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Friday, July 29, 2011

Joe Posnanski: Saving Bonds

Pos, Bonds and the transfixed rate of Bob Costas.

My friend Bob Costas left a message for me yesterday. It was a very nice message—Bob is a great guy—but he also had a slight disagreement. Bob and I are very often on the same page when it comes to baseball, but he was reading a small essay I wrote in the magazine this week and he noticed this line:

”(Barry) Bonds and (Roger) Clemens are two of the best who ever played the game. If not for the steroid noise that surrounds them, you could make a viable argument that they are simply the two best ever.”

I should say that my thinking, when I wrote the line, was simply that if you took their numbers and performances at face value, you could make the viable argument that they are the two best ever. Bob, though, read it differently. He thought that I was actually saying without steroids Bonds and Clemens are two of the best ever, perhaps even THE two best ever. This did not bother him so much for Clemens, but it did bother him for for Bonds. He strongly disagrees.

We’ve had similar discussions before, and if I could summarize his thought, I think it goes something like this (and I am reworking this a little bit to get Bob’s opinion more precisely): Barry Bonds in 1998 was a great player. Truly great. But there was no argument to make for him as the best ever. In Bob’s words: He certainly wasn’t Ruth; he didn’t hit like Williams or Musial; as great an all-around player as he was he was not Mays and his career did not have the totality of Aaron. Bob thinks Bonds of 1998 could certainly be in the discussion as one of the 10 or 12 best non-pitchers of all time. But there was no argument for him as the very best. And there is no argument that can be made for him as the very best NOW either without steroids.

Repoz Posted: July 29, 2011 at 11:32 AM | 572 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: announcers, hall of fame, history, media, sabermetrics, television

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   401. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 03, 2011 at 05:54 PM (#3891883)
Yes, the people now doing the remarking about the "illegalities" of steroid use (the horror) never cared that players of the 70s were likely using amphetamines illegally.

But what really puts the lie to the "illegality" issue is their treatment of Sosa. Sosa testified that he had "never taken illegal performance-enhancing drugs," and the crusaders accused him of taking them legally in the DR. So instead of saying "Oh, if he took them in the DR it was totally ok since he broke no laws," they tried to string him up anyway. The conclusion is that they don't really care whether the player "broke any laws" after all.
   402. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: August 03, 2011 at 05:58 PM (#3891886)
But in the case of the Hall of Fame, there's also the principle of treating players with equal character flaws (in this case, steroids) equally. If for whatever reason the consensus about the moral culpability of the Black Sox were to shift, and Joe Jackson were to be elected, it would be silly to refuse to induct any of the other seven players**.

Eddie Cicotte comes to mind as one of the other candidates that might well be HOF-worthy.


And if the rules change and Jackson is voted in, then we can consider Cicotte as well.

Do you think it would be "silly" to refuse to induct any player that is as statistically qualified as Jim Rice? Doesn't that violate the principle or treating players with equal statistical merit equally?

"Statistically qualified" is subject to a wide variety of interpretation. "Known steroid user" is a bit less ambiguous, not to mention that it relates to the core value of a level playing field of competition. If "equal statistical merit" were easy to judge, and if that's all that the Hall of Fame were about, we could just do away with voting altogether and just hand the statistics over to a computer. (Which in so many words is exactly what Ray would like us to do.)

I think a better analogy would be Newt Gingrich complaining about Bill Clinton's adultery, or vice versa. Once the first known roider got inducted, what standing would the writers who voted for him have to moralize about the next one?***

One the first Jim Rice gets elected, what standing would the writers who voted for him have to exclude the next statistically unqualified candidate? The idea that one mistake doesn't mean you discard your principles forever.


But there is no universally agreed upon "principle" governing statistical interpretation, and never has been. And even among sabermetricians who share similar views of the underlying principles, there's plenty of room for disagreement among individuals, not to mention that statistics have no independent moral dimension. Jim Rice has absolutely nothing to do with any discussion involving steroids.

allowing of branding and advertising to an entirely new form of potential addiction would open a whole new can of worms, and I'd see no reason to want that to happen.

Marijuana isn't addictive. That's a huge difference.

I'm not sure why there'd be a tradeoff. How many existing cigarette smokers and drinkers do you really think would give up those habits once they began smoking marijuana?

Smokers? Very few, because they're already addicted. Drinkers? I think quite a lot of them would at least reduce their drinking in favor of marijuana for a variety of reasons: shorter recovery, no hangovers, less impairment, convenience, and personal preference. New adopters similarly will sometimes preference pot over alcohol.


I don't want to get dragged into a further discussion on this particular topic, but I seriously doubt if either of your takes would find universal agreement among health professionals or people who've seen the effects of marijuana on many people. Again, this has nothing to do with criminalizing its usage, only with branding and advertising that would inevitably lead to creating new classes of users.

The reflexive rejoinder to this is that advertising is all about creating "brand loyalty", but that concentrates exclusively on the motivation of the advertiser, and totally ignores the fact that the more a product is advertised in the aggregate, the more that the overall demand for that product increases.

Are you sure the cause isn't reversed? That overall demand increasing for a product doesn't increase the amount of advertising? After all, if there's higher demand, there's more value in seizing market share.


The two factors (brand advertising and "independent" demand) obviously feed off and reinforce each other. Branding and advertising took cigarettes from a per capita consumption of 50 a year in 1900 to 3986 a year in 1961. It isn't necessarily a direct cause-and-effect for any given individual, but it was both the instigator and the constant reinforcer of the habit.

Advertisers try to generate desire but it is exceptionally rare for adult people (at least the people I associate with) to regularly purchase products they didn't want but for the ads. It's not the advertising that drives people to smoking.

The problem is that this is all totally belied by the history of cigarette smoking. There are plenty of good general histories on the subject of smoking, but you can ignore all of them and just bone up on the rise of smoking among women that coincided (although it was hardly a coincidence) with that "reach for a Luckies instead of a sweet" campaign. You can't possibly separate "demand" from the billion dollar industry that's helped to create it.

It may get someone to be aware of the "merits" of smoking and convince them to try a pack to see what's it's all about, but the addictiveness of the product itself, not the ads, are what keep them coming back.

Well, duh, but if those ads hadn't helped entice those "experimental" smokers to "just try" their first pack, then the lethal addictiveness of cigarettes would amount to nothing. Before mass advertising came along, that level "natural" demand for cigarettes was close to nonexistent outside a handful of demographic groups, and it was virtually unknown among women.

Tobacco advertisement is a different animal than marijuana advertising could ever be, because you can't ever get "hooked" on marijuana.

Without going all Reefer Madness on you, I'd simply note that there is more than one type of addiction. It doesn't have to be physiological.
   403. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 03, 2011 at 06:04 PM (#3891893)
If "equal statistical merit" were easy to judge, and if that's all that the Hall of Fame were about, we could just do away with voting altogether and just hand the statistics over to a computer. (Which in so many words is exactly what Ray would like us to do.)


Huh? I'm the one who doesn't go around just citing "55 WAR in 10 years" as my HOF standard. Nothing in my comments about any player's HOF case boils down to some robotic conclusion based on statistics.

I do use objective measures and don't care about subjective evaluations such as "character," if that's your point.
   404. robinred Posted: August 03, 2011 at 06:06 PM (#3891897)
There's an ignore feature, you know. I don't use it, but it's there.

Seconded.
   405. AROM Posted: August 03, 2011 at 06:14 PM (#3891903)
115 OPS+ for a corner outfielder. Nothing robotic about that.
   406. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 03, 2011 at 06:24 PM (#3891915)
115 OPS+ for a corner outfielder. Nothing robotic about that.


Don't you mean 79?

And you're confusing me with Dial. I've always cited his EqA. And I've never cited career EqA/position in isolation, without looking at peak vaue, etc.
   407. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: August 03, 2011 at 06:31 PM (#3891919)
If "equal statistical merit" were easy to judge, and if that's all that the Hall of Fame were about, we could just do away with voting altogether and just hand the statistics over to a computer. (Which in so many words is exactly what Ray would like us to do.)

Huh? I'm the one who doesn't go around just citing "55 WAR in 10 years" as my HOF standard. Nothing in my comments about any player's HOF case boils down to some robotic conclusion based on statistics.


You could have fooled a lot of us here, regardless of the relative emphasis you place on any given metric. To cite the most prominent example, you've argued against a guaranteed first ballot HoFer (Ichiro) purely on the basis of his lack of certifiably sufficient statistics. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, but I'm not sure why you'd want to deny it when you've been doing it ever since your first HoF thread.

I do use objective measures and don't care about subjective evaluations such as "character," if that's your point.

Forget character; what measures do you use other than statistics to consider potential Hall of Famers? Other than the size of the plaque room, how do your personal Hall of Fame standards deviate in any way from the guidelines governing the Hall of Merit?
   408. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 03, 2011 at 06:59 PM (#3891942)
Forget character; what measures do you use other than statistics to consider potential Hall of Famers? Other than the size of the plaque room, how do your personal Hall of Fame standards deviate in any way from the guidelines governing the Hall of Merit?


I'm not all that familiar with the Hall of Merit and their guidelines so I can't answer the question. What I can say (and this should answer the substance of your question) is that for the Hall of Fame, other than statistics, I give NeL credit and I give war credit.

There might be something I'm missing. But I don't care about character, and neither did the HOF voters before steroids came up.
   409. Morty Causa Posted: August 03, 2011 at 07:10 PM (#3891955)
I use to wonder what having a "co-dependent" relationship meant.
   410. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: August 03, 2011 at 07:43 PM (#3891997)
Forget character; what measures do you use other than statistics to consider potential Hall of Famers? Other than the size of the plaque room, how do your personal Hall of Fame standards deviate in any way from the guidelines governing the Hall of Merit?

I'm not all that familiar with the Hall of Merit and their guidelines so I can't answer the question.


The Hall of Merit's purpose is to "correct" the Hall of Fame's "mistakes", based on a rigorous statistical analysis of a player's career, and with no consideration of character other than an optional token one year penalty. It shouldn't take you more than a minute or two to bring yourself further up to speed on the subject.

What I can say (and this should answer the substance of your question) is that for the Hall of Fame, other than statistics, I give NeL credit and I give war credit.

Fine, but what are those, other than statistical extrapolations?

There might be something I'm missing. But I don't care about character, and neither did the HOF voters before steroids came up.

Well, unless you think that Joe Jackson and Pete Rose would be elected if their names appeared on the ballot, that answer's a bit disingenuous. And of course what that means is that other than gambling, the writers agree that steroids are distinct from every other form of character deficiencies. Nothing new about that observation; we simply disagree on its correctness.

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

I use to wonder what having a "co-dependent" relationship meant.

Ouch! Although quiet as it's kept, you've had a few flings here yourself. (smile)
   411. Morty Causa Posted: August 03, 2011 at 07:47 PM (#3892000)
Yeah, physician heal thyself. I just wanted to know how it sounded to myself. (I think I feel pretty good.)
   412. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 03, 2011 at 08:19 PM (#3892030)
The Hall of Merit's purpose is to "correct" the Hall of Fame's "mistakes", based on a rigorous statistical analysis of a player's career, and with no consideration of character other than an optional token one year penalty. It shouldn't take you more than a minute or two to bring yourself further up to speed on the subject.


It wouldn't "take me more than a minute or two" to bring myself up to speed on the mating habits of woodboring beetles, either, but why would I, if the subject doesn't particularly interest me? The Hall of Merit is your obsession, not mine.

What I can say (and this should answer the substance of your question) is that for the Hall of Fame, other than statistics, I give NeL credit and I give war credit.

Fine, but what are those, other than statistical extrapolations?


1. They're "other than statistics," which I thought is the question you asked.

2. Regarding the NeL in particular, I credit that because of the deep racism and segregation involved. Nothing to do with statistics.

There might be something I'm missing. But I don't care about character, and neither did the HOF voters before steroids came up.

Well, unless you think that Joe Jackson and Pete Rose would be elected if their names appeared on the ballot, that answer's a bit disingenuous. And of course what that means is that other than gambling, the writers agree that steroids are distinct from every other form of character deficiencies. Nothing new about that observation; we simply disagree on its correctness.


Jackson threw World Series games. Rose likely would have been voted in 20 years ago had he appeared on the ballot (though not today).
   413. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: August 03, 2011 at 08:33 PM (#3892043)
The problem is that this is all totally belied by the history of cigarette smoking. There are plenty of good general histories on the subject of smoking, but you can ignore all of them and just bone up on the rise of smoking among women that coincided (although it was hardly a coincidence) with that "reach for a Luckies instead of a sweet" campaign.
Oh, jesus. Andy is once again going to ignore every established fact in a field in favor of some dumb anecdote that he's going to flog over and over even though it doesn't prove a damn thing.
You can't possibly separate "demand" from the billion dollar industry that's helped to create it.
Well, you can; you just don't want to, because for some reason liberals like to give outsized power to marketing. (Is it perhaps part of that same mindset that argues that people who disagree with them are victims of false consciousness?)
   414. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: August 03, 2011 at 08:40 PM (#3892055)
Do you think it would be "silly" to refuse to induct any player that is as statistically qualified as Jim Rice? Doesn't that violate the principle or treating players with equal statistical merit equally?

