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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

S.I.: Posnanski: Time to forgive Mark McGwire

Reason/Voice/Poz.

Within seconds of the interview ending, I began to hear analysts tearing up McGwire. Then I read some columnists’ thoughts—they mostly ripped into the man, too. And the more I read, the more I heard, the more I realized that most people did not see this thing the way I saw it. Apparently, McGwire was not contrite enough. He was not believable enough. He was not specific enough. He would not admit that steroids made him the great home run hitter he became. He did not tell the whole truth. He did not sound sincere enough. And on. And on. And on.

Wow. I have spent the last few hours trying to replay this in my head. Why didn’t I see what so many other people apparently did see? The big thing seems to be McGwire’s refusal to accept that steroids made him a better hitter. This apparently trampled many people’s sensibilities. But, the thing is, I didn’t need him to admit that, and, to be honest, I didn’t want for him to admit it.* We all have our opinions about steroids and what they do. That is his opinion. I didn’t need him saying something he did not believe… isn’t that the very definition of “insincere?”

...When Mark McGwire finished with his day of apologies, I forgave him. It doesn’t mean I look at his 70 home run season the way I did in 1998. It doesn’t mean that I respect the choices he made. It doesn’t even mean that I agree with his self-scouting report. No. I just mean that if there was any anger or resentment toward him for cheating, it is gone now. He admitted and he apologized. Now, he wants to coach baseball. He wants to speak out against steroids. He wants people to remember that he was a damned good hitter who worked hard at the game. I wish him well and hope all those things for him.

As for so many others—many of them friends of mine—who do not feel like he met the forgiveness bar and felt like this whole apology thing was a sham, well, as I’ve said, I have been wrong plenty before. One friend emailed me with this line: “Why SHOULD I forgive him?” It’s just my opinion: But I think the answer is in the question.

Repoz Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:03 PM | 482 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: fantasy baseball, media, steroids

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   101. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 12, 2010 at 11:56 PM (#3436029)
I can see that as a task that would take about as long as it would take for Roseanne Barr to win a beauty contest---and she ain't getting any younger. The games can't be replayed and the records can't be altered---but we don't have to grant any further honors beyond that. There's absolutely no "obligation" to do anything of the sort.

There's no need to have the records all match up, double-entry accounting style; the question is simply "What would this player have done without steroids?" There are plenty of reasonable methods that make sense, and allow us to draw lines that make sense. I've taken a stab at Bonds based on the clear line of demarcation in HR/PA and BB/PA that bisects his career.

Moreover, the adjustment method is more in tune with what is actually going to happen. The Hall of Fame in 2040 is not going to be without all of Clemens, Bonds, A-Rod, Manny, and McGwire.

I'm assuming you're ok with A-Rod being out. What about Jeter? If he's forced into some "I used HGH a couple times" admission, is he out for good?

You know what my favorite artifact of this whole past decade has been? The asterisk ball, because every time it's seen by more than one or two people, an argument starts, facts are countered with other facts, and the whole steroids issue is kept from being swept under some big old rug of Oprahesque "closure". Every person gets to make his own interpretation, and nobody is forced to STFU.

Mine, too. That's why I like the adjustment method. It keeps the discussion alive, which generally leads to better results.
   102. base ball chick Posted: January 13, 2010 at 12:08 AM (#3436037)
SBB

- well, you want to adjust. adjust what? strikeouts? groundouts? flyouts? batting average? walks? doubles? only homers?

and how are you planning to adjust the pitchers and fielders stats? and the guys who would have taken the place of someone who made an out.

what about the scores?
   103. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 13, 2010 at 12:21 AM (#3436046)
bbc -- Just gotta take them as they come and do the best you can. The scores of actual games aren't going to be adjusted. The exercise isn't aimed at reinterpreting the entire statistical record of the game to make it "PED-free," it's aimed at trying to determine what a particular player would have done without PEDs.

