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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Robinson Cano Reportedly Suspended for PED

Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano was suspended for 80 games on Tuesday following a positive test for a performance-enhancing drug, according to multiple reports, including Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic

From what I’ve read Hector Gomez, a reporter in the Dominican, is the one who broke the story.

Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: May 15, 2018 at 02:09 PM | 248 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mariners, steroids

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   101. DJS, the Digital Dandy Posted: May 16, 2018 at 10:51 AM (#5673363)
Well, the evidence Rose used is that he was living with a steroid dealer, wasn't it? (I don't know why anyone would necessarily extend that to the whole clubhouse).

And an admitted amphetamine user already.

I guarantee any player today that had a steroid dealer-slash-gym buddy living with them in their house for free would automatically be assumed by most to be a user.
   102. Nasty Nate Posted: May 16, 2018 at 10:53 AM (#5673366)
It's practically engraved in the common memory that the years c2000 were rife with guys still playing great at age 40,. But the subset of position players playing regularly in their 40s who were any good, in those years, consists of Barry Bonds (in somewhat limited playing time), and Edgar Martinez and Rickey Henderson, who are not prime steroid suspects.
If you restrict it to position players, you are cutting out one of the prime examples of the narrative: Clemens. I'm not necessarily saying the narrative is accurate, but let's not arbitrarily leave out the pitchers.
   103. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 16, 2018 at 10:55 AM (#5673369)
It's practically engraved in the common memory that the years c2000 were rife with guys still playing great at age 40,.

Don't just look at 40. Ages 35-39 matter too. Historically, lots of great players were toast before 35.

And Bonds did the completely unprecedented by improving after age 35. A few of the greats managed to sustain near-peak performance into their late 30's (Ruth, Mays, Aaron) but no one ever got better.
   104. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: May 16, 2018 at 10:55 AM (#5673370)
Randy Johnson
   105. Endless Trash Posted: May 16, 2018 at 11:00 AM (#5673375)
Feel bad for Cano. Another victim of this pointless witch hunt.

This league has just turned to complete trash over the past few years, it's not even worth following anymore.
   106. Panik on the streets of London (Trout! Trout!) Posted: May 16, 2018 at 11:00 AM (#5673376)
Well, the evidence Rose used is that he was living with a steroid dealer, wasn't it? (I don't know why anyone would necessarily extend that to the whole clubhouse).


See this I did not know about. I don't know what that has to do with George Foster or Joe Morgan though. In any event, thank you for the info; I was not aware that Rose had connections to steroid dealers. I know that amphetamine use was rampant throughout baseball forever back.
   107. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 16, 2018 at 11:02 AM (#5673377)
Feel bad for Cano. Another victim of this pointless witch hunt.

Bad turn of phrase. Witches don't exist. Steroid users do.

Why feel bad for him? He knew the rule, which was collectively bargained by his union.
   108. BDC Posted: May 16, 2018 at 11:05 AM (#5673384)
I consider post-2004 use to be a completely different matter than before

That's a fair position. Though I would argue that if baseball sets a penalty for an infraction, and then lets you play again after you pay the penalty, the infraction can't be that bad. Steroids are worse than spitballs in that respect, but can be atoned for in the same way. Gambling on your own team, or some Nth strike for drug testing, cannot.
   109. Rally Posted: May 16, 2018 at 11:08 AM (#5673389)
2007 was, if I recall correctly, a record for most games won be pitchers 40 or older. You had Maddux/Glavine/Smoltz, plus Schilling, Clemens, and Johnson. Johnson was hurt most of the year and Clemens played half a season, but that's still a ton. Beyond that you've got Wakefield, Moyer, Wells, and Orlando Hernandez.

18 pitchers in all. Last year there were only 6, and of those only Dickey and Colon had 100+ innings. Unless somebody makes a comeback 2018 only has 2 guys that old - Bartolo and Fernando Rodney.
   110. bunyon Posted: May 16, 2018 at 11:14 AM (#5673393)
I know that amphetamine use was rampant throughout baseball forever back.

This is why I think steroids were in the game already well before anyone thought much about it in general fandom. Most guys were taking illegal drugs already to enhance performance. It's not like taking a drug would be some weird thing that no one would do.

I'm not saying all did or even most. But steroids popped up in poorer athletics with testing programs way, way before the 1990s. There is no way a bunch of relatively rich athletes with no testing weren't playing with the stuff.

I do take your point that naming names speculatively is not productive (or decent). But to just say that MLB had a steroid problem throughout the 1980s (at least) isn't naming names.
   111. BDC Posted: May 16, 2018 at 11:15 AM (#5673394)
If you restrict it to position players, you are cutting out one of the prime examples of the narrative: Clemens. I'm not necessarily saying the narrative is accurate, but let's not arbitrarily leave out the pitchers

I don't think it matters much if you bring pitchers in or not. Clemens, OK; but there have long been great pitchers who had exceptional longevity; is Clemens different from Warren Spahn? (Of course as some have noted, we have no idea what Spahn used :)

I am not sure which side Randy Johnson is an argument for. Johnson is uncontroversially in the Hall of Fame and I don't know of steroid suspicions involving him, aside from the fact that he just looks weird.
   112. Booey Posted: May 16, 2018 at 11:18 AM (#5673397)
I know it's easy to assume Hall voters will continue to take a hard line on PED users, but I'm expecting some argumentative gymnastics when Andy Pettitte hits the ballot next year and loads of voters struggle to find a way to let him in. I'm hoping that having to address with one of their favorites will soften their outrage a little for others.


Is Pettitte beloved enough to get writers to reconsider their stance? He's only borderline based solely on the merits anyway, and he never "felt" like a super-duper star.

Ortiz is the guy who I think will cause a lot of writers to abandon their PED crusade just this one time. Maybe that will result in writers being a little more lenient with other PED suspects...but most likely not, since they've never seemed to worry about consistency before. Why start now?
   113. BDC Posted: May 16, 2018 at 11:19 AM (#5673398)
Ages 35-39 matter too

Historically, though, the highest percentage of regulars 35-39, playing above replacement level, was reached in the mid-1980s (with peaks in 1983 and '85) – another time when salaries had recently risen drastically.

Another peak was 1927, with salaries also surging.
   114. Booey Posted: May 16, 2018 at 11:24 AM (#5673400)
I am not sure which side Randy Johnson is an argument for. Johnson is uncontroversially in the Hall of Fame and I don't know of steroid suspicions involving him, aside from the fact that he just looks weird.


I think Johnson was just brought up in response to the post that no one other than Bonds actually improved and had their best years from 35-40 or so. And Randy did. His improvement seems more that he finally learned how to throw strikes though, rather than that his velocity increased or whatever. Not sure if PED's could help with that or not.

Bonds is just an outlier either way, though. True, no "clean" players ever had their best years at those ages, but none of the other known steroid users did either, so it's not a clear, common effect of PED's. Bonds was just a freak that defied nature.
   115. BDC Posted: May 16, 2018 at 11:27 AM (#5673402)
Bonds did the completely unprecedented by improving after age 35. A few of the greats managed to sustain near-peak performance into their late 30's (Ruth, Mays, Aaron) but no one ever got better

Which also means that no-one else has ever gotten better post-35 with or without steroids. The only implication of which is that Barry Bonds is ####### odd.

And even Bonds got better in terms of power and plate discipline, the former very plausibly attributable in part to steroids, and the latter in part a consequence of the power gain. But he did not rejuvenate. He slowed down on the bases and in the field, and he started to miss 15-20 games a year instead of 5-10.

Coke to Booey
   116. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 16, 2018 at 11:30 AM (#5673405)
Which also means that no-one else has ever gotten better post-35 with or without steroids. The only implication of which is that Barry Bonds is ####### odd.

I'm not saying he wasn't a HoFer before the roid. And, given his smarts and work ethic, I absolutely believe he maximized the benefits of steroids.