"Statistically qualified" is subject to a wide variety of interpretation. "Known steroid user" is a bit less ambiguous, not to mention that it relates to the core value of a level playing field of competition. If "equal statistical merit" were easy to judge, and if that's all that the Hall of Fame were about, we could just do away with voting altogether and just hand the statistics over to a computer. (Which in so many words is exactly what Ray would like us to do.)
Aside from the cheap shot and the general silliness expressed therein, it's completely non-responsive to the question asked. Do you think it would be "silly" to refuse to induct any player that is as statistically qualified as Jim Rice? Doesn't that violate the principle or treating players with equal statistical merit equally? It's a yes-or-no question. (Well, two of them, but the second is rhetorical.)
   415. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: August 03, 2011 at 09:32 PM (#3892096)
I use to wonder what having a "co-dependent" relationship meant.


Fantastic.
   416. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: August 03, 2011 at 09:54 PM (#3892129)
The problem is that this is all totally belied by the history of cigarette smoking. There are plenty of good general histories on the subject of smoking, but you can ignore all of them and just bone up on the rise of smoking among women that coincided (although it was hardly a coincidence) with that "reach for a Luckies instead of a sweet" campaign.

Oh, jesus. Andy is once again going to ignore every established fact in a field in favor of some dumb anecdote that he's going to flog over and over even though it doesn't prove a damn thing.


As Churchill might have put it: Some "anecdote"!

You can't possibly separate "demand" from the billion dollar industry that's helped to create it.

Well, you can; you just don't want to, because for some reason liberals like to give outsized power to marketing. (Is it perhaps part of that same mindset that argues that people who disagree with them are victims of false consciousness?)


The above message was brought to you by the Tobacco Institute, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to promoting public health among women and children. Any similarity between the views expressed there and the views of David Nieporent are purely coincidental.

Aside from the cheap shot and the general silliness expressed therein, it's completely non-responsive to the question asked. Do you think it would be "silly" to refuse to induct any player that is as statistically qualified as Jim Rice? Doesn't that violate the principle or treating players with equal statistical merit equally? It's a yes-or-no question. (Well, two of them, but the second is rhetorical.)

It was a silly question because no two people (except perhaps you and Ray) can reasonably be excepted to agree on a definition of what constitutes "equal statistical merit", and for that reason, unlike steroids, it's impossible to infer any universally agreed upon "principle" about statistics that would compel anyone to be "consistent" in his choices. Especially when, like YT, those ole debbil "intangibles" are taken into consideration. (Don't worry, there's still plenty sunlight outside, and Count Intangible can't come out and bite you.)

We each have our own statistical standards, and mine would exclude both Jim Rice and Jim Rice's twin brother, but if Jim Rice's twin brother also got elected, on balance I'd probably cheer his election for the sheer pleasure of the agita it would cause among the BTF faithful who participate in these neo-HoM discussions. And while I actually agree with most of their statistical quibblings about many of the writers' dubious HoF picks (and non-picks), this is more than countered by the comical sounds of sputtering Primates that I can hear from here to Pennsylvania, conducted by Repoz with the mastery of a Toscanini.
   417. Brian C Posted: August 03, 2011 at 10:20 PM (#3892159)
Other than the size of the plaque room, how do your personal Hall of Fame standards deviate in any way from the guidelines governing the Hall of Merit?

The Hall of Merit's purpose is to "correct" the Hall of Fame's "mistakes"

If the second sentence is true, why would one's Hall of Merit criteria differ from their Hall of Fame criteria? Why would it be a point in Ray's favor if his hypothetical votes for the two institutions are different? That would essentially be saying, "I'm making a 'mistake' with my HoF ballot that I am simultaneously rectifying by submitting a HoM ballot."
   418. Brian C Posted: August 03, 2011 at 10:28 PM (#3892167)
We each have our own statistical standards, and mine would exclude both Jim Rice and Jim Rice's twin brother, but if Jim Rice's twin brother also got elected, on balance I'd probably cheer his election for the sheer pleasure of the agita it would cause among the BTF faithful who participate in these neo-HoM discussions. And while I actually agree with most of their statistical quibblings about many of the writers' dubious HoF picks (and non-picks), this is more than countered by the comical sounds of sputtering Primates that I can hear from here to Pennsylvania, conducted by Repoz with the mastery of a Toscanini.

Having proudly - indeed, self-righteously - dismissed any need for logical consistency, Andy now boasts of his own basic lack of integrity, and presents himself as the annoying little brother of BTF.
   419. robinred Posted: August 03, 2011 at 10:45 PM (#3892180)
If the second sentence is true, why would one's Hall of Merit criteria differ from their Hall of Fame criteria?


Because the character clauses are different, and because many HOF voters, rightly or wrongly, use meta-statistical/non-statistical considerations in making their votes, as several said they did in picking Bruce Sutter and Jim Rice, and as they will no doubt do when they put Ichiro Suzuki in.

As I have said several times, I think bringing the HOM into HOF arguments is dumb--sort of like telling the guy who loses a gubernatorial election that you would be happy to vote for him for dogcatcher.
   420. Brian C Posted: August 03, 2011 at 10:53 PM (#3892188)
Because the character clauses are different, and because many HOF voters, rightly or wrongly, use meta-statistical/non-statistical considerations in making their votes, as several said they did in picking Bruce Sutter and Jim Rice, and as they will no doubt do when they put Ichiro Suzuki in.

Sure, I understand. But the HoM guiding ethos is that these are mistakes, isn't it? It says so right on the HoM's constitution page: "We will attempt to rectify mistakes made by Hall of Fame selections by conducting our own series of elections." I just don't understand why anyone who takes the criteria for the HoM seriously would have a different hypothetical ballot for the HoF.
   421. robinred Posted: August 03, 2011 at 11:17 PM (#3892203)
But the HoM guiding ethos is that these are mistakes, isn't it? It says so right on the HoM's constitution page: "We will attempt to rectify mistakes made by Hall of Fame selections by conducting our own series of elections." I just don't understand why anyone who takes the criteria for the HoM seriously would have a different hypothetical ballot for the HoF.


They wouldn't, and therefore Andy always points out the differences, and says "Put RoiderX in the HoM."

The issue is that some HOMish guys think that the HOM is a better HOF, whereas Andy thinks it is just a different animal. I think all that argument does is muddy the waters and create distractions.

The HOF character clause is vague enough that you can interpret in such a way that Bonds et al get in:

“Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability,
integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to
the team(s) on which the player played"


So, you could say Bonds' integrity and character suck gorilla nuts but his playing record and ability get him in anyway. That is one reason why bringing in the HOM is silly.

If you Google "HOF Character Clause" the first link is a PDF of a guy's 325-page (counting cites) MA Thesis on it.
   422. dlf Posted: August 03, 2011 at 11:23 PM (#3892208)
I just don't understand why anyone who takes the criteria for the HoM seriously would have a different hypothetical ballot for the HoF.


The HOM, in its guidelines, strongly discourages (expressly prohibits?) timelining. I think it would be perfectly acceptable to strongly support, as an example, Joe Start for the HOM while taking the position vis a vis the HOF that he is not one of the 1,000 best professional ballplayers.
   423. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: August 04, 2011 at 12:38 AM (#3892249)
The issue is that some HOMish guys think that the HOM is a better HOF, whereas Andy thinks it is just a different animal. I think all that argument does is muddy the waters and create distractions.

In theory, the HoM is a "better" Hall of Fame that claims merely to "correct" the Hall of Fame's "mistakes". In practice, a two year old can tell that their competing de facto standards are often at great odds. One Hall elects Jim Rice and Catfish Hunter, the other elects Lou Whitaker and gives Dizzy Dean the brushoff. One set of voters will often accompany their votes with anecdotes that indignant Primates dismiss as "anecdotal evidence", the other presents dry sabermetric arguments that often include elaborate spreadsheets taking half an hour to read. Once you get past the obvious slam dunk choices, the two conflicting concepts of Hallworthiness often have very little in common.

The HOF character clause is vague enough that you can interpret in such a way that Bonds et al get in:

“Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability,
integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to
the team(s) on which the player played"



So, you could say Bonds' integrity and character suck gorilla nuts but his playing record and ability get him in anyway.

Of course you can, robin. Of course you can.

Now think real hard and tell me who's been acknowledging in every steroids thread that the character clause is legitimately subject to different legitimate interpretations. And then tell me who fires back with snark and sarcasm at anyone who dares interpret that clause differently than they do. You know the answer to that full well.

And that right there is what drives up the heat on these threads: The fact that some people simply refuse to acknowledge that anyone can honestly interpret the character clause differently than they do without being some sort of a "hypocrite", or other such bullshit. If they interpret the character clause to exclude steroids as a disqualifying factor, I'd disagree, but it's not hard for me to see where they'd get that opinion, and I simply respond at the end of the day with YMMV, and gladly let the matter drop. The problem is that this sentiment is never reciprocated by the most vocal steroids so-whatters, who continually confuse their own wholly subjective interpretations with some pronouncement handed down from Mt. Sinai. It's a form of insisted upon political correctness that in its own feeble way rivals anything dreamed up by the Tea Party or the feminazis.
   424. robinred Posted: August 04, 2011 at 01:02 AM (#3892265)
Now think real hard and tell me who's been acknowledging in every steroids thread that the character clause is legitimately subject to different legitimate interpretations

Agreed. Of course, traffic on Snark Street runs in both directions. ;-
   425. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: August 04, 2011 at 02:31 AM (#3892340)
In theory, the HoM is a "better" Hall of Fame that claims merely to "correct" the Hall of Fame's "mistakes". In practice, a two year old can tell that their competing de facto standards are often at great odds. One Hall elects Jim Rice and Catfish Hunter, the other elects Lou Whitaker and gives Dizzy Dean the brushoff. One set of voters will often accompany their votes with anecdotes that indignant Primates dismiss as "anecdotal evidence", the other presents dry sabermetric arguments that often include elaborate spreadsheets taking half an hour to read. Once you get past the obvious slam dunk choices, the two conflicting concepts of Hallworthiness often have very little in common.
No. There are no conflicting concepts of Hallworthiness. There are just smart voters and stupid voters. But they're both trying to do the same thing. The people who voted for Rice thought he was a great player; they didn't say, "Gee, he wasn't that great, but anecdotally he belongs in the HOF."
   426. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: August 04, 2011 at 02:35 AM (#3892343)
Now think real hard and tell me who's been acknowledging in every steroids thread that the character clause is legitimately subject to different legitimate interpretations

Agreed. Of course, traffic on Snark Street runs in both directions. ;-


Sure does, robin, but to leave it like that implies a false equivalency. You know which side keeps insisting in thread after thread that its own totally legitimate but nevertheless wholly subjective perspective on the steroids question is the only "logical" and "non-hypocritical" one, when a simple "YMMV" would suffice to turn down the heat. It's little more than an attempt to impose a form of political correctness to the steroids question, and it poisons the entire discussion. There's simply no acknowledgment of the basic integrity of the other side's perspective, and they're always quite open and proud about their refusal.
   427. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: August 04, 2011 at 02:45 AM (#3892348)
No. There are no conflicting concepts of Hallworthiness. There are just smart voters and stupid voters. But they're both trying to do the same thing. The people who voted for Rice thought he was a great player; they didn't say, "Gee, he wasn't that great, but anecdotally he belongs in the HOF."

David, of course they'll say he was a "great player", but their arguments in marginal cases often bring in the very sort of factors that HoM voters openly ridicule, in this case the famous "fear factor". You can reduce this to "smart voters and stupid voters" as much as you like, but when their marginal choices in both directions go so consistently against the grain of the HoM choices, you have to be blind not to see that they're often approaching the question of "what makes this player a Hall of Famer?" from quite different directions. Certainly the empirical evidence suggests this divergence.
   428. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: August 04, 2011 at 03:23 AM (#3892365)
David, of course they'll say he was a "great player", but their arguments in marginal cases often bring in the very sort of factors that HoM voters openly ridicule, in this case the famous "fear factor". You can reduce this to "smart voters and stupid voters" as much as you like
Thanks! I will!

You're very confused. That they make bad arguments does not mean that they're doing something different. "Teh Fear!" is just an argument that Rice had a great peak, making him a HOFer. It's not a "different direction." It's just a bad argument, because that's a poor way to evaluate how good his peak was. But it's still a peak argument. This is the same thing the HOM is doing. Why you're determined to pretend otherwise is beyond me. If the HOF voters inducted, e.g., Don Mattingly, saying, "He really wasn't good enough as a performer, but he was such a nice guy that we're voting for him," THAT would be something different. But the HOF doesn't do that.
   429. Brian C Posted: August 04, 2011 at 04:47 AM (#3892403)
In theory, the HoM is a "better" Hall of Fame that claims merely to "correct" the Hall of Fame's "mistakes". In practice, a two year old can tell that their competing de facto standards are often at great odds. One Hall elects Jim Rice and Catfish Hunter, the other elects Lou Whitaker and gives Dizzy Dean the brushoff. One set of voters will often accompany their votes with anecdotes that indignant Primates dismiss as "anecdotal evidence", the other presents dry sabermetric arguments that often include elaborate spreadsheets taking half an hour to read. Once you get past the obvious slam dunk choices, the two conflicting concepts of Hallworthiness often have very little in common.