Naturally, the adjustment is going to hit power first as power is the baseball trait most enhanced by steroid use. The only "punishment" that users would incur is that my adjustment criteria would hold all ambiguities against the user. That was the implicit rule behind my comments on the other thread about Palmeiro. Looked at objectively, one could say that what I said bordered on batshit insane; with the rule it means looking at his career up to '92 in the least favorable light and positing his use as beginning at around the time he first encountered Canseco as a teammate and continuing throughout his career. With those as the criteria, the comp with Al Oliver -- his closest sim through age 26 -- looks quite a bit less silly.

With Bonds it was readjusting the HR/PA and BB/PA before and after numbers, which puts him safely at around 700 HRs, and easily in the Hall of Fame -- where he belongs.
   104. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: January 13, 2010 at 12:26 AM (#3436049)
power is the baseball trait most enhanced by steroid use.

Why do you say this? (cf. Cool Time Sanchez)

I think it's fairly clear that number of games played is the baseball trait most enhanced by steroid use.
   105. birdlives is one crazy ninja Posted: January 13, 2010 at 12:33 AM (#3436053)
Oh goody. Thanks to Andy, we get to re-start the whole "were steroids against the rules or just against the law" and "what constitutes cheating" argument all over again.

What was the deal again as far as the the "rules" goes? Steroids weren't banned until 2006 but there was some rule created by the Players Association that discouraged steroid use among members? And there was some memo sent out by Bud Selig in 199? about steroids?
   106. Zipperholes Posted: January 13, 2010 at 12:34 AM (#3436054)
We all have our opinions about steroids and what they do. That is his opinion. I didn’t need him saying something he did not believe… isn’t that the very definition of “insincere?”


I haven't read the comments so this might already have been said, but Posnanski's argument fatally suffers from a flawed premise: that McGwire believed the things he said. I don't believe he did, and that's why he's a fraud who's deserving of no forgiveness or sympathy.
   107. sunnyday2 Posted: January 13, 2010 at 12:42 AM (#3436059)
It's not part of America right now to be forgiving. It's weak, I guess, to forgive. This is not a good thing.
   108. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 13, 2010 at 12:43 AM (#3436061)
I haven't read the comments so this might already have been said, but Posnanski's argument fatally suffers from a flawed premise: that McGwire believed the things he said. I don't believe he did, and that's why he's a fraud who's deserving of no forgiveness or sympathy.


And your argument fatally suffers from a flawed premise: that McGwire didn't believe the things he said.

I don't get all the venom over this.
   109. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 13, 2010 at 12:52 AM (#3436066)
I don't get all the venom over this.


Nor do I. It's kind of weird, really. Add clueless and amnesiac if people honestly think McGwire had no chance to hit 62 HRs in a season without steroids, because no amount of bizarre revisionism is going to change the fact that he plainly did. The guy was probably the most celebrated entry-level power hitter since at least 1970 and hit 49 HRs in a bad hitters park at 23.

He says he used low dosages to stay on the field. If you believe that, it's not even a stretch to believe the steroids didn't help him much. If you don't believe it, your beef is with his "lie" on that one, not on how much it helped him.
   110. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 13, 2010 at 12:54 AM (#3436069)
- well, you want to adjust. adjust what? strikeouts? groundouts? flyouts? batting average? walks? doubles? only homers?

and how are you planning to adjust the pitchers and fielders stats? and the guys who would have taken the place of someone who made an out.

what about the scores?


Ask the HOM how they adjust for war credit, Negro League players, etc. I think it's more difficult with steroids due to the lack of information, but I don't think it's impossible.

However, I would say it requires as much disclosure from the player as possible. McGwire has basically done that (with the caveat that there's always more questions you could ask). I think this is the standard I would want to see--if the players who are known to have used tell us what they took and when, then we can make the adjustments and try to put them in their proper context. If they don't, I wouldn't have a problem not considering them for the HOF (not that I have a vote). Basically put the choice in their hands.

As for forgiveness, I basically agree with Poz. I don't feel like I was personally wronged so I don't think these guys owe me an apology or that it's my place to forgive or not forgive.
   111. Zipperholes Posted: January 13, 2010 at 01:00 AM (#3436075)
And your argument fatally suffers from a flawed premise: that McGwire didn't believe the things he said.


