Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Howard Bryant: Why have only some players linked to PEDs been banished from baseball?

Howard Bryant: “selective justice means no justice at all.” Free Humberto Cota!

But who survives the steroids era in retirement—who is allowed a future in the game—has been the most subjective and troubling remnant of those dishonest decades. Thus far, the determining factors of redemption have been race, power and personality. The top-level nonwhite players associated with PEDs—Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro—are out of baseball. The white players—Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, Jason Giambi and Matt Williams—survived BALCO, the feds, the Mitchell report and Congress and have been allowed a second act. Three managers who benefited from the power of PEDs—Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Tony La Russa—will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer. The good guys of all races, the guys who win the reputation contest, will be the ones to enter Cooperstown.

...At Henry Aaron’s 80th birthday reception in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 7, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder offered a message to the hundreds in attendance. He said that for anyone who believes in integrity, the number 755 is still “the real home run record.” Everyone cheered, affirming that Bonds is to remain a villain, ostracized from the game. The same day as Holder’s comments, The Washington Post posted an extensive profile on Williams, who was granted his redemption; he referred to his PED use merely as “not my finest hour.”

A kinder, more contrite Bonds might be the Dodgers’ hitting coach. A less loathsome Sosa might be Mr. Cub for the new millennium. Had Palmeiro said to the congressional panel investigating PED use, “I’m not here to talk about the past,” instead of that fatal finger wag, maybe he’d be working for Peter Angelos, an area code away from Williams.

No matter the race, nice matters. Texas manager Ron Washington tested positive for cocaine and survived, winning consecutive AL pennants. What cannot be so easily finessed is who is allowed clemency and who is banished for the same offense. Selective justice is the ultimate price of the steroids era—a reminder to stay in line and to have powerful friends. And as Alex Rodriguez has now discovered, perhaps too late, selective justice means no justice at all.

Repoz Posted: February 22, 2014 at 04:18 PM | 36 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, steroids

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Jim Wisinski Posted: February 22, 2014 at 04:54 PM (#4660797)
How involved is Clemens with MLB baseball now? Is he helping out a team in spring training or anything? My impression was that he wasn't particularly welcome among MLB these days.
   2. Publius Publicola Posted: February 22, 2014 at 05:24 PM (#4660805)
He's not and Bryant is looking under rocks again.

The main factor seems to be whether you admit what you did and apologize. Palmeiro lied to Congress and never admitted anything, even after he got caught. Bonds was convicted of obstruction of justice and never came clean. Sosa, I don't know what he admitted or whether he has been seeking employment in baseball.


   3. GregD Posted: February 22, 2014 at 05:30 PM (#4660810)
Isn't Rafael Palmeiro white? I haven't checked his census returns but he certainly resembles lots of Cubans I know who consider themselves white
   4. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 22, 2014 at 05:37 PM (#4660813)
But the thing is that Bryant is really only partially gung-ho when it comes to the racial issue, probably because he realizes full well that there's a lot more to it than that. After starting out by prominently mentioning race, even to the point of rather laughingly grouping Palmeiro with Bonds and Sosa, he ends on this rather irrefutable note that's much closer to the whole truth:

A kinder, more contrite Bonds might be the Dodgers' hitting coach. A less loathsome Sosa might be Mr. Cub for the new millennium. Had Palmeiro said to the congressional panel investigating PED use, "I'm not here to talk about the past," instead of that fatal finger wag, maybe he'd be working for Peter Angelos, an area code away from Williams.

No matter the race, nice matters. Texas manager Ron Washington tested positive for cocaine and survived, winning consecutive AL pennants. What cannot be so easily finessed is who is allowed clemency and who is banished for the same offense. Selective justice is the ultimate price of the steroids era -- a reminder to stay in line and to have powerful friends. And as Alex Rodriguez has now discovered, perhaps too late, selective justice means no justice at all.
   5. The Yankee Clapper Posted: February 22, 2014 at 05:55 PM (#4660817)
A kinder, more contrite Bonds might be the Dodgers’ hitting coach.

The Dodgers? Not the most likely employer, but there's this - Giants Add Bonds As Spring Training Instructor
   6. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 22, 2014 at 06:09 PM (#4660820)
I think Bryant mentioned the Dodgers simply because that's where McGwire is now.
   7. Bug Selig Posted: February 22, 2014 at 06:37 PM (#4660827)
Thus far, the determining factors of redemption have been race, power and personality.


Race - no way. The biggest no-evidence-at-all witch hunts have been against white guys.

Power - even less way. The guys tarnished the most were the inner-circle guys.

Personality - yeah, OK. Apparently treating people badly sometimes matters. Good scoop, Howard.