You say "in theory" and "in practice" as if the "in practice" part isn't a completely natural and desired outcome of the "in theory" part. Of course the standards are at great odds - that's the whole reason the HoM was started up in the first place. That's the point.

So I don't see how you really addressed my question, which is why HoM voters around here would have different standards for the HoF than the HoM. The whole point is that the HoM is what the HoF should be but isn't, hence the language about correcting mistakes.

[Mistake (n.) - An action or judgment that is misguided or wrong.]
   430. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 04, 2011 at 05:14 AM (#3892412)
Now think real hard and tell me who's been acknowledging in every steroids thread that the character clause is legitimately subject to different legitimate interpretations. And then tell me who fires back with snark and sarcasm at anyone who dares interpret that clause differently than they do. You know the answer to that full well.

And that right there is what drives up the heat on these threads: The fact that some people simply refuse to acknowledge that anyone can honestly interpret the character clause differently than they do without being some sort of a "hypocrite", or other such bullshit. If they interpret the character clause to exclude steroids as a disqualifying factor, I'd disagree, but it's not hard for me to see where they'd get that opinion, and I simply respond at the end of the day with YMMV, and gladly let the matter drop.


The problem is that you interpret the character clause one way for one class of drug users, and another way for another class of drug users, when both classes of drug users were using the drugs to enhance their performance.

If you thought that _both_ amps users and steroids users should be denied entry, I'd disagree, but at least the view would be premised on an internally consistent interpretation of the character clause. Instead, you work hard to give amps users their day in court, while going straight to the execution for steroids users.
   431. Brian C Posted: August 04, 2011 at 06:10 AM (#3892434)
The problem is that you interpret the character clause one way for one class of drug users, and another way for another class of drug users, when both classes of drug users were using the drugs to enhance their performance.

I honestly don't have a problem with this. He simply thinks that the effects of steroids are greater and more destructive than amphetamines. It's no more inconsistent than saying he wants bank robbers thrown in prison but jaywalkers let off with a fine - both offenses are breaches of the law but obviously we're able to differentiate between the two quite easily.

Now, his defense of why he thinks this, to the extent that he even bothers to mount one, is unconvincing to me. And I agree that he has an unfortunate habit of formulating arguments against steroids that are broad enough to apply also to amphetamines. But, there's nothing inherently problematic about the position per se, and I imagine that someone with more interest in making sense could do a better job than he does of making that case.
   432. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 04, 2011 at 12:14 PM (#3892470)
Now, his defense of why he thinks this, to the extent that he even bothers to mount one, is unconvincing to me. And I agree that he has an unfortunate habit of formulating arguments against steroids that are broad enough to apply also to amphetamines.


And arguments in defense of amphetamines that are broad enough to apply also to steroids.
   433. BDC Posted: August 04, 2011 at 01:24 PM (#3892506)
As a fan I feel deprived of knowing how far Barry could have lasted. He should have had the same chances to defy father time that Nolan Ryan or Jamie Moyer had (AROM in #400)

I strongly agree. I have no great feelings about Bonds – never saw him play, as Ray might say, though he was very interesting on the TV. His possible jerkitude matters little to me, and his steroid use not at all. It does seem to me against the spirit of the sport that he didn't get a chance to play on, though. He was complying with the rules of his workplace, was obviously better than almost any other DH people could have run out there. (The Rangers had one who was having a Bondsian season in '08, Milton Bradley, or I would have been ballistic over their failure to sign Bonds.)

I wondered at the time, in '08, whether Bonds was getting lowball offers that he disdained. I guess the general opinion is no, that he was completely blackballed. If some team actually tried to sign him for aging-Rickey-Henderson money and he spurned that, I would feel a bit differently. But it actually looked like tacit collusion instead of that. And why, exactly, when any number of other named or caught juicers played on? I'll sound like BBC here, but it certainly had a lot to do with sheer hatred of Barry Lamar for breaking a hallowed record and being unrepentant about it. He was allowed to break Aaron's record and then he was thrown under the bus, and then the bus was driven forward and backward over him for a bit.
   434. BDC Posted: August 04, 2011 at 01:33 PM (#3892517)
And as long as I'm in early-morning rant mode, I did use to draw some distinctions among different classes of drug use. I've long thought that whatever Rose and Mays and Aaron were taking can't have been particularly bad for them, as they had some of the longest and healthiest careers, and have lived into sprightly old age. (By contrast, there were guys who mixed some pretty dire pills and liquor – Eddie Waitkus is the best-documented – and did not have the same kind of longevity or excellence.) I used to think that steroid use of the Canseco/McGwire variety might be really, really bad for the athletes, and have pernicious effects throughout the sport.

But as time goes by, it appears that the steroid crew of the 1990s and 2000s isn't keeling over and dying, bacne notwithstanding. I suspect that the regimens are healthier and more sustainable than they perhaps used to be in Lyle Alzado's youth, and that despite all the shady behavior by BALCO and guys' cousins and Canseco and B-12 salesmen, moderate and focused steroid use by serious adult pro athletes is perhaps not a huge public-health problem. This is a perspective I didn't have a few years ago, and it has made me change my views – not on the morality of steroids, where I've always been a laissez-faire thinker, but on the merits of enshrining juicers with honor in a Hall of Fame.

If Canseco and McGwire drop dead next week of steroid poisoning, my views may shift some more :( Consistency = hobgoblin ...
   435. CrosbyBird Posted: August 04, 2011 at 01:37 PM (#3892521)
It's no more inconsistent than saying he wants bank robbers thrown in prison but jaywalkers let off with a fine - both offenses are breaches of the law but obviously we're able to differentiate between the two quite easily.

It's a bad analogy precisely because we are able to differentiate between robbing banks and jaywalking quite easily while we cannot for steroids and amphetamines.

If someone made the argument that we should imprison robbers because they broke the law, but not jaywalkers, with the underlying principle that breaking the law merits prison, and then insisted that jaywalking wasn't against the law in order to exempt it, that would be a similar argument to the one that Andy makes regularly to distinguish the two.
   436. AROM Posted: August 04, 2011 at 01:49 PM (#3892530)
David, of course they'll say he was a "great player", but their arguments in marginal cases often bring in the very sort of factors that HoM voters openly ridicule, in this case the famous "fear factor". You can reduce this to "smart voters and stupid voters" as much as you like, but when their marginal choices in both directions go so consistently against the grain of the HoM choices, you have to be blind not to see that they're often approaching the question of "what makes this player a Hall of Famer?"


Do you give this much leeway to people who argue for intelligent design? Sometimes stupid is just simply stupid. Rice was no more feared than other slugging outfield contemporaries who had big peaks at the same time and also lost their value quickly - Dave Parker and George Foster. He's no better than they were. Pitchers were more likely to intentionally walk hitters to get to Rice than to IBB Rice himself. "Teh Fear" is a stupid, manufactured concept that was invented for the sole purpose of arguing for Jim Rice. It's irrelevant anyway, but even if it were, it is not accurate.

I strongly agree. I have no great feelings about Bonds – never saw him play, as Ray might say, though he was very interesting on the TV. His possible jerkitude matters little to me, and his steroid use not at all. It does seem to me against the spirit of the sport that he didn't get a chance to play on, though.


At the same time, guys who were found to be steroid users and who sucked, like Jay Gibbons, were given chances to keep playing. Extremely shameful chapter in baseball history. It's not comparable to segregation, but I'd put it right there with 1985-87 collusion. And worse than anything Bonds individually* did to the sport. *Whatever you think of steroids, Bonds was only one of hundreds (thousands?) doing it, with owners, GMs, managers, coaches, trainers either actively helping or looking the other way.
   437. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: August 04, 2011 at 02:23 PM (#3892565)
C-Bird stakes out premise that allows for no disagreement. C-Bird formulates analogy based on that premise. C-Bird draws conclusion based on that analogy. C-Bird knows that anyone who disagrees with his premise is a hypocrite. And as long as his BTF Nodding In Agreement Network holds out, C-Bird will never lack for positive reinforcement. Preach on, brother C-Bird, preach on.
   438. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: August 04, 2011 at 02:31 PM (#3892573)
David, of course they'll say he was a "great player", but their arguments in marginal cases often bring in the very sort of factors that HoM voters openly ridicule, in this case the famous "fear factor". You can reduce this to "smart voters and stupid voters" as much as you like, but when their marginal choices in both directions go so consistently against the grain of the HoM choices, you have to be blind not to see that they're often approaching the question of "what makes this player a Hall of Famer?"

Do you give this much leeway to people who argue for intelligent design? Sometimes stupid is just simply stupid.


The only "leeway" I give to stupid HoF voters, stupid intelligent design advocates, and stupid libertarian reductionists is that I recognize that they're operating under different sets of premises than I am. Nothing more to it than that, and I can't see why this seems to bother you or anyone else. But if you want to reduce it to a case of Stupid vs. Non-Stupid, fine. Whatever gives you pleasure.
   439. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 04, 2011 at 03:11 PM (#3892617)
I strongly agree. I have no great feelings about Bonds – never saw him play, as Ray might say, though he was very interesting on the TV. His possible jerkitude matters little to me, and his steroid use not at all. It does seem to me against the spirit of the sport that he didn't get a chance to play on, though. He was complying with the rules of his workplace, was obviously better than almost any other DH people could have run out there. (The Rangers had one who was having a Bondsian season in '08, Milton Bradley, or I would have been ballistic over their failure to sign Bonds.)


I agree as well, and have commented on this before. I have no particular affinity towards Bonds, other than the fact that I love following great players. I didn't grow up watching him, and didn't see him play all that much, even on tv. I saw him a little more as he was approaching the record because his PAs were more visible. I probably saw him once in person, at a Mets game in 2006 (he tried to make a diving catch but thought it was 1986 instead of 2006 and came up six feet short).

But I also wanted to see how long he could go for, and I think it's a shame we didn't get to see that.

There's a lot of venom directed at him, but I don't care about how nice a player is off the field, so I've never felt any of the hatred for him. I've defended him against unfair criticisms or baseless attacks, which I guess makes me seem like a (to borrow from Murray Chass) "Bonds fan." But, like when libertarians get branded as conservatives when they argue with liberals, I'm not actually a Bonds fan, and don't have much of an opinion about him off the field. I have enormous respect for what he did as a baseball player, and for how smart he was on the field.

I think either he or Ruth is the greatest position player ever (minus Ruth's pitching), and I don't dock him an ounce for steroids. It simply doesn't enter into my calculus when I consider the question of who the greatest player or hitter was.

I wondered at the time, in '08, whether Bonds was getting lowball offers that he disdained. I guess the general opinion is no, that he was completely blackballed. If some team actually tried to sign him for aging-Rickey-Henderson money and he spurned that, I would feel a bit differently.


All available evidence is that he received zero offers. Yes, that evidence comes from his agent, but it also hasn't been contradicted by anyone or anything. Bonds's agent offered him for the minimum, and from all the evidence we have, not one team bit.
   440. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: August 04, 2011 at 03:22 PM (#3892634)
The only "leeway" I give to stupid HoF voters, stupid intelligent design advocates, and stupid libertarian reductionists is that I recognize that they're operating under different sets of premises than I am.
So was Hitler. I think.
Nothing more to it than that, and I can't see why this seems to bother you or anyone else.
Because it's mindless and empty as a statement, and intellectually nihilist. And very disrespectful; it says to such a person, "Not only don't I care enough about you to listen to what you say, but I don't even care enough about you to try to convince you of my position."
   441. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 04, 2011 at 03:23 PM (#3892635)
It's a bad analogy precisely because we are able to differentiate between robbing banks and jaywalking quite easily while we cannot for steroids and amphetamines.


Yes.
   442. Brian C Posted: August 04, 2011 at 03:50 PM (#3892656)
It's a bad analogy precisely because we are able to differentiate between robbing banks and jaywalking quite easily while we cannot for steroids and amphetamines.

If someone made the argument that we should imprison robbers because they broke the law, but not jaywalkers, with the underlying principle that breaking the law merits prison, and then insisted that jaywalking wasn't against the law in order to exempt it, that would be a similar argument to the one that Andy makes regularly to distinguish the two.

Well, yes, of course Andy's arguments are poorly thought out and occasionally nonsensical, no disagreement there.

