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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Eric Knott: Surviving Professional Baseball in the Steroid Era

At Hardball Talk, Calcaterra said of this B-Pro guest piece by former journeyman pitcher Eric Knott:

We should spill way less ink about who we think “the real Home Run King” is — as if that matters — and think way harder about those frequent minor league suspensions and what they mean to the people who are faced with the choice to take dangerous drugs or wind up out of baseball.

Against that backdrop is this excellent column from Eric Knott. Knott pitched 11 years in the minors and 24 games in the majors. He is the quintessential borderline guy who, if he had an extra couple of miles per hour on his heater, may have stuck.  But he didn’t get those miles per hour, and he didn’t try PEDs in an effort to do so.

Knott gives a fascinating, clear-eyed and detailed rundown of the environment in baseball during the height of the Steroid Era, as well as what factored into his decisions about whether to use.

It’s an absolute must-read. There’s more useful information in this piece than anything that can be found in the Mitchell Report or the latest bombastic anti-PEDs screen from Johnny Sportswriter.

I concur - read it.

Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: February 26, 2013 at 11:07 PM | 114 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: diamondbacks, expos, minor leagues, peds, writing worth reading

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   1. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: February 27, 2013 at 10:14 AM (#4376900)
Apparently
[blockquote] 
doesn't work in submissions?

Anyway, I normally stay out of PED stuff, but thought this was good.
   2. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 27, 2013 at 10:19 AM (#4376903)
This is a pretty great piece.

Somehow I got depressed reading it because all I could think was "If I submit this to BTF, people will react by making fun of him and calling him a moron for ethically distinguishing amphetamines and steroids, and all the discussion will be about that instead of any of the interesting parts".

Read it anyway!
   3. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: February 27, 2013 at 10:29 AM (#4376908)
I’d felt like I was finally a legitimate member of and contributor to a major-league team, but I never made it back. That was my last big-league moment. I later received a letter from Bud Selig’s office expressing their regret that they were unable to bring me and some others back up when the rosters expanded due to the economic hardship of running the Expos. Terrmell Sledge hit 30 home runs that year in Edmonton and didn’t get called up. It wasn’t fair. Big-league teams weren’t supposed to operate like that, but the Expos did. I still have that letter somewhere in my papers and mementos from my career. I should burn it.

This is really a shame.
   4. John Northey Posted: February 27, 2013 at 10:30 AM (#4376911)
While I don't see a big difference between the two drugs (both are against the rules and clearly cheating if you feel you shouldn't be talking about it with ownership) I can understand why players felt more open with amphetamines via this story. Clearly greenies were very open but steroids, while talked about, were viewed as a higher level of cheating at least by players and trainers.

As to the story itself, it adds another ugly footnote to the Expos saga and more dirt on Selig's legacy. I remember those Expos final push pennant races - dreaming of seeing them get a final playoff appearance just before MLB pulls the plug just to have MLB say 'screw you' to the team and not let them have any September call-ups which cost players like Knott their best shot at a major league career. Going over Knott's stats I see a guy who only had a good K rate in the Pioneer league at age 22 (very old for that league) thus he never had much of a margin of error. Agreed with him that his biggest error was not signing with the Yankees when he had a shot at a month in AAA after being in the Mexican League - tired or not you gotta grab those chances - but it fits with the type who would've refused any steroids even when seeing the effects on players around him, and on how he resisted greenies at first. The guys who tend to make it will do anything to make it and few are honest about it afterwards - I really appreciate the honesty from Mike Schmidt that he probably would've used steroids had it been as prevalent in his era as in the late 90's, and get disgusted by guys like Reggie Jackson who moralize about it but I'd bet strongly would've used had their careers been in the late 90's as their ego's wouldn't have let them fall behind (ala why Bonds jumped in with both feet post-McGwire/Sosa).
   5. AROM Posted: February 27, 2013 at 10:49 AM (#4376924)
Interesting bit about the relative advantages to pitchers and hitters.

In the short term, I think steroid use helped pitchers and hitters equally. However, I think pitchers broke down and were injured more frequently as a result of steroid use. The small ligaments and tendons in the elbow and shoulder couldn't handle the rapid increase in strength in the muscles that surrounded those areas.


I don't know if it's true but it sounds reasonable.
   6. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 27, 2013 at 10:56 AM (#4376926)
Apparently
blockquote
doesn't work in submissions?


You need < instead of [
   7. Russ Posted: February 27, 2013 at 11:21 AM (#4376941)
Awesome article.
   8. SoSH U at work Posted: February 27, 2013 at 11:33 AM (#4376947)
His thoughts on PEDs (particularly the clubhouse distinction between the two) are totally consistent with the ones shared by one of my closest friends in high school, who spent a couple seasons pitching in the minors in 89-90.

I was ejected from a Dominican Winter League game for mother-####### an umpire

I liked that phrase. I wonder if that's the common parlance.
   9. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: February 27, 2013 at 11:44 AM (#4376956)
I was ejected from a Dominican Winter League game for mother-####### an umpire

I thought cocksucker was the magic word
   10. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: February 27, 2013 at 11:57 AM (#4376962)
from TFA:
Getting “beaned up” was something that had been going on since the pills were introduced to the game. I heard that Latin players brought them over to the States at some point, and that that’s when their use took off. Latin players were usually the go-to guys to obtain them, just because they were not available in the United States


has anyone else heard THAT before? I certainly never have. I mean, Bouton asked, in 1969, "how fabulous are greenies?" He implied they had been around for years by then
   11. bjhanke Posted: February 27, 2013 at 12:20 PM (#4376978)
I took amphetamines for a decade as a teenager, before the DEA happened, and dexedrine diet pills became controlled substances. The player/writer's description of what happened when he took greenies is EXACTLY what happened to me, although I was just playing neighborhood pickup baseball, so the athletic context is wildly different. I don't know what the heck Adipex is. It sounds like either amphetamines mixed with too much caffeine, or maybe something like Angel Dust. Actually, the effects he describes are what I remember happening, over months, to amphetamine addicts - speedfreaks, we called them. The shaking, the inability to eat even if you wanted to - that took a couple of years to get to on greenies, even taking way-too-large doses every day. How Adipex does that on the first dose, I don't know.

I've never taken any steroids unless you count creatine or andro, so I'm not qualified to comment. But the description of greenies, I remember that. For me, the big effect was on weight. When dexedrine was made illegal, I gained about 60 pounds in 6 months, which was exactly what I was taking the dexedrine to avoid. I burned much more energy and had no appetite, so I ate fewer calories. My family is given to getting fat. Greenies kept me from that for a decade, like nothing else ever has. - Brock Hanke
   12. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: February 27, 2013 at 12:35 PM (#4376991)
I don't know what the heck Adipex is

phentermine--one of the 2 ingredients in the now banned "fen-phen". Phentermine is still prescribed but only for gross obesity, and it is recommended that it only be taken for a month or so, along with improvements in diet & excercise
   13. valuearbitrageur Posted: February 27, 2013 at 12:50 PM (#4377005)
Good read. He speculates too much about the effects of steroids on his competitors careers, but that's how he feels so I'm not going to drag the thread down by arguing with how valid his perception likely is.

For anyone with the time, he outs a few anonymous team-mates with enough detail that a little research can connect the dots on who he was talking about. Not earth shattering stuff, more just interested in knowing given he was on a team I watched at the time. Without doing a lick of research I'm going to tag Sean Burroughs is the guy who couldn't take off his shirt in the clubhouse cause of man-titties.

Take that Murray Chass!
   14. JJ1986 Posted: February 27, 2013 at 01:00 PM (#4377013)
He never played with Burroughs (AFAICT). The ass chunk guy might be Junior Spivey.
   15. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 27, 2013 at 01:11 PM (#4377023)
Somehow I got depressed reading it because all I could think was "If I submit this to BTF, people will react by making fun of him and calling him a moron for ethically distinguishing amphetamines and steroids, and all the discussion will be about that instead of any of the interesting parts".

