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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Rosenthal: No simple answer to this question: Barry Bonds, Hall of Famer?

Interface adapters & converters needed for Robothal.

Bonds, 49, took a major step Monday, returning to baseball for the first time since 2007 to begin a weeklong stint as a special hitting instructor with the Giants.

Naturally, a reporter asked him if he belonged in the Hall. Naturally, Bonds did not hesitate with his answer.

“Without a doubt,” he said.

...I struggle with the idea that some of the best players of this generation might never be enshrined in Cooperstown. I question whether that is right for the fans of those players, right for the Hall, right for the sport. But in the end, each voter must simply decide what he or she believes.

I hate when some in favor of Bonds’ and Clemens’ candidacies disdainfully describe voters like myself as “gatekeepers of morality.” Guilty as charged, I guess, but I don’t see it that way at all. Maybe in five years I will view my current stance as too harsh. Opinions evolve, perceptions soften over time.

Bonds is eligible to remain on the ballot for 13 more years—he received 36.2 and 34.7 percent of the vote in his first two years, well short of the 75 percent needed for induction. The crowded ballot probably isn’t helping him any, but if Bonds cannot get elected by 2027, I doubt many will complain that he did not receive a fair hearing.

One more thing:

At least for me, this is not about Bonds’ poor relationship with the media, a relationship that on Monday he admitted to regretting. No voter should base a Hall of Fame vote on whether a player cooperated with reporters, and I do not believe that many do. Eddie Murray once threatened to sue me, and I voted for him on the first ballot without hesitation. Murray got in, Steve Carlton got in, others who scorned the media got in, too.

For me, it’s about the podium; I can’t get past the idea of seeing Bonds on the podium. Maybe one day my position will change. I sort of hope it does. Heck, I loved watching Barry Bonds play, too.

Repoz Posted: March 11, 2014 at 05:56 AM | 94 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: March 11, 2014 at 06:48 AM (#4669359)
I hate when some in favor of Bonds’ and Clemens’ candidacies disdainfully describe voters like myself as “gatekeepers of morality.”

Yeah, it's got to suck being judged as being part of an entire era of egotistical, destructive decision making.

Guilty as charged, I guess, but I don’t see it that way at all. Maybe in five years I will view my current stance as too harsh. Opinions evolve, perceptions soften over time.

McGwire: 23.5%, 23.6%, 21.9%, 23.7%, 19.8%, 19.5%, 16.9%, 11.0%. Ninth time's the charm, though.
   2. Bug Selig Posted: March 11, 2014 at 06:53 AM (#4669360)
The crowded ballot probably isn’t helping him any


It's probably not hurting him any, either. People who didn't vote for him chose not to vote for him because they think it would be wrong to do so. Nobody left Barry Bonds off their ballot because they thought Lee Smith or Larry Walker was better.
   3. Cooper Nielson Posted: March 11, 2014 at 07:14 AM (#4669361)
No voter should base a Hall of Fame vote on whether a player cooperated with reporters,

Probably not, but how is this better/worse than basing a Hall of Fame vote on whether or not a guy used drugs?

Voters are supposedly spurning PED users (or suspected users) based on the "character clause." Well, I think being nice to people is a more crucial element of "good character" than abstaining from drugs.
   4. Moloka'i Three-Finger Brown (Declino DeShields) Posted: March 11, 2014 at 07:43 AM (#4669364)
That was really magnanimous of Rosenthal to vote for Murray, a guy with 500 homers and 3000 hits, on the first ballot even though Murray was rude to him.
   5. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: March 11, 2014 at 07:51 AM (#4669368)
It's probably not hurting him any, either. People who didn't vote for him chose not to vote for him because they think it would be wrong to do so. Nobody left Barry Bonds off their ballot because they thought Lee Smith or Larry Walker was better.


I guess if the ballot ever gets so crowded that there are ten no-doubt HOFers who have not a whiff of PED suspicion, then Bonds and Clemens might suffer some. Assuming there is considerable overlap between voters who don't penalize for PEDs and voters who tend to fill their ballots.
   6. TJ Posted: March 11, 2014 at 08:22 AM (#4669375)
...I struggle with the idea that some of the best players of this generation might never be enshrined in Cooperstown. I question whether that is right for the fans of those players, right for the Hall, right for the sport. But in the end, each voter must simply decide what he or she believes.


Or the BBWAA could meet, decide upon a position one way or the other, and put an end to this nonsense.
   7. Publius Publicola Posted: March 11, 2014 at 08:45 AM (#4669382)
I hate when some in favor of Bonds’ and Clemens’ candidacies disdainfully describe voters like myself as “gatekeepers of morality.”


The word is "witchhunters", Ken. I know, the accusers don't know what witchhunt really means but try telling them that.
   8. Dale Sams Posted: March 11, 2014 at 09:01 AM (#4669386)
Or the BBWAA could meet, decide upon a position one way or the other, and put an end to this nonsense.


Cats, herding, difficult.
   9. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 11, 2014 at 09:01 AM (#4669387)
Or the BBWAA could meet, decide upon a position one way or the other, and put an end to this nonsense.

Right, and if they'd just outlaw gambling, nobody would ever gamble. How exactly would such an edict be enforced, especially when it would compel the majority of writers to vote for someone they don't want to? Are you going to have some special committee call writers before them one by one to demand that they "explain" their votes? And beyond a relatively small minority, where's the support for such a move?
   10. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: March 11, 2014 at 09:14 AM (#4669393)
And beyond a relatively small minority, where's the support for such a move?

Not this minute, but reliable sources say that opinions evolve, perceptions soften over time.
   11. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: March 11, 2014 at 09:25 AM (#4669401)
Nobody left Barry Bonds off their ballot because they thought Lee Smith or Larry Walker was better.

I just hope that some day the writers will see fit to enshrine Bonds next to greats of the game like Jim Rice, Tony Perez, and Bruce Sutter.
   12. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: March 11, 2014 at 09:48 AM (#4669413)
I hate when some in favor of Bonds’ and Clemens’ candidacies disdainfully describe voters like myself as “gatekeepers of morality.”

The word is "witchhunters", Ken. I know, the accusers don't know what witchhunt really means but try telling them that.



Baseball Writers Are Now the New Gatekeepers of Morality

Too many writers believe they are hypocritical gatekeepers of morality

BBWAA is already a joke because of the dinosaurs and their misplaced sense of being gatekeepers of morality

What makes it all the more unpalatable is their current public stance as the so-called gatekeepers of morality

The BBWAA are acting like the gatekeepers of morality.

...the self-important, self-appointed gatekeepers of morality that suffocate us with pretension and sanctimony.

Unfortunately, sports writers have decided that they are the gatekeepers of morality and grabbed all the headlines in the process.

This whole steroid fiasco has elevated those writers once again as the "gatekeepers of morality" and the "protectors of past legacies".

Three writers... made it their personal missions this year to tell the world that they are the gatekeepers for this whole thing.

Gatekeepers Must Keep Bonds, Clemens, Sosa Out Of Hall

Baseball’s hidebound gatekeepers

It’s refreshing to see Bonds so at peace (outwardly, at least) with his career and his life, regardless of what self-appointed gatekeepers have to say.

"You see, a certain former member of the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants will become eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2013, and when he’s not voted in by the archaic, moral grandstanding and self aggrandized gatekeepers for Cooperstown, I will be unable to ever acknowledge the existence of what will become far too great of an embarrassment to the game of baseball."

I think it's quite quaint that sportswriters fancy themselves at the gatekeepers of this grand sanctuary, especially when those same writers failed their readership during the entirety of the so-called Steroids Era.

Barry Bonds may be shamed, convicted... and possibly banned from baseball, but the commissioner and owners carry the responsibility of the institution since they're the gatekeepers who will have silently conducted themselves into absolution without ever being held accountable for the gross mismanagement of this crisis.

BBWAA voters are more concerned with playing the moral gatekeeper of Cooperstown

But you could probably do the same for "witch hunt."