And even Bonds got better in terms of power and plate discipline, the former very plausibly attributable in part to steroids, and the latter in part a consequence of the power gain.

But his power gain was steroids. You'll never convince me otherwise.
   117. Panik on the streets of London (Trout! Trout!) Posted: May 16, 2018 at 11:31 AM (#5673406)
This is why I think steroids were in the game already well before anyone thought much about it in general fandom. Most guys were taking illegal drugs already to enhance performance. It's not like taking a drug would be some weird thing that no one would do.

I'm not saying all did or even most. But steroids popped up in poorer athletics with testing programs way, way before the 1990s. There is no way a bunch of relatively rich athletes with no testing weren't playing with the stuff.

I do take your point that naming names speculatively is not productive (or decent). But to just say that MLB had a steroid problem throughout the 1980s (at least) isn't naming names.


This is exactly what I'm trying to say. I don't disagree that ballplayers used roids before Canseco etc, I just think it is damaging to the discourse to look at people's statistics and say "oh George Foster hit 52 homeruns, he was on TEH ROIDS!!!" This is the witch hunt that some other posters have described. When someone like Cano gets caught and punished, it's almost like people are reacting with glee because their agenda is validated.
   118. BDC Posted: May 16, 2018 at 11:32 AM (#5673408)
Johnson was just brought up in response to the post that no one other than Bonds actually improved and had their best years from 35-40 or so. And Randy did. His improvement seems more that he finally learned how to throw strikes though, rather than that his velocity increased or whatever. Not sure if PED's could help with that or not

Interesting. In that respect, Johnson is a bit like Nolan Ryan (the most comparable pitcher anyway). At age 40, Ryan led the league in strikeout-walk ratio for the first time, and he kept that ratio high over the next few years. He went on to lead the league in WHIP twice – his walk rate had always prevented him from leading the league in either K/W or WHIP, despite insanely high SO and insanely low H totals.
   119. SoSH U at work Posted: May 16, 2018 at 11:32 AM (#5673410)
That makes no sense.

Any basic theory of incentives suggests that once there is testing and severe penalties in place (this is costing Cano $12M), use will go down. Will it go to zero, of course not. But if it was 50% during the height of the steroid era, maybe it's 25% now. I'd bet even less.


There's also another element.

Ray overstates things when he says there's no evidence they help (true, I guess, but misleading because it implies there's actual research that suggests they don't), but there is something to what he's saying. PED use in baseball, it stands to reason, is not going to be as effective as it is in other sports because baseball is more skill-based than raw physical tool-based.

If you look at cycling or power lifting or even pro football, there's a much greater correlation between strength/speed/endurance gains and outcomes. Take cycling. I would assume it has some of the strictest testing regimens imaginable, but you still see guys busted because there's just such a strong performance-incentive to risk detection.

The same just isn't true for baseball. It obviously helps to be stronger or faster, but the connection between strength and performance isn't as direct (Exhibit A, Gabe Kapler) as it is in some other sports, and thus the incentives to use (at least, where there's a penalty for getting caught) isn't as strong. People will still take those chances, for a variety of reasons, but there's no reason to think that usage is where it once was.
   120. Rally Posted: May 16, 2018 at 11:38 AM (#5673411)
Better after 35? Just out of curiosity I had to look it up to see who comes closest. Hitting only, which is appropriate since Bonds 36+ was certainly not the fielder or runner he was in his younger years.

Tony Fernandez 119 OPS+ (101 career) He really became an on-base machine towards the end.

Adrian Beltre 123 (117 career), but he was better in his early 30s than late 30s.

Andres Galarraga 125 (119 career)

Lou Whitaker 129 (117 career) - Better hitter late by rate stats, but this can be explained by platooning him.

Brian Downing 131 (122 career)

Cy Williams 139 (125 career)

David Ortiz 154 (141 career)

Bonds 227 (182 career)

Other guys on my short list generally had other stretches of their careers as good or better than their 36+ performance. Bonds did not, as great as he was 36-39 blew his previous best away. Others are 10-20 OPS+ points better than their career, Bonds over 40. He's absolutely unique in his aging pattern, which is obviously proof that it was all steroids.

Well, not so fast Sherlock. We know many, many players used steroids, and not a single one of them showed a pattern anything remotely like what Bonds did. He may be guilty as hell about using, but if you want to explain or understand how he did what he did, there's a lot more to it than steroids.
   121. Booey Posted: May 16, 2018 at 11:58 AM (#5673423)
We know many, many players used steroids, and not a single one of them showed a pattern anything remotely like what Bonds did. He may be guilty as hell about using, but if you want to explain or understand how he did what he did, there's a lot more to it than steroids.


Agreed. It's kinda similar IMO to the arguments that fluke seasons like Brady Anderson 1996 or Luis Gonzalez 2001 are evidence of PED use. If they worked that well, why'd they quit the following season? There still wasn't testing in place. Were the physical side effects too much for them (Shrived nards might be enough to get me off the juice)?

I don't know what Barry's late career resurgence - or fluke seasons - are evidence of. But it's something more complicated than just, "It's teh roids!"
   122. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: May 16, 2018 at 11:59 AM (#5673424)
And Bonds did the completely unprecedented by improving after age 35. A few of the greats managed to sustain near-peak performance into their late 30's (Ruth, Mays, Aaron) but no one ever got better.


Aaron set career highs for OPS+, OPS, and SLG at 37.

   123. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 16, 2018 at 12:04 PM (#5673428)

Aaron set career highs for OPS+, OPS, and SLG at 37.


Aaron: age 26-30 164 OPS+, 31-35 160, 36-40 160. He maintained. As I said.

Bonds: 26-30 185 OPS+, 31-35 177, 36-40 254. Totally different.
   124. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: May 16, 2018 at 12:12 PM (#5673439)
Aaron set career highs for OPS+, OPS, and SLG at 37.


Zack Wheat had a career high in OPS+ at age 36. From age 35-37 he had a 150. He had only one other season his career at 150
   125. DanG Posted: May 16, 2018 at 01:01 PM (#5673484)
2007 was, if I recall correctly, a record for most games won be pitchers 40 or older. You had Maddux/Glavine/Smoltz, plus Schilling, Clemens, and Johnson. Johnson was hurt most of the year and Clemens played half a season, but that's still a ton. Beyond that you've got Wakefield, Moyer, Wells, and Orlando Hernandez.

18 pitchers in all. Last year there were only 6, and of those only Dickey and Colon had 100+ innings. Unless somebody makes a comeback 2018 only has 2 guys that old - Bartolo and Fernando Rodney.
Comparing 10-year periods. Number of players with 3+ WAR in a season, age 36+:

1984-1993: 28 position players / 31 pitchers
1998-2007: 47 position players / 60 pitchers
2008-2017: 18 position players / 17 pitchers

Number of players with 4+ WAR in a season, age 36+:

1984-1993: 16 position players / 18 pitchers
1998-2007: 18 position players / 35 pitchers
2008-2017: 9 position players / 8 pitchers
   126. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: May 16, 2018 at 01:05 PM (#5673485)
Maybe he's been using his entire MLB career and doesn't know how to play any other way?


This is my guess. Testing is likely catching only a small fraction of users. For mostly the same reasons, I doubt a failed test late in a player's career means that's when they started using.
   127. CheersUnusualPlays Posted: May 16, 2018 at 01:24 PM (#5673511)
I remember reading that Nolan Ryan finally developed a changeup at age 35, which, with increased control, gave him a boost. Also, like Johnson and Schilling, before age 25 he had limited innings
   128. The Duke Posted: May 16, 2018 at 01:28 PM (#5673518)
I think the Cano suspension and I assume there will be more, will harden people from voting for Bonds and crowd. It’s clearly still a scourge and I don’t see 75% of the writers agreeing to ignore it.

I think this hurts Ortiz a lot as well.
   129. TJ Posted: May 16, 2018 at 01:30 PM (#5673521)
So it was to make him literally piss like a racehorse?


More like a centaur, actually...