That we're able to easily differentiate between bank robbing and jaywalking is precisely why I made the analogy, to show that similarity of type does not preclude differences in scale. Andy was making an argument regarding the latter, while Ray was countering by arguing the former. Yes, it's harder to diffentiate between amphetamines and steroids, but that doesn't make the position itself invalid on its face. Further evidence in time may well show that steroids are more dangerous and enhance baseball performance more than amphetamines.
   443. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: August 04, 2011 at 04:03 PM (#3892666)
And the Nodding In Agreement Network marches on. You guys should do lunch sometime.
   444. robinred Posted: August 04, 2011 at 04:09 PM (#3892673)
Further evidence in time may well show that steroids are more dangerous and enhance baseball performance more than amphetamines.


Well, a lot of people think that enough evidence to that effect is already there. Others don't, of course.

And very disrespectful; it says to such a person, "Not only don't I care enough about you to listen to what you say, but I don't even care enough about you to try to convince you of my position."


Heh.
   445. robinred Posted: August 04, 2011 at 04:10 PM (#3892674)
And the Nodding In Agreement Network marches on.


Well, Brian wasn't all that way in 442.
   446. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 04, 2011 at 04:23 PM (#3892683)
That we're able to easily differentiate between bank robbing and jaywalking is precisely why I made the analogy, to show that similarity of type does not preclude differences in scale. Andy was making an argument regarding the latter, while Ray was countering by arguing the former.


I don't think Andy argues the latter; that is, I don't think he argues "Yes, amphetamines enhance performance beyond the player's natural state, but just by a little; steroids do that by much more." He simply argues that amphetamines don't enhance performance beyond the player's natural, rested state.

Yes, it's harder to diffentiate between amphetamines and steroids, but that doesn't make the position itself invalid on its face.


I think it does.

Further evidence in time may well show that steroids are more dangerous and enhance baseball performance more than amphetamines.


It may; but that hasn't happened, and even if does, it would be a difference in degree, not in kind.
   447. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 04, 2011 at 04:45 PM (#3892703)
I don't think Andy argues the latter; that is, I don't think he argues "Yes, amphetamines enhance performance beyond the player's natural state, but just by a little; steroids do that by much more." He simply argues that amphetamines don't enhance performance beyond the player's natural, rested state.


The upshot of this is that the players had no way to know if the PEDs they were taking were kosher or not until after they had used them and their effects on the field had been documented.

"Hey, I was thinking about trying these steroids; do you know if they'd be accepted by the baseball community or not?" "I don't know, we'll have to wait and see if anyone hits 70 homers while using them."

If steroids acted more like amphetamines, Bonds wouldn't have been slugging .800 in the early 2000s - but he also would have been playing 155 games a year rather than 130, and might have broken Aaron's record anyway. In that case, I don't think anyone would have cared which PEDs he was using.
   448. Brian C Posted: August 04, 2011 at 04:48 PM (#3892704)
I don't think Andy argues the latter; that is, I don't think he argues "Yes, amphetamines enhance performance beyond the player's natural state, but just by a little; steroids do that by much more."

That's just semantics, though, based on what is meant by "natural state." Or actually, drawing the line at enhancement beyond the "natural state" (and especially "natural, rested state") is simply an arbitrary action in the first place. One substance may only enhance up to a "natural state" and the other beyond that, but that's still a difference in scale and not in type.

They're still performance-enhancing substances, but that doesn't inherently mean that they ought to be treated in the same way. Andy seems to misunderstand the first point, while you seem to misunderstand the second.

I think it does.

Then I would argue that you need to differentiate between Andy's position on one hand vs. his hapless argumentation for that position on the other. If the possibility that he may be right exists - and you just acknowledged it does ("it may," you said) - then it's hard to say the position is inherently invalid.

... and even if does, it would be a difference in degree, not in kind.

Well, yes. That's my point, isn't it?
   449. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: August 04, 2011 at 04:55 PM (#3892710)
That's just semantics, though, based on what is meant by "natural state." Or actually, drawing the line at enhancement beyond the "natural state" is simply an arbitrary action in the first place. One substance may only enhance up to a "natural state," and the other beyond that, but that's still a difference in scale and not in type.
The problem is, there's no such thing as a platonic "natural state." The concept isn't coherently defined. For instance, it's "natural" to not be at one's "natural state" after one has exerted oneself. If one uses a drug to get back to one's "natural state" at a time when one would "naturally" be below that, how is that "natural"? Moreover, what's "natural" anyway? Every training regimen allows one to perform better with it than without (or it will be quickly abandoned). That goes for vitamins as well as amphetamines as well as steroids. There's no way to define "natural state" non-tautologically. Like pornography, Andy just knows it when he sees it. (I assume he knows pornography when he sees it.) But that's not the basis for a policy, particularly a punitive one.
   450. CrosbyBird Posted: August 04, 2011 at 05:51 PM (#3892766)
Then I would argue that you need to differentiate between Andy's position on one hand vs. his hapless argumentation for that position on the other. If the possibility that he may be right exists - and you just acknowledged it does ("it may," you said) - then it's hard to say the position is inherently invalid.

I agree with you here. I rarely will say that anyone's position is "inherently" invalid. Andy's position is ridiculous because he doesn't apply a clear and consistent set of principles that are reasonably supportable.

Further evidence in time may well show that steroids are more dangerous and enhance baseball performance more than amphetamines.

And at that time, it will be reasonable to distinguish the two on the grounds of danger and enhancement.

I can't speak for Ray, because we're not some sort of mechanical constructs with identical programming, but I've never once maintained that it's impossible for steroids to be more dangerous or more enhancing than amphetamines. My position is that nobody ever taking the position that they are has ever been able to support it with reasonable evidence. Andy's "natural state" position is actually worse than not having enough evidence; it is counter-factual.

Amphetamines most certainly enhance a human being beyond a "natural state." This is not a matter of debate, but biological fact. It isn't something that reasonable people can disagree about. It isn't even something that's not known; there's no need to speculate. You can absolutely say that while amphetamines are "human-enhancing" that it will not necessarily translate into them being "baseball-enhancing," and that you can't know with certainty that they are indeed "baseball-enhancing." In fact, that is my position. But if you take that position, then you must take a similar position regarding steroids as "baseball-enhancing" because there is no more clear evidence that steroids are certainly "baseball-enhancing" as opposed to merely "human-enhancing" (the latter being beyond dispute, for the same reasons that the "human-enhancing" nature of amphetamines is beyond dispute).

To go back to the robbery/jaywalking analogy, saying that amphetamines are just like espresso (so that Andy can be sure I'm not just picking on him, but anyone who makes this absolutely ludicrous argument) is like saying that robbery is just like jaywalking.

Let's be clear about one thing. I'm not taking the position that steroids can't indeed enhance baseball performance more than amphetamines. They very well might, and as soon as there's sufficient evidence supporting that position, I'll adopt it too, and I'm always open to any sort of evidence that anyone cares to provide in support. That's what keeps me in these discussions. Every once in a while, someone actually brings up a point I haven't considered. I learned a lot about how amphetamines actually affect the human body because I felt compelled to address the ridiculousness of the "amphetamines are coffee" position. I learned a lot about the differences in the baseball as a direct result of trying to find possible alternatives to "steroids were the primary cause of the offensive explosion."

I have only two dogs in this fight: seeking truth (or as close as I can get to it), and fairness. I remain, to date, convinced that it is only fair to treat steroids and amphetamines equally, but that is subject to change as soon as solid evidence shows up. I don't see what's more reasonable than that.
   451. Brian C Posted: August 04, 2011 at 06:20 PM (#3892797)
I remain, to date, convinced that it is only fair to treat steroids and amphetamines equally, but that is subject to change as soon as solid evidence shows up. I don't see what's more reasonable than that.

We're in agreement here. I would be helpful for the steroids vs. amphetamines distinction to be addressed by someone more serious than Andy, because it's quite relevant given what we know about the widespread use of amphetamines. And I agree with Ray that the conventional wisdom by the Roid Crusaders on the subject - basically to ignore amphetamines - is ridiculously inadequate. I just think he went a little too far in assuming their equivalence, whether in terms of their impact on statistics or as a "character" issue.
   452. Ron J Posted: August 04, 2011 at 06:40 PM (#3892813)
#437 But Andy you are arguing as an ID advocate does. Anything that can't be perfectly explained is evidence that God did it. (I've actually restrained myself for some time with this argument. Knowing that you'd find it offensive to be compared to an ID. But you brought them into the argument. Oh well.)
   453. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: August 04, 2011 at 07:06 PM (#3892834)
I don't think Andy argues the latter; that is, I don't think he argues "Yes, amphetamines enhance performance beyond the player's natural state, but just by a little; steroids do that by much more." He simply argues that amphetamines don't enhance performance beyond the player's natural, rested state.


That's just semantics, though, based on what is meant by "natural state." Or actually, drawing the line at enhancement beyond the "natural state" (and especially "natural, rested state") is simply an arbitrary action in the first place. One substance may only enhance up to a "natural state" and the other beyond that, but that's still a difference in scale and not in type.

They're still performance-enhancing substances, but that doesn't inherently mean that they ought to be treated in the same way. Andy seems to misunderstand the first point, while you seem to misunderstand the second.


Then I would argue that you need to differentiate between Andy's position on one hand vs. his hapless argumentation for that position on the other. If the possibility that he may be right exists - and you just acknowledged it does ("it may," you said) - then it's hard to say the position is inherently invalid.

I agree with you here. I rarely will say that anyone's position is "inherently" invalid. Andy's position is ridiculous because he doesn't apply a clear and consistent set of principles that are reasonably supportable.


We're in agreement here. I would be helpful for the steroids vs. amphetamines distinction to be addressed by someone more serious than Andy,


I have to admit that it's kind of fun to watch you Talmudic scholars interpret what I've said, but since I don't want to see be the cause of a secondary catfight, I'll speak for myself and let you resume directing your barbs against me. So here it is from the horse's mouth:

---Amphetamines do enhance performance, but not past the point of any previously demonstrated well-rested talent level. There is not even a hint of statistical evidence that would suggest otherwise, and no tests that even begin to replicate the conditions of a Major League batter-pitcher matchup, with two pound clubs required to make perfect contact with baseballs thrown at constantly changing speeds and directions.

That this troublesome point is either dismissed or not acknowledged at all, but simply blown off as evidence of my scientific illiteracy, tells me a lot about the self-professed "openmindedness" of the people who constantly cite such tests as evidence of amphetamines' enhancement qualities.

---Amphetamines might well add to certain counting stats, and though that's making the assumption that repeated use of them has no counterbalancing negative effects, it's still an arguable case that I wouldn't rule out. If a player gets hooked on amps his overall production level might slip at some point, but it's also possible that for counting stats, the extra games might make up for it. I've acknowledged this sub-point for years, and have no problem with repeating that acknowledgment, but it's in an entirely different realm.

---You can send 750 bright high school students to the best college in the world, and yet out of that group, only a tiny handful of them might have the inherent ability and dedication to take fullest advantage of what that college offers. I don't think that the fact that most of those students lack the sufficient degree of talent or dedication to rise to the top shows that this college affords no inherent advantage to those who possess those attributes.

---The question of defining a player's "well-rested, normal state" is a fair one, and it's also fair to point out that "well-rested" doesn't always coincide with "normal". But I don't think that for this purpose, it's out of line to assume that the "well-rested, normal state" doesn't include games played on three hours sleep, or second games of a doubleheader played in a St. Louis or Washington July. Since the effect of amphetamines is short lived and the dosages vary widely, if they had real added "enhancement" effect you'd think that we'd see rate stats rise in those games where players would be most likely to have taken them---games on short rest, second games of doubleheaders, and games played with a hangover. If someone could produce such a correlation for any legendary amped-up player (Rose or Mantle will do) over the course of any reasonable length of time, even for just one or two seasons, then I might begin to reconsider my position, and consider any comparisons to Barry Bonds's remarkable "coincidental" geriatric invigoration.

---As to the relative tolerance by baseball of amps and steroids, it seems to me to be slam dunk obvious that there's a vast difference between jars of pills openly placed in a clubhouse for players to dip their fists into, and treatments that were made on the sly behind closed doors. I'd argue that this amounted to a difference in kind, and at the very least a sizable difference in degree.

---Home runs records may matter to Billy Crystal and some MSM writers and commentators, but to me they're merely symptoms of the underlying problem of juiced-up Player A groups facing non-juiced-up Pitcher B groups, thousands upon thousands of times during the course of any given season. In terms of team vs team, it likely balances out, and in any case what's done is done. But in terms of Player vs Pitcher, the juiced-up group will often have an unfair advantage, and seldom if ever a disadvantage. The effect on individual stat lines may annoy or enrage the Crystals and the Costases, but AFAIC that's the least of what I care about WRT steroids. Barry Bonds holds all the home run records, and though anyone who wants to can asterisk away to his heart's content, you can't shove the genie back into the juice jar.