Dan LeBatard, who sold his vote to Deadspin:
"I feel like my vote has gotten pretty worthless in the avalanche of sanctimony that has swallowed it... I hate all the moralizing we do in sports in general, but I especially hate the hypocrisy in this: Many of the gatekeeper voters denying Barry Bonds Hall Of Fame entry would have they themselves taken a magical, healing, not-tested-for-in-their-workplace elixir if it made them better at their jobs, especially if lesser talents were getting the glory and money."
   13. sinicalypse Posted: March 11, 2014 at 09:55 AM (#4669417)
of course bonds is a hall-of-famer, whether you want to claim that he was already worthy before he saw mcgwire and sosa get all of the publicity/press and decided "oh yeah? watch what i can do if i do that" and history ensues; or whether you want to claim that it was an out-and-out "steroid era" in baseball and relative to all of the other juicing players of his era he still stands out as an obvious no-doubt-hall-of-famer [insert argument about "greenies"/amphetamines/spitballs/sign-stealing/whatever here].

personally, i think a proper solution would be to have a special wing in cooperstown called "the steroid era" and induct the HOF-worthy guys into the hall, but instead of placing their busts/plaques wherever they usually put them amongst all of the other hallowed legends of the game, you have that little "the steroid era" room/exhibit and their busts/plaques get placed there. the problem is that while it's all fine and good to claim morality this "integrity of the game" that and begin the always-fun argument about the semantics of "cheating", it's not like the years 1995-2010 didn't exist and you can decide to draw a line in the sand and blackball certain guys for "ruining the game" when there was clearly a lot more going on in the big/ger picture. are you going to tell me that owners had not even a sniff of a clue that these guys were doing this? are you then going to tell me that if they maybe even had suspicions they didnt do their part to market the hell out of these players and their historic quests and do everything in their power to squeeze every last penny out of the fans whether or not these pursuits were "legit" or otherwise?

you know the owners and media contingent is going to want to put bud selig in the HOF someday for overseeing the growth of MLB after its recovery from the 1994 strike, and as i'm sure it's been discussed on here ad nauseum/infinitum, bud did a masterful job of making some painful faces when he decided to put all of his PR eggs in the "we do the most out of any major american sports to fight the steroid epidemic!" basket and claiming to be above it all like these brilliant businessmen/businesswomen really had no idea that the top players of their product were doing these things to enable them to put up the kind of gaudy video game #s that ended up "tainting" or "supplanting" the pre-existing evidently-hallowed/cherished records.

it's a messy situation all the way around, and while i can understand the righteousness to want to punish these guys for their dastardly deeds (even though their consolation prize was hundreds of millions of dollars; however will they survive?) i still think it makes the most sense for baseball to acknowledge the era for what it was.... some people will love it, others will just shrug, and of course some will hate it; but to me the most equitable way to deal with this is to make that little "the steroid era" room and induct the best of the best, cheaters or otherwise, into the HOF and then you can "punish" them by not having them with all of the 100.0% squeaky-clean heroes of our youths/in-uteros/time as a random hormone in mom/dad's bodies but instead in their own little sideshow of a room where they can be recognized for their greatness, but in such a way that says "hey.... it was what it was and it's controversial but given the environment that they played in, these guys were the best"

it's patently asinine to have a HOF that doesn't have bonds and clemens in it. yeah of course they used... but it was more of an institutional/culture problem rather than just another facet of these guys being ########## (think "d-backs" =), which trust me they already were without any sort of assistance through science. it's also patently asinine to just bury your head in the sand and declare yourself arbitrarily-morally-superior to a whole era of baseball and pretend it didn't happen, or that telling some guy who cleared 180mil in his career that he's going to be punished because when he does an autograph show in 2026 he won't be able to charge an extra $10-20/autograph without that little "HOF" tacked on after his signature. yeah, i reckon when baseball has the HOF and it's seen as the ultimate recognition of your excellence having it out there that if you flagrantly cheat (AND GET CAUGHT..... otherwise pujols is going to have a nice casual stroll into the HOF, right? or will the baseball good ol boy network nail him like it did sosa within a week of him doing an interview in 2008 where he said 'i never got caught using anything so i'll sit back and wait for my call from the HOF' --- au contraire mon frere?) --- is a theoretical deterrent, sure, we all like to think that honor > cash at some point. but come on man, these guys are making 100-300mil in a career nowadays (and trout has a good shot at ushering in the 500mil-1bil era), and it's a lot easier to rationalize what you did when you're laying in your bed under three $20k paintings of yourself as a centaur that you commissioned.

AHEM. i dunno and obviously i'm a loquacious sonovabitch and could go on ad nauseum/infinitum trying to make sense of it all.... but hey for what it's worth i think that bonds is obviously the #1 example who deserves to be in the hall of fame, just probably with an asterisk.... which seems to be his lot in life.
   14. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 11, 2014 at 10:40 AM (#4669447)
And beyond a relatively small minority, where's the support for such a move?

Not this minute, but reliable sources say that opinions evolve, perceptions soften over time.


Sure, but if and when opinions ever do change on this issue, Bonds won't need any forced directives to get into the Hall.
   15. Rusty Priske Posted: March 11, 2014 at 11:07 AM (#4669477)
No simple answer to this question


There is to me... and that answer is yes.
   16. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: March 11, 2014 at 11:18 AM (#4669485)
A separate wing is a terrible idea. There are already a whole bunch of users of performance-enhancing drugs, drugs that would get them suspended under MLB's drug policy and banned from international play, in the Hall of Fame.
   17. Publius Publicola Posted: March 11, 2014 at 11:46 AM (#4669510)
Many of the gatekeeper voters denying Barry Bonds Hall Of Fame entry would have they themselves taken a magical, healing, not-tested-for-in-their-workplace elixir if it made them better at their jobs, especially if lesser talents were getting the glory and money."


Melky?

And taking drugs is for LeBatard a talent now?

   18. Baldrick Posted: March 11, 2014 at 11:49 AM (#4669514)
Shorter this article:
I hate being referred to as a gatekeeper of morality. That's not what it's about. What is it about: "For me, it’s about the podium; I can’t get past the idea of seeing Bonds on the podium. Maybe one day my position will change. I sort of hope it does. Heck, I loved watching Barry Bonds play, too."

Ugh. 'It would offend my sense of righteousness to see the guy receive acclaim' is the absolute ESSENCE of moral gatekeeping.
   19. attaboy Posted: March 11, 2014 at 12:47 PM (#4669551)
Separate wing idea: On the positive side, we could stick Bud in there as a part of the era. We get to include those players who deserve to be recognized. On the negative: do you need two votes going forward? Do Mariano and Jeter just pushed to that wing because they played during the era or do you need a vote for the hall worthy and then another vote of those who are entering to see which room they get to be in :) (I picked those two but firmly believe each of them tried something which is now illegal at some point, as I think 99% of the players have tried something at some point, sorry to those who view them as the saints of current MLB. If Pettitte is guilty, anyone else can be).
   20. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 11, 2014 at 02:01 PM (#4669615)
Won't someone please think of the podiums???

(Podia?)
   21. Booey Posted: March 11, 2014 at 03:15 PM (#4669666)
Re: separate wings -

Why can't they just arrange the plaque room in chronological order to begin with? Casual fans who only care about a certain era can go straight to those plaques and bypass all the long dead old timers they don't care about and many of whom they might have never even heard of. Those that are offended by the entire decades of the 90's and 2000's can stop before they get to those plaques, but the Bonds/Clemens types will still be there for the fans that do want to see them. What would be wrong with that scenario?

(I've never been to Cooperstown. Disregard everything I just said if that's similar to how it's already set up)
   22. Publius Publicola Posted: March 11, 2014 at 03:23 PM (#4669673)
Why can't they just arrange the plaque room in chronological order to begin with?


You know the two bats they have on the bronze plaque, the ones that cross behind the bas relief head of the inductee? For the juicers, they could replace those with bronze syringes.
   23. Bitter Mouse Posted: March 11, 2014 at 03:27 PM (#4669679)
personally, i think a proper solution would be to have a special wing in cooperstown


Serious question, when does it start and when does it end? Are you sure that is when it ended? How will we ever know it is over? See Tour de France for effectiveness in testing in driving drugs completely out of a sport.

Does every player voted to the HoF who played during that time period (whatever it is) go into that wing?

Aside: I hate the idea on its face, but I wanted clarification about the idea.
   24. Publius Publicola Posted: March 11, 2014 at 03:40 PM (#4669704)
All I think a special wing would accomplish is to metastasize the problem to the Hall as well as outside it. You would have clean guys who are not in either but would be in except their numbers pale next to the cheaters. Then you would have dirty guys in the clean section who are there because they were lucky they didn't get caught. Then you have the dirty guys in the dirty section because they did get caught. Then you have the guys who everybody knows were juicing but didn't get caught, but they go into the dirty section anyway just because.

Uggh.
   25. haven Posted: March 11, 2014 at 06:55 PM (#4669840)
i hate bonds as much as any 40+ year pirates fan.....

i am not thrilled by the influence (or perhaps it is better to say perceived influence) of steroids on baseball.....

but the answer to this question is simple. yes, bonds is a hall of famer.
   26. Booey Posted: March 11, 2014 at 07:05 PM (#4669843)
I agree the separate wing idea doesn't work.

Just induct everyone stat-worthy and let fans decide for themselves what to make of their numbers.
   27. cardsfanboy Posted: March 11, 2014 at 07:29 PM (#4669849)
Agree with 26.. if there is actual evidence (late admission or failed test) don't be afraid to include that on the plaque, beyond that, there is no reason to keep those who performed at a hof level out of the hall. Admit that MLB screwed up and didn't catch onto the new Ped's (heck it took them 30+ years to outlaw greenies) and accept that the punishment handed out by the league is enough.
   28. Monty Posted: March 11, 2014 at 08:29 PM (#4669883)
I don't want a separate wing because there would only be a handful of people in it, so what's the point? And I don't think I'd enjoy the process of the BBWAA officially deciding with a vote what wing Sammy Sosa goes into. That's a lot of extra hoo-ha we don't need.
   29. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 11, 2014 at 08:39 PM (#4669890)
I don't want a separate wing because there would only be a handful of people in it, so what's the point?