Sorry, couldn't resist...
   130. Swoboda is freedom Posted: May 16, 2018 at 01:34 PM (#5673523)
Better after 35?

Jamie Moyer was a lot better after 35.
   131. BDC Posted: May 16, 2018 at 01:49 PM (#5673537)
1998-2007: 60 pitchers [with seasons over 3 WAR, ages 36+]

Fully 37 of the 60 are nine guys: Clemens, but also Johnson, Smoltz, Schilling, Rogers, Wells, Moyer, Glavine, and Maddux. Are any except Clemens strong steroid suspects?

The disappearance of the older star pitcher 2008-2017 is interesting, in any event. 222 individual pitchers had 3-WAR or better seasons 1998-2007, and 212 2008-2017; but in the earlier period 24 of them were 36 or older, and in the latter, only 12. Three of those later 12 were relievers, and three of the starters (Johnson, Mussina, and Pettitte) were hangers-on from the earlier list, on their last legs, early in the decade.
   132. Rally Posted: May 16, 2018 at 02:07 PM (#5673553)
Agreed. It's kinda similar IMO to the arguments that fluke seasons like Brady Anderson 1996 or Luis Gonzalez 2001 are evidence of PED use. If they worked that well, why'd they quit the following season?


Brady Anderson is a great example for that idea. His free agent walk year was 1997, not 1996. So if he started roiding in 1996 and hit 50 homers, why not keep roiding in 1997 and cash in for it? He ended up having a good but more normal year in 1997 (18 homers, 18 steals, 128 OPS+) and did wind up with a good contract, but he certainly could have had a lot more if steroids would have given him back to back 50 homer seasons.
   133. eric Posted: May 16, 2018 at 02:26 PM (#5673574)
Are any except Clemens strong steroid suspects?


I think that in professional sports the question isn't "whom do you suspect of being on steroids?" The question should be "whom do you believe might not be on steroids?"

Steroids use has probably been in baseball since the late 50's. Before Canseco, there was a big belief that being too muscular would hurt one's productivity. Canseco then basically showed you could be WWE wrestler size and still be a great player (in fact, maybe even be a better player). Thus, the game we had in the 90's with all the hulks.

I do think steroids have been shown to aid recovery and strength/speed even if the person isn't putting on too much muscle mass. Aiding recovery is a big deal when players are going all out for 162 games a season with relatively rare days off.

If someone can still feel as energetic and strong at, say, 36 as they were at 26, then that player could have a longer career where they don't necessarily get better, but they just maintain performance.
   134. BDC Posted: May 16, 2018 at 02:38 PM (#5673581)
The question should be "whom do you believe might not be on steroids?"

Yes, that's exactly the warrant: all the guys named were using.

Suspicion has thus been distributed very unevenly, as I guess this Cano story indicates.
   135. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: May 16, 2018 at 02:46 PM (#5673590)
Steroids use has probably been in baseball since the late 50's. Before Canseco, there was a big belief that being too muscular would hurt one's productivity.


Boxing too - like baseball, there was a strong prohibition against weight training in boxing for fear that it would "separate the muscle" and hinder flexibility and explosive power. That isn't to say it was a prohibition on resistance training, which was popular at least as far back as Jim Jeffries in the late-19th century (he owned one of the first widely-available commercial rowing machines and was credited with popularizing it) but barbells and bench-presses were huge no-nos.

Then Evander Holyfield juiced himself up from a lithe cruiserweight into a bulky, neckless heavyweight juggernaut with the help of heroic amounts of steroids, and pretty soon the whole sport followed suit.
   136. The Yankee Clapper Posted: May 16, 2018 at 02:54 PM (#5673597)
I recall Cano as having failed a drug test back in 2012.

I don't recall anything like this, haven't seen it in any of the current reporting, and it doesn't seem to have been mentioned elsewhere in the thread.
   137. catseyepub Posted: May 16, 2018 at 03:28 PM (#5673629)
https://www.google.com/amp/s/deadspin.com/5945333/how-those-robinson-cano-ped-rumors-got-started/amp
   138. Greg Pope Posted: May 16, 2018 at 03:34 PM (#5673637)
The disappearance of the older star pitcher 2008-2017 is interesting, in any event.

It's not. In order for there to be older star pitchers, there have to be younger star pitchers who age. There was a good 10-year period where the only young star pitcher was Pedro. I haven't looked into this in years, but all of the young guys flamed out. You have guys who were good for a bit like Denny Neagle, and guys who got hurt like Jason Schmidt. But for some reason, the 90's (approximately) had very little starting pitching come around.

I noticed this about 15 years ago due to fantasy. The highest price pitchers stayed the same for a ridiculously long time. I always meant to go look at something like WAR by birth year to see how true it was, but never got around to it.
   139. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: May 16, 2018 at 03:39 PM (#5673640)
The question should be "whom do you believe might not be on steroids?"


I also hate how most people view players as "clean" or "dirty", as if it is a binary condition.

Performance enhancing drug use is a continuum. Every single professional baseball player uses supplements, of varying effectiveness. Nearly all players push their location on the continuum right up to the edge of "legal". Probably a lot, if not most, push themselves over the edge into "illegal". Some just a little bit illegal, such as during the offseason or returning from injury. Some go crazy and push themselves as far as they can.

It isn't like Cano was clean as a whistle and then suddenly started taking roids at 35.

There are plenty of players, like Jeter, who people think are clean, but are definitely over the "illegal" line, yet have the resources and wherewithal (and fawning media) to avoid detection.

An entire generation (including Mays and Aaron) has admitted to being dirty with greenies, but most fans pretend those aren't performance enhancing.

   140. dlf Posted: May 16, 2018 at 03:41 PM (#5673645)
Comparing 10-year periods. Number of players with 3+ WAR in a season, age 36+:

1984-1993: 28 position players / 31 pitchers
1998-2007: 47 position players / 60 pitchers
2008-2017: 18 position players / 17 pitchers


In addition to the small number of players that are represented in the growth in number of seasons in the second time period that BDC notes, we also had expansion from 26 teams through '92 to 28 in '93 and 30 in '98. The expansions of the 1960s and 70s resulted in the average age of the players going up before tapering back towards the norms several years later; while I haven't looked at the data for the last two money grabs I would assume the same.
   141. BDC Posted: May 16, 2018 at 03:45 PM (#5673653)
It's not. In order for there to be older star pitchers, there have to be younger star pitchers who age

I didn't mean "interesting" in terms of "OMG STERIODS" though – just an interesting development. I guess these things may be random – we've noted that there weren't a heck of a lot of great starting pitchers born in the 1950s, for instance, though several born in the '30s, '40s and '60s. Or there may be recent developments in the way pitchers are developed and handled that preclude longevity. (Ironically, as it seems that most of the changes in how starters are handled are meant to prolong their careers.)

Or maybe some PED regimens help pitchers with longevity and others lead to burnout. There's a lot of mystery involved, particularly since nobody except Canseco has been really forthcoming about his PED habits.
   142. Panik on the streets of London (Trout! Trout!) Posted: May 16, 2018 at 03:53 PM (#5673669)
I also hate how most people view players as "clean" or "dirty", as if it is a binary condition.

Performance enhancing drug use is a continuum. Every single professional baseball player uses supplements, of varying effectiveness. Nearly all players push their location on the continuum right up to the edge of "legal". Probably a lot, if not most, push themselves over the edge into "illegal". Some just a little bit illegal, such as during the offseason or returning from injury. Some go crazy and push themselves as far as they can.

It isn't like Cano was clean as a whistle and then suddenly started taking roids at 35.

There are plenty of players, like Jeter, who people think are clean, but are definitely over the "illegal" line, yet have the resources and wherewithal (and fawning media) to avoid detection.

An entire generation (including Mays and Aaron) has admitted to being dirty with greenies, but most fans pretend those aren't performance enhancing.



