


I think it's much simpler than that. I think you're giving commentators too much credit for being sincere, and not enough for being shrewd.

"Crisis" sells, health doesn't. Controversy sells, calm doesn't. All (many if not most) commentators are attempting to do is drum up a story, whether one genuinely exists or not, and most importantly, drum up attention to themselves, for reasons of pure, old-fashioned self-interest.
   24. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: August 05, 2009 at 09:21 PM (#3281655)
I return to the Ty Cobb Question. If Ty Cobb was up for election to the HoF, would he get in nowadays?


I don't know. Could a billionaire who's wealth came primarily from the labor of human slaves be elected President today?
   25. Mark Armour Posted: August 05, 2009 at 09:27 PM (#3281662)
The solution to this problem is for all of us to stop caring so much about (a) who is in the Hall of Fame, and (b) arguments about who-was-better-than-whom. I know--good luck with that.

The Pete Rose story (all of it) is fascinating, and he had a lot of good days mixed in with his bad days. If I had a few years to kill, I'd write a book which would satisfy neither the lovers nor the haters. Roger Clemens, Jim Rice, Joe Jackson, Ty Cobb, Dale Murphy--their stories are so much more interesting than how they are valued or whether they are in the Hall of Fame.

If baseball did not have a Hall of Fame, people would hardly write about steroids, or read about it. These scandals could be nuances to a more complicated story, rather than an excuse to vote yes or no.
   26. Der Komminsk-sar Posted: August 05, 2009 at 09:32 PM (#3281666)
While i'm not sure how I'd categorize it, I think there's a real phenomenon that
The media in general seems to just hate actually existing baseball

and
I've heard plenty of talking heads and columnists say they don't really care for watching a midseason game outside the big markets.

are trying to get at. Reasons for it include (but are not limited to):

* there's a game every ####in' day - it wears on those who cover it.
* baseball (and those who cover it) have invested more heavily in nostalgia than you see with the other major sports - therefore, change (whatever its nature) is more likely to breed controversy (which, indeed sells).
* the more those who cover the sport write "baseball is in trouble" screeds, the more they'll come to believe it, whether that was their original intention or not.

I'd particularly emphasize the first and third points...
   27. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: August 05, 2009 at 11:03 PM (#3281762)
The Pete Rose story (all of it) is fascinating, and he had a lot of good days mixed in with his bad days. If I had a few years to kill, I'd write a book which would satisfy neither the lovers nor the haters. Roger Clemens, Jim Rice, Joe Jackson, Ty Cobb, Dale Murphy--their stories are so much more interesting than how they are valued or whether they are in the Hall of Fame.

Good points all. Too bad you and Selena Roberts can't do some time-swapping.

If baseball did not have a Hall of Fame, people would hardly write about steroids, or read about it. These scandals could be nuances to a more complicated story, rather than an excuse to vote yes or no.

That's probably true, though the problem is that other than the Hall of Fame vote, what other concrete (i.e quantitative) evidence are we going to have about what the game thinks about steroids? Not that these votes are the only means of measurement, but there's a statistical quality to them that's more directly aimed at the actual juicers themselves, as opposed to other measurements that are harder to relate with any precision to an attitude towards steroids.

Nevertheless, that doesn't detract from your point that there's a lot more to be said about Barry Bonds and Pete Rose other than that one took steroids and the other bet on baseball. Just like there's a lot more to be said about Bill Clinton beyond the fact that he seemingly had an addiction to overweight women.
   28. Swedish Chef Posted: August 05, 2009 at 11:09 PM (#3281770)
If baseball did not have a Hall of Fame, people would hardly write about steroids, or read about it. These scandals could be nuances to a more complicated story, rather than an excuse to vote yes or no.

That's not true, steroid and post-steroid doping has been and is a big sensational story in many international HoF-less sports, and it has been going on for some 30 years now.
   29. Steve Treder Posted: August 05, 2009 at 11:28 PM (#3281806)
That's not true, steroid and post-steroid doping has been and is a big sensational story in many international HoF-less sports, and it has been going on for some 30 years now.

Yeah, that's my sense. It takes a uniquely HOF-centric form in baseball, but the issue is no less (indeed, probably quite a bit more) contentious and pervasive in sports such as bicycling, swimming, and track & field.
   30. Mark Armour Posted: August 05, 2009 at 11:35 PM (#3281814)
That's probably true, though the problem is that other than the Hall of Fame vote, what other concrete (i.e quantitative) evidence are we going to have about what the game thinks about steroids? Not that these votes are the only means of measurement, but there's a statistical quality to them that's more directly aimed at the actual juicers themselves, as opposed to other measurements that are harder to relate with any precision to an attitude towards steroids.


Here's the thing. I am willing to read an article about Barry Bonds using steroids, whether it be a true fact-based history or even a commentary on what the writer thinks about it. What I despise, however, is someone who writes about what 500 baseball writer/voters ought to think about the matter. Who gives a ####? Tell me what you think.