Plus their heads wouldn't fit on the plaques. It'd look like Easter Island in there.
   30. Bruce Markusen Posted: March 11, 2014 at 09:47 PM (#4669915)
The Plaque Gallery is arranged in chronological order, based on year of induction. So it's somewhat linear, though not completely. Arranging plaques by year of induction is the simplest way of displaying them. Otherwise, the plaques would have to be re-arranged on a nearly annual basis, especially when the Veterans' Committee votes someone in. That becomes a lot of labor.
   31. Yastrzemski in left. Posted: March 11, 2014 at 11:13 PM (#4669946)
The MLB Hall of Fame will be even more of a joke without Barry Bonds. This isn't even a serious debate for anyone who has ever played the game at a high level.
   32. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: March 11, 2014 at 11:21 PM (#4669947)
This isn't even a serious debate for anyone who has ever played the game at a high level.


I happen to think that Barry Bonds should be in the Hall of Fame, but I also happen to know that a whole lot of people who played the game at the highest level disagree with me. It's not just sportswriters, Andy, and Kevin who get all worked up about steroids.
   33. Yastrzemski in left. Posted: March 11, 2014 at 11:35 PM (#4669959)
jealousy is a #####.
   34. Joe Kehoskie Posted: March 11, 2014 at 11:42 PM (#4669961)
"For me, it’s about the podium; I can’t get past the idea of seeing Bonds on the podium."

Know who did stand at that podium? Bill Conlin. And the silence from the BBWAA on that has been rather deafening.
   35. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: March 12, 2014 at 01:03 AM (#4669982)
but I also happen to know that a whole lot of people who played the game at the highest level disagree with me.


Well that's a lot of sanctimonious cr*p. Every era, every player is always looking for an edge. Whether it's spitballs, nail files, Victorino HPB, PEDs, greenies, caffeine, "nutritional supplements", hyperbaric chambers, using animal ligaments in surgery; anything can be considered cheating or just trying to find an edge.

Bonds is one of the 5 best position players ever. There is no HOF question, the only question is where in the top 5 do you put him?
   36. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 12, 2014 at 01:34 AM (#4669989)
Bonds is one of the 5 best position players ever. There is no HOF question, the only question is where in the top 5 do you put him?

I'd put him at #1 in the Hall of Merit, as long as you don't count Ruth's pitching. And his most notable achievement is already in the Hall of Fame, so what's the problem?
   37. Booey Posted: March 12, 2014 at 11:58 AM (#4670206)
And his most notable achievement is already in the Hall of Fame, so what's the problem?


The problem is if the HOF is supposed to portray an accurate representation of baseball history by showcasing the best players from each generation, it really hurts the institutions credibility by deliberately leaving out some of the best players of all time. And it's basically a giant middle finger to fans who grew up watching that generation.

If it would bother you if the HOF snubbed Mays, Aaron, Mantle, etc, for doing drugs that were widespread and ignored during their era, why is it hard to understand why it bothers fans of the Bonds/Clemens generation that they're being snubbed for doing things that were widespread and ignored in their era?

And honestly, who would it hurt to elect the steroid guys? The impressionable children who want to believe a HOF already full of racists, alcoholics, wife beaters, and drug abusers (including PED's) is innocent and pure?

And if you're like me and want all the steroid nonsense to just die already so everyone can go back to focusing on the actual play on the field and the guys who do get elected to the HOF rather than the ones that don't, the best solution is probably to just elect the Bonds/Clemens types so everyone can move on. If you elect those guys, there'll be controversy just that one time. If you don't elect them, there's going to be controversy every year until you do. Enough already.
   38. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 12, 2014 at 12:36 PM (#4670249)
And his most notable achievement is already in the Hall of Fame, so what's the problem?

The problem is if the HOF is supposed to portray an accurate representation of baseball history by showcasing the best players from each generation, it really hurts the institutions credibility by deliberately leaving out some of the best players of all time. And it's basically a giant middle finger to fans who grew up watching that generation.


It only hurts their "credibility" if there's widespread ignorance as to why certain players have been excluded, either that or widespread disagreement about the exclusions. The only people I've heard complaining about "credibility" are those who simply don't agree with the exclusions, and are using that word as a weapon.

If it would bother you if the HOF snubbed Mays, Aaron, Mantle, etc, for doing drugs that were widespread and ignored during their era, why is it hard to understand why it bothers fans of the Bonds/Clemens generation that they're being snubbed for doing things that were widespread and ignored in their era?

Well, my "what's the problem?" reply was purely rhetorical. But I'm every bit as much of a fan of the Bonds/Clemens generation as you are, even more so than I was a fan of the era I grew up in. I can thoroughly understand your complaint; I just don't agree with its merit.

And honestly, who would it hurt to elect the steroid guys? The impressionable children who want to believe a HOF already full of racists, alcoholics, wife beaters, and drug abusers (including PED's) is innocent and pure?

The world won't end if they all got in**, but it would send a message that the players who didn't use steroids were essentially chumps.

**And unlike some people, mainly certain writers---I'm not talking about Primates in this case---I try to distinguish between innuendo and convincing evidence. You haven't heard me calling for the exclusion of Sosa or Bagwell or Clemens.

And if you're like me and want all the steroid nonsense to just die already so everyone can go back to focusing on the actual play on the field and the guys who do get elected to the HOF rather than the ones that don't, the best solution is probably to just elect the Bonds/Clemens types so everyone can move on. If you elect those guys, there'll be controversy just that one time. If you don't elect them, there's going to be controversy every year until you do. Enough already.

But the reason that the controversy would be over would be because to get elected, 75% of the voters would have already have had to have been converted. It's kind of putting the cart before the horse.
   39. Booey Posted: March 12, 2014 at 01:12 PM (#4670299)
It only hurts their "credibility" if there's widespread ignorance as to why certain players have been excluded, either that or widespread disagreement about the exclusions. The only people I've heard complaining about "credibility" are those who simply don't agree with the exclusions, and are using that word as a weapon.


I don't think there's any ignorance over why these guys are excluded. But doesn't inconsistency (the HOF has already elected drug users and "cheaters") and hypocrisy (these guys were branded as hero's at the time and the league/fans/media were happy to sit back and enjoy the ride) hurt an institutions credibility as well?

The world won't end if they all got in**, but it would send a message that the players who didn't use steroids were essentially chumps.


I wouldn't call someone who valued their long term health over money and fame a chump. Everyone had the same opportunities, and they all made their choices one way or the other.

**And unlike some people, mainly certain writers---I'm not talking about Primates in this case---I try to distinguish between innuendo and convincing evidence. You haven't heard me calling for the exclusion of Sosa or Bagwell or Clemens.


Agreed. I've always thought you were by far the most reasonable of all the anti-steroid posters. So thanks for that. :-)
   40. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 12, 2014 at 01:43 PM (#4670351)
I don't think there's any ignorance over why these guys are excluded. But doesn't inconsistency (the HOF has already elected drug users and "cheaters") and hypocrisy (these guys were branded as hero's at the time and the league/fans/media were happy to sit back and enjoy the ride) hurt an institutions credibility as well?

It's only inconsistent if you don't distinguish steroids from other forms of drug use and "cheating". But that's what the entire argument has always been about, hasn't it? I get it that many people here display various degrees of incredulity, outrage and high blood pressure in the face of such distinctions, and that some find making this distinction a sign of "dishonesty" or whatever, but the whole "inconsistency" argument is largely circular.

And pretty much the same thing can be said about the "hypocrisy" charge, and its frequent allusions to the many lowlife characters (racists, wifebeaters, etc.). Once you accept the distinction between acts that besmirch the game on the field and those that speak poorly of the people off the field, then you can understand and accept why it's not "hypocritical" to vote against Barry Bonds while accepting the thought of a plaque for Ty Cobb or Cap Anson.**

I wouldn't call someone who valued their long term health over money and fame a chump. Everyone had the same opportunities, and they all made their choices one way or the other.

I wouldn't either, in any substantive meaning of the word, but it was an unfair choice that the non-juicers were being confronted with.

**And unlike some people, mainly certain writers---I'm not talking about Primates in this case---I try to distinguish between innuendo and convincing evidence. You haven't heard me calling for the exclusion of Sosa or Bagwell or Clemens.

Agreed. I've always thought you were by far the most reasonable of all the anti-steroid posters. So thanks for that. :-)


Thanks, I appreciate that. I recognize that much of the reaction to the writers is the way that they talk about morality on the one hand, and then start repeating unsubstantiated rumors and allegations as if there's something "moral" about that.

**In the case of Anson, I can appreciate the argument that he was a prime instigator in Jim Crowing baseball back in 1887, But several generations worth of owners and commissioners after Anson had it within their power to negate his actions, and for 58 years not one of them chose to do so
   41. Booey Posted: March 12, 2014 at 03:02 PM (#4670435)
It's only inconsistent if you don't distinguish steroids from other forms of drug use and "cheating". But that's what the entire argument has always been about, hasn't it?