This basically sums it up. People want to come up with a narrative before they have any evidence. They take the numbers for say Brady Anderson or George Foster or whoever, and they say "TEH ROIDSSSS". Then when someone asks logical questions like "well wait, George Foster hadn't really played a full season before that, do you think he might have just hit his peak really hard at age 27/28?" they start grasping at straws.
   143. The Yankee Clapper Posted: May 16, 2018 at 04:12 PM (#5673696)
https://www.google.com/amp/s/deadspin.com/5945333/how-those-robinson-cano-ped-rumors-got-started/amp

That link certainly doesn't support your claim that Cano "failed a drug test back in 2012". It's a Deadspin article mocking a Mets fan, not a reporter, who started a Twitter rumor to that effect, then after some pushback, tried to walk it back, and ultimately made his account private. Seems intentionally misleading to cite to that while implying it says something other than what was in the article.
   144. ptodd Posted: May 16, 2018 at 06:50 PM (#5673828)
Lasix is not a PED. Its clear why it is banned but to expect a DR doctor to know this is silly. Without knowing the nature of Canos ailment and if it was an acute problem needing immediate treatment as opposed to a minor condition in which he has time to check its hard to judge. Also in some of these less developed countries they just give you a bag of pills and you dont even know what they are

But given his relationship with Cabrera, Arod and Cervelli he probably was using PED's. Its just not conclusive enough to keep him out of HOF. Now if it was a fertility drug like Manny took, yeah, thats conclusive. Not Lasix

Interesting how he only gets suspended after breaking his hand. One wonders if MLB would have sat on this otherwise. Now they can save the Mariners from paying him on the DL and before getting 100% healthy
   145. Ray (CTL) Posted: May 16, 2018 at 08:09 PM (#5673859)
Personally speaking, when he comes up for a vote (I don't have my vote yet, but I'll be well over 10 years in BBWAA at that point), I would give him a demerit for explicitly breaking a rule like this if his case was borderline, more or less a tiebreaker. If he's signficantly over the line, it wouldn't be enough to make him a no for me. I consider post-2004 use to be a completely different matter than before.


Curious as to your particular rationale here, Dan. I don't think your position is unreasonable but what's your specific reasoning? That PED use post-2004 is cheating? That PED use enhances performance? That Cano broke a rule? (Which rules are important?)

Why a tiebreaker and not all or nothing?
   146. Ray (CTL) Posted: May 16, 2018 at 10:03 PM (#5673913)
Which also means that no-one else has ever gotten better post-35 with or without steroids. The only implication of which is that Barry Bonds is ####### odd.

I'm not saying he wasn't a HoFer before the roid. And, given his smarts and work ethic, I absolutely believe he maximized the benefits of steroids.


Then the main factors were his smarts and work ethic, not -- since other users didn't see anything like the same effects as you just told us above -- steroids.

And even Bonds got better in terms of power and plate discipline, the former very plausibly attributable in part to steroids, and the latter in part a consequence of the power gain.

But his power gain was steroids. You'll never convince me otherwise.


Power comes in part from not swinging at crap. And from picking a zone within the strike zone. And from uppercutting. Bonds made a number of changes to his approach at the plate. Including needing to swing at the high strike because it was being called. And he was working out more and you haven't shown that steroids give players a baseball advantage beyond that gained from working out.
   147. Ray (CTL) Posted: May 16, 2018 at 10:12 PM (#5673920)
Ray overstates things


Never!
   148. Ray (CTL) Posted: May 16, 2018 at 10:15 PM (#5673923)
I do think steroids have been shown to aid recovery and strength/speed even if the person isn't putting on too much muscle mass. Aiding recovery is a big deal when players are going all out for 162 games a season with relatively rare days off.

If someone can still feel as energetic and strong at, say, 36 as they were at 26, then that player could have a longer career where they don't necessarily get better, but they just maintain performance.


I agree. And this is as good or even a better argument for the effects of amphetamines.
   149. JustMe Posted: May 17, 2018 at 04:42 AM (#5673993)
While I think 80 games is harsh for a first offense, that's the punishment the PA agreed to. What doesn't seem right is that John Stanton, the billionaire owner of the Mariners is going to personally pocket over 11 million dollars because of this.
   150. Endless Trash Posted: May 17, 2018 at 08:21 AM (#5674006)

Why feel bad for him? He knew the rule, which was collectively bargained by his union.


I feel bad because he almost certainly just took something that his doctor gave him and now hes branded a cheater.

Its just sad what has happened to the sport.
   151. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 17, 2018 at 08:33 AM (#5674008)
I feel bad because he almost certainly just took something that his doctor gave him
And you believe this...why, exactly?
   152. Endless Trash Posted: May 17, 2018 at 08:39 AM (#5674011)
And you believe this...why, exactly?


Because it is the most plausible and likely thing that happened?
   153. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 17, 2018 at 08:47 AM (#5674016)
Why do you think that's the most plausible thing rather than that he knowingly took steroids for however long and got caught?
   154. Greg Pope Posted: May 17, 2018 at 08:50 AM (#5674017)
Because it is the most plausible and likely thing that happened?

There has been testing in MLB for Cano's whole career. If he's taking something from doctor without knowing what's in it, that's on Cano. If he's taking something from a doctor and didn't clear it with MLB/Agent/Whatever then that's also on Cano.

Of course, the most plausible and likely thing is that he's using it mask PED use. The next most plausible and likely thing is that he knew what he was taking and didn't clear it.
   155. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: May 17, 2018 at 10:09 AM (#5674046)

We know many, many players used steroids, and not a single one of them showed a pattern anything remotely like what Bonds did. He may be guilty as hell about using, but if you want to explain or understand how he did what he did, there's a lot more to it than steroids.

But part of it is when Bonds is alleged to have started taking PEDs. Bonds started using (the theory goes) at 34 so he's going to see a bump at age 35+, whereas other guys who started earlier will see a different shape to their careers.

Obviously what Bonds did is still unprecedented -- from ages 36-39 his OPS+ was better than the best season of Babe Ruth's career -- and there's still more to it than illegal substances. But the timing to me is not an argument against the PED theory.
   156. The Good Face Posted: May 17, 2018 at 11:24 AM (#5674124)
Obviously what Bonds did is still unprecedented -- from ages 36-39 his OPS+ was better than the best season of Babe Ruth's career -- and there's still more to it than illegal substances. But the timing to me is not an argument against the PED theory.


A common theme you hear from older athletes, in any sport, is that just as their understanding of the game, their mastery of its mental aspects begins to peak, they start to lose their physical gifts due to age-related decline. So it's great that you can outthink the pitcher and do a better job making him throw strikes where you can hit them, but it's not worth much if your hands aren't quick enough to get around on his stuff.

But what if you had HOF talent and managed to arrest that age-related decline, while your mastery of the mental aspects of hitting continued to increase?
   157. Rally Posted: May 17, 2018 at 02:57 PM (#5674388)
But part of it is when Bonds is alleged to have started taking PEDs. Bonds started using (the theory goes) at 34 so he's going to see a bump at age 35+, whereas other guys who started earlier will see a different shape to their careers.


Bonds can't be the only player who started juicing at 34 or so. Obviously there aren't too many players starting from a base of 180 OPS+ or anything like that, but we can't even find one who has a similar pattern at lower level. There aren't any guys who were, for example, a 125 OPS+ player in their late 30s while being at best average in their prime age seasons.
   158. eric Posted: May 17, 2018 at 07:28 PM (#5674633)
Bonds can't be the only player who started juicing at 34 or so. Obviously there aren't too many players starting from a base of 180 OPS+ or anything like that, but we can't even find one who has a similar pattern at lower level. There aren't any guys who were, for example, a 125 OPS+ player in their late 30s while being at best average in their prime age seasons.


Dwight Evans OPS+ 22-27: 114. OPS+ 32-37: 139
Brian Downing OPS+ 22-27: 98. OPS+ 35-41: 131 (and it wasn't all because he moved off being a catcher; his hitting jumped while still behind the dish)
Steve Carlton 25-28 (which includes his magical '72): 117 ERA+, 6.9 K/9. 35-38: 133 ERA+, 8.6 K/9, including setting his career high four consecutive years.