---Each and every one of the above points rests upon key assumptions on my part, all of which are based on subjective observation and subjective interpretation of data. I fully concede all of that, and I fully respect those who start with different subjective premises and definitions. But what I do have a right to expect in return is that respect is reciprocated. The truth is that if either of our premises and conclusions were demonstrably 100% correct, the baseball world at large would have also figured it out by now and concluded accordingly.** It's funny how all those bromides about "the wisdom of crowds" never seems to be applied when it comes to subjects where people seem to have an emotional or ideological stake in a particular conclusion, and that "crowd wisdom" goes the other way. But I guess it's always easier to conclude that your opponents are nothing but stupid hypocrites.

**I say "baseball world" because that limits the pool to those with concentrated firsthand knowledge of the game on the field, its history and its culture. The fact that some members of that world are much better informed than others doesn't disprove this point, any more than the fact that its members are often in disagreement. I'm talking about the sort of consensus that's been revealed in the Hall of Fame votes up to now, with voting totals that (so far, at least) leave little room for doubt.
   454. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: August 04, 2011 at 07:16 PM (#3892844)
#437 But Andy you are arguing as an ID advocate does. Anything that can't be perfectly explained is evidence that God did it.

Of course the scientific world is full of working assumptions based on theories that have yet to be "proven" with 100% certainty. And if you think that extrapolating from amp tests in a lab to "enhancement beyond normal, well-rested talent levels" on a Major League diamond hasn't got plenty of faith-based sentiment behind it, I can only marvel at your choice of religion.

(I've actually restrained myself for some time with this argument. Knowing that you'd find it offensive to be compared to an ID. But you brought them into the argument. Oh well.)

Since that's fairly low on the totem pole of what I've previously read here, I think I can manage to live with it.
   455. Brian C Posted: August 04, 2011 at 07:36 PM (#3892864)
As to the relative tolerance by baseball of amps and steroids, it seems to me to be slam dunk obvious that there's a vast difference between jars of pills openly placed in a clubhouse for players to dip their fists into, and treatments that were made on the sly behind closed doors. I'd argue that this amounted to a difference in kind, and at the very least a sizable difference in degree.

I do agree that a reasonable argument about "character" can be built around this point. I'm not quite sure I agree on the particulars; for something done "on the sly behind closed doors", one gets the feeling that a lot of people within the game knew what was going on, and that there was a general tolerated-if-not-outright-accepted mentality towards PEDs. But nonetheless, for those who hang their hats on character issues, I think it's clear that steroids were not accepted to the same degree that amphetamines were, and that that is a relevant point.

I think it's hair-splitting personally, and enormously petty to make a HoF disqualification based on this thin of a rationale, but then again for the most part the whole point of invoking the "character" guideline is to provide people with hazy but convenient rationales for judgments that they wouldn't otherwise be able to justify. So I guess it's appropriate in that regard.
   456. Brian C Posted: August 04, 2011 at 07:54 PM (#3892889)
Of course the scientific world is full of working assumptions based on theories that have yet to be "proven" with 100% certainty. And if you think that extrapolating from amp tests in a lab to "enhancement beyond normal, well-rested talent levels" on a Major League diamond hasn't got plenty of faith-based sentiment behind it, I can only marvel at your choice of religion.

The three main components of this response are as follows:
1) I'll believe what I want
2) #### your scientists
3) #### you, too
   457. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 04, 2011 at 08:00 PM (#3892894)
---Amphetamines do enhance performance, but not past the point of any previously demonstrated well-rested talent level. There is not even a hint of statistical evidence that would suggest otherwise, and no tests that even begin to replicate the conditions of a Major League batter-pitcher matchup, with two pound clubs required to make perfect contact with baseballs thrown at constantly changing speeds and directions.


And once again, the problem with this is that you demand "statistical evidence" and "tests that replicate the conditions of a major league batter-pitcher matchup" for one to show that "amphetamines are performance-enhancing past the point of any previously demonstrated well-rested talent level," but you don't demand anything like that for steroids.

At best that's irrational. At worst it's dishonest. Either way, it is not a position worthy of "respect." So I don't know why you think you'd "have a right to expect that in return." Positions that don't logically follow aren't worthy of respect. Did you "respect" Al Campanis's views, on some misguided notion that all views are worthy of respect, or did you simply find them irrational?
   458. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 04, 2011 at 08:06 PM (#3892900)
I do agree that a reasonable argument about "character" can be built around this point. I'm not quite sure I agree on the particulars; for something done "on the sly behind closed doors", one gets the feeling that a lot of people within the game knew what was going on, and that there was a general tolerated-if-not-outright-accepted mentality towards PEDs. But nonetheless, for those who hang their hats on character issues, I think it's clear that steroids were not accepted to the same degree that amphetamines were, and that that is a relevant point.


I don't think that's clear at all. Players spoke openly to each other about steroid use and passed around their dealers. Clubs didn't care. The league didn't care enough to collectively bargain the issue, until a grandstanding government stuck its nose in.

What you're noting is simply the result of a change in societal norms. In the 60s and 70s, there were jars of amps in the clubhouse. Somewhere along the line, that changed with society. In the 90s, were there jars of amps in the clubhouse, while steroids stayed "hidden"? Societal norms change. At one point "oriental" was perfectly acceptable to describe a person, and then society changed and now its thought racist to use the word to describe anything except an object. That's all you're observing here.
   459. dlf Posted: August 04, 2011 at 08:22 PM (#3892913)
---Amphetamines do enhance performance, but not past the point of any previously demonstrated well-rested talent level. There is not even a hint of statistical evidence that would suggest otherwise, and no tests that even begin to replicate the conditions of a Major League batter-pitcher matchup, with two pound clubs required to make perfect contact with baseballs thrown at constantly changing speeds and directions.

That this troublesome point is either dismissed or not acknowledged at all, but simply blown off as evidence of my scientific illiteracy, tells me a lot about the self-professed "openmindedness" of the people who constantly cite such tests as evidence of amphetamines' enhancement qualities.


Several points:

1. The first sentence is a factual statement that does not seem supported by any actual fact. To the contrary, this class of drugs is designed not to alieviate hangovers, but to - among other things - enhance concentration in otherwise well rested people. I don't know why you'd assume baseball players are immune to this affect.

2. That no labratory tests have ever been conducted on the efficacy of steroids as baseball performance enhancers does not seem to have changed your opinion on their enhancing qualities; why single out amps for this level of rigor?

3. The only difference that I can see is that you are claiming that there is clear evidence of a steroid impact statistically on the game but as pointed out before, separating an increase in ISO or other "evidence" from the 90s performance levels from the results of double-dipped maple bats, body armor, strike zone changes, expansion, ballpark reconfiguation, et cetera, ad nauseum assumes the conclusion rather than proves it. Furthermore, the increase in Bonds' ISO is no more stunning than the incredible increase in 500 career homer hitters in the 60s or the rebirth of the 80-100 steals in a year, or the smashing of pitching records that had stood since the deadball, or the first of the 400-400 players, or any number of other statistical feats of that generation; why is ISO different than SB?

Since the effect of amphetamines is short lived and the dosages vary widely, if they had real added "enhancement" effect you'd think that we'd see rate stats rise in those games where players would be most likely to have taken them---games on short rest, second games of doubleheaders, and games played with a hangover.


Again, this assumes -- completely without any factual support -- the conclusion that the only effect is to return a player to a so-called normal state. That assumption appears to fly in the face of statements of players and the known pharmacological effects.

----------

Setting aside Andy's position, I do think there is a distinction that can be made between amps and 'roids. It is purely an esthetic argument:

A. Amps are taken with the intent to increase performance by increasing concentration
B. Steroids are taken with the intent to increase performance by increasing strength
C. Increases in strength allow a pitcher to throw harder or batter to swing faster; increases in concentration allow a batter to swing more precisely or a pitcher to repeat his delivery with greater exactitude
D. Assuming that the two classes of PEDs work as their users and designers intend, steroids would tend to increase the TTOs while amps would tend to decrease the TTO
E. Having more balls in play is an esthetically desired outcome
F. There is nothing inherently 'good' about baseball or particularly winning baseball; it is entertainment and we should reward those players who are most entertaining
G. Therefore we should reward (or withhold punishing) conduct intended to increase this result and penalize (or fail to reward) conduct that harms it.
   460. Brian C Posted: August 04, 2011 at 08:27 PM (#3892919)
What you're noting is simply the result of a change in societal norms. In the 60s and 70s, there were jars of amps in the clubhouse. Somewhere along the line, that changed with society. In the 90s, were there jars of amps in the clubhouse, while steroids stayed "hidden"? Societal norms change. At one point "oriental" was perfectly acceptable to describe a person, and then society changed and now its thought racist to use the word to describe anything except an object. That's all you're observing here.

You're probably right for the most part, but this cuts both ways. To the extent that there was a change in societal norms, that bolsters Andy's point more than the one you're trying to make. After all, that means that greenies were even more acceptable by 1960s standards than steroids were by 1990s standards. It's hard to argue that societal changes made PEDs less acceptable while denying that PEDs were less acceptable.
   461. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 04, 2011 at 08:54 PM (#3892945)
You're probably right for the most part, but this cuts both ways. To the extent that there was a change in societal norms, that bolsters Andy's point more than the one you're trying to make. After all, that means that greenies were even more acceptable by 1960s standards than steroids were by 1990s standards. It's hard to argue that societal changes made PEDs less acceptable while denying that PEDs were less acceptable.


Well, I suspect clubs changed their behavior as to what was put into jars in the clubhouse simply for legal purposes, rather than because they - or the players, or anyone outside the game - cared whether players were using amps.

It would be odd to say that a player taking an amp in 1970 was committing no crime against baseball, but a player taking the same amp in 1995 was.
   462. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: August 04, 2011 at 08:59 PM (#3892950)
I've been over so many of the issues being raised here that I honestly don't want to begin yet another round, especially since I'm meeting a fellow Primate for dinner and don't have time to follow up. I'll only address one of Brian's points.

As to the relative tolerance by baseball of amps and steroids, it seems to me to be slam dunk obvious that there's a vast difference between jars of pills openly placed in a clubhouse for players to dip their fists into, and treatments that were made on the sly behind closed doors. I'd argue that this amounted to a difference in kind, and at the very least a sizable difference in degree.

I do agree that a reasonable argument about "character" can be built around this point. I'm not quite sure I agree on the particulars; for something done "on the sly behind closed doors", one gets the feeling that a lot of people within the game knew what was going on, and that there was a general tolerated-if-not-outright-accepted mentality towards PEDs. But nonetheless, for those who hang their hats on character issues, I think it's clear that steroids were not accepted to the same degree that amphetamines were, and that that is a relevant point.

I think it's hair-splitting personally, and enormously petty to make a HoF disqualification based on this thin of a rationale, but then again for the most part the whole point of invoking the "character" guideline is to provide people with hazy but convenient rationales for judgments that they wouldn't otherwise be able to justify. So I guess it's appropriate in that regard.


I'll own up to that if you can provide me any instance where I've shown that I have anything against Barry Bonds other than steroids. Lisa can back me up on this if you really need any proof.

And again, I don't claim any particular objectivity for my overall take on steroids, but whatever else you want to say about it, it's not based either on personalities or on era worship. I like today's game (and the game we had in the "steroid era") far better than the game I grew up with in the era of Mantle, Aaron and Maris. Steroids are a serious blemish, but they hardly negate all the countering improvements in talent and variety. I've watched and enjoyed more baseball in the past 15 years than at any previous point in my life.
   463. Brian C Posted: August 04, 2011 at 09:05 PM (#3892956)
It would be odd to say that a player taking an amp in 1970 was committing no crime against baseball, but a player taking the same amp in 1995 was.

Not really, especially if societal norms had changed along the way. And in this case, the formal rules changed within that time period as well, so I'm not sure what you mean.
   464. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 04, 2011 at 09:15 PM (#3892963)
I've watched and enjoyed more baseball in the past 15 years than at any previous point in my life.


Yes. So have all the people who were b!tching about steroids and "juicers" while showing up at the ballpark to help MLB set record attendance levels. This proves precisely nothing.
   465. Brian C Posted: August 04, 2011 at 09:42 PM (#3892976)
I'll own up to that if you can provide me any instance where I've shown that I have anything against Barry Bonds other than steroids.

I'll take your word for it, but to me, this only makes your stance on Bonds all the more strange. You don't seem to disagree that, judged simply on his play, Bonds deserves to be in the HoF. In fact, you don't seem to disagree that he would deserve to even if his numbers were weighted for steroids, so to speak. You don't seem to think that he had any other character issues other than steroids that would warrant keeping him out of the HoF. And even as far as steroids go, you don't seem to believe that steroid use is such a black mark against the game that it warrants expulsion from the league or anything so drastic as that. And unlike you presumably would be for a major gambling scandal or something like that, you're not interested in any kind of further investigation into who else may have committed this crime against the game - you're content with those that have already been singled out for some reason or another. You're downright nonchalant about the possibility that players who have used steroids may already be in the Hall or that players whose use is not publically known might get in.

In other words, when you put your argument together, what you seem to be saying that steroid use was such a horrible problem that penalties should primarily be enforced only against the greatest players in the game, even in the absence of definitive proof, but only those who played during a certain era, and only those that the media have bothered to raise a stink about, and don't worry about anyone else.