It's certainly part of it, yeah, but another part is that even if you think steroids are worse than other forms of drug use or cheating, why are steroids the ONLY misdeed where critics don't accept MLB's judgment on how to handle it? The typical answer as to why juicers should be kept out of the HOF but greenie users, bat corkers, spitballers, etc, shouldn't is that steroids are worse offenses than those things. Fine, but isn't the increased severity of steroid use already factored in with the increased length of suspension? I don't understand why people feel the need to keep stacking on additional punishments beyond what the league itself deems sufficient. That's a big part of why shunning roiders from the HOF bothers me; there's no rule - even in this new age of awareness and outrage - that says steroid users should be ineligile for the HOF like there is with gambling. Writers and fans pretty much made that up on the spot.
   42. Sunday silence Posted: March 12, 2014 at 03:18 PM (#4670451)
Once you accept the distinction between acts that besmirch the game on the field and those that speak poorly of the people off the field, then you can understand and accept why it's not "hypocritical" to vote against Barry Bonds ....


this is an interesting distinction you've come up with but I dont see why it trumps any other sort of argument. IN fact doesnt it work against your pt? I.e. weren't greenies used closer to "game time" then steroids? ANd if so doesnt that make PEDs like greenies more of an on field violation than steroids?

NOt sure how you answer that, but it's the kind of problem you run into when you start to make more elaborate arguments than are necessary. WHy this distinction betweee "on field" and "off field?" Is there something in the HoF rules that makes that distinction? It seems like an argument you've made up yourself out of whole cloth. It's some sort of distinction, yes, but a crucial one. Why is that so crucial to you?
   43. Sunday silence Posted: March 12, 2014 at 03:26 PM (#4670461)
Fine, but isn't the increased severity of steroid use already factored in with the increased length of suspension?


I agree. Once MLB comes out and says this is the punishment schedule: "50 games, etc." Then dont they thereby rule out any further punishment in a logical-legal realm it would, presumably.

   44. Sunday silence Posted: March 12, 2014 at 03:29 PM (#4670463)

**In the case of Anson, I can appreciate the argument that he was a prime instigator in Jim Crowing baseball back in 1887, But several generations worth of owners and commissioners after Anson had it within their power to negate his actions, and for 58 years not one of them chose to do so


Funny you should mention that. Cant the same charge be leveled against current ownership with respect to steroids?

WOuld that change your mind? IF we could prove to you that current owners stuck their head in the sand about steroids would you then feel differently about this issue?
   45. Sunday silence Posted: March 12, 2014 at 03:33 PM (#4670464)
It's only inconsistent if you don't distinguish steroids from other forms of drug use and "cheating". But that's what the entire argument has always been about, hasn't it? I get it that many people here ... but the whole "inconsistency" argument is largely circular.


Your argument here is itself circular. You acknowledge the argument, you even admit it's the central question and then you label it circular without any basis that I can see. I excised a bit of the quote but I dont think I changed the meaning, but maybe I am missing something.
   46. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 12, 2014 at 03:36 PM (#4670468)
Once you accept the distinction between acts that besmirch the game on the field and those that speak poorly of the people off the field, then you can understand and accept why it's not "hypocritical" to vote against Barry Bonds ....

this is an interesting distinction you've come up with but I dont see why it trumps any other sort of argument. IN fact doesnt it work against your pt? I.e. weren't greenies used closer to "game time" then steroids? ANd if so doesnt that make PEDs like greenies more of an on field violation than steroids?


Not to drag us back into the discussion that's been had probably a hundred times by now, but this gets into the whole distinction between "enhancement" and "restorative", with greenies falling into the latter category and steroids often (if not always) into the former. As I've said before, if steroids (or HGH) were administered to players on the DL under the exclusive supervision of MLB approved, team-independent doctors, I'd have no problem with steroids, because then they'd fall into the category of greenies and Tommy John surgery.

And as I've also said many times before, if you want to consider it "enhancement" to enable a player to get back on the field when otherwise he might not have been able to, then in some cases greenies could be considered "enhancement". And if you want to say that Pete Rose only broke Ty Cobb's record due to greenies enabling him to stagger out there day after day, then I'm not going to spend any energy contradicting that, since it's a wholly plausible argument.

But since I don't give a #### about individual records, that last point is pretty much irrelevant. I've yet to see any serious evidence that greenies can enhance a well rested baseball player's natural talent beyond what he was born with and was able to develop independent of those pills. But then this is something that's been argued back and forth ad infinitum, and it often just ends up with charges of "dishonesty" and other conversation enders.
   47. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 12, 2014 at 03:45 PM (#4670477)
**In the case of Anson, I can appreciate the argument that he was a prime instigator in Jim Crowing baseball back in 1887, But several generations worth of owners and commissioners after Anson had it within their power to negate his actions, and for 58 years not one of them chose to do so

Funny you should mention that. Cant the same charge be leveled against current ownership with respect to steroids?

WOuld that change your mind? IF we could prove to you that current owners stuck their head in the sand about steroids would you then feel differently about this issue?


I think that the current (or "steroids era") set of owners DID stick their collective heads in the sand about this issue. I've never said otherwise. I've also said that in cases where active collaboration was obvious (see Steinbrenner, George: Giambi contract), I view it as a HoF disqualifier. But I don't think that excuses the players.

I don't think there's any ignorance over why these guys are excluded. But doesn't inconsistency (the HOF has already elected drug users and "cheaters") and hypocrisy (these guys were branded as hero's at the time and the league/fans/media were happy to sit back and enjoy the ride) hurt an institutions credibility as well?


It's only inconsistent if you don't distinguish steroids from other forms of drug use and "cheating". But that's what the entire argument has always been about, hasn't it? I get it that many people here display various degrees of incredulity, outrage and high blood pressure in the face of such distinctions, and that some find making this distinction a sign of "dishonesty" or whatever, but the whole "inconsistency" argument is largely circular.

Your argument here is itself circular. You acknowledge the argument, you even admit it's the central question and then you label it circular without any basis that I can see.


Both sides of the argument are circular, which is my point: Both sides of the argument demand the acceptance of the arguer's premise. Which of course is why both sides wind up talking past each other. Each side's premise leads to a perfectly reasonable conclusion, IF you accept the premise.
   48. Booey Posted: March 12, 2014 at 03:54 PM (#4670485)
As I've said before, if steroids (or HGH) were administered to players on the DL under the exclusive supervision of MLB approved, team-independent doctors, I'd have no problem with steroids, because then they'd fall into the category of greenies and Tommy John surgery.


Greenies haven't exactly been used only by players on the DL and under the exclusive supervision of MLB approved, team-independent doctors either. Why should the standards be different?

   49. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 12, 2014 at 04:18 PM (#4670511)
As I've said before, if steroids (or HGH) were administered to players on the DL under the exclusive supervision of MLB approved, team-independent doctors, I'd have no problem with steroids, because then they'd fall into the category of greenies and Tommy John surgery.

Greenies haven't exactly been used only by players on the DL and under the exclusive supervision of MLB approved, team-independent doctors either. Why should the standards be different?


Since I don't consider greenies a PED in the same category as steroids, the only reason I'm in favor of any restriction on them would be because of the adverse side effects.

But that said, since they're now on the No-No list, I'd have no problem putting them in the same category as steroids when it comes to regulated rehab use by players on the DL. I'd only add that I find the number of these ADD / ADHD claims to be a bit on the suspicious side, but as long as the players' or teams' doctors aren't the ones doing the prescribing, I'd be willing to led the MLB approved doctors make the final decisions.
   50. Booey Posted: March 12, 2014 at 04:28 PM (#4670525)
I agree. Once MLB comes out and says this is the punishment schedule: "50 games, etc." Then dont they thereby rule out any further punishment in a logical-legal realm it would, presumably.


Yep. That's one of the big things I don't understand about the "ban the juicers from the HOF!" argument - it's basically focusing only on the first part of the drug agreement (PED's are banned...) and conveniently ignoring the second, equally important part (...and the punishment for a first offense is a 50 game suspension). If you care about the rule, why shouldn't you care about the ENTIRE rule?

(paraphrasing on the wording of the drug agreement, obviously)
   51. Sunday silence Posted: March 12, 2014 at 05:01 PM (#4670554)
I've yet to see any serious evidence that greenies can enhance a well rested baseball player's natural talent beyond what he was born with and was able to develop independent of those pills.


OK. THis is more the crux of your argument here, I think. I dont want to distort what you say, so you can correct me. But this it seems is the heart of your argument and a different sort of argument. I'll have to think more about this one.
   52. Sunday silence Posted: March 12, 2014 at 05:06 PM (#4670560)
Both sides of the argument are circular, which is my point: Both sides of the argument demand the acceptance of the arguer's premise. Which of course is why both sides wind up talking past each other. Each side's premise leads to a perfectly reasonable conclusion, IF you accept the premise.