Hall of Fame arguments are nonsense in so many ways. Its like we need some other people, people we often don't like or respect, to agree with us in order to validate our opinions. Why do this?
   31. Swedish Chef Posted: August 05, 2009 at 11:39 PM (#3281824)
swimming

He he, the swimming authorities has really bothced up the whole hi-tech neopren swimsuit affair.

They are going to be outlawed next year, but the records set with them will still stand, so goodbye to new swimming records (or at least until genetic engineers breed a new race of duckmen).
   32. Johnny Chimpo Posted: August 06, 2009 at 12:19 AM (#3281887)
Nonsense, we merely need to revert to our aquatic ancestors...

-Elaine Morgan
   33. AROM Posted: August 06, 2009 at 01:18 AM (#3281971)
I don't know. Could a billionaire who's wealth came primarily from the labor of human slaves be elected President today?


Moot point, since I don't think such an animal exists. With inflation and higher inheritance taxes in past years, any descendant of wealthy slave-owners would have had to have the vast majority of his/her wealth come from other sources.
   34. rr Posted: August 06, 2009 at 02:20 AM (#3282022)
Just like there's a lot more to be said about Bill Clinton beyond the fact that he seemingly had an addiction to overweight women.


I don't know if the current crop is overweight, but Wild Bill and women are not things I would talk about together in the past tense.
   35. Gaelan Posted: August 06, 2009 at 02:24 AM (#3282025)

Even if you believe this, an interesting take is that, as ballplayers age, they gain experience that makes them better players, along with some muscle mass over time, but have their reflexes and recovery ability slow, which cuts against them, with age 27 or 28 being the cross-over point where the aging process overpowers the gain in experience.

But if you could stop or slow the aging process, while continuing to gain muscle mass and experience at the same time . . . .


I've written these exact words here more than once. Now Srul likes to point out how good I am at being wrong so I guess it's a pretty bad idea.
   36. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: August 06, 2009 at 02:42 AM (#3282028)
The problem with the Ty Cobb question is it would be impossible for Cobb to have the same childhood and early life experiences. Today, he wouldn't have been born in the near post-Civil War South, his mother wouldn't have been 14 or whatever when she had him, he wouldn't have been sent off with $12 checks from his father, and discouraged from entering such a lowly profession, and get sent 'up north' to play with those ###### lovers. At worst, he'd be a guy who would make some inappropriate comments, perhaps deck a guy on the field, and at worst, drop an N bomb. A cranky, bigoted, white hot tempered Albert Belle-type guy with inner circle numbers would have no problem getting in to the HOF.
   37. Steve Treder Posted: August 06, 2009 at 03:34 AM (#3282041)
The problem with the Ty Cobb question is it would be impossible for Cobb to have the same childhood and early life experiences. Today, he wouldn't have been born in the near post-Civil War South, his mother wouldn't have been 14 or whatever when she had him, he wouldn't have been sent off with $12 checks from his father, and discouraged from entering such a lowly profession, and get sent 'up north' to play with those ###### lovers. At worst, he'd be a guy who would make some inappropriate comments, perhaps deck a guy on the field, and at worst, drop an N bomb. A cranky, bigoted, white hot tempered Albert Belle-type guy with inner circle numbers would have no problem getting in to the HOF.

You know, that's just exactly how I would put it.
   38. Walt Davis Posted: August 06, 2009 at 09:01 AM (#3282119)
Yeah, that's my sense. It takes a uniquely HOF-centric form in baseball, but the issue is no less (indeed, probably quite a bit more) contentious and pervasive in sports such as bicycling, swimming, and track & field.

Yeah, but nobody in America cares about those sports.

It is the HoF and the "record books" which drives the baseball anti-steroid hysteria. (That does not say that all anti-steroid stances are hysteria) Without that, with the testing program in place, steroids wouldn't bring any more attention than positive tests do in the NFL or NBA. Sure, Manny (a big player) testing positive would draw lots of attention, but a lot more of it would have been "how will the Dodgers survive without Manny for 50 games" and a lot less moralizing and probably almost none of the "everybody should despise Manny upon his return" articles.
   39. God Posted: August 06, 2009 at 10:30 AM (#3282122)
A cranky, bigoted, white hot tempered Albert Belle-type guy

So, Will Clark.
   40. fra paolo Posted: August 06, 2009 at 12:25 PM (#3282144)
The problem with the Ty Cobb question is it would be impossible for Cobb to have the same childhood and early life experiences.

I brought up the Ty Cobb Question not to suggest that a 'Toby Cobb' would have difficulty nowadays, but to critique James' argument that, in the end, steroids won't count because we'll all be doing 'Fountain of Youth' drugs.

James' is basically arguing that standards relax over time. But he's wrong, standards change. I don't think Ty Cobb would get elected easily today if for some reason he were not yet in the Hall of Fame. His violence and racism is no longer tolerable.

The general consensus here is that the numbers argument, if strong enough, outweighs all others. I'm not sure it's ever really been tested because the writers have usually kept the foibles of HoFers hidden. Now we have a group where they didn't, and even attacked the habit and the users in question. It may be new territory. We won't completely know until we get there.