Which, I guess is your right, as you're fond of pointing out. But it's a very odd way to approach something that you claim as a grave problem. If you were being petty and vindictive, it would be contemptible, but at least it would be easy to understand. But the harsh selectivity of your approach, given the stated absence of any ulterior motive, is baffling.
   466. CrosbyBird Posted: August 05, 2011 at 12:06 AM (#3893060)
Amphetamines do enhance performance, but not past the point of any previously demonstrated well-rested talent level. There is not even a hint of statistical evidence that would suggest otherwise, and no tests that even begin to replicate the conditions of a Major League batter-pitcher matchup, with two pound clubs required to make perfect contact with baseballs thrown at constantly changing speeds and directions.

That this troublesome point is either dismissed or not acknowledged at all, but simply blown off as evidence of my scientific illiteracy, tells me a lot about the self-professed "openmindedness" of the people who constantly cite such tests as evidence of amphetamines' enhancement qualities.


It has been repeatedly acknowledged and addressed. You can no more isolate steroids than you can amphetamines from the context of the eras. You demand a level of academic rigor for amphetamines that you do not demand for steroids; you have two incompatible standards.

Show me the experimental data that proves that steroids enhance performance, with tests that even begin to replicate the conditions of a Major League batter-pitcher matchup, with two pound clubs required to make perfect contact with baseballs thrown at constantly changing speeds and directions. Why don't you require this sort of data for amphetamines, if it's relevant?

Show me the statistical evidence that steroids increase baseball performance. Make sure you adjust properly for the changes in composition of the baseball, the increased incidence of weight-training, better equipment, expansion, ballparks, and the other factors that are also different in the "steroid era." (Two things happening at the same time is not evidence than one caused the other.)

If you applied the same exacting standards of proof to steroids as you did to amphetamines, you would certainly conclude that there is not enough data. If you apply a different standard of proof, then you're not really deciding in good faith. I'm using your standards, as you have presented them in hundreds of threads.

---You can send 750 bright high school students to the best college in the world, and yet out of that group, only a tiny handful of them might have the inherent ability and dedication to take fullest advantage of what that college offers. I don't think that the fact that most of those students lack the sufficient degree of talent or dedication to rise to the top shows that this college affords no inherent advantage to those who possess those attributes.

This is irrelevant.

You can give 750 great baseball players amphetamines, and yet out of that group...


---Since the effect of amphetamines is short lived and the dosages vary widely, if they had real added "enhancement" effect you'd think that we'd see rate stats rise in those games where players would be most likely to have taken them---games on short rest, second games of doubleheaders, and games played with a hangover. If someone could produce such a correlation for any legendary amped-up player (Rose or Mantle will do) over the course of any reasonable length of time, even for just one or two seasons, then I might begin to reconsider my position, and consider any comparisons to Barry Bonds's remarkable "coincidental" geriatric invigoration.

Why would you expect this? If amphetamines are enhancing, we'd expect players to be taking them all the time (the way players actually did take them, so we don't even have to speculate). If they made players merely restored to their "normal state" then we'd expect the results in such games to be equivalent (assuming the sample size were sufficient, of course), not better. If they are enhancing, we'd expect the "non-tired games" to be better, but of course that's no different from what we'd expect without any enhancement at all.

---As to the relative tolerance by baseball of amps and steroids, it seems to me to be slam dunk obvious that there's a vast difference between jars of pills openly placed in a clubhouse for players to dip their fists into, and treatments that were made on the sly behind closed doors. I'd argue that this amounted to a difference in kind, and at the very least a sizable difference in degree.

That would be a fair point if baseball clubhouses were putting out those jars of pills at the same time as the steroid use was done "on the sly." There was a pretty substantial shift in this country's attitude toward drugs and everything became hidden.

Remember, Bonds tested positive for amphetamines, and he wasn't taking them out in the open.

---Each and every one of the above points rests upon key assumptions on my part, all of which are based on subjective observation and subjective interpretation of data. I fully concede all of that, and I fully respect those who start with different subjective premises and definitions. But what I do have a right to expect in return is that respect is reciprocated.

Some of those assumptions are false, or based on applying different standards to different substances. Those are not positions that are worthy of respect, which is why you're not getting it.

Even entirely subjective positions are not equally deserving of respect. My rejection of bigotry is subjective: I do not believe that skin color is a reasonable way to differentiate merit. Someone else might, subjectively, believe that skin color is a reasonable way to differentiate merit, and I don't feel any obligation at all to "respect their different subjective premises and definitions." And neither do you.

The truth is that if either of our premises and conclusions were demonstrably 100% correct, the baseball world at large would have also figured it out by now and concluded accordingly.**

My premise is that you don't have certainty!

It's funny how all those bromides about "the wisdom of crowds" never seems to be applied when it comes to subjects where people seem to have an emotional or ideological stake in a particular conclusion, and that "crowd wisdom" goes the other way. But I guess it's always easier to conclude that your opponents are nothing but stupid hypocrites.

My personal stake is the truth, and fairness. People aren't stupid hypocrites because they disagree with me, but they may certainly disagree with me because they are stupid hypocrites. Of course, I've never called you stupid or a hypocrite. You just make pretty terrible arguments.
   467. Moeball Posted: August 05, 2011 at 02:32 AM (#3893189)
Sorry I'm late to the party, ladies and gentlemen, didn't get my invitation in the mail!

Clearly this is a topic people care strongly about - y'all are on your way towards the 500-post club - that should get you automatic induction into something. I have no idea what the record for a thread here is; I'm a relative newcomer. At any rate, I have several questions - I come to this site because the discussions are usually more intelligent than what I find elsewhere so I'm hoping someone has done more research into these matters than I and can therefore shed light on some things.

1)Looking at MLB's drug policy - they now have the 3 strikes rule re: steroids meaning they view this seriously enough that if a player gets caught 3 times he may as well bet on or throw his team's games because he'll get the same lifetime ban either way. So MLB basically views steroids as just as big a threat to the integrity of the games played as gambling/intentionally losing games, etc. This would explain why the BBWAA has basically taken the stance that "use steroids, get banned from HOF possibilities". But, honestly, doesn't that seem a bit extreme? Also, if using steroids significantly improves your performance and, theoretically, one team could completely consist of users and have an unfair advantage over another team that has zero users - but another team could be a bunch of stoners who all flake out a la Steve Howe, thus impairing their team's performance - the substances that supposedly improve performance are eligible for a lifetime ban but the substances that impair performance (Dock Ellis' claims notwithstanding) aren't? Does that make sense?

(OK, maybe I'm on some of those impairment substances right now as I realize the above isn't worded very well, but I think you understand what I'm attempting to ask.)

2) They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So, what I want to know is, since Jose Canseco claims he never did any weight work but that steroids, and just steroids alone, made him strong enough to be a dangerous major league hitter - then how come everyone else didn't just do what he did? Why did Mac and Barry spend so much time working out to get stronger if the steroids alone could have done the same thing? Something doesn't add up.

3) Speaking of imitation - back in 2001 people made a big deal about Bonds switching to a maple bat. At the time, I don't know if he was the only player using maple, but he was certainly the one getting the most attention. Maple definitely wasn't commonplace at the time. Now, 2/3 of all major leaguers are using maple (at least that's what I hear announcers say all the time). Why would everyone be switching unless they really thought it would give them significant results? Is there really something to this or are they all just sheep? Obviously, this leads to the same question about steroids - someone had to really believe they made a big difference or so many players wouldn't have gone down that road. But everyone wasn't getting the same results -for every Bonds or McGwire that seemed to enter the stratosphere, there were lots of players that you wouldn't even know were using because their numbers didn't change all that much. How do we explain this? Was Bonds just a freak who got more help out of his chemistry set than others did?

I guess it's the lack of studies on this that bothers me the most. Hasn't the medical community gone all in to find out more about the effects of this stuff and, if not, why not?

4) I know that some groups have tried to do studies from the physics standpoint, i.e., balls that Bonds hit supposedly traveled an extra "X" amount of feet due to steroids, subtract that out, voila - he loses 23 HRs in 2001 alone, 84 HRs for 1999 to 2004, etc. But nothing gets said about the arc of the balls hit, the force with which they were hit - are these deducted HRs line drives that barely made it over the fence that turn into doubles off the wall or in the gap? Or are they high flies that instead of going over the wall land in an outfielder's glove? What about drives that outfielders caught that if you subtract "X" feet from them land safely on the grass for a single? How come nobody studies those?

5) The results mentioned in 4) above came from an article I saw on the ESPN website; you can take that for whatever you want. They tried to do a similar study on McGwire but the authors were apparently disappointed that they weren't getting the same results. See, as anyone who watched Baseball Tonight back in the late 90s remembers, they showed all of Mac's HRs in those days and very few barely cleared the fence. So many were 30 or 40 feet or more beyond the fence that even if you subtracted the steroids "X" amount very few in the study were shown to not be over the wall anyways. My guess is that some will say the "X" factor for Mac was a lot bigger than for Bonds and other players. Again, I have no idea whatsoever. Has anyone seen any credible studies of this sort of thing at all? It begs to be done and we should have the technology to come up with something better than this.

6) So why did Bonds have the swelled head (ok, some said he had that even before steroids but we're not talking about his ego)and other players who were shown to be using didn't? Not everyone exhibited the same physical symptoms which, to put it bluntly, is why we were surprised when certain players were later found out to have been using - we didn't see the physical signs that we were usually looking for. Just curious - I'm guessing it's one substance in particular that leads to this specific physical change? Does it increase brain size as well? Barry was always considered a smarter player than many others and maybe that's part of what he was aiming for. Something tells me Barry's not going to answer that question for us but I want to know anyways.

At any rate - I did see Bonds play quite a bit over the years, both on TV and in person. I was at the game where he hit #755 to tie Aaron. The funniest thing was turning to other fans in my section and asking them "Why are you booing Bonds?" They of course looked at me like I had antennae sprouting out of my head. "Because he's a cheater" they all said. So I asked them "So how come you're not booing Clay Hensley, too? He's been busted for steroids. He's a proven cheater." If looks could kill I'd be too dead to write this now. I shouldn't be surprised, though. San Diego fans are known for a particular style of hypocrisy. I won't even go into Chargers fans at this time.

So I'll finish for now with this - I loved the steroids era and I'm not going to suddenly get a "conscience" and lie by saying I didn't. I was one of those people who went to games 2 hours before game time just to watch Mac take batting practice(and Barry, and Griffey, and F. Thomas, for that matter). It was incredibly entertaining and I got my money's worth.

I miss watching Barry Bonds work a pitcher, making the pitcher throw it to the location Barry wanted. The really sad thing is that now everyone says "don't be like Barry Bonds" when there is so much other players could have learned from him about everything from approaches to hitting certain pitchers to how to play balls hit down the line so that even a Vince Coleman gets held to a single instead of a double or triple.

I'm glad I didn't have to live with him - but I'll miss him. He was truly one of a kind (sigh).
   468. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 05, 2011 at 05:11 AM (#3893223)
6) So why did Bonds have the swelled head (ok, some said he had that even before steroids but we're not talking about his ego)and other players who were shown to be using didn't? Not everyone exhibited the same physical symptoms which, to put it bluntly, is why we were surprised when certain players were later found out to have been using - we didn't see the physical signs that we were usually looking for. Just curious - I'm guessing it's one substance in particular that leads to this specific physical change?


I'm not sure if you're being serious but:

1. Bonds's head did not "swell." I believe the evidence in the trial (via testimony from the Giants' clubhouse manager) was that Bonds's cap size increased for the 2002 season from 7 1/4 to 7 3/8. If you can see that change on tv or on person, you've got better eyes than me. Regardless, it's not a "swelling," and the clubhouse manager also testified that Mays and McCovey needed similar adjustments to their caps (granted, after their playing days).

2. Steroids do not increase head size.

3. Ron can weigh in here since my source is him, but I believe he's said that HGH does increase head size -- but the increase is irregular, not nice and even.
   469. Ron J Posted: August 05, 2011 at 11:46 AM (#3893253)
#468 HGH has been known to add bone mass to the skull. But it's irregular. People wouldn't talk so much about bigger heads as weird, lumpy heads.

Also #467 the current penalties don't reflect MLB's views. They (and the PA) were forced into regulating PEDs by the threat of government intervention (whether it was a realistic threat is another story, but there are some fights you may choose to avoid even if you expect to win) The initial penalties negotiated by MLB and the PA were much smaller. Basically what you'd get for doctoring the ball. Reaction from the congresscritters (and press) forced the reopening of the agreement and the current, tougher penalties (worth noting that Marvin Miller felt it was a mistake to cave to public pressure in the first place and a bigger one to change a negotiated penalty in response to public pressure)

Also #467 No he wasn't the first to use maple. He was introduced to maple bats (and Sam Holman in particular) by Joe Carter. At the time Sam Holman was running a small shop and could cope with the demand. In the wake of Bonds' success demand for his bats exploded.