I am not so sure these arguments are circular. We are saying that both greenies and PED's enhance performance. REad in a broad sense, they help IN SOME WAY.

Right? So why not stop there. Why make all these qualifiers? Why get into on field/off field, restorative/enhancement, spitball OK, stealing signs acceptable....etc etc Yadda Yadda.

I think your arguments are weakened by pulling these distinctions, seemingly out of a hat, just to make weight for your arguments. They dont seem as principled as just saying they all helped IN SOME WAY.
   53. Sunday silence Posted: March 12, 2014 at 05:09 PM (#4670565)
I think that the current (or "steroids era") set of owners DID stick their collective heads in the sand about this issue. I've never said otherwise. I've also said that in cases where active collaboration was obvious (see Steinbrenner, George: Giambi contract), I view it as a HoF disqualifier. But I don't think that excuses the players.


But you said it did excuse Anson, or at least it seemed to mitigate Anson's character flaws. Are you backing away from that? Or is it Anson is already in the HoF so it cant be undone?
   54. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 12, 2014 at 05:23 PM (#4670575)
I've yet to see any serious evidence that greenies can enhance a well rested baseball player's natural talent beyond what he was born with and was able to develop independent of those pills.

OK. THis is more the crux of your argument here, I think. I dont want to distort what you say, so you can correct me. But this it seems is the heart of your argument and a different sort of argument. I'll have to think more about this one.


While I can only speak for myself, I think that this is at the heart of every argument that distinguishes steroids from greenies.

Both sides of the argument are circular, which is my point: Both sides of the argument demand the acceptance of the arguer's premise. Which of course is why both sides wind up talking past each other. Each side's premise leads to a perfectly reasonable conclusion, IF you accept the premise.

I am not so sure these arguments are circular. We are saying that both greenies and PED's enhance performance. REad in a broad sense, they help IN SOME WAY.

Right? So why not stop there. Why make all these qualifiers? Why get into on field/off field, restorative/enhancement, spitball OK, stealing signs acceptable....etc etc Yadda Yadda.

I think your arguments are weakened by pulling these distinctions, seemingly out of a hat, just to make weight for your arguments. They dont seem as principled as just saying they all helped IN SOME WAY.


But again, you're asking me to accept your premise---your opinion that since greenies and steroids both help "IN SOME WAY", that should be the overriding factor to consider---and then you're basing your conclusion on that premise. But since I don't accept that premise, I'm not going to reach the same conclusion.

I think that the current (or "steroids era") set of owners DID stick their collective heads in the sand about this issue. I've never said otherwise. I've also said that in cases where active collaboration was obvious (see Steinbrenner, George: Giambi contract), I view it as a HoF disqualifier. But I don't think that excuses the players.

But you said it did excuse Anson, or at least it seemed to mitigate Anson's character flaws....Or is it Anson is already in the HoF so it can't be undone?


It's both of those things. And if it turns out that a current HoF member was shown conclusively to have been a juicer, I wouldn't kick him out, either. At that point it'd be like taking a dump on a cesspool, since it's not as if his plaque wouldn't already be seen as irrevocably tainted by those of us who wouldn't have wanted him in the Hall to begin with, if we'd known the truth about him at the time of his election.
   55. JLAC is engulfed in a harmless burst of flame Posted: March 12, 2014 at 06:39 PM (#4670615)
There is no reason for anyone to accept someone's collective bargaining agreement as the last word in baseball morals.

That said, the Hall of Fame is a stupid institution.
   56. zenbitz Posted: March 12, 2014 at 06:43 PM (#4670621)
wouldn't call someone who valued their long term health over money and fame a chump.


What would you call someone who didn't run out grounders to save his knees and hamstrings?
   57. Chip Posted: March 12, 2014 at 08:14 PM (#4670651)
While I can only speak for myself, I think that this is at the heart of every argument that distinguishes steroids from greenies.


Of course, the people who make every argument of this sort must discard science to do so. Pretending greenies are only "restorative" despite all the research to the contrary is as faith-based a belief as creationism.
   58. pikepredator Posted: March 12, 2014 at 08:26 PM (#4670655)
really hesitant to get involved . . . but I don't see how getting drunk the night before a game and taking greenies to bring oneself back to "normal" is more respectful of the game or whatever than players who took extremely good care of themselves - diet, exercise, etc. - and *then* took steroids to further the goal of being the best player they possibly could be. seems to me - if any conclusion can be drawn - the latter were *more* serious about baseball than the former.

I recognize greenies were also taken because of the grind of the long season. but let's not pretend that baseball players n the 60's had nutritionists and were following exacting diet/exercise regimens, thus requiring the greenies. the baseball culture of the greenie era was that baseball players didn't have to be in great shape. Greenies helped make up for that. I won't judge the morality of those players, but it does surprise me that people who think steroid users besmirched the game wouldn't think *worse* of hungover players taking greenies in order to recover. If I had two employees like that I'd give the former a raise and fire the latter.
   59. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 12, 2014 at 08:59 PM (#4670668)
While I can only speak for myself, I think that this is at the heart of every argument that distinguishes steroids from greenies.

Of course, the people who make every argument of this sort must discard science to do so. Pretending greenies are only "restorative" despite all the research to the contrary is as faith-based a belief as creationism.


As is reliance on scientific studies that don't involved measuring increments in the ability to re-direct a heavy wooden object at a speeding and curving baseball within the space of a tiny fraction of a second. Or do you really think that "reaction time" is universally useful across the board, regardless of the task being measured? Is the incremental degree of "enhancement" that gives you the ability to press a button a split second faster really applicable to hitting Pedro Martinez or Tim Wakefield?

I've posed this challenge many times and have never received a plain answer: How exactly were those studies conducted? I'm talking about the often cited studies that claim that a well-rested player's ability to hit a baseball can be "enhanced" by greenies, beyond his pre-existing well-rested talent level? I won't even bother to ask for any statistical evidence of such enhancement, because there isn't any such evidence, conclusive or otherwise. It's pure assertion.

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

really hesitant to get involved . . . but I don't see how getting drunk the night before a game and taking greenies to bring oneself back to "normal" is more respectful of the game or whatever than players who took extremely good care of themselves - diet, exercise, etc. - and *then* took steroids to further the goal of being the best player they possibly could be. seems to me - if any conclusion can be drawn - the latter were *more* serious about baseball than the former.

I wouldn't argue with that last point, but that doesn't address the issue of "restorative to pre-existing talent levels" vs "enhancement of pre-existing talent levels". These are two separate issues.

Of course if you want to say that any attempt to "improve" oneself is by definition equally kosher, then I've got no reply, since we're starting from diametrically opposing premises.

I recognize greenies were also taken because of the grind of the long season. but let's not pretend that baseball players n the 60's had nutritionists and were following exacting diet/exercise regimens, thus requiring the greenies. the baseball culture of the greenie era was that baseball players didn't have to be in great shape. Greenies helped make up for that. I won't judge the morality of those players, but it does surprise me that people who think steroid users besmirched the game wouldn't think *worse* of hungover players taking greenies in order to recover. If I had two employees like that I'd give the former a raise and fire the latter.

That's your prerogative. Is Lance Armstrong also your idea of the sort of athlete you'd want to give a raise to? Is winning at all costs really that important?
   60. Moeball Posted: March 12, 2014 at 10:02 PM (#4670685)
So many questions, so little time...

1)"enhancement" vs. "restorative" - the basic premise of this argument is that greenies only "restore" players to their "actual" ability level whereas steroids "enhance" the ability of the players. Yet, when you think about it, isn't the whole point of taking them because the players themselves feel they perform better with the substances than without them? In other words, here's an example: Player "A" was a .250/.300/.400 hitter pre-steroids and a .275/.325/.450 hitter post-steroids. Player "B" would normally hit .250/.300/.400 - if he wasn't playing a 162-game season that included long road trips during the dog days of July and August. He pops greenies regularly to help him slog through the tough times. If he wasn't popping the pills, his exhausted self might only hit .230/.280/.375. Aren't the greenies, which are thought of as only "restorative", actually helping his performance over what his "natural" self would achieve without them? Isn't that the whole point? If they didn't help at all (the Bouton argument), then why would players take them?

2)In the example above, I had the steroid "enhanced" player raising his numbers .025/.025/.050 and the greenies "restored" player improving by .020/.020/.025 (totally random examples, of course, YMMV). This leads to the crux of the argument - the extra increase in power associated with steroids use. This really is at the heart of the argument, isn't it? Bonds and McGwire hit 70 HRs and nobody taking greenies was doing that (although, didn't Bonds get busted for greenies around the 2005-2006 time frame?). So the crime, apparently, is being bigger and stronger? Is this really what it comes down to? See, here's where I have my real questions. I'm not doubting that steroids must have really helped some players a lot. But why don't steroids help all the players to the same degree? Everth Cabrera never hit 70 HRs in a season. Heck, when he got busted in the Biogenesis scandal in spring training of 2013, he was busted for stuff he had taken in 2012 or earlier. Know how many HRs he hit in 2012? 2. That's 2 more than a dead guy. He should get his money back because nothing "enhanced" his performance. In 2013, supposedly clean and off the juice, he doubled his power output to 4 HRs. He was taking the same basic stuff as Ryan Braun - why wasn't he getting the same results?