Now what would possibly ever lead you to believe that?
   16. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 27, 2013 at 01:58 PM (#4377057)
This is a great article on many levels. Completely open and non-judgmental, and with an eye for detail that's the mark of a good reporter. Knott may not have the literary skills of a Bill Bradley or Jim Brosnan, or Jim Bouton / Leonard Schecter, but it's as good and balanced a contribution to the steroids question as we're likely to see from the inside of a professional baseball clubhouse.

On the "performance enhancement" effect of greenies:

Before I start looking back at what I observed and how I think steroids changed the game back then, I must admit that I used PEDs from time to time myself. I popped greenies occasionally before a start or a game. I also took Adipex, a prescription diet drug that I learned from my current personal physician is extremely powerful and a controlled substance. So I wasn’t perfect. Far from it. However, the clubhouse culture then was different. The training staffs, coaches, and veteran players I tried to pick up the game from regarded these drugs as a normal, accepted as part of baseball. Their use was sometimes encouraged and always accepted throughout baseball. They were there to help you get through the rigors of the long, grueling season.

However, the decision about whether to use or not to use steroids was a moral one, in my opinion...

A minor-league baseball season is a grueling test of endurance. You play 140 games in about 155 days. Off days are rare. The travel sucks, even if you fly (which happens mostly in Double-A and Triple-A). Long bus rides and 6 AM flights are the norm. A game called because of rain before you even get to the yard is a gift from God.

The average fan comes to the ballpark for a 7 PM game and doesn’t realize that the players have been there since 1:30-2:00 in the afternoon putting in the work necessary to get better and advance up the ladder. The visiting team may have flown in that morning after playing a game the night before, or arrived in town after a 10-hour bus ride and gotten into their hotel beds at 7 AM. The starting pitcher might have gotten four hours of decent sleep and spent the rest of the travel time in the middle seat of a crowded flight or crammed into a bus seat that isn’t big enough for the average professional baseball player. All of these factors make it easy for a player not to feel like he’s in the optimal position to perform at his best, and that’s why players sometimes look for a little assistance. This was where a “greenie” could help....

It might seem inconsistent that I had a moral objection to steroids but took greenies and Adipex often, but I never considering taking greenies cheating to gain an edge. I looked at it as a way to get through a long season and offset some of the fatigue that arose from traveling, working odd hours, and playing 20-plus days in a row. It seemed normal to me to take one, and no one was condemning it. My velocity didn’t increase, and I didn’t throw more innings or prevent fewer runs in games when I took one.


On the "performance enhancement" effect of steroids:

Everyone knows that steroids played a huge part in the game during the period when I played, if not well before. I was a witness to all of it at every level. Even though I never used and never seriously considered doing so at the time, I saw the effect it had on players who were. Steroids definitely enhanced performance. Pitchers were gaining velocity that they didn’t have and hitters with no pop started hitting balls out of the park with greater frequency. Players were gaining size at a rapid pace, and baseball was turning into a power game....

In the short term, I think steroid use helped pitchers and hitters equally. However, I think pitchers broke down and were injured more frequently as a result of steroid use. The small ligaments and tendons in the elbow and shoulder couldn't handle the rapid increase in strength in the muscles that surrounded those areas. For all players, the increased torque produced as a result of greater strength and faster muscles caused breakdowns in the core and back area. Many users didn’t know how to take steroids correctly and neglected to strengthen the areas that supported the major muscle groups....

Moral objections aside, players who used steroids proved they would do whatever it took to get to the big leagues, and I didn’t. I could have ordered them and learned how to use them just as easily. Maybe I would have jumped from 87-91 to 90-93. That would have been enough velocity to get the ball by hitters from the left side. Control was never an issue for me, and neither was keeping the ball on the ground and in the park. Would that extra velocity have gotten me more swings and misses, more time in the bigs, and therefore more career earnings? As I sit here and reflect on it frankly, I think the answer is probably yes.

But I couldn’t let myself do it. I was scared of the long-term effects, and so was my wife. I didn’t want my father to label me a cheater. My wife knew about and hated my greenie use, but I haven’t told my Dad. I won’t tell him now, either—he can find it on Google if he wants to look. I didn’t think of it at the time as a performance-enhancing drug or as cheating the game. I think I made the right choices. I think I left it all out on the field. But I’m not sure.


There's much more that doesn't related to PEDs, and those parts are equally interesting. Thanks to DerK for posting it, and it's nice to see that it wasn't behind a paywall. It's an article that deserves the widest possible distribution.
   17. JJ1986 Posted: February 27, 2013 at 02:03 PM (#4377062)
Now what would possibly ever lead you to believe that?


Maybe he guessed that someone would try to start an argument about the distinction.
   18. The Robby Hammock District (Dan Lee) Posted: February 27, 2013 at 02:05 PM (#4377065)
The ass chunk guy might be Junior Spivey.
I was thinking Durazo. Top ten in batting average once, hit .330 with power as a rookie.
   19. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 27, 2013 at 02:17 PM (#4377074)
Now what would possibly ever lead you to believe that?

Maybe he guessed that someone would try to start an argument about the distinction.


Now what would possibly ever lead you to believe that?

More seriously, the value of the article is that it's not written by a player who's on any moral crusade to condemn steroid users. It's written by a player who's both the fly on the wall and who also was faced every day with a conflict between his personal values and his possible career enhancement, and is willing to write about it openly. Combine that with the ability to write well, and the result isn't so much a unique perspective, as it is a perspective that hasn't been presented previously with this degree of skill to a broad audience. This isn't just another version of Goose Gossage yelling at a cloud.

What might be even more interesting would be to get Knott and Bob Tufts together for an unscripted and open ended discussion about the whole PED question, and the practical and moral dilemmas it presented to players in their precarious career positions. I say that because Bob has also written about PEDs here on BTF from a similar vantage point, and it'd be interesting to see how they'd interact.
   20. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: February 27, 2013 at 02:59 PM (#4377115)
But he didn’t get those miles per hour, and he didn’t try PEDs in an effort to do so.
Andy Pettitte didn't either. I know, because he said so.
   21. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 27, 2013 at 03:24 PM (#4377132)
Great post, David. I'd have expected no less.

And we know that you've never lied in court, because you've never been convicted of perjury.
   22. tfbg9 Posted: February 27, 2013 at 04:23 PM (#4377207)
I was thinking Durazo


Yeah, me too. Great great read, this FA. Highest recommend.

David, Andy? STFU? Thanks.
   23. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 27, 2013 at 04:59 PM (#4377243)
I got my first greenie from another starting pitcher who had obtained them from a Dominican veteran reliever on our team.


Martin Sanchez, come on down! (23-year-old Dominican in his third pro season, and the only Dominican pitcher on the team)
   24. alilisd Posted: February 27, 2013 at 05:07 PM (#4377246)
In the short term, I think steroid use helped pitchers and hitters equally. However, I think pitchers broke down and were injured more frequently as a result of steroid use. The small ligaments and tendons in the elbow and shoulder couldn't handle the rapid increase in strength in the muscles that surrounded those areas.


I don't know if it's true but it sounds reasonable.


Look at it more closely though. "The small ligaments and tendons" are supporting joint structures which are attached to "small" muscles. If it were reasonable, the "large" ligaments and tendons around other joints would be just as vulnerable because they are attached to relatively "large" muscles. Pitchers have always been prone to injuries of the elbow and shoulder. Why? Because it's a highly stressful motion repeated thousands of times per year, not because they use AAS.