Those were just a few off the top of my head. I just think that when a player goes from average-ish to better-than-average it's less memorable than someone hitting 73 jacks.

Also, there's probably some selection bias going on. Someone who's average has a lot more to gain by taking steroids than someone who's already the best player in baseball, or those who are near to it. The story arc (which has no real evidence behind it that I've seen) about Bonds does make sense on that level. If you're already at the top, why risk your health until you start to slip?
   159. Howie Menckel Posted: May 18, 2018 at 12:40 AM (#5674789)
ex-Yankees react
"Mark Teixeira, Cano’s Yankees teammate from 2009-13, viewed Cano’s exposure for illegal performance-enhancing drug usage as an inevitability. That’s what the former first baseman, now a commentator for ESPN, told Michael Kay on his ESPN Radio show.

“Robbie Cano’s assistant was on the list for Biogenesis,” Teixeira said. “Of course he had his assistant buy stuff for him. Alex Rodriguez got popped by Biogenesis and Melky [Cabrera] got popped. They’re his best friends. When someone gets lumped into that group, it’s because there’s evidence, there’s a paper trail, there’s a smoke trail.”

Mariano:
"I will never, never say that he did it on purpose. Cano is a good boy.”
   160. QLE Posted: May 18, 2018 at 03:16 AM (#5674803)
Why do you think that's the most plausible thing rather than that he knowingly took steroids for however long and got caught?


To be indelicate but intellectually honest:

There is a bad tendency for the writing on this subject on this site to reflect more what the writer wants it to be rather than hard evidence. The set of posts we've seen on this subject by this poster are a bit extreme, but ultimately not much different in substance from ones we've seen many times before.

As a side-note, it probably would be of interest to intellectually determine what it is that makes these sorts of arguments popular- as a historian, they remind me a lot of the arguments one sees by people who refuse to admit to the obvious concerning Alger Hiss or the Rosenbergs, but the explanation that makes the most sense in those cases doesn't seem to logically apply here.

(The irony of this? I don't regard PED use as disqualifying one from HOF/HOM/whatever other Hall you have in mind consideration, and I'm not a fan of the moralists on the subject either. It's the sense of intellectual dishonesty that gets me, and not the cause in question.)
   161. Rally Posted: May 18, 2018 at 08:53 AM (#5674855)
Dwight Evans OPS+ 22-27: 114. OPS+ 32-37: 139
Brian Downing OPS+ 22-27: 98. OPS+ 35-41: 131 (and it wasn't all because he moved off being a catcher; his hitting jumped while still behind the dish)


I'm sure we can find plenty of late blooming players who struggled in their early to mid 20s. More recent examples are Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, and Justin Turner. But we're still whiffing on real comps for Bonds.

Downing and Evans were not better players in their late 30s than their early 30s. With Downing there is a slight improvement (131 from 124) from 36+ compared to 30-35, but this is nowhere near the magnitude of Bonds. Looking at his player page it looks more like a plateau than a new peak.
   162. SoSH U at work Posted: May 18, 2018 at 09:25 AM (#5674872)
Downing and Evans were not better players in their late 30s than their early 30s.


On top of that, if there's one player from that era you'd point to as a suspected early adopter, Downing is kind of your man.

   163. DJS, the Digital Dandy Posted: May 18, 2018 at 10:00 AM (#5674896)
Here's the thing on the steroids: I've tried to include a dummy variable for drug suspension in ZiPS and to-date, I haven't found any value. Players caught using don't, as a group, overperform the projections in the years before being caught or underperform in the years after being caught, no matter what timeframe you choose. Players that have been caught also don't, as a group, have unusual career curves, their performances relative to projections aren't any more volatile than the players never caught (in fact, their performances are slightly less volatile, by an insignificant amount). Nor does it appear to change the quantitative accuracy of projections.

Steroids, if as powerful as some people think, would inevitably be a major confounding variable in projecting players. But no matter where I've looked, I can't just *find* anything like this.
   164. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: May 18, 2018 at 11:19 AM (#5674978)
But we're still whiffing on real comps for Bonds.


Coimps for a top 5 player of all time can be difficult to come by.
   165. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 18, 2018 at 01:51 PM (#5675163)
Coimps for a top 5 player of all time can be difficult to come by.

Ruth, Aaron, Mays, Cobb, Williams?

And he wouldn't be top-5 without the steroid years.

I personally dock Bonds 25-30 WAR in his career evaluation. I give him credit for an Aaron/Mays level post-35 career, which is being very generous.

He's probably right around #8-12 among all hitters, career, IMHO.
   166. dlf Posted: May 18, 2018 at 02:09 PM (#5675186)
I personally dock Bonds 25-30 WAR in his career evaluation. I give him credit for an Aaron/Mays level post-35 career, which is being very generous.

He's probably right around #8-12 among all hitters, career, IMHO.


If you take 30 bWAR from Bonds, he would have 132.8 for his career and would drop from #4 all time (first or second highest position player depending on the treatment of GHRuth's mound years) to #10 (6th highest position player) and 4th among players who appeared post WWII. Among the few he would fall behind is Roger Clemens.
   167. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 18, 2018 at 02:27 PM (#5675206)
If you take 30 bWAR from Bonds, he would have 132.8 for his career and would drop from #4 all time (first or second highest position player depending on the treatment of GHRuth's mound years) to #10 (6th highest position player) and 4th among players who appeared post WWII. Among the few he would fall behind is Roger Clemens.

Right, but Musial gets enough War credit to match or exceed him. Williams blows by him with War credit. Gehrig gets some early death credit. Hornsby quit early to focus on managing.

If I was ranking, just position players, I'd probably go

1. Ruth
2. Mays
3. Wlliams
4. Cobb
5. Hornsby
6-8. Speaker, Musial, Wagner
9. Aaron
10. Bonds

   168. eric Posted: May 18, 2018 at 02:28 PM (#5675208)
1) I set the all-time home run record
2) I played at a time when steroids were freely available and no testing was in place
3) I set career highs for HR, OBP, SLG, and OPS+ at age 37
4) I was unusually productive through my age-39 season, when my OPS+ was still well above my career mark
5) I was teammates at this same time (through my late 30s) with a confessed steroid user who claims steroid use was rampant at that time

Who am I?

(Hint: not Barry Bonds)
   169. dlf Posted: May 18, 2018 at 02:43 PM (#5675224)
Right, but Musial gets enough War credit to match or exceed him. Williams blows by him with War credit. Gehrig gets some early death credit. Hornsby quit early to focus on managing.


How much War demerit does Musial get for playing against inferior competition in '43 and '44 when he won an MVP and had two of his five highest WAR seasons? Once we start going down the line of adjusting downward Bonds to prove some point, then adjusting up others, it becomes ridiculously subjective. If I were to start down that road, I, for one, have a really, really hard time believing that youngest of the top 9 hitters was born in 1934 and two were born in the 1890s, two more in the 1880s, and one in the 1870s, and the latter five played no sanctioned games against blacks, Latinos, or Asians, and much of the top white competition was locked into the PCL.
   170. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 18, 2018 at 02:48 PM (#5675230)
Once we start going down the line of adjusting downward Bonds to prove some point, then adjusting up others, it becomes ridiculously subjective.

It's always subjective. Bonds could have declined a lot worse without the steroids.

If I were to start down that road, I, for one, have a really, really hard time believing that youngest of the top 9 hitters was born in 1934 and two were born in the 1890s, two more in the 1880s, and one in the 1870s, and the latter five played no sanctioned games against blacks, Latinos, or Asians, and much of the top white competition was locked into the PCL.

I'm not timelining. We know it has become harder to dominate over time.

If you look at pitchers, 3 of the top-9 were active as late as 2007.

Truly exceptional talents are not going to be evenly distributed across time. Late 18th century Vienna had more classical musical talent than the whole world does today.