Again, not denying that steroids help(ed) some players - but why to such varying degrees? Are some players better able to take advantage of whatever properties the substances provide? Would certain types of players be more inclined to take steroids if they knew the PEDs would help them more than they may help some other players?

3)Back to the increased power thingy – does becoming bigger and stronger necessarily make you a better hitter or pitcher? Several offensive linemen in the NFL would like to think so, since virtually all of them are bigger and stronger than just about any baseball players and maybe they would like to supplement their NFL earnings with some baseball paychecks in the offseason. But we already know it doesn’t work like that. The hand-eye coordination necessary to hit a baseball at the professional level is so specialized that only a very small percentage of the population can do it. In which case, maybe Barry Bonds already had an “unfair” advantage over a lot of other players long before he became involved with the juice. Part of the whole “Game of Shadows” narrative, after all, is that Bonds knew he was the best player in the league – even during 1998, when all the attention was on McGwire and Sosa – and b-ref WAR, for better or worse, bears this out, showing Bonds as the best position player in the league in 1998, over the other two who were getting all the glory and in the middle of the MVP debate. This supposedly led to Bonds wanting to get in on the act and the rest, as they say, is history.

At any rate, back to the main question again – how does getting bigger and stronger make you a better hitter? It seems to me that guys who were great hitters to start with such as Bonds may have been able to raise their game to another level but, again, why was it really just Bonds? In reality, I guess it’s not even McGwire or Sosa or others really being a part of this conversation because as eye-popping as their numbers were, they still paled compared to what Bonds was doing. What was so different about Bonds?
   61. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 12, 2014 at 10:50 PM (#4670700)
Moeball (#61),

1) I've already said that if you consider Player B's performance to be "enhanced" simply by being elevated from his "tired" state to his "well rested" state (which itself may be a dubious assumption, but I won't argue the point), then we've got different ideas of what "natural" talent means.

2) Steroids don't help players to the same degree because they're not Magic Pills; because not all players are built in the same way so as to be able to take advantage of their benefits in enabling extra weight training; and because different players have differing degrees of talent to begin with. Steroids only help increase your power if you've got the ability to time your swing to begin with; they don't help you decipher a pitch any faster.

3) All things being equal, steroids are one of many factors that can help a hitter improve his power numbers. But again, they're not the only things that can help. They're not Magic Pills. Other factors can be changing the arc of one's swing; a livelier ball; shorter fences; adjusting one's swing to take advantage of a park's irregular dimensions; studying pitchers' tendencies; etc. To maintain that "steroids always improve a hitter" is a rather simplistic way of looking at it.

4) Bonds was the best hitter in baseball before he began juicing. Bonds was a significantly more productive hitter after he started juicing, but steroids didn't make him a better hitter than anyone else; it simply helped to increase the gap between him and everyone else. Bonds without steroids wouldn't have been posting those otherworldly numbers in his late 30's, but even without them it's likely that he very well might have still been the best hitter in baseball, even playing "clean" against partly juiced competition.

This is one reason that the case of Bonds always fills me with almost as much sadness as disgust: The whole question of "What might have been." Given his steroids history, the inclusion of Bonds in "greatest player ever" discussions is always going to be discounted and qualified by fans who look at his numbers in context. Whereas absent that steroids history---if he'd remained "clean"---it wouldn't be just sabermetric and Hall of Merit voters who would be engaged in discussing his career in comparison to the greats that came before him. That entire "wild card" point would be removed from the discussion without having to studiously ignore the elephant in the room.
   62. Chip Posted: March 12, 2014 at 11:14 PM (#4670706)
I won't even bother to ask for any statistical evidence of such enhancement, because there isn't any such evidence, conclusive or otherwise. It's pure assertion.


And as has been pointed out every time you bother to ask this profoundly stupid question: by this standard, there is no evidence that steroids do anything to help baseball either, because there are no baseball-specific scientific studies of their use.
   63. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 13, 2014 at 12:02 AM (#4670712)
I won't even bother to ask for any statistical evidence of such enhancement, because there isn't any such evidence, conclusive or otherwise. It's pure assertion.

And as has been pointed out every time you bother to ask this profoundly stupid question: by this standard, there is no evidence that steroids do anything to help baseball either, because there are no baseball-specific scientific studies of their use.


Thanks for your usual kind words, and now we can all pretend that Barry Bonds's late 30's / early 40's Ruthian numbers had absolutely nothing to do with steroids.
   64. vivaelpujols Posted: March 13, 2014 at 05:24 AM (#4670744)
I wouldn't call someone who valued their long term health over money and fame a chump. Everyone had the same opportunities, and they all made their choices one way or the other.


Thank you. This is the rational position, there's already an inherent risk involved in taken steroids. That's why a lot of people didn't take them.
   65. Cooper Nielson Posted: March 13, 2014 at 05:33 AM (#4670745)
I won't even bother to ask for any statistical evidence of such enhancement, because there isn't any such evidence, conclusive or otherwise. It's pure assertion.

And as has been pointed out every time you bother to ask this profoundly stupid question: by this standard, there is no evidence that steroids do anything to help baseball either, because there are no baseball-specific scientific studies of their use.

Thanks for your usual kind words, and now we can all pretend that Barry Bonds's late 30's / early 40's Ruthian numbers had absolutely nothing to do with steroids.


Jolly Old St. Nick (Andy?) has been very civil in this thread so there's no reason to throw around words like "profoundly stupid," but I do think the two cases are pretty equivalent.

(a) We don't know that a well-rested player can play better on greenies than that same player, in otherwise identical circumstances, would play without them. There have been no tests of this. However, I think there has been anecdotal evidence (maybe the recent "Player X"?) that greenies can improve focus and confidence beyond what is "natural," even in a well-rested player. I'm also pretty sure that well-rested players (i.e., not just hung-over players) have taken greenies, which would suggest that they at least think they are enhancing.

(b) We similarly don't have statistical evidence of what steroids did for Barry Bonds, because we run into two problems: (i) We don't know when he was under the influence of steroids. (ii) We don't know when he was not under the influence of steroids. How can you determine the effect that steroids had on Barry Bonds, or even that they had any effect, when you don't have a "control" subject? Sure, he hit home runs at a much greater rate in 2004 than he did in 1995. But even if you know that Bonds was steroid-enhanced in 2004, how do you know he was not steroid-enhanced in 1995? "It's pure assertion."
   66. Bitter Mouse Posted: March 13, 2014 at 07:59 AM (#4670751)
baseball player's natural talent


This seems to get mentioned a fair amount, but honestly I don't think there is any such animal. It is a fiction. I suspect it is akin to how people think about the orbits of electrons in an atom, when that is not how it works. it is not a nice clean orbit at all, more of a statistical cloud, a range of probabilities.

Natural talent is a statistical illusion. No player has the exact same ability to hit a baseball (or throw one) across a career, a season or a stretch of games. To think there is some magical number to assign for a player that covers any meaningful stretch of time past a single at bat is ridiculous.

Why does that matter? Well because the "greenies are ok" camp want there to be a line, a number, and all greenies do is put a player up to that number. Well I suggest that is BS, there is no number. There is a cloud of probability. And both steroids and greenies and exercise and rest and nutrition and injury and a million other factors change the shape of that cloud.

They make impact the cloud of probabilities differently (in fact I am sure the various factors do have different impacts), but none of them shift the line/number "x" amount or move the player up to their mythical line/number.
   67. Knock on any Iorg Posted: March 13, 2014 at 08:27 AM (#4670758)
Why not take the group from the world's strongest man competition and put them in a home run hitting contest? See if a musclebound freak can even make contact with batting practice pitching, let alone major league game caliber pitching. I think this would prove emphatically that sheer strength alone does not make you a home run hitter.
   68. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 13, 2014 at 08:46 AM (#4670765)
(a) We don't know that a well-rested player can play better on greenies than that same player, in otherwise identical circumstances, would play without them. There have been no tests of this. However, I think there has been anecdotal evidence (maybe the recent "Player X"?) that greenies can improve focus and confidence beyond what is "natural," even in a well-rested player. I'm also pretty sure that well-rested players (i.e., not just hung-over players) have taken greenies, which would suggest that they at least think they are enhancing.

To begin with, I'd like to see some stories of self-identified well-rested players who began using greenies. Perhaps you can cite a few.

(b) We similarly don't have statistical evidence of what steroids did for Barry Bonds, because we run into two problems: (i) We don't know when he was under the influence of steroids. (ii) We don't know when he was not under the influence of steroids. How can you determine the effect that steroids had on Barry Bonds, or even that they had any effect, when you don't have a "control" subject? Sure, he hit home runs at a much greater rate in 2004 than he did in 1995. But even if you know that Bonds was steroid-enhanced in 2004, how do you know he was not steroid-enhanced in 1995? "It's pure assertion."