That being said, anecdotally bodybulders have related issues with tendon tears (never heard of any issues with ligament tears) which they relate to AAS use in the same manner. The theory is the muscle grew and strengthened more rapidly than the tendon did and the greater contractile force of the muscle contributed to the tendon tear. Bodybuilders are engaged in a far different activity and train in a manner far different (and for that matter, use AAS in a manner FAR differently) than a baseball pitcher though. So even if their anecdotal evidence is valid, I don't know that there would be any carry over to baseball pitchers.
   25. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 27, 2013 at 05:26 PM (#4377267)
I saw a guy who was embarrassed to take off his shirt in the clubhouse because his breasts had begun to soften as a result of the estrogen that was included in some mixtures of steroids. He started out as a power-hitting prospect but never hit with the power people thought he would have. To his credit, he stuck around in the bigs as a backup and made a decent career for himself after the new policy took effect.


This is a tough one. The Bonds thing in the prior paragraph probably slots it in for 2002 or 2003. The closest fit among Knott's teammates in those years is probably David Dellucci, but he was already an established ML player at that point, only playing at AAA for a couple of games as part of a rehab assignment. Could also be Terrmel Sledge - I don't think he was touted as a power prospect by scouts, but he did hit for good power in 2003, which might have shaped Knott's perceptions, he did spend a few seasons in the majors as a backup, and he was listed in the Mitchell Report for steroid use. Alex Cintron wasn't a power prospect, Rod Barajas and Lyle Overbay were starters instead of backups, and Andy Green didn't exactly look built (and was a relatively unheralded 24th-round pick, to boot, instead of a traditional "prospect").
   26. JJ1986 Posted: February 27, 2013 at 05:30 PM (#4377268)
I thought maybe Antonio Perez. Also not really a power prospect, but he was a top prospect who failed. I think if it was Sledge he would have mentioned something about Japan.
   27. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 27, 2013 at 05:33 PM (#4377272)
I have a friend who played minor-league baseball for seven seasons before he made it. He’s in the Mitchell report. Pitched full seasons in the majors in 2003 and 2004. He’s a tremendous athlete with or without steroids, and he put up numbers in Triple-A and elsewhere after testing took place. He never talked about steroids, and he was such a good athlete beforehand that you couldn’t tell if he was using or not. I’m not sure what he was taking when I played with him, if anything—I first heard of his use in the Mitchell Report, like everyone else. He earned over two years of service time and banked over $700,000 in those two seasons.


The description fits Steve Randolph, who played alongside Knott for several seasons as both came up through the minors.
   28. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 27, 2013 at 05:44 PM (#4377278)
I thought maybe Antonio Perez. Also not really a power prospect, but he was a top prospect who failed.


That could work, though it means pushing the timeline back to 2004.
   29. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 27, 2013 at 05:48 PM (#4377282)
None of these deductive revelations are as shocking as what we learned four in 2009 about Hector Carrasco's car insurance.
   30. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 27, 2013 at 05:51 PM (#4377284)
I played with a player who cried in the clubhouse after being part of blowing a nine-run lead late in a game. The guy was soft. He was more dedicated to pulling chicks after the game than getting hitters out, and he was traded because the organization didn’t like that some of its young prospects were hanging out too much with him after games. When he took steroids, his performance changed, but so did his confidence and demeanor. He was one of the players who wasn’t afraid to let everyone know what he was doing. He was proud of how he’d changed. He went from being someone who couldn’t handle pressure to a key contributor for a time, before he was injured and never got his velocity back.


I initially thought he was talking about this game, in which the Reds blew a nine-run lead against the Brewers. That game has two of Knott's former teammates in it - Spivey and Overbay. Spivey contributed to the lead-blowing by making two errors. The reference to velocity makes it sound like he's talking about a pitcher, though...
   31. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 27, 2013 at 06:01 PM (#4377287)
Tampa blew a nine-run lead in this game, but as near as I can tell none of their pitchers were ever on the same team as Knott.
   32. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: February 27, 2013 at 06:03 PM (#4377289)
I thought he was referring to a minor league game in that paragraph.

I agree with everyone, btw, this is a fantastic read.
   33. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 27, 2013 at 06:09 PM (#4377292)
I thought he was referring to a minor league game in that paragraph.


Probably - I'm still working through the research.
   34. JJ1986 Posted: February 27, 2013 at 06:50 PM (#4377303)
This game was not actually a 9-run lead, but Knott was on the team.
   35. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 27, 2013 at 07:08 PM (#4377314)
I'm waiting with baited breath to see how many Primates are going to accuse Knott of being "dishonest" for not "admitting" that steroids and amps are equivalent PEDs. But sometimes silence speaks louder than words.
   36. Lars6788 Posted: February 27, 2013 at 09:00 PM (#4377350)
I was looking at Spivey's BBRef page when Knott was talking about the guy who was a little boastful.

The power hitting prospect that was well endowed - I would guess that would be Jack Cust...he sort of bounced around before having some good years in the Major Leagues.
   37. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 27, 2013 at 09:47 PM (#4377365)
I'm waiting with baited breath to see how many Primates are going to accuse Knott of being "dishonest" for not "admitting" that steroids and amps are equivalent PEDs. But sometimes silence speaks louder than words.


I don't think it's dishonest, per se, but it certainly is convenient that he decided that the PEDs he took were OK (even if he's ashamed that his father might find out he took them).
   38. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 27, 2013 at 09:49 PM (#4377366)
The power hitting prospect that was well endowed - I would guess that would be Jack Cust...he sort of bounced around before having some good years in the Major Leagues.


Knott said that guy never hit for the power that people expected, though, and Cust had pretty good power.
   39. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 27, 2013 at 10:06 PM (#4377376)
I'm waiting with baited breath to see how many Primates are going to accuse Knott of being "dishonest" for not "admitting" that steroids and amps are equivalent PEDs. But sometimes silence speaks louder than words.

I don't think it's dishonest, per se, but it certainly is convenient that he decided that the PEDs he took were OK (even if he's ashamed that his father might find out he took them).


Knott gave several strong reasons for distinguishing "the PEDs he took" from those he didn't. To call that merely "convenient" is effectively to dismiss his reasoning as being little more than a rationalization of his own behavior, which in turn is in so many words accusing him of being dishonest.

If you have any specific reason other than a generic suspicion of all ballplayers to doubt the motivation behind Knott's reasoning, you should say so directly, rather than ducking behind weasel words like "convenient". The fact that he never told his father about his amp use may simply reflect the distance between his experience of the culture of the baseball clubhouse and the different experiences and outlook of his father. I don't see that it's much different from the offspring of a strict Catholic not owning up to the fact that he or she has been sleeping around before getting married. It's just one of those things that can never been explained without opening up a whole can of intergenerational worms.
   40. JJ1986 Posted: February 27, 2013 at 10:36 PM (#4377390)
I played with a player who cried in the clubhouse after being part of blowing a nine-run lead late in a game. The guy was soft. He was more dedicated to pulling chicks after the game than getting hitters out, and he was traded because the organization didn’t like that some of its young prospects were hanging out too much with him after games. When he took steroids, his performance changed, but so did his confidence and demeanor. He was one of the players who wasn’t afraid to let everyone know what he was doing. He was proud of how he’d changed. He went from being someone who couldn’t handle pressure to a key contributor for a time, before he was injured and never got his velocity back


I wonder if this was Duaner Sanchez. He was not much of a prospect, but went on to have a few really good seasons out of the bullpen before injury wrecked his career. He was traded away while on a team with Knott.

I'm not sure where to find old Sidewinders results. The Aces site doesn't have them.
   41. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: February 27, 2013 at 10:51 PM (#4377397)
If we could get a couple dozen more articles like this one, including some from steroid users, we might finally be able to have a real conversation about the issue.
   42. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 27, 2013 at 11:07 PM (#4377403)
If we could get a couple dozen more articles like this one, including some from steroid users, we might finally be able to have a real conversation about the issue.