No, that's not analogous. I have a belief as to McGwire's truthfulness, and Posnanski has a different one. That's fine.

Where Posnanski fails is that he erroneously attributes his position on McGwire's belief in his own statements to the people who are criticizing McGwire. He mistakenly uses this false premise in order to attack his opponents' position without acknowledging that their argument doesn't include this premise.
   112. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 13, 2010 at 01:02 AM (#3436079)
We should blame McCarver for being McCarver <strike>rather than playing more of a Crash Davis role</strike>.

Fixed.
   113. rr Posted: January 13, 2010 at 01:11 AM (#3436082)
You know what my favorite artifact of this whole past decade has been? The asterisk ball


We know.
   114. CFiJ Posted: January 13, 2010 at 01:31 AM (#3436099)
The American press/public reminds me of Chris Rock's bit on infidelity.

"Women are like the police; they can have all the evidence they need, but they still want the confession: 'I know you did it, just admit it. I know you did it, just admit it. It'll be all right if you admit it. I know you did it, just admit it.' After hearing that for a while, you start to go crazy. 'Well, I guess it'll be all right. Okay, I did it! Is it all right?' ... 'NO, it's not all right!'"
   115. My Name is Neo (Mr. Anderson) Posted: January 13, 2010 at 01:40 AM (#3436104)
I think it's fairly clear that number of games played is the baseball trait most enhanced by steroid use.


So steroids had nothing to do with increased productivity, power, reflexes...nah, nothing of the sort.

Except that McGwire hit 7.14 HRs per 100 at-bats prior to 1994. After that, when he started using steroids in earnest (his admission), that ratio jumped to 11.88 per 100 ABs.

Just coincidence, I guess.
   116. JPWF13 Posted: January 13, 2010 at 01:44 AM (#3436106)
Is it all right?' ... 'NO, it's not all right!'"


Some show my wife was watching years ago, a marriage counselor on when a man should confess:

1: Do you want to stay married to your wife?
Yes.
2: Did she catch you in the act? Actually IN THE ACT?
No.
3: Have you failed a paternity test?
No.

Given all those conditions, don't confess, ever, deny, deny, deny it forever, and if you want to stay married, stop cheating.
   117. fra paolo Posted: January 13, 2010 at 01:45 AM (#3436107)
Except that McGwire hit 7.14 HRs per 100 at-bats prior to 1994. After that, when he started using steroids in earnest (his admission), that ratio jumped to 11.88 per 100 ABs.


Would you mind checking that ratio for the whole league?
   118. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 13, 2010 at 01:55 AM (#3436119)
Except that McGwire hit 7.14 HRs per 100 at-bats prior to 1994. After that, when he started using steroids in earnest (his admission), that ratio jumped to 11.88 per 100 ABs.


At the "before" ratio and the same number of career ABs, his final HR figure is 442.

His BB/PA "after" went up dramatically, from a walk every 6.8479 PAs before, to a walk every 4.99 PAs after. Adjusting for both that and the increased HR ratio gives him an extra 100 ABs after, meaning an extra 8 HRs, rounding up. Making the final HR number, 450. Add 10% for taking him out of Oakland and into a more friendly hitters park and you're at 495, just south of 500. Adjust the before and after ratios for era -- the "before" was more deadballey -- and you're just north of 500.(**)

That doesn't strike me as a terrible starting point.

(**) EDIT: You'd only add the 10% or so to the Oakland HRs, so you're back to around 480.
   119. Eddo Posted: January 13, 2010 at 01:57 AM (#3436122)
You know, I think partly we romanticize baseball records to a degree we don't in other sports, but I also suspect it has something to do with the fact that since baseball players look more like us than do players in other sports (e.g. than 7-foot basketball acrobats or 6-5, 250 lb. football players that run a 4.5), we think those stars could be us if only we had worked harder or had better coaching or whatever. The use of PEDs seems to violate the illusion.