   171. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: May 18, 2018 at 02:51 PM (#5675236)
How much War demerit does Musial get for playing against inferior competition in '43 and '44 when he won an MVP and had two of his five highest WAR seasons? Once we start going down the line of adjusting downward Bonds to prove some point, then adjusting up others, it becomes ridiculously subjective. If I were to start down that road, I, for one, have a really, really hard time believing that youngest of the top 9 hitters was born in 1934 and two were born in the 1890s, two more in the 1880s, and one in the 1870s, and the latter five played no sanctioned games against blacks, Latinos, or Asians, and much of the top white competition was locked into the PCL.
I do too, but not as much as you do, if we are going by "best" relative to the league. It's almost always easier to dominate leagues in their earlier stages, before the competition has ramped up and the game has gotten better at maximizing everyone's ability. A great example of this is the progression of men's vs women's records in various solo athletics, like the marathon.

As for "best" by absolute measure, of course Bonds is better than those other guys, because modern players are all better.

What people really seem to be looking for is some hybrid of best relative to the league, but with an adjustment to make past leagues as competitive as they are now. It's a very difficult exercise once you go back to a time when the competition was significantly different than it is today, which is certainly true of pre-war baseball (and since I'm no baseball historian and have no real idea, could be true more recently than that as well).
   172. dlf Posted: May 18, 2018 at 02:55 PM (#5675240)
It's always subjective. Bonds could have declined a lot worse without the steroids.


Or the steroids caused injury and resulted in a missed season / diminished value. No matter the result - often quite contradictory - some want to point to PEDs as the cause.

I'm not timelining.


War credit is, at least to me, a significant timeline adjustment. "What would this player have done but for the unique circumstances of his era?" Similarly, PED demerits are equally timelining: "what would this player have done had he played in the 50s or 60s when PEDs were limited to Amps?"
   173. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 18, 2018 at 03:00 PM (#5675246)
As for "best" by absolute measure, of course Bonds is better than those other guys, because modern players are all better.

We have no idea how the modern players would have fared if they were born in 1890. Hell, half of them would have died from childhood diseases.

Likewise, if Ruth, or Cobb, or Mays was born in 1970 they would have been bigger, stronger, and better players.
   174. dlf Posted: May 18, 2018 at 03:07 PM (#5675255)
Hell, half of them would have died from childhood diseases.


And the other half would need to undertake the Sammy Sosa post playing days skin treatments in order to be eligible. :)
   175. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: May 18, 2018 at 03:08 PM (#5675256)

We have no idea how the modern players would have fared if they were born in 1890. Hell, half of them would have died from childhood diseases.

Likewise, if Ruth, or Cobb, or Mays was born in 1970 they would have been bigger, stronger, and better players
Fine. But what we do know is what I said above. Bonds was better (probably a lot better) by any absolute measure, and the league was easier to dominate in the past than it is today. Hypotheticals of having people grow up in different eras don't even really make any sense, and are essentially impossible to say much about even if they did make sense, so are just a distraction.

All I'm saying is that you can pretty much do one of three things:
1) say all modern players are better
2) say that some early player dominated the competition more than any modern player (usually true in most sports, though there are some exceptions)
3) try to adjust and put everything on the same scale, which is actually extremely difficult to do once you go back too far, due to the changing competition over time.
   176. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 18, 2018 at 03:09 PM (#5675258)
Late 18th century Vienna had more classical musical talent than the whole world does today.
Well, they just called it "musical talent."
   177. Booey Posted: May 18, 2018 at 03:29 PM (#5675276)
One of the problems with discounting steroid numbers in the all time rankings is that it's basically assuming the player in question was the only one using, which is ridiculous. We can't reduce Bonds 1999-2007 numbers back down to his "true" talent level because we have no idea what his true talent level would have been if no one else was juicing. His 1986-1998 numbers would likely have been higher if he wasn't facing juicing pitchers and competing with juicing hitters that were artificially raising the league OPS. Maybe a 200 OPS+ in a PED free world really was his "true" ability. Assuming it would have been isn't any sillier than trying to guess what his late career OPS+ would have been without TEH ROIDS.

And it boggles my mind that there are still people who think steroid numbers are fake, but numbers put up during segregation are totally legit.
   178. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 18, 2018 at 03:41 PM (#5675286)
Fine. But what we do know is what I said above. Bonds was better (probably a lot better) by any absolute measure, and the league was easier to dominate in the past than it is today. Hypotheticals of having people grow up in different eras don't even really make any sense, and are essentially impossible to say much about even if they did make sense, so are just a distraction.


It makes as much sense about saying Bonds was better, when he never was alive in the same year as Ruth. You're making a time machine argument, that if you dropped Ruth into the year 2000 without any of the benefits of modern nutrition, medicine, and training regimens, he wouldn't be as good as Bonds. Hypothesizing about what would happen if they were both born in the same year makes more sense than assuming time travel.
   179. Rally Posted: May 18, 2018 at 03:42 PM (#5675289)
We can't reduce Bonds 1999-2007 numbers back down to his "true" talent level because we have no idea what his true talent level would have been if no one else was juicing.


We can't know that of course, but we do know that Bonds hit #755 off a pitcher who failed one more steroid test than Bonds ever did.
   180. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 18, 2018 at 03:58 PM (#5675303)
We can't reduce Bonds 1999-2007 numbers back down to his "true" talent level because we have no idea what his true talent level would have been if no one else was juicing.


We can look at his career up to that point, and those of other elite players, and make a damn good guess.

Again, nobody gets significantly better at 35, without some external intervention.
   181. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: May 18, 2018 at 04:07 PM (#5675316)
It makes as much sense about saying Bonds was better, when he never was alive in the same year as Ruth. You're making a time machine argument, that if you dropped Ruth into the year 2000 without any of the benefits of modern nutrition, medicine, and training regimens, he wouldn't be as good as Bonds. Hypothesizing about what would happen if they were both born in the same year makes more sense than assuming time travel..
Bonds is better in the first sense. He's bigger, faster, stronger, has access to better training methods and nutrition and plays against better competition, etc. There is no debate about it. You can look at the athletes in any individual sport, especially those that don't involve direct competition against other athletes (like running), and see this immediately. Having any other point of view is being obtuse or willfully blind.

Hypothesizing about what would happen if a player were born in a different era makes no sense at all, and is just a distraction. You have to make a ton of assumptions (birth rate, skin color, childhood health and nutrition, other options for career path, drugs (both helpful and unhelpful) just for starters) even to get the player playing a game sports at all, and especially on a field of the same shape. Then, you have to somehow account for the fact that the current sport is in may ways a different one than the one played 50-100 years ago. What made an athlete, and his competitors, successful 50 years ago is in many cases completely different than now, and different traits are now valuable. You can do all that if you want but it's just guessing... there's no statistical basis to any of it and any cross-era comparisons done this way are useless.

I'll happily admit that the fact that if you want to find the "best" player of all time by putting different eras on a level playing field, that saying modern players are better is beside the point. ok. But that doesn't change the fact that they are better in an absolute sense.
   182. Booey Posted: May 18, 2018 at 04:17 PM (#5675321)
We can look at his career up to that point, and those of other elite players, and make a damn good guess.


Not really. Again, taking his career numbers up to that point at face value only works if you're assuming that no one else was using during that time.

Upticking the numbers of the "clean" players during the steroid era makes as much sense as discounting the numbers of the "dirty" players.
   183. Booey Posted: May 18, 2018 at 04:18 PM (#5675323)
Again, nobody gets significantly better at 35, without some external intervention.