I totally agree, which was why I was hoping that Bob Tufts might see the article and add his two cents worth. For an issue that's been the subject of more agonizing and debate than practically anything this side of the various strikes, it's sad how seldom the conversation here gets much beyond dead end exchanges about Babe Ruth's goat testicles habit and speculations about cap size, not to mention the immortal subject of Mike Piazza's bacne. AFAIC this article is worth every one of Repoz's pinata posts put together, and it'd be great to see ESPN or some other network use it as a springboard to delve into the serious ethical points that it raises. My feeling is that there are a lot of people who are superficially on both "sides" of this issue, but whose views are wholly unrepresented by the snarkers and the other assorted imbeciles on both "sides" who seem to have dominated the conversation up to now.
   43. dr. scott Posted: February 27, 2013 at 11:13 PM (#4377407)
Knott gave several strong reasons for distinguishing "the PEDs he took" from those he didn't. To call that merely "convenient" is effectively to dismiss his reasoning as being little more than a rationalization of his own behavior, which in turn is in so many words accusing him of being dishonest.


Well he talks extensively about why he thought it was OK at the time. He doesn't really comment on what his current feelings are. If they have changed, or he still feels the same way. At no point does he say, this is what I and many others thought at the time, and I still believe it. Could be he does not want to say he thinks illegal supplements are still OK, or it his opinion may be evolving and he does not want to sat so for other reasons. My guess is he still feels the same, but may be more conflicted about it than he was then. Who knows though.
   44. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 28, 2013 at 12:08 AM (#4377439)
Knott's opinions on PEDs may eventually evolve in either direction, but from this article I don't see any indication that he's changed his overall opinion on them. He clearly distinguished / distinguishes amps from steroids both then and now, but he also makes the point of not condemning those who used steroids, again both then and now. He speculates about what he might have been able to accomplish with a more level playing field, but he also acknowledges that he never had more than marginal Major League talent, and that questions of morality / ethics aside, the players whose steroid-aided performance got them into the Majors still had to produce on the field, and he respects them for that in spite of his misgivings about their steroid use.
   45. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: February 28, 2013 at 02:19 AM (#4377472)
The equivalency between amphetamines and steroids has always been finite, and centers on the act-- mostly about the covertness in taking an illegal drug, and the ethical intent of taking them at all.

"Yes, we lied to the public, and we perjured ourselves in the courts, but it was general knowledge in the clubhouse" vs. "yes, we lied to the public, and we perjured ourselves in the courts, but it wasn't discussed that much in the clubhouse." Anyone who sees wide open moral or legal space between those two statements has got more talented eyes than me.
   46. Zach Posted: February 28, 2013 at 07:48 AM (#4377484)
The equivalency between amphetamines and steroids has always been finite, and centers on the act-- mostly about the covertness in taking an illegal drug, and the ethical intent of taking them at all.

I would say that the equivalency is weak, and relies on looseness in the definition of "Performance Enhancing." If you set some minimum threshold of enhancement for a drug to meet before it became an ethical concern (which everybody does), you could with perfect consistency oppose steroids and be indifferent to greenies.
   47. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 28, 2013 at 08:52 AM (#4377491)
The equivalency between amphetamines and steroids has always been finite, and centers on the act-- mostly about the covertness in taking an illegal drug, and the ethical intent of taking them at all.

That completely omits the distinctions that Knott draws between them, as I copied in #16 above.

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

I would say that the equivalency is weak, and relies on looseness in the definition of "Performance Enhancing." If you set some minimum threshold of enhancement for a drug to meet before it became an ethical concern (which everybody does), you could with perfect consistency oppose steroids and be indifferent to greenies.

And if you define "performance enhancing" in the almost comical ways that have been attempted in previous threads, you can put on your best straight face and say that steroids are no different than Tommy John surgery or bootleg gin.

Part of the problem is that great numbers (though not everyone---let's be clear about that) on both "sides" of this issue have seen either steroids themselves or the backlash against them as a not-so-covert attack on their favorite players. The Chasses see steroids as an attack on Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson, and many here see any sort of ethical questions surrounding steroids as nothing but a hypocritical attack on many of the stars of the 1990's, conducted by people who sleep cuddled up to a stuffed Roger Maris teddy bear. It's easy for the Chasses to ignore the genuine ethical dilemmas that confronted players such as Knott, but never faced Aaron and Robinson. And it's easy to come up with a thousand one liners to dismiss the issue that Knott poses and see him essentially as a sucker for not buying into the steroids program.

Yes, we all know that the reputations of ballplayer heroes of all generations are largely the product of media hype, and that the media are by their nature almost compelled to create mythical heroes and cartoon villains. They do it for actors and they do it for CEOs, and why should ballplayers be any different? Anyone with a computer and time on their hands can find many hundreds of stupid stories written in 1998 that glorified the same set of players that were being vilified just a few short years later, but again, how does that sort of easy mockery address the ethical points that Knott had to deal with? In spite of all the rhetoric, this was never a contest between angelic 1960's stars and asterisked 1990's stars. It was about the daily contests that took place (and still take place) between players like Knott and players who lacked his ethical concerns, and no time travel was ever involved. Knott doesn't mention Roger Maris, and the ethical points he raises don't have a damn thing to do with anything but the here and now questions that he confronted every day.
   48. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: February 28, 2013 at 09:18 AM (#4377507)
I'm waiting with baited breath to see how many Primates are going to accuse Knott of being "dishonest" for not "admitting" that steroids and amps are equivalent PEDs. But sometimes silence speaks louder than words.
Ordinarily, I would correct this by pointing out that your breath was bated, not baited. But given the content of the post, I think your misspelling is actually more accurate.
   49. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: February 28, 2013 at 09:20 AM (#4377508)
My feeling is that there are a lot of people who are superficially on both "sides" of this issue, but whose views are wholly unrepresented by the snarkers and the other assorted imbeciles on both "sides" who seem to have dominated the conversation up to now.
So do you put yourself in the snarker category or the assorted imbecile category?
   50. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: February 28, 2013 at 09:23 AM (#4377510)
Part of the problem is that great numbers (though not everyone---let's be clear about that) on both "sides" of this issue have seen either steroids themselves or the backlash against them as a not-so-covert attack on their favorite players. The Chasses see steroids as an attack on Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson, and many here see any sort of ethical questions surrounding steroids as nothing but a hypocritical attack on many of the stars of the 1990's, conducted by people who sleep cuddled up to a stuffed Roger Maris teddy bear.
Yes, but the important thing...
   51. Ron J2 Posted: February 28, 2013 at 10:33 AM (#4377540)
Could also be Terrmel Sledge


It's a matter of record that Sledge failed a drug test (2003 -- while trying out for the US Olympic team). On the other hand, it was a positive for Nandrolone and a real good chunk of Nandrolone positives are from supplements that contained -- without listing it -- andro. (Andro was still legal then. but also on the IOC's banned drugs list so it can't be called a false positive)
   52. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 28, 2013 at 10:39 AM (#4377545)
Knott gave several strong reasons for distinguishing "the PEDs he took" from those he didn't. To call that merely "convenient" is effectively to dismiss his reasoning as being little more than a rationalization of his own behavior, which in turn is in so many words accusing him of being dishonest.


I don't think it's dishonest, since dishonesty implies willful deception. I just think he came to the conclusions that he did because going in, he wanted those things to be true, so he unconsciously steered his moral calculations in that direction.

He admits that greenies made him play better (albeit in a different way than steroids would have), and he says that his primary concern over steroids was the health effects, rather than any moral turmoil. He also notes that he was surreptitious in his use of greenies, concealing them from family members and making sure that there was no documentary evidence (like a shipping label) tying him to their use.

I'm not trying to give him a hard time here. But nobody is capable of speaking entirely objectively about themselves and their own choices.
   53. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 28, 2013 at 10:41 AM (#4377547)
I would say that the equivalency is weak, and relies on looseness in the definition of "Performance Enhancing." If you set some minimum threshold of enhancement for a drug to meet before it became an ethical concern (which everybody does), you could with perfect consistency oppose steroids and be indifferent to greenies.