I've held the same belief for quite some time, with a little more elaboration:

When we think of the best baseball players, they do something physically better than anyone else. Albert Pujols hits the ball harder than anyone else; Ichiro Suzuki runs faster than anyone else; Ken Griffey, Jr., covers more ground in center field than anyone else; Mickey Mantle hit the ball farther than anyone else.

However, when we think of the best football players, they do something mentally better than anyone else. Plenty of quarterbacks throw the ball harder than Peyton Manning, but Manning is the best because he knows to whom and when to throw the ball in a way no one else does. Plenty of quarterbacks were more physically gifted than Joe Montana, but he always managed to keep his wits under pressure better than anyone else did.

(I don't necessarily agree completely with the assessments of these specific players, but this is the way they've been perceived by the general public over the course of their careers.)

The point is, we believe that physical gifts separate the greatest baseball players from the very good, while mental or emotional attributes do the same for football players.
   120. fra paolo Posted: January 13, 2010 at 02:01 AM (#3436128)
At the "before" ratio and the same number of career ABs, his final HR figure is 442.


Yes but - the leagues' home run rates generally rose in 1994. It can't be that everyone was taking steroids, can it?
   121. Dewey, Soupuss Not Doomed to Succeed Posted: January 13, 2010 at 02:07 AM (#3436132)
Would you mind checking that ratio for the whole league?

Just using the National League for McGwire's career, HRs per 100 ABs

1987 - 2.75 (huge year for homers, for that era)
1988 - 1.95
1989 - 2.07
1990 - 2.30
1991 - 2.19
1992 - 1.92
1993 - 2.52
1994 - 2.78
1995 - 2.78
1996 - 2.86
1997 - 2.80
1998 - 2.89
1999 - 3.25
2000 - 3.39
2001 - 3.35
   122. birdlives is one crazy ninja Posted: January 13, 2010 at 02:07 AM (#3436134)
You know, I think partly we romanticize baseball records to a degree we don't in other sports, but I also suspect it has something to do with the fact that since baseball players look more like us than do players in other sports (e.g. than 7-foot basketball acrobats or 6-5, 250 lb. football players that run a 4.5), we think those stars could be us if only we had worked harder or had better coaching or whatever. The use of PEDs seems to violate the illusion.

I've always thought the romanticization of the record books was due to the "timeless" nature of the game (however true or false).
   123. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 13, 2010 at 02:09 AM (#3436135)
Yes but - the leagues' home run rates generally rose in 1994. It can't be that everyone was taking steroids, can it?

Era doesn't help him, at least as between 1987 AL and 1998 NL. Era generally probably helps him.

He's somewhere around 500 HRs, probably a little south, though the final verdict can await a more refined era/park adjustment. Then the question is what's to be done with the 80-90 lost HRs ... they shouldn't all be turned into outs, obviously. If he's at roughly 500 HRs and still has big-time OPS's, he's got a good HOF case.
   124. Dewey, Soupuss Not Doomed to Succeed Posted: January 13, 2010 at 02:09 AM (#3436136)
It can't be that everyone was taking steroids, can it?

I remain convinced that the balls were different after 1992 than they were before.
   125. fra paolo Posted: January 13, 2010 at 02:11 AM (#3436137)
So, basically, we're looking at McGwire after 1993 being around 8 HR/100 AB. I'm surprised it came out as low as that.
   126. McCoy Posted: January 13, 2010 at 02:13 AM (#3436138)
I remain convinced that the balls were different after 1992 than they were before.

Did they become shrunken?
   127. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 13, 2010 at 02:13 AM (#3436139)
So, basically, we're looking at McGwire after 1993 being around 8 HR/100 AB. I'm surprised it came out as low as that.

That's the before number. After is almost 12. He got 8 extra HRs for the 100ABs he lost because of extra "after" walks.
   128. McCoy Posted: January 13, 2010 at 02:14 AM (#3436143)
And there was some memo sent out by Bud Selig in 199? about steroids?