   8. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: February 22, 2014 at 06:41 PM (#4660828)
Nobody has been "banished from baseball", at least not yet. This is nothing but pure conspiracy theory bullcrap, and even worse, it's bullcrap that's being intertwined with nonexistent racism.
   9. Brian Posted: February 22, 2014 at 06:42 PM (#4660829)
But the thing is that Bryant is really only partially gung-ho when it comes to the racial issue


Andy, you certainly are the right guy to vet people as gung-ho enough or not on the issue of race.
   10. Lars6788 Posted: February 22, 2014 at 07:03 PM (#4660835)
Clemens has been closely associated with the Astros for years and one of the headlines I read just a few days ago was about Bo Porter being pissed off because Clemens was supposedly disrespected [whatever that means since people still love the guy] by some players in camp.

It's not that hard to find this type of information.
   11. steagles Posted: February 22, 2014 at 07:15 PM (#4660839)
fwiw, barry bonds worked with ryan howard a few years ago during the offseason. i don't know whether that is still ongoing, but i seem to remember it being after the balco trial.
   12. Tim M Posted: February 22, 2014 at 07:24 PM (#4660843)
This is why Clemens is faring so very much better than Bonds in HOF voting.
Roger Clemens 35.4%
Barry Bonds 34.7%
Oh wait..
   13. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: February 22, 2014 at 07:24 PM (#4660844)
Maybe it's just selective memory but does Bryant ever write an article about sports and does he enjoy them at all? Every article I see him linked to (either here or at ESPN.com) is him writing about race or PEDs. I've never seen him write any kind of story about a game he saw or give any indication that he enjoys sports in the slightest.
   14. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 22, 2014 at 07:35 PM (#4660846)
But the thing is that Bryant is really only partially gung-ho when it comes to the racial issue

Andy, you certainly are the right guy to vet people as gung-ho enough or not on the issue of race.


So did you even bother to read those last two paragraphs? Apparently not.
   15. ptodd Posted: February 22, 2014 at 08:10 PM (#4660853)
I just read something about Bonds being hired by the Giants. Maybe in response to this article? \

There does seem to be a bit of bias against Latinos with regards to steroids, and hitters in general, especially power hitters.

I would like to see a breakdown of steroid suspects + known users by American Whites - Latinos (B&W) and African Americans against their percentages in the game. I suspect Latinos lead the list by a wide margin.

   16. Tricky Dick Posted: February 22, 2014 at 08:24 PM (#4660857)
Clemens has been closely associated with the Astros for years and one of the headlines I read just a few days ago was about Bo Porter being pissed off because Clemens was supposedly disrespected [whatever that means since people still love the guy] by some players in camp.

Clemens has a personal services contract with the Astros. He scouted some of the top pitching prospects who were in the running for the first pick last year (Appel was selected).

He has been at the Astros spring training this year; Appel said Clemens worked out with him and had some words of advice. Porter's comments about "disrespecting" Clemens isn't a big deal. Clemens was scheduled to address the pitchers early in the morning, and when Porter escorted Clemens to the locker room, apparently they weren't all dressed and ready. Reporters overhead Porter telling the pitchers on the practice field that the lack of preparedness was disrespectful to Clemens. From what I've read, it wasn't behavior or words specifically aimed at Clemens.
   17. bobm Posted: February 22, 2014 at 08:25 PM (#4660858)
FTFA:

This story appears in ESPN The Magazine's March 3 Analytics Issue [...]

Comments [...]

Howard Bryant · Senior Writer, ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine at ESPN

Now hold on a minute: those three commendable managers [La Russa, Torre and Cox (?)] won a lot of games off of PED using players. They get in to the HOF, but he players don't. That must be part of the discussion, no?


   18. The District Attorney Posted: February 22, 2014 at 08:31 PM (#4660859)
I would like to see a breakdown of steroid suspects + known users by American Whites - Latinos (B&W) and African Americans against their percentages in the game. I suspect Latinos lead the list by a wide margin.
Well, you could argue that Latinos legitimately do use PED more often because they're legal in their home countries and thus easier to get. I don't know if it's a great argument, considering that I don't think a Major League Baseball player has any real problem acquiring PED in America, but it's a plausible argument, anyway.
   19. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: February 22, 2014 at 08:59 PM (#4660867)
Andy, you certainly are the right guy to vet people as gung-ho enough or not on the issue of race.