Or period, even with external intervention, in the case of everyone else.
   184. Ziggy's screen name Posted: May 18, 2018 at 04:42 PM (#5675339)
JFTR, Dan's post #163 is HUGE. I'd always assumed that steroids work in baseball because East German swimmers. But 163 is the first real evidence that I've ever seen on the matter. And, well, maybe they don't. Heck, I like it so much, I'm going to quote the whole thing so you don't have to scroll up the page:

DJS:
Here's the thing on the steroids: I've tried to include a dummy variable for drug suspension in ZiPS and to-date, I haven't found any value. Players caught using don't, as a group, overperform the projections in the years before being caught or underperform in the years after being caught, no matter what timeframe you choose. Players that have been caught also don't, as a group, have unusual career curves, their performances relative to projections aren't any more volatile than the players never caught (in fact, their performances are slightly less volatile, by an insignificant amount). Nor does it appear to change the quantitative accuracy of projections.

Steroids, if as powerful as some people think, would inevitably be a major confounding variable in projecting players. But no matter where I've looked, I can't just *find* anything like this.


I see only three things that we can conclude from this:

(1) Steroids don't, on average, do anything for baseball players.
(2) MLB's testing is completely ineffective. Everyone who gets caught has used their entire career, and they don't stop when they get caught.

or

(3) We'll need to catch more steroid users before the trend becomes apparent. But notice that this is really just a variation on option (1). It means that the effect of steroids is so small that more than a decade of testing hasn't been enough for it to show up through the noise.

Moreover, option (2) doesn't seem especially likely. Not the ineffectiveness of the testing, rather what seems so unlikely is that players wouldn't stop and start using over the course of their careers, in particular after getting caught.
   185. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 18, 2018 at 05:22 PM (#5675364)
Bonds is better in the first sense. He's bigger, faster, stronger, has access to better training methods and nutrition and plays against better competition, etc. There is no debate about it. You can look at the athletes in any individual sport, especially those that don't involve direct competition against other athletes (like running), and see this immediately. Having any other point of view is being obtuse or willfully blind.

You're 100% wrong about the other sports. People have looked at the leg speed of Jesse Owens, and just accounting for the track and block differences, he's within one stride of Usain Bolt.

lets-all-appreciate-how-fast-jesse-owens

"Biomechanical analysis of the speed of Owens' joints shows that had been running on the same surface as Bolt, he wouldn't have been 14 feet behind, he would have been within one stride," said Epstein.


That doesn't account for better sneakers, better health and nutrition, and better training.

If Ruth were alive today, he'd have all the modern advantages. If Bonds played in 1920, he'd have none of them.

You'reconstructing a ridiculous time machine world where you pluck Ruth out of 1921, and make him compete vs. Bonds in a modern context, or send modern Bonds bakc to 1920, taking all hi advantages with him.

Either is a ludicrous, biased comparison. The only fair comparison is what would they have done if they had been born at the same time.

I think Ruth would have been better.
   186. Booey Posted: May 18, 2018 at 05:30 PM (#5675366)
If Ruth were alive today, he'd have all the modern advantages. If Bonds played in 1920, he'd have none of them.


Yeah, like the advantage of being allowed to play in the first place...

I think Ruth would have been better.


Yep, I guarantee that Ruth would have put up bigger numbers in 1920's MLB than Bonds would have. But not for the reasons you're implying.
   187. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 18, 2018 at 05:45 PM (#5675373)
Yeah, like the advantage of being allowed to play in the first place...


We're assuming they're playing in the same league.

Yep, I guarantee that Ruth would have put up bigger numbers in 1920's MLB than Bonds would have. But not for the reasons you're implying.

If we can assume we're moving people 80 years through time, we can assume away the color line.
   188. Booey Posted: May 18, 2018 at 05:50 PM (#5675375)
If we can assume we're moving people 80 years through time, we can assume away the color line.


But if we're doing that, why would we assume that Ruth's numbers would stay the same? Why wouldn't we expect the overall quality of MLB to rise dramatically if we replaced, say, the bottom 20% of white players with the top 20% of Negro League players?
   189. Rally Posted: May 18, 2018 at 06:33 PM (#5675390)
You'reconstructing a ridiculous time machine world where you pluck Ruth out of 1921, and make him compete vs. Bonds in a modern context, or send modern Bonds bakc to 1920, taking all hi advantages with him.


Of course it’s ridiculous. That happens when you start the project with a DeLorean.
   190. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 18, 2018 at 08:39 PM (#5675436)
But if we're doing that, why would we assume that Ruth's numbers would stay the same? Why wouldn't we expect the overall quality of MLB to rise dramatically if we replaced, say, the bottom 20% of white players with the top 20% of Negro League players?

Ted Williams and Stan Musial sustained their excellence while their leagues integrated. I see no reason why Ruth wouldn't have.
   191. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: May 19, 2018 at 01:53 AM (#5675559)
You're 100% wrong about the other sports. People have looked at the leg speed of Jesse Owens, and just accounting for the track and block differences, he's within one stride of Usain Bolt.
"Biomechanical analysis of the speed of Owens' joints shows that had been running on the same surface as Bolt, he wouldn't have been 14 feet behind, he would have been within one stride," said Epstein.

That doesn't account for better sneakers, better health and nutrition, and better training.


Using as your counter-example one guy (Epstein) who made some remarks in a TED talk about one specific notable performance by an exceptional athlete in a sport that has been contested intently by men for thousands of years is not persuasive. We have no idea how precise the biomechanical analysis is, and I haven't seen it repeated anywhere else. And anyway, the "one stride difference" conclusion is not in your favor (and also appears to be against Bolt's 9.77 rather than his 9.58). Since Bolt only takes 41 strides on the track, one stride length is over 8 feet, and about .25 seconds (quite a large separation in modern sprinting). That would have put Owens at 10.01 seconds. Not exceptional by today's standards.

Now also consider this---other contemporary athletes at the time of Owens hit faster speeds on the track than he did, even though they didn't lower his record (some equaled it, remember it was only kept by 1th0s of a second). It was not the type of performance that lowered the record by a significant margin the way Bolt's has. It stood for a long time, but that's mostly circumstance and the fact that they only kept records to 1/10 of a second at that time, so to lower the record took a significantly better performance.

More generally, there is simply no way to look at athletic performance across sports since 1900, especially in sports that were in their infancy at the turn of the last century, and conclude that the athletes overall, and the level of competition at the highest levels, was as good on 1900 as it is today. It's lunacy. Just look at the size of the athletes playing today in all sports. There hasn't been an Olympic champion in the men's 100m that was as light as Owens since 1960. Most have been much bigger and more muscular (Carl Lewis being the only one with a lower BMI than Owens, though he was significantly taller).

Competitors become more sophisticated with respect to training and strategy as well. This can be seen in analysis of games like go and chess, where according to the best models we have players the top players today perform more closely to optimum than the great champions of one or two generations ago. Competition is not simply who has the best hand/eye coordination or who wants it most, its also a culture built on years of learning about training/strategy/technique, etc. from those that came before.

All of it matters. The combination of strength/coordination/speed/training/nutrition/approach, and yes PEDs. Competitors today are better than they ever were, they have to be to stay ahead of the competition, which always improves. If you honestly believe that the best baseball players of the 1910s were as good as the best players of today, purely in an absolute sense, then I simply don't know what to tell you. When I say players are better today then they ever were in the past, I'm including training and health. There's no way to separate a player's performance from his training and health--they are integral parts of what makes the athlete. Ruth (the person) is not just his genes, but the entirety of the experience he lived, and that's also what he was as an athlete. When speaking of performance in absolute terms you can't give Ruth the training/experiences that Bonds had--if you do, the person you are talking about at that point is not Ruth but a Ruth/Bonds hybrid.

By the way, that TED talk says a lot of other things besides making the rough estimate of Owens v Bolt's . Among other things it notes are the same things I've said above-size/strength of athletes, training/technique, nutrition, level of competition, etc. Guess what it concludes? Athletes today are faster, stronger and better.

   192. Mefisto Posted: May 19, 2018 at 08:38 AM (#5675573)
Excellent job 191.
   193. Rally Posted: May 19, 2018 at 10:45 AM (#5675586)
Athletes from 1910 would have been terrified to merely gaze upon the giant power hitters of today. Behemoths such as Betts, Albies, Altuve, and Ramirez.