As for recreational drugs, MLB wanted to impose penalties harsher than those currently in place for PEDs. Bowie Kuhn (and those who came after him -- in particular Uberroth) assumed that his best interests of baseball powers allowed him to impose major suspensions. He found out (see the quotes from Nicolau -- who heard several of the major cases, including LaMarr Hoyt) that matters of player discipline had to be collectively bargained.

Most people aren't aware that there was in fact a trial drug policy negotiated before the 1984 season. It wasn't complete -- they had put aside several issues that they couldn't come to agreement on. (basically modeled on the NBA's with a strong focus on probable cause testing and enforced treatment when there was cause.)

Kuhn undermined the whole issue by saying he'd decide how to handle everything that wasn't covered. (Basically the PA suspended the agreement for a year in the wake of this. MLB's main negotiator -- Lee MacPhail -- was not happy with Kuhn. And given that Kuhn's hold on his job was not strong, MacPhail was an enemy he didn't need) Then Peter Uberroth canceled the deal. He wanted full Olympic style testing.
   470. AJMcCringleberry Posted: August 05, 2011 at 11:54 AM (#3893256)
So MLB basically views steroids as just as big a threat to the integrity of the games played as gambling/intentionally losing games, etc.

I disagree. I think they viewed congress getting involved as a threat to them so they put in punishments to get congress off their back.
   471. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: August 05, 2011 at 12:17 PM (#3893262)
#468 HGH has been known to add bone mass to the skull. But it's irregular. People wouldn't talk so much about bigger heads as weird, lumpy heads.
Right; the term is acromegaly, and do a google images search on it. Bonds looks nothing like that.
   472. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: August 05, 2011 at 12:26 PM (#3893264)
I disagree. I think they viewed congress getting involved as a threat to them so they put in punishments to get congress off their back.
Indeed. The original punishment for steroids that MLB implemented was... nothing for a first offense, 15 days (or $10K) for a second offense, 25 days (or $25K) for a third offense, 50 days (or $50K) for a fourth offense, and 1 year (or $100K) for a fifth offense. That's right -- the steroid policy provided for the possibility of fines in lieu of suspension. And the initial penalty was a warning not to do it again.

Then Congress basically threatened to try to impose its own unconstitutional steroid policy if MLB didn't toughen it, so MLB did.
   473. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: August 05, 2011 at 12:38 PM (#3893266)
Indeed. The original punishment for steroids that MLB implemented was... nothing for a first offense, 15 days (or $10K) for a second offense, 25 days (or $25K) for a third offense, 50 days (or $50K) for a fourth offense, and 1 year (or $100K) for a fifth offense. That's right -- the steroid policy provided for the possibility of fines in lieu of suspension. And the initial penalty was a warning not to do it again.

Good point. All that shows, though, is how dramatically baseball management enabled steroid use -- a point that is hardly a controversy among the boards' factions. Furtiveness of use, therefore, stemmed from fear of sanction from other sources, most likely other players and media. There's also the possibility that the players needling up in the stalls were surprised at how little management really cared.

Andy's automatic ban should be reserved for people like Selig and Steinbrenner. The latter almost certainly had actual knowledge of Giambi's previous and prospective steroid use. Selig either knew or should have known what was going on; either is disqualifying.(**) Management is the party that consciously chose to have major league baseball, for a decade or more, resemble Saturday Night Live's farcical "All Drug Olympics." The effort to hold Barry Bonds responsible for all that is spiteful and silly.

(**) If Selig's people know where and with whom A-Rod is playing poker, and the table stakes of the games, they knew about steroid use.
   474. BDC Posted: August 05, 2011 at 12:54 PM (#3893274)
the term is acromegaly

I thought it was gigantism.
   475. Gonfalon B. Posted: August 05, 2011 at 12:56 PM (#3893275)
Most people aren't aware that there was in fact a trial drug policy negotiated before the 1984 season. It wasn't complete -- they had put aside several issues that they couldn't come to agreement on. (basically modeled on the NBA's with a strong focus on probable cause testing and enforced treatment when there was cause.)

Kuhn undermined the whole issue by saying he'd decide how to handle everything that wasn't covered. (Basically the PA suspended the agreement for a year in the wake of this. MLB's main negotiator -- Lee MacPhail -- was not happy with Kuhn. And given that Kuhn's hold on his job was not strong, MacPhail was an enemy he didn't need) Then Peter Uberroth canceled the deal. He wanted full Olympic style testing.


Not entirely. The 1984 program did not include steroids or amphetamines. It remained in place for a season and a half, during which time just 3 players were anonymously tested. Kuhn was replaced by Ueberroth six months into the drug program's existence. Ueberroth later remembered that steroids were "not really on the radar." As noted, the 1984 policy included a "probable cause"-style testing trigger; a three-person panel had to unanimously recommend a drug test for such a player. In early 1985, MLB imposed mandatory drug testing for employees and minor league players. The Basic Agreement barred them from doing so to the major leaguers, though MLB hoped the union would agree. Again, the focus was almost entirely on cocaine. But the players' union did not agree to the policy, so Ueberroth publicly asked the players to volunteer, then claimed the players supported him. Again, this had nothing to do with steroids; the fight was entirely about whether testing would be mandatory or voluntary. A full Olympic-style program was never proposed, nor it seems, considered. The Olympics had banned steroids in 1967, and had begun a full testing program in 1972. After the union rejected mandatory testing, Ueberroth announced he was voiding the 1984 drug policy; the union ignored him. As mentioned, the program remained in place until the end of the 1985 season. Before the 1986 season, owners tried to get around the argument by adding a clause to all contracts which would have required the players to submit to drug testing on demand. The union filed a grievance, which was upheld. The first mention of steroids with regard to MLB's drug policy was in Fay Vincent's 1991 memo, almost as a throw-in reference-- 24 years after the Olympics had banned them. But like Ueberroth's supposed "voiding," Vincent's memo held no weight. It was never fully distributed and was not enforceable. In 1994, Selig negotiated for a testing policy that included steroids, but it was a forgotten detail of a minor contract point amid the contentious battle between management and the union that led to a cancelled World Series. However, it enabled Selig to later tell Congress that he'd been leading the fight to rid the sport of steroids since 1994. Selig had previously claimed to have first heard about steroids in baseball in 1998.
   476. Ron J Posted: August 05, 2011 at 01:04 PM (#3893278)
#473 Vincent not Selig. And it's quite probable they didn't know because they didn't care. And I don't mean willful blindness either.

Vincent has said he can't recall what prompted him to issue the "don't use steroids" memo in the first place. That their focus was on recreational drugs at that time. Sure seems consistent with their actions.

MLB cares deeply about gambling. Hires former FBI agents and the like to speak to players about it and to try and stay on top of it. The don't run covert surveillance on all players. They rely on tips from the FBI (how the Rose investigation got started in the first place. I suspect it's a big reason to hire former FBI agents. They have contacts) and local police.
   477. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: August 05, 2011 at 01:20 PM (#3893283)
Vincent probably isn't a serious candidate for induction, but yeah.
   478. Ron J Posted: August 05, 2011 at 01:26 PM (#3893288)
#475 As I said, they had pretty much put off dealing with anything other than cocaine. (Somewhere around here I've got the full text of Kuhn's announcement, but for now I'm working off a summary)

The agreement didn't deal with any of marijuana, amphetamines or alcohol. Kuhn ruled that all of these were to be treated exactly the same as cocaine.

Kuhn also ruled that players who were convicted of or plead guilty to crimes related to distribution of a controlled substance (or offenses related to dealing them) would be suspended for
a minimum of a year. And could be declared permanently ineligible. (no criteria specified for anything above the minimum)

A year's suspension if found with a controlled substance at the park. (At the time that didn't include steroids)

Punishment for subsequent offenses open-ended. All suspensions without pay and no credit for service time.

Required random testing, aftercare and community service for players coming forward voluntarily. No fines or suspensions (once only and not for players who had already been busted)


And when I say that what Uberroth wanted was Olympic style testing I was using sloppy language. He wanted the random style testing -- with a primary focus on recreational drugs, but with no real limit as to what was looked at.

And what was interesting about the grievance in the drug clause is that the arbitrator order the clause struck from the contracts as opposed to voiding the contracts. MLB had employed divide and conquer tactics and initially targeted players with little leverage. Voiding the contact of guys at the end of the roster isn't doing them a favor.

EDIT: Uberroth's specific objection to the agreement was the probable cause aspect.
   479. Ron J Posted: August 05, 2011 at 01:35 PM (#3893294)
#472 The fines in lieu of punishment are probably kind of a weird follow on affect from the rulings in the wake the Curtis Strong affair. Several players were given the option of huge fines (5-10% of their salary) or lengthy suspensions.

In a subsequent hearing (one of the Howe case IIRC) the arbitrator voided the suspension, noting that the player had not been given the option to pay a fine instead.
   480. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: August 05, 2011 at 01:58 PM (#3893297)
However, it enabled Selig to later tell Congress that he'd been leading the fight to rid the sport of steroids since 1994.

"So if you accept a minimum salary of $200,000 instead of $215,000, the guys in the back tell me we can drop the steroids testing.

$210? Deal!!

Sure you don't want that Tru-Coat ... er ... what's next?"
   481. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 05, 2011 at 03:50 PM (#3893393)
Show me the experimental data that proves that steroids enhance performance, with tests that even begin to replicate the conditions of a Major League batter-pitcher matchup, with two pound clubs required to make perfect contact with baseballs thrown at constantly changing speeds and directions. Why don't you require this sort of data for amphetamines, if it's relevant?

Show me the statistical evidence that steroids increase baseball performance. Make sure you adjust properly for the changes in composition of the baseball, the increased incidence of weight-training, better equipment, expansion, ballparks, and the other factors that are also different in the "steroid era." (Two things happening at the same time is not evidence than one caused the other.)

If you applied the same exacting standards of proof to steroids as you did to amphetamines, you would certainly conclude that there is not enough data. If you apply a different standard of proof, then you're not really deciding in good faith. I'm using your standards, as you have presented them in hundreds of threads.


I notice Andy hasn't responded to this. That's his prerogative, but I will note for the people here that the above is a huge reason why I have suggested Andy is being dishonest on this issue. He demands lab tests "replicated under MLB conditions for amps," but not for steroids. That is why I've suggested he's not arguing in good faith, and it's why I don't feel any particular pull to believe him when he says it's not about the records of his boyhood heroes.

The next time Andy complains about his opinion on amps/steroids not being "respected," he can start with the above issue.
   482. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: August 05, 2011 at 05:34 PM (#3893428)
Another tough call for Andy is why, if Giambi gets an automatic ban, Steinbrenner (**) doesn't. How is a player doing steroids worse than an owner knowing he's going to do them and adjusting his contract accordingly? If Steinbrenner was only "competing" with other cheaters, so was Giambi.

(**) And for that matter, one supposes, Cashman.
   483. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: August 05, 2011 at 05:37 PM (#3893433)
Not entirely. The 1984 program did not include steroids or amphetamines. It remained in place for a season and a half, during which time just 3 players were anonymously tested. Kuhn was replaced by Ueberroth six months into the drug program's existence. Ueberroth later remembered that steroids were "not really on the radar."
Note that steroids were not a Controlled Substance at the time; they weren't scheduled until 1990.
   484. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: August 05, 2011 at 06:09 PM (#3893466)
I notice Andy hasn't responded to this. That's his prerogative, but I will note for the people here that the above is a huge reason why I have suggested Andy is being dishonest on this issue. He demands lab tests "replicated under MLB conditions for amps," but not for steroids. That is why I've suggested he's not arguing in good faith, and it's why I don't feel any particular pull to believe him when he says it's not about the records of his boyhood heroes.

I stress the lack of tests for amps because that would be the only possible way of demonstrating the PED qualities, since the "spike season" examples for amphetamines are either nonexistent or so insignificant as to be virtually random. There's nothing remotely comparable to those Bonds late career numbers, no matter how many times you try to grasp at comparative straws.

Numerous studies have shown that a well-supervised regimen of steroids and weights can add strength, and while the enhancement benefits will vary widely with talent and dedication, it's hard for most people to look at Bonds's late career power surge and see it as being partly enhanced by steroids.

The next time Andy complains about his opinion on amps/steroids not being "respected," he can start with the above issue.

I could just as easily dismiss your interpretations of all this as the product of your own particular fandom or your own particular ideology (see below** for a sample), but unlike you, I don't have any problem in realizing that the same data can be honestly interpreted in different ways. And getting a handful of BTF choirboys to echo your sentiments does no more to "prove" your logic or your honesty than a citation of McGwire's HoF votes "proves" mine. Both your interpretation and my interpretation are nothing more than a pair of working hypothesis, neither of which can possibly be "proven" to the degree that you insist upon.

You know that we're not getting anywhere with these endless repetitions of these same points, all of which have been covered for the last six and a half years, but hopefully one of these years the magic slogan "YMMV" might pop into your head and soothe your soul to rest. I'm ready anytime you are, and I'm sure that whatever lurkers who are still wasting their own time on these increasingly pointless exchanges might well agree. I know that Lisa will.