At the same time, it's worth noting that MLB itself, now that it has deigned to acknowledge PED use, sees no difference between the use of steroids and the use of greenies, as far as official sanctions are concerned.
   54. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 28, 2013 at 10:43 AM (#4377550)
And it's easy to come up with a thousand one liners to dismiss the issue that Knott poses and see him essentially as a sucker for not buying into the steroids program.


He's not a sucker. More akin to a guy who went home at 5:30 every day to spend time with his family, rather than spending another two hours at the office chasing a promotion. He was more concerned about his own health than his career prospects, and that's fine. It's his choice to make.
   55. Bob Tufts Posted: February 28, 2013 at 10:49 AM (#4377555)
What might be even more interesting would be to get Knott and Bob Tufts together for an unscripted and open ended discussion about the whole PED question, and the practical and moral dilemmas it presented to players in their precarious career positions. I say that because Bob has also written about PEDs here on BTF from a similar vantage point, and it'd be interesting to see how they'd interact.


I need an agent to arrange my appearance fee (David?).

There is no moral dilemma - only personal justification of one's actions.

Would you judge a Dominican player who grew up in a culture and legal system where drugs are not treated as they are in the US the same (especially considering the lifeboat/economic ethics of Hispaniola and caring for one's family)?

Would do judge a player that used illegal drugs like pot and cocaine (which inhibit performance and shortchange fans and teams) harshly for their actions?

Did I bat an eye when given DMSO by my team? No.

   56. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: February 28, 2013 at 10:57 AM (#4377558)
At the same time, it's worth noting that MLB itself, now that it has deigned to acknowledge PED use, sees no difference between the use of steroids and the use of greenies, as far as official sanctions are concerned.

This is manifestly false. They're treated differently in the Mitchell Report, and there are official therapeutic use exceptions -- granted rather freely -- to the anti-amp policy.
   57. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 28, 2013 at 11:23 AM (#4377570)
This is manifestly false. They're treated differently in the Mitchell Report, and there are official therapeutic use exceptions -- granted rather freely -- to the anti-amp policy.


A player could also receive a therapeutic use exemption for testosterone or HGH, if one were warranted (or the need for one were convincingly faked). And the Mitchell Report, though compiled at MLB's behest, was not written by MLB as an institution - in contrast to the drug policy, which was.
   58. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 28, 2013 at 11:32 AM (#4377577)
#48-50 typically spends 100% of his energy on ad hominen attacks, while Knott's points go unaddressed.

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

Knott gave several strong reasons for distinguishing "the PEDs he took" from those he didn't. To call that merely "convenient" is effectively to dismiss his reasoning as being little more than a rationalization of his own behavior, which in turn is in so many words accusing him of being dishonest.


I don't think it's dishonest, since dishonesty implies willful deception. I just think he came to the conclusions that he did because going in, he wanted those things to be true, so he unconsciously steered his moral calculations in that direction.

He admits that greenies made him play better (albeit in a different way than steroids would have),


Here we get at the heart of the dispute. Knott did not say that greenies made him "play better" than he would have with normal rest. He specifically said that "My velocity didn’t increase, and I didn’t throw more innings or prevent fewer runs in games when I took one." The effect he describes is restorative, not enhancing in the way that he describes steroids.

and he says that his primary concern over steroids was the health effects, rather than any moral turmoil.

But the moral issue arises when a player feels the need to damage his health in order to keep up with the players who simply don't care about such long term issues. It may be primarily a practical issue for the individual player, but a moral issue in collective terms. This is why Knott isn't condemning the individual players who faced the same hard choice and decided differently than he did.

He also notes that he was surreptitious in his use of greenies, concealing them from family members and making sure that there was no documentary evidence (like a shipping label) tying him to their use.

I addressed that first point above in #39, and as to the second point, Knott's actions show little more than an awareness of the difference between moral and legal questions. If a hypothetical pot smoker were to use the mails to get his supplies, I doubt if he would encourage his supplier to have a return address of "Dr. Bong's Marijuana Farm" on the label. That doesn't mean that he would have any qualms about the morality of pot smoking, just an understandable caution about taking unnecessary risks.

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

I would say that the equivalency is weak, and relies on looseness in the definition of "Performance Enhancing." If you set some minimum threshold of enhancement for a drug to meet before it became an ethical concern (which everybody does), you could with perfect consistency oppose steroids and be indifferent to greenies.


At the same time, it's worth noting that MLB itself, now that it has deigned to acknowledge PED use, sees no difference between the use of steroids and the use of greenies, as far as official sanctions are concerned.

Actually the sanctions are greater for steroids, which reflects the relative degree of seriousness with which MLB regards the two PEDs. But the more important distinction is that it took the issue of steroids even to get amps drawn into the conversation in the first place.

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

And it's easy to come up with a thousand one liners to dismiss the issue that Knott poses and see him essentially as a sucker for not buying into the steroids program.

He's not a sucker. More akin to a guy who went home at 5:30 every day to spend time with his family, rather than spending another two hours at the office chasing a promotion. He was more concerned about his own health than his career prospects, and that's fine. It's his choice to make.


Of course that totally dodges the moral issue of the steroid user getting an advantage over the non-user. If the guy who works late is rifling through the company's private papers during that time in order to gain an advantage, then your analogy would make more sense.
   59. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 28, 2013 at 11:43 AM (#4377582)
What might be even more interesting would be to get Knott and Bob Tufts together for an unscripted and open ended discussion about the whole PED question, and the practical and moral dilemmas it presented to players in their precarious career positions. I say that because Bob has also written about PEDs here on BTF from a similar vantage point, and it'd be interesting to see how they'd interact.

I need an agent to arrange my appearance fee (David?).


If you and Knott could get together in a public forum to discuss the whole PED issue at length, I'd pay to see it, and I think you'd have a wider audience than either of you might expect.

There is no moral dilemma - only personal justification of one's actions.

Maybe not for you, but other players might see it differently. And the long term collective moral issue doesn't go away.

Would you judge a Dominican player who grew up in a culture and legal system where drugs are not treated as they are in the US the same (especially considering the lifeboat/economic ethics of Hispaniola and caring for one's family)?

Maybe not, but I'd try to make sure that the Dominican's understanding of the issue was forcefully addressed and corrected---in Spanish---before he signed his first contract. An ounce of prevention, etc.

Would [you] judge a player that used illegal drugs like pot and cocaine (which inhibit performance and shortchange fans and teams) harshly for their actions?

Only if I had a rooting interest in the fortunes of his team. Otherwise I'd just say "Go for it".

Did I bat an eye when given DMSO by my team? No.

That's one of many things I'd like to see you and Knott discuss.
   60. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: February 28, 2013 at 11:59 AM (#4377591)
I don't really "judge" any of these people. There was a lot of money at stake and are adults and a lot of them have families. In our society, people do what they have to do to make money and make a living and support their families.

I simply don't accept their competitive "achievements" at face value, and there are more than ample reasons to have that perspective.
   61. alilisd Posted: February 28, 2013 at 12:04 PM (#4377593)
On the other hand, it was a positive for Nandrolone and a real good chunk of Nandrolone positives are from supplements that contained -- without listing it -- andro.


Never heard this before. Do you have any articles which discuss this?
   62. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 28, 2013 at 12:06 PM (#4377595)
Here we get at the heart of the dispute. Knott did not say that greenies made him "play better" than he would have with normal rest.


So what? They allowed him to perform better on the day he took them than he would have on that day if he had not taken them. They improved his performance relative to his baseline expectation for that game.

Per Knott: "I was more alert and more focused on getting the ball to the catcher. The pills locked me in. They gave me the ability to stay focused on the pitching and forget about the peripheral distractions around the ballpark... I looked at it as a way to get through a long season and offset some of the fatigue that arose from traveling, working odd hours, and playing 20-plus days in a row." He was more focused and less fatigued, and as a result he played better than he otherwise would have.