I'm not sure if Nat X was race-conscious enough for Andy.
   20. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: February 22, 2014 at 10:36 PM (#4660896)
The issue of Latin players getting caught more at a higher rate than others is something that needs to be looked into. It doesn't mean it should be excused but the MLBPA should be looking closely into why that is happening.
   21. pthomas Posted: February 23, 2014 at 06:39 AM (#4660941)
Why haven't I gotten my money back for all the "tainted" baseball I watched?
   22. bjhanke Posted: February 23, 2014 at 07:22 AM (#4660943)
We have a "sportswriter" here in STL who is just like the description of Bryant (whose work I have never read). His name is Bryan Burwell. To Burwell, sports, all sports, not just baseball, are one ongoing series of stories about moral values, and he means HIS moral values, and no one else's. It's like reading a sports column written by a fundamentalist preacher (of any religion or cult). His opinion of PEDs is disturbingly close to "Any baseball player who can spell the word 'steroids' should never be in the Hall of Fame, but greenies are OK and never did do anything anyway, because Bob Gibson, Ken Boyer, and Lou Brock could not have been in any way immoral. Oh, and there is NO PED problem in football, because no one has ever been accused in court or outed by a retired teammate's book." I made sure to add Boyer to the list because Burwell is a black guy, and I didn't want to give anyone the idea that he gives greenies a pass because of some black Hall of Famers. He's just absolutely certain that True Morality will always triumph over mere talent and hard work, and that, since PEDs are the only reason why sports results do not always end up reflecting this fact (opinion), they must be the work of The Devil. You just plain cannot argue with someone like that. He's long gone to a place way beyond debate or argument. - Brock Hanke
   23. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 23, 2014 at 08:09 AM (#4660948)
IOW if anyone differentiates between steroids and greenies, they're beyond the pale. Nice summary of the BTF consensus, but I agree that it's not really worth arguing about.
   24. Publius Publicola Posted: February 23, 2014 at 10:17 AM (#4660964)
Jose, a decade ago, Bryant was fuming about Bill James and sabermetrics. Why? Because sabermetrics discriminated against black players.

No lie.

He can't do it anymore because of the success Boston has had but he was all over James early on.
   25. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: February 23, 2014 at 10:25 AM (#4660972)
IOW if anyone differentiates between steroids and greenies, they're beyond the pale.


No, just a dishonest prevaricator.
   26. Cleveland (need new name) fan Posted: February 23, 2014 at 10:33 AM (#4660977)
We have a "sportswriter" here in STL who is just like the description of Bryant (whose work I have never read). His name is Bryan Burwell. To Burwell, sports, all sports, not just baseball, are one ongoing series of stories about moral values, and he means HIS moral values, and no one else's. It's like reading a sports column written by a fundamentalist preacher (of any religion or cult). His opinion of PEDs is disturbingly close to "Any baseball player who can spell the word 'steroids' should never be in the Hall of Fame, but greenies are OK and never did do anything anyway, because Bob Gibson, Ken Boyer, and Lou Brock could not have been in any way immoral.


My unprovable theory is that the rejection of blame for greenies is more personnel. Many sportswriters used greenies, either in college to study or to write a coherent column after a long day. Since they aren't immoral, then greenie use by players can't be immoral. Since they personally wouldn't use steroids, then its okay to stigmatize the players who used.
   27. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 23, 2014 at 11:28 AM (#4660993)
IOW if anyone differentiates between steroids and greenies, they're beyond the pale.

No, just a dishonest prevaricator.


Who obviously has homoerotic fantasies about Roger Maris and other boyhood heroes.
   28. tolbuck Posted: February 23, 2014 at 03:39 PM (#4661096)
The issue of Latin players getting caught more at a higher rate than others is something that needs to be looked into. It doesn't mean it should be excused but the MLBPA should be looking closely into why that is happening.


Steroids are legal in the Dominican Republic. From digging a little on line I found out you can easily obtain steroids in Venezuela and Nicaragua over the counter, which suggests they're legal there as well. There isn't the stigma attached to steroids in the Caribbean as there is the North America, which partially explains why Latin players get caught at a higher rate.

   29. Sleepy supports unauthorized rambling Posted: February 23, 2014 at 04:20 PM (#4661121)
I wonder if Eric Holder is capable of using the word "integrity" in a sentence without giggling inside, just a little bit? What a scum bag.

Although I guess "staying bought" is sort of a kind of integrity...
   30. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Posted: February 23, 2014 at 06:06 PM (#4661134)
Maybe it's just selective memory but does Bryant ever write an article about sports and does he enjoy them at all?
He's a huge tennis fan, and it shows in his articles on that topic. It's a lot like Ron Borges when he writes about boxing vs. about Belichick.
   31. McCoy Posted: February 23, 2014 at 06:31 PM (#4661143)
My unprovable theory is that the rejection of blame for greenies is more personnel. Many sportswriters used greenies, either in college to study or to write a coherent column after a long day. Since they aren't immoral, then greenie use by players can't be immoral. Since they personally wouldn't use steroids, then its okay to stigmatize the players who used.