**If I wanted to play Ray's game, I could scribble variations of this all day:

"Look, I understand your righteous outrage at the tragic fact that your sacred records have been questioned by everyone from yahoo sportswriters to auction-winning vandals with magic markers, even if these records have somehow managed to have escaped unscathed in every record book in print.

"I truly feel your pain, and it must be heartbreaking, hearing your heroes mocked by unknowing mobs while those dirty pillpopping rats sit around drinking beers and laughing at your complaints. But at some point you might want to just get over it and take up another hobby."


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

Another tough call for Andy is why, if Giambi gets an automatic ban, Steinbrenner (**) doesn't. How is a player doing steroids worse than an owner knowing he's going to do them and adjusting his contract accordingly? If Steinbrenner was only "competing," so was Giambi.

(**) And, for that matter, one supposes, Cashman.


That's a very good and fair point, and even though I'd forgotten about it in some recent HoF threads, I'd raised it myself at the time that the BALCO news first came out. It's pretty damn tough to believe that Steinbrenner was just being innocently duped when he so quickly agreed to strike that clause in Giambi's contract.
   485. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: August 05, 2011 at 06:37 PM (#3893490)
Vincent has said he can't recall what prompted him to issue the "don't use steroids" memo in the first place. That their focus was on recreational drugs at that time. Sure seems consistent with their actions.
I can answer that one for him: he didn't issue a "don't use steroids" memo in the first place. He issued a memo to the clubs about baseball's drug policy in general -- which was about recreational drugs because PEDs weren't at issue at the time. He simply threw in the words "including steroids" in this memo, but that wasn't the focus of the memo. And the reason the memo said "including steroids" was because -- as I said in #483 -- steroids had just been made a controlled substance.
   486. Fanshawe Posted: August 05, 2011 at 06:56 PM (#3893503)
I stress the lack of tests for amps because that would be the only possible way of demonstrating the PED qualities, since the "spike season" examples for amphetamines are either nonexistent or so insignificant as to be virtually random. There's nothing remotely comparable to those Bonds late career numbers, no matter how many times you try to grasp at comparative straws.

Numerous studies have shown that a well-supervised regimen of steroids and weights can add strength, and while the enhancement benefits will vary widely with talent and dedication, it's hard for most people to look at Bonds's late career power surge and see it as being partly enhanced by steroids.


So you're sticking with "If you assume that steroids are responsible for Bonds' performance then it is reasonable to conclude that steroids are responsible for Bonds' performance" as your argument?
   487. Gonfalon B. Posted: August 05, 2011 at 07:08 PM (#3893516)
Re: Giambi/Steinbrenner, as well as "amphetamines were in clubhouse jars, but steroids were hidden behind closed doors"--

In October 2003, the Dodgers held a series of meetings with their GM, manager, scouting team, trainer, and team physician. They openly discussed the pros and cons of various players' steroid use. For Paul Lo Duca, written notes from the discussions read, "Got off the steroids... Took away a lot of hard line drives... Can get comparable value back would consider trading... If you do trade him, will get back on the stuff and try to show you he can have a good year. That's his makeup."

"Kevin Brown -- getting to the age of nagging injuries... Question what kind of medication he takes... Common in soccer players and are more susceptible if you take meds to increase your muscles -- doesn't increase the attachments... Is he open to adjusting how he takes care of himself? He knows he now needs to do stuff before coming to spring training to be ready. Steroids speculated by GM."

Eric Gagne: "He probably takes medication, and tendons and ligaments don't build up just muscle."
   488. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: August 05, 2011 at 07:11 PM (#3893522)
So you're sticking with "If you assume that steroids are responsible for Bonds' performance then it is reasonable to conclude that steroids are responsible for Bonds' performance" as your argument?

As I've said countless times, it's one of many factors. You're demanding some sort of conclusive quantification, but since such absolute proof is by its nature impossible, your demand is purely rhetorical, and you know it. Your disbelief that steroids were a factor in Bonds's late career power surge is a disbelief that you've got every right to hold, and I wouldn't deprive you of it any more than I'd deprive Ray of his cherished disbelief in climate change. It takes all types, and that's what makes the world so interesting.
   489. AROM Posted: August 05, 2011 at 07:12 PM (#3893524)
You can find "spike seasons" for steroid users if, once you find a spike season, you attribute it to the player starting on steroids and minimize any other possible explanations. You don't have anything close to proof that steroids caused the jump in performance. Once the Mitchell list came out, some people did take the names and alleged dates they started using and looking for performance jumps - but they didn't find anything interesting.

You could take the same witch hunt process and find spike seasons in previous eras - Norm Cash? Roger Maris?, minimize all other possible explanations, and say it has to be greenies.

What we have from scientific studies is that steroid use can increase muscle - yes, that can be beneficial to a baseball player. We also have scientific evidence that use of greenies can improve alertness and reaction time. That also can be of benefit to a baseball player.

We don't have a scientific study directly quantifying either group of substances under MLB baseball playing conditions. And we likely never will.
   490. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: August 05, 2011 at 07:18 PM (#3893529)
All we need is about 50 sets of identical triplets with MLB-calibre talent.
   491. AROM Posted: August 05, 2011 at 07:19 PM (#3893530)
Amphetamines do enhance performance, but not past the point of any previously demonstrated well-rested talent level. There is not even a hint of statistical evidence that would suggest otherwise, and no tests that even begin to replicate the conditions of a Major League batter-pitcher matchup, with two pound clubs required to make perfect contact with baseballs thrown at constantly changing speeds and directions.


As I've said countless times, it's one of many factors. You're demanding some sort of conclusive quantification, but since such absolute proof is by its nature impossible, your demand is purely rhetorical, and you know it.


These two quotes coming from the same person. Priceless.
   492. BDC Posted: August 05, 2011 at 07:43 PM (#3893546)
You could take the same witch hunt process and find spike seasons in previous eras - Norm Cash? Roger Maris?, minimize all other possible explanations, and say it has to be greenies

Great point. I brought them up upthread, but: three players who are known to have used greenies (or "red coffee" or whatever), by admission or strong accusation, were Willie Mays, Henry Aaron, and Pete Rose: among the most consistent of the great stars. Should we conclude that greenies lead to a monotonous 44 home runs every year, or an assembly-line-like 200 hits? :)

It's far more likely that even those careers genuinely helped by PEDs look like any other careers. Players on PEDs break bones, avoid broken bones, get divorced, get married, get Steve Blass Syndrome, find Jesus, get old, and all the things that send non-juiced players on career roller-coasters.
   493. robinred Posted: August 05, 2011 at 08:00 PM (#3893562)
Pete Rose: among the most consistent of the great stars


I have a pet theory, that I can't back up, but I sort of believe it anyway:

Rose was to amps what Bonds was to steroids.

Rose was hyperactive anyway (literally--as a kid, he was labeled as such), and loved, loved, loved to play baseball no matter what the score was. Loved, loved, loved accumulating stats. Took a shitload of greenies. So, I think in the same way that Bonds' unique combination of batting eye, reflexes, work ethic and all the equipment changes etc. in the game helped him maximize the benefits from steroids, Rose's personality/body chmemistry helped him maximize the benefits from amps. Never took an at-bat off, never wanted a day off. Wanted that single in the 9th to go 4-for-5 instead of 3-for-5 if the Reds or Phillies were up 8-3 or down 8-3. Add amps on TOP of that, and well, he's the Hit King.

Again, can't back it up substantively at all. But I do kind of believe it.
   494. Mefisto Posted: August 05, 2011 at 08:27 PM (#3893570)
Adding to BDC's point, I argued years ago that the impact of steroids on individuals was probably distributed on a Bell curve: some benefited hugely, for others it caused injuries, most got little or nothing. I still think that's true. And it also could be true for the same player at different times, depending on dose, training regimen, etc. There's a lot we don't know about this stuff.
   495. Fanshawe Posted: August 05, 2011 at 08:40 PM (#3893580)
As I've said countless times, it's one of many factors. You're demanding some sort of conclusive quantification, but since such absolute proof is by its nature impossible, your demand is purely rhetorical, and you know it.


I'm not demanding anything, and only one of us is concluding that steroids absolutley have a significant quantifiable effect on Bonds' home run totals. You're not just saying it's "one of many factors," but rather that it's a significant factor that led to an "unprecedented" late-career power surge and added a large number of homeruns to his career total. What if some researcher managed to demonstrate with 95% certainty that steroid use caused Bonds to hit 2-4 more total home runs between 1998 and the end of his career than he would have hit without using steroids? Would you feel vindicated because it had been proven that steroids were indeed "one factor" in Bonds' increased power?

FWIW, I would change my view from "I don't know what effect if any steroid use had on Bonds' career home run total" to "It is very likely that steroid use increased Bonds' career home run total, but that the increase was very small."
   496. Ron J Posted: August 05, 2011 at 08:53 PM (#3893589)
#489 There's an interesting wrinkle in the whole performance enhancement issue.

As I've pointed out before the Australian Institute for Sport (barred by its charter into looking into amphetamines) has no doubt that simple caffeine is performance enhancing in cricket. Further, we know that it allows the user to increase the duration and intensity of workouts -- it's just not as dramatic as steroids.

And unlike most of the things in this discussion we know exactly why. Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky of McMaster University Medical Centre found caffeine tricks an athlete's brain into delaying the perception of pain and fatigue.

More importantly, it also tricks muscles into releasing more of the calcium needed to contract and relax.

"The caffeine is allowing a little bit more calcium to be released into that muscle," said Tarnopolsky. "It would make that muscle contraction a little bit stronger, so you can actually either run at the same pace with less input, or run at a faster pace for the same input."

Now awkwardly for the IOC the amount of caffeine required is small enough that they would have a practical ban on Coke if they wanted to restrict it.

The other thing is that it's very dose sensitive. Too much caffeine reduces athletic performance.
   497. Brian C Posted: August 05, 2011 at 09:21 PM (#3893605)
Now awkwardly for the IOC the amount of caffeine required is small enough that they would have a practical ban on Coke if they wanted to restrict it.

That's a good idea anyway. RC Cola is past due for a comeback.
   498. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 05, 2011 at 09:22 PM (#3893607)
I stress the lack of tests for amps because that would be the only possible way of demonstrating the PED qualities, since the "spike season" examples for amphetamines are either nonexistent or so insignificant as to be virtually random.


Baseball Prospectus looked at spike home run seasons in the steroid era, and found nothing remarkable. I pointed you to that study before. Did you see a flaw in it?

There's nothing remotely comparable to those Bonds late career numbers, no matter how many times you try to grasp at comparative straws.


So will you now admit that you think steroids were "the key to it all" for Bonds?

Also, why are you attributing Bonds's performance to steroids instead of amps, as long as we're fingering PEDs at the culprit?

The bottom line is this: you're demanding an impossible standard of proof that amps are performance-enhancing, while accepting virtually no standard of proof that steroids are performance-enhancing. Constantly trumpeting Bonds's late career numbers shows this quite well: your argument is essentially that steroids caused Bonds's late career numbers because without steroids Bonds wouldn't have had those late career numbers.

So rather than demand "lab tests that replicate major league conditions" for steroids, you've gone with "Bonds's late career performance shows that steroids are performance enhancing." No serious person would do that, or would subscribe to it.
   499. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: August 05, 2011 at 09:35 PM (#3893618)
I stress the lack of tests for amps because that would be the only possible way of demonstrating the PED qualities, since the "spike season" examples for amphetamines are either nonexistent or so insignificant as to be virtually random.

Baseball Prospectus looked at spike home run seasons in the steroid era, and found nothing remarkable. I pointed you to that study before. Did you see a flaw in it?


Point me to it again and I'll give it a look. I'm assuming that they looked specifically at Bonds in some detail and didn't such say "well, what do you expect, HE'S BARRY BONDS".

There's nothing remotely comparable to those Bonds late career numbers, no matter how many times you try to grasp at comparative straws.

So will you now admit that you think steroids were "the key to it all" for Bonds?


I think that steroids were one "key" out of many. But the good news is I think you just won a personal stuffed pizza from Domino's for asking the same question for the 12th time, and that if you ask it 13 times more you'll get a free Chinese Bus ticket to Jones Beach.
   500. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 05, 2011 at 09:40 PM (#3893621)
Another tough call for Andy is why, if Giambi gets an automatic ban, Steinbrenner (**) doesn't. How is a player doing steroids worse than an owner knowing he's going to do them and adjusting his contract accordingly? If Steinbrenner was only "competing" with other cheaters, so was Giambi.


Do you find it likely that the Yankees sent Giambi a draft of the contract, and his agent crossed out the word "steroids" and sent it back? Or is it more likely that his agent made multiple changes to multiple provisions of the deal, the word "steroids" being one of them?

Is it likely that Giambi was the only player in the majors who ever refused to accept such language? Why should the Yankees have refused to sign him if he didn't agree to have that word in there? What is the moral case for that, in 2001?
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