But the moral issue arises when a player feels the need to damage his health in order to keep up with the players who simply don't care about such long term issues.


That is one circumstance under which moral considerations arise, but not even close to the only one. By taking controlled substances, he was choosing to break the law, and engaging in behavior that he explicitly recognizes the outside world would consider to be shameful. He justifies this to himself by stating that the use of amphetamines was broadly condoned within the culture of baseball, even if it was condemned by the world at large, and noting that he would not have used them if their use had been discouraged by his teammates.

Not to mention the fact that by choosing to take amphetamines, Knott was also running risks. To quote Knott: "The only times I ever snapped a bat in the dugout, got into verbal confrontations with an umpire, or popped off to an opposing player was while I was playing under the influence of a greenie. I was ejected from a Dominican Winter League game for mother-####### an umpire and once threw an empty five-gallon water bottle onto the field in a Mexican League playoff game. I did things that were out of character under the influence, and I didn’t mind." He experienced significant behavioral changes as a result of drug use, becoming aggressive and hostile, and he was willing to tolerate those changes in order to continue receiving the performance benefit that the drugs provided to him. He also increased his chance of serious medical conditions (heart attack, stroke, aneurysm, temporary psychosis, suicidal ideation, etc.), even though he did not acknowledge this fact within the piece, and may not even recognize that it is true.

Knott's actions show little more than an awareness of the difference between moral and legal questions.


You are incorrect. Look again at the large sections of the piece in which he talks about the different moral codes regarding amphetamine use inside the game and outside it. If he believed, deep-down, that amphetamine use was entirely right and proper, he would not feel the need to describe at such length the influence that baseball's widespread cultural tolerance of amphetamine use (and its contrast to the moral rejection of that use by the world at large) had on his willingness to begin using them.

Of course that totally dodges the moral issue of the steroid user getting an advantage over the non-user.


That moral issue is equally present in a fatigued/ill/hung-over player's decision whether or not to use amphetamines to artificially enhance his performance in that particular game, given that long-term amphetamine use also poses significant health risks.
   63. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: February 28, 2013 at 12:13 PM (#4377600)
#48-50 typically spends 100% of his energy on ad hominen attacks, while Knott's points go unaddressed.
Perhaps you don't understand the way HTML works. The blockquoted parts - i.e., the ad hominem parts - are quotes from you.

There's nothing new or interesting in what Knott said. The illegal PEDs he admits to doing are fine because of rationalization rationalization rationalization; they're totally different than the ones he claimed he didn't do. How many thousand players haven't said that?
   64. base ball chick Posted: February 28, 2013 at 12:19 PM (#4377606)
the article was interesting

BUT

having said that, i want to point out that this author is a real person, published this under his own name, and, AND, what he had to say is socially and "morally" acceptable

it would also be OK for some player to have said - yes i DID use amps, i pitched/hit better when i used them and i DID know they were performance enhancing but i used them anyway. i did think their use is cheating, but like, if you ain't cheatin, you ain't competin. and fact is that showing up and getting a boost from ANY drug to make up for your own failure to have complete dedication to your competition is, in fact, cheating.

you don't think it matters that someone who ate right, slept instead of going out whoring and boozing, had to compete against guys who took drugs to give them more energy and focus? i guess not, because the team encouraged and abetted it.

but at this point, the HORRORS!!!! gasbs of shockSHOCK about roid use are to the point that can't nobody who is a real ballplayer talk honestly about how he used steroids without all the stupid "apologies" os we CAN'T have any sort of meaningful discussion. if any player/former player wanted to talk about roid use WITHOUT all those boohoohoos, he'd be burned at the stake.

fact is that what other people currently think obviously and heavily influences what people say about what they do and what they did.

remember BITGOD when it wasn't adultery for a man to have a Black mistress? remember BITGOD when it was kewl for a man to dump the wife n kidz for a teenage beauty queen? remember when it was great when musicians had all these under 18 teenage groupies it was fine for them to screw and heck, they were almost EXPECTED to? remember when it was not only legal but AWESOME!!!!! for adult women (like teachers) to have sex with their teenage students? - now they go to prison.

can't none of those people NOW come out and say - yeah i did it, i'm not sorry and i don't think i did anything wrong.
   65. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 28, 2013 at 12:21 PM (#4377607)
you don't think it matters that someone who ate right, slept instead of going out whoring and boozing, had to compete against guys who took drugs to give them more energy and focus? i guess not, because the team encouraged and abetted it.


Yes, exactly.
   66. base ball chick Posted: February 28, 2013 at 12:37 PM (#4377617)
sorry double post
   67. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: February 28, 2013 at 12:44 PM (#4377626)
Here we get at the heart of the dispute. Knott did not say that greenies made him "play better" than he would have with normal rest.
Incorrect. What he said (correctly or not -- many players said that steroids didn't make them play better, either) was that greenies did not make him play better than he would have with abnormal rest.
   68. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: February 28, 2013 at 12:46 PM (#4377628)
He's not a sucker. More akin to a guy who went home at 5:30 every day to spend time with his family, rather than spending another two hours at the office chasing a promotion. He was more concerned about his own health than his career prospects, and that's fine. It's his choice to make.

Of course that totally dodges the moral issue of the steroid user getting an advantage over the non-user. If the guy who works late is rifling through the company's private papers during that time in order to gain an advantage, then your analogy would make more sense.
It doesn't dodge the issue at all. By working late, one gains an advantage, whether or not one "rifles through the company's private papers" or simply sits at one's desk and plugs away at things.
   69. Ray (RDP) Posted: February 28, 2013 at 01:02 PM (#4377636)
Pitchers were gaining velocity that they didn’t have and hitters with no pop started hitting balls out of the park with greater frequency. Players were gaining size at a rapid pace, and baseball was turning into a power game....


I'm not sure whether this is all that interesting, even if true. First, the complexion of the minor leagues is very much in flux as players frequently move from level to level. Second, you've got young players developing -- and growing. So it's not all that surprising to me that various hitters would gain size and power.
   70. Ray (RDP) Posted: February 28, 2013 at 01:02 PM (#4377637)
David, Andy? STFU? Thanks.


But it's been so long.
   71. Ray (RDP) Posted: February 28, 2013 at 01:07 PM (#4377642)
I'm waiting with baited breath to see how many Primates are going to accuse Knott of being "dishonest" for not "admitting" that steroids and amps are equivalent PEDs. But sometimes silence speaks louder than words.


Isn't it "bated" breath?

Anyway, there's always been an alternative to 'dishonest' on this issue: irrational. Also, obviously they are different drugs and affect their users differently. Nobody ever said the drugs were "similar" at a granular level, on every detail. The "similarity" is that both drugs can be viewed as performance enhancers and that there's no meaningful difference on this score, or on the issue of the HOF.

   72. Tom Nawrocki Posted: February 28, 2013 at 01:15 PM (#4377647)
Here we get at the heart of the dispute. Knott did not say that greenies made him "play better" than he would have with normal rest.


What he seems to be saying is that, under other circumstances, he would have been able to perform as well without greenies. But those circumstances weren't available to him, as indeed they aren't to any player who is asked to play 162 games in 180 days, or 140 games in 155 days for minor leaguers. "Normal rest" is not available to those players, whether or not they're hung over (which Andy seems to think is the only reason a player would ever take a greenie).

Knott acknowledges that, without greenies, he wouldn't have been able to perform as well as he did. Indeed, he describes them as "PEDs":

I must admit that I used PEDs from time to time myself. I popped greenies occasionally before a start or a game. I also took Adipex, a prescription diet drug that I learned from my current personal physician is extremely powerful and a controlled substance. So I wasn’t perfect.
   73. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: February 28, 2013 at 01:18 PM (#4377648)
The "similarity" is that both drugs can be viewed as performance enhancers and that there's no meaningful difference on this score, or on the issue of the HOF.