Which was pretty much the big disconnect between established mainstream America and the hippies of the late 60's and early 70's. I forget which HoF lineman said it but I once heard him talk about how the jocks absolutely hated the hippies and called them druggies and looked down on them because of all the drugs they took. It was only years later that it dawned on him that he as a football player was taking as many if not more drugs than the dirty hippies were!
   32. vivaelpujols Posted: February 23, 2014 at 06:48 PM (#4661146)
I just think it's a shame that arguably the best hitter of all time, arguably the best pitcher and one of the most complete players (ARod) are completely disgraced and will only have a minimal involvement in baseball going forward. I'm necessarily saying it's shameful on the part of the mainstream media - both parties made mistakes, obviously. But now that the cats out of the bag, what is the upside of vilifying steroid players? Is it honestly a good thing for anyone to have the last 20 years of baseball be seen as illegitimate?

Like it or not the media controls how steroids are perceived in the general public. They have the ability to render them irrelevant and to move on.
   33. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: February 23, 2014 at 07:04 PM (#4661151)
At Henry Aaron’s 80th birthday reception in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 7, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder offered a message to the hundreds in attendance. He said that 755 was enabled by PEDs, 714 was enabled by segregation, and every damn statistic is a function of its time.
   34. base ball chick Posted: February 23, 2014 at 09:34 PM (#4661201)
if the media lovwes you then it is - so he made a mistake
if the media hates you for whatevs reason, then it is KILL THE WITCH!!!
   35. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 23, 2014 at 10:18 PM (#4661224)
At Henry Aaron’s 80th birthday reception in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 7, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder offered a message to the hundreds in attendance. He said that 755 was enabled by PEDs, 714 was enabled by segregation, and every damn statistic is a function of its time.

Do you have a link to that speech? None of the links to Holder's comments about Aaron at his 80th birthday tribute have anything like that in them, but then they're all from the AP.
   36. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:27 AM (#4661293)
The issue of Latin players getting caught more at a higher rate than others is something that needs to be looked into. It doesn't mean it should be excused but the MLBPA should be looking closely into why that is happening.

Actually, my BA thesis work is on this exact topic, so I have a lot of reading/links (and some data and my simplistic economic model) in this area at my disposal if you ever want to read a bit about it.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
BarrysLazyBoy
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogOMNICHATTER 8 23 2014
(6 - 3:59pm, Aug 23)
Last: Every Inge Counts

NewsblogPete Rose’s Reckless Gamble
(11 - 3:53pm, Aug 23)
Last: Posada Posse

NewsblogOT: Politics, August 2014: DNC criticizes Christie’s economic record with baseball video
(5012 - 3:52pm, Aug 23)
Last: Joe Kehoskie

NewsblogOT: The Soccer Thread August, 2014
(516 - 3:45pm, Aug 23)
Last: Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class

NewsblogCuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to sign with the Red Sox for $72 million
(64 - 3:34pm, Aug 23)
Last: Joe Kehoskie

NewsblogPhillies have decisions to make heading into '15
(30 - 3:31pm, Aug 23)
Last: bobm

NewsblogMGL: Which teams are optimizing their lineups?
(22 - 3:22pm, Aug 23)
Last: Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick.

NewsblogPosnanski: The Royals might actually know what they are doing
(109 - 2:13pm, Aug 23)
Last: Shibal

NewsblogBrisbee: Rusney Castillo reminds us how screwed amateur players can be
(30 - 1:54pm, Aug 23)
Last: Bug Selig

NewsblogFG: Ben Revere and the Emptiest Batting Average Ever
(36 - 1:43pm, Aug 23)
Last: BDC

NewsblogManny Machado Likely Out For Season
(29 - 1:42pm, Aug 23)
Last: Spahn Insane

NewsblogOT: Monthly NBA Thread - August 2014
(300 - 1:42pm, Aug 23)
Last: smileyy

NewsblogSources:  Cubs cut grounds crew’s hours to avoid paying health benefits
(33 - 1:24pm, Aug 23)
Last: puck

NewsblogLooking past the stat line: Mark Appel
(2 - 1:19pm, Aug 23)
Last: Spahn Insane

NewsblogBA (Badler): Seven Reasons Why MLB’s New International Rules Are Backward
(6 - 11:15am, Aug 23)
Last: puck

Page rendered in 0.4705 seconds
52 querie(s) executed