The memo that Bud sent out was the exact same memo that Fay Vincent sent out in 1990 and both memos were unenforceable without union consent which they didn't get. Fay Vincent admitted that in an interview with Maury Brown a couple of years back.
   129. fra paolo Posted: January 13, 2010 at 02:16 AM (#3436146)
I remain convinced that the balls were different after 1992 than they were before.

We had a discussion about this many years ago. I think Dial argued that there was evidence of balls being manufactured differently, while Treder argued that a lot of the boost could be put down to parks and changes to the strike zone. I may have the names of the protagonists wrong.
   130. Dewey, Soupuss Not Doomed to Succeed Posted: January 13, 2010 at 02:16 AM (#3436147)
So, basically, we're looking at McGwire after 1993 being around 8 HR/100 AB.

If you're adjusting his home runs strictly by era, I surmise the post-1993 era added about 34% to his home runs. If his pre-1994 home run rate is his "true" talent rate, you'd expect him to hit 9.59 HRs/100 ABs after 1993.
   131. fra paolo Posted: January 13, 2010 at 02:19 AM (#3436149)
That's the before number. After is almost 12. He got 8 extra HRs for the 100ABs he lost because of extra "after" walks.

Sorry, I didn't make it clear. I was adjusting the before number roughly in line with the league average, which is about ten percent up at the outset of the 94-01 period. It keeps going up, but how much is that to do with more widespread PED use?
   132. Dewey, Soupuss Not Doomed to Succeed Posted: January 13, 2010 at 02:20 AM (#3436150)
We had a discussion about this many years ago. I think Dial argued that there was evidence of balls being manufactured differently, while Treder argued that a lot of the boost could be put down to parks and changes to the strike zone.

I think Treder was taking a stance that it was a lot of different factors, but finally acknowledged that, even if you control for the other changes, you still don't account for all the difference in home run rate. Occam's razor points to the baseballs.

The increase in offense was across the board, affecting all kinds of hitters and all kinds of pitchers, and it took place very quickly. It's certainly possible that PEDs played a role, but I don't think it played a large one.
   133. McCoy Posted: January 13, 2010 at 02:22 AM (#3436151)
We had a discussion about this many years ago. I think Dial argued that there was evidence of balls being manufactured differently, while Treder argued that a lot of the boost could be put down to parks and changes to the strike zone. I may have the names of the protagonists wrong.

I know Tango has a link to a stat writer who pretty much calls you an idiot if you don't believe the ball was changed in the early 90's. He says there is a clear before and after but the thing is he actually can't point to the clear break that he insists is there. The clear break actually took a couple of years to happen and while this transition was happening several other things were happening in baseball as well. New parks, new teams, new drugs, el nino. . .
   134. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 13, 2010 at 02:24 AM (#3436152)
I think Treder's position is that 1987 (and 1986) should be grouped in with 1993 and beyond, and that the anomoly was 1988-1992.
   135. Wes Parkers Mood (Mike Green) Posted: January 13, 2010 at 02:25 AM (#3436153)
BBC,

Here's how I adjust it. Mark McGwire was a very good hitter, but not quite as good a hitter as Fred McGriff, prior to using steroids at the time of his serious foot injury. I am not willing to say that he would have been a better hitter for the remainder of his career without them. I understand that he indicated that he began using steroids in 1989-90.

If Barry Bonds were to admit using steroids, beginning in 1999 say, I would treat him as being as good as a faster version of Frank Robinson, rather than a faster version of Ted Williams/Babe Ruth.

For Hall of Fame purposes, McGwire (and McGriff) ought both to be out, and on the above assumption, Bonds ought to be in.
   136. McCoy Posted: January 13, 2010 at 02:30 AM (#3436156)
Prior to 1999 Barry was a weaker armed more patient Willie Mays.
   137. fra paolo Posted: January 13, 2010 at 02:34 AM (#3436160)
He says there is a clear before and after but the thing is he actually can't point to the clear break that he insists is there.