Bonds hired the notorious Greg Anderson as his trainer after the 1998 season. You can see the entire Bonds/PED timeline here. As I've repeated dozens of times here over the years, Bonds was an amazing player, but the sort of power spikes he produced during his late 30's simply defy the laws of natural aging. This wasn't a case of a player approaching or matching the sort of numbers he'd put up in his prime years. Other players have done that on occasion. This wasn't even a case of a player in his late 30's exceeding his prime years numbers by a small amount, in defiance of normal aging. This was a case of a player in his late 30's leaving those prior numbers in the dust.

And while there's no hard "proof" that steroids were responsible for even 1% of those historically unprecedented power spikes, IMO you're getting into Johnny Cochran territory by denying "any" effect. You don't have to believe any of the hyperbole about "Miracle Pills" or "Home Run Pills" to acknowledge that there was something going on here beyond a livelier ball and swing adjustments.

   69. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 13, 2014 at 08:48 AM (#4670766)
Why not take the group from the world's strongest man competition and put them in a home run hitting contest? See if a musclebound freak can even make contact with batting practice pitching, let alone major league game caliber pitching. I think this would prove emphatically that sheer strength alone does not make you a home run hitter.

But aside from a few yahoos, who's ever said that it did?
   70. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: March 13, 2014 at 08:55 AM (#4670770)
And if you want to say that Pete Rose only broke Ty Cobb's record due to greenies enabling him to stagger out there day after day, then I'm not going to spend any energy contradicting that, since it's a wholly plausible argument.

Actually it's a ridiculous argument, and there's no reason to concede it.

There isn't a single piece of evidence that Pete Rose played a single game he wouldn't have been able to play in without greenies.
   71. Chip Posted: March 13, 2014 at 08:57 AM (#4670772)
Why not take the group from the world's strongest man competition and put them in a home run hitting contest? See if a musclebound freak can even make contact with batting practice pitching, let alone major league game caliber pitching. I think this would prove emphatically that sheer strength alone does not make you a home run hitter.


You need to put them on the mound, too, since roughly half the known positives for steroid use in the major and minor testing programs have come from pitchers. A fact that is repeatedly ignored by those citing Bonds' HR totals as a "proof" of steroids effects. If the science-deniers here are going to demand baseball-specific research before they'll accept that amphetamines are performance-enhancing, then we also need a study of how many extra HRs you'll hit when you simply use a maple bat against a bevy of "juiced" pitchers.
   72. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 13, 2014 at 09:02 AM (#4670773)
baseball player's natural talent

This seems to get mentioned a fair amount, but honestly I don't think there is any such animal. It is a fiction.


Then what are scouts measuring? What does it mean to be a five tool player? Do a player's accomplishments prior to his ingestion of various PEDs not give us a reasonable benchmark of what he's capable of producing? Does the fact that every year produces some stunning "surprises" and "breakthroughs"---before Bonds, always produced by players under 35---mean that there are no benchmarks in any player's career to go against?

There's no one-size-fits-all answer to that last question, but when you have 93 years worth of lively ball records, and only one player in all those years has had the sort of late career power spikes that Barry Bonds had, that suggests a perfect storm of craftsmanship, game environment, and the sort of added muscle that steroids are capable of producing. Knowing what we know about Barry Bonds, it doesn't suggest any "Magic Pill", but it does suggest a magician's assistant.
   73. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: March 13, 2014 at 09:06 AM (#4670777)
If the science-deniers here are going to demand baseball-specific research before they'll accept that amphetamines are performance-enhancing, then we also need a study of how many extra HRs you'll hit when you simply use a maple bat against a bevy of "juiced" pitchers.

You can't possibly believe that a bunch of jocks whimsically grabbing a handful from the greenie jar before a game, free from any adult supervision, has anything to do with science.
   74. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: March 13, 2014 at 09:33 AM (#4670796)
4) Bonds was the best hitter in baseball before he began juicing.


We don't know when he began juicing.
   75. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: March 13, 2014 at 09:47 AM (#4670803)
We don't know when he began juicing.

He was the best hitter in baseball in 1990. It's highly unlikely he was juicing then.

There was also an obvious, secular break in his HR rate and BB rate after 1998, the date commonly understood to be when he started juicing.
   76. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: March 13, 2014 at 10:08 AM (#4670822)
He was the best hitter in baseball in 1990. It's highly unlikely he was juicing then.


Why is it so unlikely?

There was also an obvious, secular break in his HR rate and BB rate after 1998, the date commonly understood to be when he started juicing.


He might have simply changed his PED routine and training to achieve different results. Lance Armstrong didn't take the same cocktail of drugs as Hulk Hogan.
   77. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: March 13, 2014 at 10:19 AM (#4670830)
Why is it so unlikely?

Because there's no reason to think he was, no one ever suggested he was, he wasn't that big, and it was prior to the time roids became highly prevalent. I suppose it's possible, but that speculation is a parlor game in which I'm not particularly interested.

More broadly speaking, the anti-anti's "Nyah-nyah-nyah-NYAH-nyah, you can't prove it" games aren't particularly worthy of the brain cells of serious people and I therefore don't waste many on them.
   78. Bitter Mouse Posted: March 13, 2014 at 10:28 AM (#4670836)
Then what are scouts measuring? What does it mean to be a five tool player? Do a player's accomplishments prior to his ingestion of various PEDs not give us a reasonable benchmark of what he's capable of producing? Does the fact that every year produces some stunning "surprises" and "breakthroughs"---before Bonds, always produced by players under 35---mean that there are no benchmarks in any player's career to go against?


I am frankly puzzled by this question, but I will try to answer it. They are measuring outcomes and raw abilities (speed and such). They are not measuring "natural baseball talent". They are taking the measurements they are taking and are trying to project what they see into the future, and it is a very exact science.

I am not saying there is not varying ability across baseball players, there clearly is. However "ability" is not some static defined number. It is in fact extremely dynamic. It is a fiction (a polite one, and a useful generalization, but still a fiction) that a player has the natural ability to hit .290, with x power and so on.

The conditions, the state of the player, mental, physical, and emotional is not reducible to a number, and even it it were is is not a single static number for any length of time. Even if you could determine the exact number for a specific at bat, that magical number would change next game, next month. It is dynamic, a cloud of probability, not a static number.

Babe Ruth had a higher average in his cloud than Jim Rice had in his, but neither had a static talent level (other than as expressed as a grossly generalized average) to hit the baseball.

For most things this does not matter. For most analysis you have to just go with a generalization as good enough for analysis. But in the context of talking about "restoring to a natural level" I call BS. There is no such thing.
   79. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: March 13, 2014 at 10:37 AM (#4670849)
Because there's no reason to think he was


Of course there is - he juiced and lied about it later.

he wasn't that big


He was bigger than Lance Armstrong. He was bigger than Royce Gracie. He was bigger than Alex Sanchez.

More broadly speaking, the anti-anti's "Nyah-nyah-nyah-NYAH-nyah, you can't prove it" games aren't particularly worthy of the brain cells of serious people and I therefore don't waste many on them.


There's an enormous amount of redundant circuitry in the brain, most serious people have brain cells to spare. Obviously not all.
   80. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: March 13, 2014 at 10:39 AM (#4670851)
#68:
To begin with, I'd like to see some stories of self-identified well-rested players who began using greenies. Perhaps you can cite a few.

Seriously? We've heard many stories of players "beaning up" every day, before every game. Including players whose optimum amphetamine strategy got screwed up due to rain delays, so they ended up peaking in the clubhouse.

Not taking amphetamines was called "playing naked," and looked down upon by many teammates. Those must have been some exhausted motherf'rs.
   81. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: March 13, 2014 at 10:50 AM (#4670861)
There's an enormous amount of redundant circuitry in the brain, most serious people have brain cells to spare. Obviously not all.

A mind is a terrible thing to waste.
   82. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: March 13, 2014 at 10:56 AM (#4670869)
We've heard many stories of players "beaning up" every day, before every game.

Likely tall tales.(*) Greenies are highly addictive. Any addicts?

(*) To the extent they exist. Where are the credible "many stories" of players greenying "every day"?
   83. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: March 13, 2014 at 11:10 AM (#4670877)
I can't believe we're even discussing the issue of whether amphetamines enhance your "natural" abilities and whether some players might have used them even when they weren't hung over.
   84. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 13, 2014 at 11:39 AM (#4670895)
#68:
To begin with, I'd like to see some stories of self-identified well-rested players who began using greenies. Perhaps you can cite a few.

Seriously? We've heard many stories of players "beaning up" every day, before every game.


I'll accept that at least a few of those stories aren't exaggerated, even if lots of them could be ascribed to literary license.

But how in the hell could a player be beaning up every day and still have any semblance of a normal, well-rested body? Especially since we're not talking about semi-intelligent players who were actually using dosages prescribed by a reputable physician. We're talking about baseball players who got dependent on their effects, either physiologically or psychologically or both.