James may be right about the drugs. I'm too Europeanized to know whether injecting stuff with known side-effects will be adopted as readily here as were the genetically modified crops. The latter were greeted with a lot of resistance in Europe. But I don't think his optimism (if you think the 'Roiders are HoFers) or pessimism (if you side with the Hysteroiders) is by any means as inevitable as he pretends.

Which is why I'm unhappy with him pretending he's not taking a side. Because he does. I listened to the interview last night, and I wasn't impressed with him articulating what he'd written. He wants to have it both ways, playing an anti-steroids card with a 'well, it will make no difference what I think' one. Which side is he on? People aren't really interested in the truth, Bill, as you noted all those years ago in the 1988 Abstract. In fact, he's saying 'take the numbers as they are, steroids or none'. That's fine, he's a thoughtful guy, and it's a reasoned argument. But he shouldn't throw in all that regret about people needing to use drugs to compete. It masks the reality of his stand.

If he thinks competitive drug use in sport is wrong, he should argue that the present testing regime makes things clear, and all we have to do is decide what size discount to apply to numbers compiled in the Steroid Era* for the purpose of HoF enshrinement.

* I define the Steroid Era as the years when we don't have testing, not the years when we have a clear policy and a testing regime but still suffer steroid use.
   41. bunyon Posted: August 06, 2009 at 12:42 PM (#3282148)
I don't know if the current crop is overweight, but Wild Bill and women are not things I would talk about together in the past tense.

It looks to me like he's developed an Asian fetish.
   42. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: August 06, 2009 at 01:03 PM (#3282162)
I'm not just basing it on here or basing it on their stance on steroids or the DH. A lot of the sports columnists turn into real "Inside Baseball" guys that only like talking about personalities and trades and the business end (BTF suffers from this on occasion). I've heard plenty of talking heads and columnists say they don't really care for watching a midseason game outside the big markets.

That effectively describes ... me. I sure don't hate baseball. (**)

(**) My formative years with the game were spent in the still relatively recent era in which you could only see a handful of games outside your home market. There's a lot more to the game, and enjoying it, than sitting in front of your TV set and watching D'Backs/Rockies play between the Viagra ads at midnight EST.
   43. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: August 06, 2009 at 01:07 PM (#3282164)
   44. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: August 06, 2009 at 01:20 PM (#3282168)
The general consensus here is that the numbers argument, if strong enough, outweighs all others. I'm not sure it's ever really been tested because the writers have usually kept the foibles of HoFers hidden. Now we have a group where they didn't, and even attacked the habit and the users in question.

And why is that? Because the other foibles didn't assault the statistical record of the game that the Hall of Fame voters depend on to make wise decisions, and that the accomplished alumni of the game and the wider baseball community treasures.(**) This is why the character flaws of steroid users are different in kind than character (***) flaws that have nothing to do with baseball.

(**) You used an active verb, "kept [them] hidden," where a more passive one is appropriate.

(***) "Character" used here in the same sense as in the Hall of Fame guidelines.
   45. bunyon Posted: August 06, 2009 at 01:28 PM (#3282174)
I phrased my comment badly. I don't think someone who doesn't go out of their way to see a mid-August game between Seattle and Oakland hates baseball. But anyone who will talk about a mid-August game between non-contenders as being "boring" or "meaningless" probably does. What they like is drama and pop culture. Lots of people come out of the woodwork in October. And I'm fine with that - no one has to like baseball and any sport needs casual observers who aren't really fans to watch in order to thrive. But I think in an ideal world, someone who devotes their professional lives to a subject (sports) should, ideally, like it and, less ideally, not hate it or be bored by it.
   46. Cyril Morong Posted: August 06, 2009 at 03:44 PM (#3282416)
bjhanke wrote:

"Since the two main accusations, Mc Gwire and Bonds, rest on the assumption that steroids allowing the players to perform BETTER than they did in their youths (which I believe I can pretty much prove is NOT the case for the big feature players such as Mc and B), not just recapture that time, Bill has to keep his particular viewpoint narrowly applied where it is obvious, or he will get hammered."

I think Bonds definitely did perform better in his late 30s than he did in his youth. His 4 best years were from 2001-2004 and he began 2001 at age 36, turning 37 before the season ended. The numbers below show what % above the league average Bonds' SLG was at each age.

21 5.6%
22 17.4%
23 30.5%
24 12.6%
25 42.3%
26 33.1%
27 63.6%
28 64.0%
29 50.7%
30 37.0%
31 45.7%
32 37.8%
33 43.5%
34 39.0%
35 54.1%
36 96.2%
37 88.9%
38 73.9%
39 85.8%

His 4 best years are clearly from 36-39 and he played in a park where it was hard for lefties to hit HRs (except for him it seems). I have written some articles on this and Bonds may have aged better than anyone else in baseball history, at least if you look at his late 30s. I don't think anyone else ever had their 4 best seasons when they were 36-39.

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