Only with an overbroad definition of "performance enhancing" -- one that would include something like coffee. You have more energy and focus if you drink coffee, a primary reason so many people drink coffee.

   74. Squash Posted: February 28, 2013 at 01:40 PM (#4377668)
Only with an overbroad definition of "performance enhancing" -- one that would include something like coffee. You have more energy and focus if you drink coffee, a primary reason so many people drink coffee.

By the same analogy, steroids are really just stronger protein powder.
   75. Ron J2 Posted: February 28, 2013 at 01:41 PM (#4377674)
#61 Not sure whether you're being facetious or not. It's a topic that has come up many times before, but I don't recall you as being a regular in the drug wars threads, so:

The problem with testing for Nandrolone is that it's a naturally occurring substance. So what they test for is the presence of 19-norandrosterone. Synthetic nandrolone results in elevated levels (there's always a trace amount of this, but the standard for a positive test is more than 5 times the highest level recorded). So does androstenedione. So too lysine (this is in some dispute, but under "strict liability" it doesn't matter)

Early Nandrolone tests were provably unreliable. (as demonstrated at Mark Richardson's hearings after a positive test. Under controlled conditions they were able to produce a false positive)

And the first time that tainted supplements became a major issue was in the Greg Rusedski who was able to demonstrate that the supplement provided to him (by trainers employed by the body trying to discipline him) had andro in them and that this would produce the elevated levels of 19-norandrosterone.


   76. Morty Causa Posted: February 28, 2013 at 01:58 PM (#4377690)
It doesn't dodge the issue at all. By working late, one gains an advantage, whether or not one "rifles through the company's private papers" or simply sits at one's desk and plugs away at things.


No, that's not at all necessarily so. The guy working late may just be slow. Granted, he may be able to fool his superiors (only for a while hopefully), but working late in and of itself doesn't make you the better employee. It's what you do on the job, late or during regular hours. Rifling through private papers, spreading rumors about competitors, etc., are actions that maybe should be seen as reprehensible. Maybe that's why we seek bright lines expressed in rules all the time in all our endeavors.
   77. Morty Causa Posted: February 28, 2013 at 02:03 PM (#4377697)
   78. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: February 28, 2013 at 02:04 PM (#4377698)
By the same analogy, steroids are really just stronger protein powder.

There was no analogy to be the "same" as.
   79. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 28, 2013 at 02:05 PM (#4377700)
All of the above responses other than Lisa's** (which I'll respond to separately) keep coming back to the same definitional dispute over what constitutes either "enhancement" and / or "normal" rest. Since nobody here is changing his or her views on these definitions anytime soon, I don't see much point in another round of that particular topic. It's one of the many reasons I'd love to hear a group of actual professional players with different views on the subject discuss this in a roundtable forum.

**And David's brushoff of the difference between working late honestly and working late dishonestly, which isn't worthy of a serious response.
   80. Morty Causa Posted: February 28, 2013 at 02:08 PM (#4377701)
The "similarity" is that both drugs can be viewed as performance enhancers and that there's no meaningful difference on this score, or on the issue of the HOF.


The problem with this dictum is that taking it to a reducio ad absurdum level, as it always is here, makes discussion not worth discussing.
   81. JJ1986 Posted: February 28, 2013 at 02:10 PM (#4377703)
I don't see much point in another round of that particular topic.


Then why did you force it onto this thread?
   82. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 28, 2013 at 02:13 PM (#4377705)
All of the above responses other than Lisa's** (which I'll respond to separately) keep coming back to the same definitional dispute over what constitutes either "enhancement" and / or "normal" rest. Since nobody here is changing his or her views on these definitions anytime soon, I don't see much point in another round of that particular topic.


Then why did you explicitly ask for a discussion that hinges on that point?

[Edit: Coke to JJ]
   83. tfbg9 Posted: February 28, 2013 at 02:15 PM (#4377709)
Then why did you force it onto this thread?


Because, doing that sort of thing is, in essense what he does. Its his raison d'etre. He's Andy, The Thread Steerer.
   84. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 28, 2013 at 02:18 PM (#4377714)
the article was interesting

BUT

having said that, i want to point out that this author is a real person, published this under his own name, and, AND, what he had to say is socially and "morally" acceptable

it would also be OK for some player to have said - yes i DID use amps, i pitched/hit better when i used them and i DID know they were performance enhancing but i used them anyway. i did think their use is cheating, but like, if you ain't cheatin, you ain't competin. and fact is that showing up and getting a boost from ANY drug to make up for your own failure to have complete dedication to your competition is, in fact, cheating.


Since that's a POV that's obviously held by an indeterminate number of players, I'd love to see one or more of them come right out and say it as you just have. It'd be a lot more provocative than hearing the same POV expressed by a ghostwriter wannabee.

you don't think it matters that someone who ate right, slept instead of going out whoring and boozing, had to compete against guys who took drugs to give them more energy and focus? i guess not, because the team encouraged and abetted it.

Lisa, have you ever seen or heard of a single player who complained about any other player---either rival or teammate---who used amphetamines? There may well be, but I've yet to hear of any.

but at this point, the HORRORS!!!! gasbs of shockSHOCK about roid use are to the point that can't nobody who is a real ballplayer talk honestly about how he used steroids without all the stupid "apologies" os we CAN'T have any sort of meaningful discussion. if any player/former player wanted to talk about roid use WITHOUT all those boohoohoos, he'd be burned at the stake.

Can't argue with that point, as you're only applying it to those players who actually used steroids. It wouldn't apply to those who didn't.

fact is that what other people currently think obviously and heavily influences what people say about what they do and what they did.

Could be, probably is in most cases, but not everyone is necessarily quite that cowed by current consensus opinion.

remember BITGOD when it wasn't adultery for a man to have a Black mistress? remember BITGOD when it was kewl for a man to dump the wife n kidz for a teenage beauty queen? remember when it was great when musicians had all these under 18 teenage groupies it was fine for them to screw and heck, they were almost EXPECTED to? remember when it was not only legal but AWESOME!!!!! for adult women (like teachers) to have sex with their teenage students? - now they go to prison.

can't none of those people NOW come out and say - yeah i did it, i'm not sorry and i don't think i did anything wrong.


Much as I detest the use of steroids by baseball players, I can't quite get around to comparing it to the types of activities you're bringing up here. But maybe I'm just getting soft on the subject.
   85. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 28, 2013 at 02:23 PM (#4377723)
All of the above responses other than Lisa's** (which I'll respond to separately) keep coming back to the same definitional dispute over what constitutes either "enhancement" and / or "normal" rest. Since nobody here is changing his or her views on these definitions anytime soon, I don't see much point in another round of that particular topic.

Then why did you force it onto this thread?


Then why did you explicitly ask for a discussion that hinges on that point?


I was hoping out loud to get some more views from actual ballplayers, in response to the quotes from Knott that I copied in #16 above. The utterly predictable responses from the peanut gallery here, all of which have been posted countless times before, are about as interesting to me as my take on the same subject is to some of you. What is interesting is the take of actual ballplayers like Knott and Tufts, and like Lisa, I only wish we could have more of them.
   86. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: February 28, 2013 at 02:25 PM (#4377725)
All of the above responses other than Lisa's** (which I'll respond to separately) keep coming back to the same definitional dispute over what constitutes either "enhancement" and / or "normal" rest.

There's no real dispute anyway, other than by those trying to muddy the waters to reach a predetermined result. Taking a substance to make one feel more rested doesn't remotely transgress any serious system of competitive ethics -- or any other kind of ethics -- and so the terms "normal" and "abnormal" are sophistic, disposable throwaways.

Nor is "enhancement" standing alone the distinguishing concept we're looking for. Amps and coffee provide a temporary increase in natural human faculties obtainable without resorting to them. Roids provide an indefinite increase in muscle unobtainable without them and, therefore, fundamentally increase performance capability. Amps do not alter the performance ceiling; roids do. (And if someone wants to quibble about this, roids do materially more.)