Not taking amphetamines was called "playing naked," and looked down upon by many teammates.

I've heard that too many times not to believe it.

Those must have been some exhausted motherf'rs.

And what do you call players whose nervous systems were so dependent on stimulants that they needed to keep taking them on a daily basis to keep themselves performing at a Major League level? Supermen? Do you really think that these players were performing at a level above what they would have done if they'd been well rested, without those dependencies lingering in their systems? Perhaps you do, just like Darrell Brandon apparently did, but color me extremely skeptical.
   85. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: March 13, 2014 at 11:52 AM (#4670901)
Especially since we're not talking about semi-intelligent players who were actually using dosages prescribed by a reputable physician. We're talking about baseball players who got dependent on their effects, either physiologically or psychologically or both.

And that's another place the amp/roid equivalence breaks down entirely. It's possible, we can suppose, that a doctor or skilled trainer (*) could use amps in a way to improve performance, but of course that's nothing like what we're talking about.

The "BUT WHAT ABOUT THE GREENIES?????" types are wasting all that mental energy, and they aren't even asking the right question. The question isn't, in a vacuum, can amps "enhance performance"?; it's "Did amps as used by baseball players in the 60s and 70s enhance their performance"?

(*) Of the type that hardly existed in the 60s and 70s. The amount of brainwork and money poured into the training (strength and otherwise), medicine, and nutrition to develop and maximize athletic performance is probably, literally, 100,000 times higher now. Or maybe more.
   86. zenbitz Posted: March 13, 2014 at 12:18 PM (#4670921)
Id are you intentionally snowballing or are you just ignorant.

Year Age HR/PA BB/PA ISO
1986  21 0.03 0.13 0.19
1987  22 0.04 0.09 0.23
1988  23 0.04 0.12 0.21
1989  24 0.03 0.14 0.18
1990  25 0.05 0.15 0.26
1991  26 0.04 0.17 0.22
1992  27 0.06 0.21 0.31
1993  28 0.07 0.19 0.34
1994  29 0.08 0.16 0.34
1995  30 0.05 0.19 0.28
1996  31 0.06 0.22 0.31
1997  32 0.06 0.21 0.29
1998  33 0.05 0.19 0.31
1999  34 0.08 0.17 0.36
2000  35 0.08 0.19 0.38
2001  36 0.11 0.27 0.54
2002  37 0.08 0.32 0.43
2003  38 0.08 0.27 0.41
2004  39 0.07 0.38 0.45
2005  40 0.10 0.17 0.38
2006  41 0.05 0.23 0.28
2007  42 0.06 0.28 0.29 


These numbers are worthless anyway for 2 reasons:
1) Not normalized by league/park
2) Any conclusions made about effect of PED usage on baseball stats would have to apply to players OTHER than Barry Bonds as well.
3) As stated previously we don't know when or how much of what anyone was taking.
4) Pretty sure the BB rate is a red herring anyway, so what you are left with is a peculiar 1 year spike in HR/PA... it's not even within the realm of possibility that he was taking PEDs ONLY in 2001. Or was he taking BB-enchancing drugs from 2001 on?


And that spike at age 36 looks suspiciously like Hank Aarons.

   87. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: March 13, 2014 at 12:21 PM (#4670928)
It's nice that the BBWAA has drawn a thick black line between 1960s amphetamines and 2000s steroids, while the chronological PED distinction between Bonds/McGwire and Braun/Ramirez is moot and dismissable.

The "BUT WHAT ABOUT THE GREENIES?????" types are wasting all that mental energy, and they aren't even asking the right question. The question isn't, in a vacuum, can amps "enhance performance"?; it's "Did amps as used by baseball players in the 60s and 70s enhance their performance"?

So Albert Belle wasn't cheating, then, because they took the corked bat from him before he could swing it.
   88. zenbitz Posted: March 13, 2014 at 12:22 PM (#4670929)

Id are you intentionally snowballing or are you just ignorant.

Year Age HR/PA BB/PA ISO
1986  21 0.03 0.13 0.19
1987  22 0.04 0.09 0.23
1988  23 0.04 0.12 0.21
1989  24 0.03 0.14 0.18
1990  25 0.05 0.15 0.26
1991  26 0.04 0.17 0.22
1992  27 0.06 0.21 0.31
1993  28 0.07 0.19 0.34
1994  29 0.08 0.16 0.34
1995  30 0.05 0.19 0.28
1996  31 0.06 0.22 0.31
1997  32 0.06 0.21 0.29
1998  33 0.05 0.19 0.31
1999  34 0.08 0.17 0.36
2000  35 0.08 0.19 0.38
2001  36 0.11 0.27 0.54
2002  37 0.08 0.32 0.43
2003  38 0.08 0.27 0.41
2004  39 0.07 0.38 0.45
2005  40 0.10 0.17 0.38
2006  41 0.05 0.23 0.28
2007  42 0.06 0.28 0.29 


These numbers are worthless anyway for 2 reasons:
1) Not normalized by league/park
2) Any conclusions made about effect of PED usage on baseball stats would have to apply to players OTHER than Barry Bonds as well.
3) As stated previously we don't know when or how much of what anyone was taking.


And that spike at age 37 looks suspiciously like Hank Aarons.

   89. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: March 13, 2014 at 12:27 PM (#4670932)
So Albert Belle wasn't cheating, then, because they took the corked bat from him before he could swing it.

In point of fact, if a guy corks a bat and never uses it, he hasn't cheated. You can call him an attempted cheat, but that's easily ethically distinguishable from an actual cheat -- as the law distinguishes between the culpability of people who attempt crimes and those that complete them.

Which helps us understand that the amper who wants to cure the hangover and get on the field doesn't even have what would properly be understood as an ethically culpable "state of mind" in this area, as he has no intent to gain an advantage in playing ability over non-ampers. As with the cups of coffee of the typical American office worker.
   90. Bitter Mouse Posted: March 13, 2014 at 01:18 PM (#4670962)
The question isn't, in a vacuum, can amps "enhance performance"?; it's "Did amps as used by baseball players in the 60s and 70s enhance their performance"?


Disagree. Even if the players in the 70s did not benefit from amps, if they were using them they were breaking the "rules" just like players in the "steroid era" were (pre-testing regime).

Is it OK if you don't happen to be doing it right, and then suddenly bad if you do the PEDs correctly and gain benefit? I think not. No one asks if a steroid player actually benefited from their specific regimen. Surely there are some players who "do it wrong", take steroids and still gain no benefit, but they would still test positive and would still be called cheaters. If it were found in their locker (or some drug dealer testified against them) they would still be accused. Effectivity in reality, in the specific instance, has NEVER been the test applied. It is always could the drugs have helped?
   91. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: March 13, 2014 at 01:23 PM (#4670966)
Surely there are some players who "do it wrong", take steroids and still gain no benefit

Says who?

Disagree. Even if the players in the 70s did not benefit from amps, if they were using them they were breaking the "rules" just like players in the "steroid era" were (pre-testing regime).

Players in the pre-testing roid era are being dinged for enhancing their performance, not breaking the rules. OTOH few if anyone thought, then or now -- and rightly so -- that ampers were enhancing their performance. Thus, the wildly disparate treatment.
   92. Bitter Mouse Posted: March 13, 2014 at 01:30 PM (#4670974)
Says who?


So it is your contention that any steroid use. Any at all is automagically performance enhancing? Really? Do you have any evidence or medical background or anything to back up that very surprising claim?

And that no one in the past years gained any enhancement from Amps? That is your story, and you are sticking to it?

OK then.
   93. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: March 13, 2014 at 01:40 PM (#4670979)
So it is your contention that any steroid use.

My contention is that you contended that some MLB roiders have "done it wrong" and I asked for some basis for that claim. As noted above, since the 60s and 70s, a giant infrastructure of trainers, nutritionists, supplement experts, doctors, etc., has developed whose sole aim is to enhance athletic performance. Individuaized training schedules, meals, supplements, etc., are painstakingly plotted months in advance with expert guidance, with a ton of money at stake and with years of study and trial and error at the participants' fingertips. Modern methods of instant communications help to spread a great deal of knowledge of the subject area far and wide.

For the objective among us, comparing that to the buffoonish gropes of the greenie jar by a bunch of guys who never worked out and worked in the local hardware store in the offseason, is rather silly.
   94. Manny Coon Posted: March 13, 2014 at 04:06 PM (#4671039)
Even if greenies were just used to overcome fatigue, isn't that still allowing a player to push beyond his normal ability? Endurance and fitness are an important part of athletics, isn't that why so many drugs are banned from cycling?

The homerun records people get so upset about are homeruns in a season and over a long career, not the longest home run so it seems pretty easy to see how enhanced day to day energy, performance and consistency would be beneficial to setting those records, even if you ignore things like amps helping focus and reaction time which would also help a hitter.

I can believe amps might not help pitchers much because they don't play everyday and the mental effects are as useful, but that would just skew things more in favor of hitters, unlike steroids which help both hitters and pitchers.

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