Yeah, that’s a joke and Stanton/Judge would have stood out even more a century ago. But the success of smaller athletes today, even in the art of power hitting, makes me think the top players from the old days would have been just fine in today’s game.
   194. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 19, 2018 at 01:20 PM (#5675619)
More generally, there is simply no way to look at athletic performance across sports since 1900, especially in sports that were in their infancy at the turn of the last century, and conclude that the athletes overall, and the level of competition at the highest levels, was as good on 1900 as it is today. It's lunacy. Just look at the size of the athletes playing today in all sports. There hasn't been an Olympic champion in the men's 100m that was as light as Owens since 1960. Most have been much bigger and more muscular (Carl Lewis being the only one with a lower BMI than Owens, though he was significantly taller).

And Owens, were he alive today would be taller (due to better nutrition as a child) and heavier/more muscular because of advances in training.

All of it matters. The combination of strength/coordination/speed/training/nutrition/approach, and yes PEDs. Competitors today are better than they ever were, they have to be to stay ahead of the competition, which always improves.

All of which the old timers would have access to if they lived today.

If you honestly believe that the best baseball players of the 1910s were as good as the best players of today, purely in an absolute sense, then I simply don't know what to tell you. When I say players are better today then they ever were in the past, I'm including training and health. There's no way to separate a player's performance from his training and health--they are integral parts of what makes the athlete. Ruth (the person) is not just his genes, but the entirety of the experience he lived, and that's also what he was as an athlete. When speaking of performance in absolute terms you can't give Ruth the training/experiences that Bonds had--if you do, the person you are talking about at that point is not Ruth but a Ruth/Bonds hybrid.

And this is where you make your colossal, time machine, mistake. You can't judge absolute ability, without adjusting for better nutrition, training, medical care, sports technology, etc.

If Bolt was born in 1912 and ran in 1936, he'd have none of the advantages you site. If Owens were born in 1994, and ran today, he'd have all the same advantages that Bolt does, and would likely be just as fast.

Are you going to make Owens run on a cinder track without starting blocks when he races Bolt too? Does Ruth have to play in flannel, swing a 48 ounce bat, and travel by train?

Your argument is basically saying "Of course David Petraeus is a better general than Napoleon. His army would crush Napoleon if they were magically put on a battlefield together."

You have to try and judge the athletes in the same context. If you want to know how Ruth or Owens would have fared today, you have to assume they enter modernity as young men, and get to experience all the advances in training, equipment, technique, etc. Otherwise, you're just stacking the deck.

   195. Dog on the sidewalk Posted: May 19, 2018 at 01:30 PM (#5675622)
The whole point is to not adjust for all the things you're complaining about him not adjusting for.
   196. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 19, 2018 at 02:36 PM (#5675640)
The whole point is to not adjust for all the things you're complaining about him not adjusting for.

Then that's a idiotic point. Again, it's a time machine game. Two athletes are never going to meet on a field of play, where one is using 100 year old technology and techniques. And, in that dumb time machine game, you don't even want to transport an 16-18 y.o. Ruth or Owens, and give him time to train and adjust.

Usain Bolt runs faster in 2016 than Jesse Owens did in 1936. That's not an interesting discussion.

Who would be the faster man if they both ran under equal conditions is an interesting question.
   197. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: May 19, 2018 at 02:44 PM (#5675642)
If you want to know how Ruth or Owens would have fared today, you have to assume they enter modernity as young men, and get to experience all the advances in training, equipment, technique, etc
I'm not interested in that hypothetical, because I think it's essentially unknowable and a useless distraction. It's certainly not a good way to try to compare players from different eras. If I wanted to try to put players from different eras on the same scale, I'd do it the way it is traditionally done, i.e. the only way you can begin to say something sensible about it. I'd start with some measure like WAR (or whatever people think is best to use), then try to adjust for the level of competition the players of the various eras faced. This is exactly what some of the people in this thread have been trying to do above.

There's just know way to know how players of different eras would be affected if you took them out of their time and put them into modernity. I guess it could be fun to think about (not for me particularly, but maybe for someone), but it's pointless as a rigorous exercise. (Not that it matters, but it's also curious that you assume the right age is when they are "young men". Why not when they are conceived, or why not at 3 years old? Don't you want them to grow up learning how to hit/pitch/train/eat like modern athletes? The whole thing is arbitrary and pointless.)
   198. Booey Posted: May 19, 2018 at 03:22 PM (#5675660)
Snapper, it sounds like your rankings are specifically designed with the sole purpose of putting Bonds as low as possible.

Stats are great, but they need to pass the smell test first. If you found a stat showing that Jose Altuve is actually taller than Aaron Judge...well, I suppose it's possible that my eyes are playing tricks on me, but I think it's much more likely that your stat is simply wrong.

Anyway, sorry, but your ranking doesn't pass the smell test either (and I'm not meaning to pick on you specifically - any ranking going almost solely by WAR/WAA will have the same problem, minus the PED adjustment). Yours has 4 of the top 9 hitters of all time debuting between 1905-1915 (plus Wagner in 1897)...and none in the last 60 years (Aaron was the latest in 1954). Since talent distribution is random, I guess that's possible, but it just doesn't seem like the most likely explanation to me. It seems much, much more likely that the overall talent level was simply significantly lower back then, so stars stood out more relative to their competition. Judging on a straight WAR comparison makes it virtually impossible for modern players to crack the upper echelon. Trout could remain brilliant for the rest of his career and he still probably won't make that top 10.

The stars of each era should be ranked essentially equally. The best players of one era are about equal to the best players of another. The 2nd best player of one era is about equal to the 2nd best of another. Etc, etc. Obviously the breakdown isn't quite that exact and the 2nd best player of one era might be better than the best of another, but I have a very hard time believing that the 5th or 6th best player of one era could be better than the best of another. Eddie Collins, for example, has 124 career WAR, better than any position player who debuted post 1955 except Bonds. Yet amongst his own era (players who debuted within 10 years of him in either direction), he ranks behind Ruth, Cobb, Speaker, Wagner, and Hornsby (plus Johnson if we were including pitchers). I don't buy for a second that he might be better than the likes of Schmidt, Morgan, Rickey, or ARod just cuz WAR says so. Those guys were closer to the top of their leagues than Collins was to his. I'd rank him about the same as the 5th or 6th best players of any other era, guys like Brett, Ripken, Boggs, Clemente, Kaline, Mathews, etc. Those guys seem to be more 85-95 WAR players, and rank somewhere in the 30-40 range all time (including pitchers). That sounds about right. In fact, subtracting around 30 WAR from all the deadball era players make their final rankings look about right. Speaker, for example, ends up on par with Frank Robinson, Joe Morgan, and Albert Pujols, which feels just about perfect.
   199. BDC Posted: May 19, 2018 at 03:29 PM (#5675666)
AuntBea is correct, snapper. And his point is quite uncontroversial when you think of football or basketball.

Offensive linemen in the NFL weigh 310-320 lbs. now, where 50 years ago they weighed 230-240. 50 years ago, NBA point guards were all 6'2". This year, the 76ers' point guard, Ben Simmons, is 6'10". Well, that's still kind of unusual. But becoming less so, while BITD it would have been absurd.

If your point is "maybe if these guys were born later they'd be bigger," well, as people have been saying, they weren't and they weren't.

Baseball pitchers are clearly bigger than 50-60 years ago, and throw harder; and some of the sluggers in 2018 would make Dave Winfield look normal-sized. That's also not controversial. Though Rally continues to have a point: insofar as baseball is scaled to the sizes of its players via the strike zone, it still offers a chance to Mel-Ott or Joe-Morgan sized players. Which means that we can conceive of Mel Ott being a success today, without it being like claiming that a 220-pound old-timey star offensive lineman could succeed today.
   200. Ziggy's screen name Posted: May 19, 2018 at 03:53 PM (#5675677)
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