The difference is akin to the difference in strategy and tactics. Roids are a beneficial improvement in strategy; amps provide a temporary tactical improvement within static bounds. Or for the economics people and the graph drawers among us, amps permit an occasional, temporary shift along a static "performance supply" curve.(*) Roids favorably and indefinitely shift the entire curve.

These distinctions, frankly easy to arrive at, explain why Knott's intuitive and instinctive moral sense -- expressed very well -- is the same one that has obtained with little dissent for 45-odd years -- from the perspective of competitive ethics, roids and amps are fundamentally different and clearly on opposite sides of the applicable ethical lines.

(*) Of course, there's plenty of testimony from Bouton and others that even this shift doesn't really happen, but for these purposes, we'll assume they're wrong.
   87. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: February 28, 2013 at 02:38 PM (#4377735)
There's no real dispute anyway, other than by those trying to muddy the waters to reach a predetermined result.
Heh. Like pretending that it matters whether the effect is "temporary" or "indefinite" (which is another word for "temporary").
Taking a substance to make one feel more rested doesn't remotely transgress any serious system of competitive ethics
It does if the substance is banned for being dangerous, in exactly the same way that taking a substance that allows you to work harder does. (Amps do not "make you feel more rested"; rather they make you feel less tired. But of course that's not their primary effect, as they increase concentration and reaction time.)
   88. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: February 28, 2013 at 02:39 PM (#4377738)
I was hoping out loud to get some more views from actual ballplayers,
So you posted a comment on a website frequented by commenters, but you didn't want a response from commenters. Instead, you wanted a response from people who aren't here. Uh-huh.

And when you tried to bait people into responding to you in #35, saying that if people didn't respond it would prove they were liars, what was your goal then?
   89. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 28, 2013 at 02:39 PM (#4377739)
I was hoping out loud to get some more views from actual ballplayers, in response to the quotes from Knott that I copied in #16 above. The utterly predictable responses from the peanut gallery here, all of which have been posted countless times before, are about as interesting to me as my take on the same subject is to some of you. What is interesting is the take of actual ballplayers like Knott and Tufts, and like Lisa, I only wish we could have more of them.


Then why did you direct your question to us, rather than actual ballplayers? If you wanted Bob's take on it, you could've just e-mailed him.
   90. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 28, 2013 at 02:40 PM (#4377740)
All of the above responses other than Lisa's** (which I'll respond to separately) keep coming back to the same definitional dispute over what constitutes either "enhancement" and / or "normal" rest.

There's no real dispute anyway, other than by those trying to muddy the waters to reach a predetermined result. Taking a substance to make one feel more rested doesn't remotely transgress any serious system of competitive ethics -- or any other kind of ethics -- and so the terms "normal" and "abnormal" are sophistic, disposable throwaways.


I disagree with that only to the extent that I don't find the consensus BTF definition of enhancement to be either dishonest or irrational, and IF (big "if") you view "enhancement" as being merely the difference between playing and not playing, I've long conceded their point. But as you rightly point out, that sort of perspective is not one that either you, I, or Knott would share, and I'm glad to see the alternative perspective expressed so directly and eloquently by a ballplayer whose views are based on actual pro level experience.
   91. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: February 28, 2013 at 02:44 PM (#4377744)
I disagree with that only to the extent that I don't find the consensus BTF definition of enhancement to be either dishonest or irrational, and IF (big "if") you view "enhancement" as being merely the difference between playing and not playing, I've long conceded their point.

As have I, though I'm not sure what concession there is, given that the number of "but for" games played in any players CV is almost certainly the functional equivalent of zero.
   92. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 28, 2013 at 02:44 PM (#4377745)
Taking a substance to make one feel more rested doesn't remotely transgress any serious system of competitive ethics...


Then why is it against the rules?

Of course, you're the same guy who once tried to argue that it wasn't against the rules to go off the course during a marathon, so arguing "competitive ethics" with you isn't likely to be a particularly fruitful endeavor.

Amps do not alter the performance ceiling; roids do.


That distinction is essentially immaterial.

And of course, steroids by themselves do not alter the performance ceiling. They only enable the player to work more effectively at self-improvement. I could take steroids all day, and it wouldn't do #### for my playing ability, because I'm not at the gym lifting to build muscle.
   93. JJ1986 Posted: February 28, 2013 at 02:45 PM (#4377746)
I'm waiting with baited breath to see how many Primates are going to accuse Knott of being "dishonest" for not "admitting" that steroids and amps are equivalent PEDs.


You must have just made a typo. It's easy enough to spell ballplayers as P-R-I-M-A-T-E-S.
   94. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: February 28, 2013 at 02:46 PM (#4377748)
That distinction is essentially immaterial.

It's the core reason the two substances are distinguished, so it's very material for these purposes.
   95. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 28, 2013 at 02:49 PM (#4377753)
So you posted a comment on a website frequented by commenters, but you didn't want a response from commenters. Instead, you wanted a response from people who aren't here. Uh-huh.

And when you tried to bait people into responding to you in #35, saying that if people didn't respond it would prove they were liars, what was your goal then?


Then why did you direct your question to us, rather than actual ballplayers? If you wanted Bob's take on it, you could've just e-mailed him.


In the absence of other ballplayers, I would gladly settle for the takes of a few Primates whose views on the subject haven't been expressed ad nauseum before, or at least who have the ability (as Lisa does) to express their POV with a bit of originality. I know what you think of my views on the subject, so that's of equal lack of interest to me, since I've heard it all before. The one thing that elevates this otherwise routine thread from Repoz's usual pinata posts is the viewpoint of Knott, which I hope people will read in its entirety.
   96. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 28, 2013 at 02:51 PM (#4377756)
I disagree with that only to the extent that I don't find the consensus BTF definition of enhancement to be either dishonest or irrational, and IF (big "if") you view "enhancement" as being merely the difference between playing and not playing, I've long conceded their point.

As have I, though I'm not sure what concession there is, given that the number of "but for" games played in any players CV is almost certainly the functional equivalent of zero.


On that point I'd be inclined to defer to the views of actual players, many of whom have indicated otherwise, even allowing for exaggeration.
   97. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 28, 2013 at 02:52 PM (#4377758)
It's the core reason the two substances are distinguished, so it's very material for these purposes.


No, it's not. The fundamental distinction is between permitted substances that enhance performance and prohibited substances that enhance performance. These are both the latter. The exact mechanism by which those various substances enhance performance is immaterial.
   98. JJ1986 Posted: February 28, 2013 at 02:53 PM (#4377759)
No offense to Lisa (who I mostly agree with about steroids), but I don't see what's so different about her perspective on PEDs. Maybe she's less likely to get into an argument.
   99. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: February 28, 2013 at 02:57 PM (#4377761)
The fundamental distinction is between permitted substances that enhance performance and prohibited substances that enhance performance.

There's nothing "fundamental" about that distinction. It's merely a distinction made by the rules, and one that has been different several times in baseball history. The "fundamental" distinctions are the ones we've been chewing over for the last few years.

And, as noted, amps aren't really "prohibited" since almost 100 players are allowed to use them. They're merely provisionally, or conditionally, prohibited.

The exact mechanism by which those various substances enhance performance is immaterial.

I wasn't distinguishing the "mechanism" by which they "enhance performance"; I was distinguishing the fundamentally different ways in which they alter performance capability. "Enhancing performance" is merely the shifting along the performance supply curve I described earlier.
   100. valuearbitrageur Posted: February 28, 2013 at 03:05 PM (#4377764)
Roids provide an indefinite increase in muscle unobtainable without them and, therefore, fundamentally increase performance capability


So if someone invents a drug that makes you 10% stronger, but all effects fade within a day, that would be ok for players to take before every game?
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