I read something, maybe at High Boskage House, that suggested the change in the NL came midway through 1993, which is why it's difficult to spot. It happens at different times for the two leagues, and in the case of one it isn't actually at the start of a season. Almost as if someone had planned to hide it!
   138. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 13, 2010 at 02:36 AM (#3436163)
Here's how I adjust it. Mark McGwire was a very good hitter, but not quite as good a hitter as Fred McGriff, prior to using steroids at the time of his serious foot injury. I am not willing to say that he would have been a better hitter for the remainder of his career without them. I understand that he indicated that he began using steroids in 1989-90.


Wouldn't the more sane position be just to admit that you haven't the foggiest clue how to "adjust" for this stuff and just go ahead and penalize him for using?
   139. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 13, 2010 at 03:05 AM (#3436174)
Wouldn't the more sane position be just to admit that you haven't the foggiest clue how to "adjust" for this stuff and just go ahead and penalize him for using?

Bingo.
   140. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 13, 2010 at 03:07 AM (#3436176)
Wouldn't the more sane position be just to admit that you haven't the foggiest clue how to "adjust" for this stuff and just go ahead and penalize him for using?

What's the difference between an "adjustment" and a "penalty"? How would you determine how much to penalize him?
   141. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 13, 2010 at 03:16 AM (#3436180)
Bingo.

Except we do have the foggiest clue how to adjust. Lines of demarcation in the career, adjustment for park and era, ambiguities resolved against the user, common sense impressions about the player and his true talent. What's wrong with that?

And how is some inevitable imperfections in method worse than some undefined "penalty," anyway? What's the penalty? Automatic expulsion of any user has a certain integrity, one can suppose, but it strikes me as more than a little excessive. In the end, that's not how the writers are going to come out on the matter so if one has pretensions to shaping impressions, they should get on the "adjustment" bandwagon.
   142. Blackadder Posted: January 13, 2010 at 03:48 AM (#3436195)
Spitballs are out in the open, and there's a clear and well-defined fine if you're caught using them. As I said in a long ago thread, if McGwire had done his juicing in front of a dugout full of observing opponents' eyes, four umpires, a ballpark full of fans, and an entire work force of closeup TV cameras, I'd view his offense quite a bit differently.


This is one of the more baffling things I've read here, non-Retardo division. I can't for the life of me think of any reason why those things make the slightest bit of difference.
   143. base ball chick Posted: January 13, 2010 at 04:54 AM (#3436240)
what on earth is a penalty?

and i am not getting why you would not adjust for anything but home runs, as steroids would supposedly affect ALL aspects of every at bat. more IF dribblers would have enough speed to become singles. more singles would go off the walls as doubles instead of dying in the glove. more walks as pitchers realize that umps have a strike zone for mac the size of a stamp

besides
what evidence do you have that the steroids did anything besides restore mac to his rookie year form? why would you insist that that form is better?
   144. Non-Youkilidian Geometry Posted: January 13, 2010 at 04:58 AM (#3436243)
From TFA (another brilliant Poz piece, but by now I've come to expect that from him):

We are a forgiving society. I hear that so often that I simply assume it must be true. We as a country WANT to forgive ... that's part of what makes ours a great country. When Mark McGwire finished his sprawling, emotional, vague, occasionally tense and often enlightening hour-long interview, my thought was: "Well, I think forgiveness starts here."

Man oh man did I get that wrong.


How did the meme about America being a "forgiving society" start? What evidence is there supporting it? As one measure of how "forgiving" a society is, one might look at how that society treats people who have been convicted of crimes. By that standard, if you compared the US to most other Western democracies, you'd come away concluding that the US is one of the most harsh, vindictive and unforgiving countries around -- the US imprisons more people than anyone else, keeps them in jail far longer, and imposes all sorts of additional punishments and civil disabilities on them once they finally get out. Yet the vision of America as a uniquely "forgiving society" seems extremely widespread, at least among sportswriters. I just don't get it.
   145. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 13, 2010 at 05:01 AM (#3436245)
and i am not getting why you would not adjust for anything but home runs, as steroids would supposedly affect ALL aspects of every at bat. more IF dribblers would have enough speed to become singles. more singles would go off the walls as doubles instead of dying in the glove. more walks as pitchers realize that umps have a strike zone for mac the size of a stamp

I can't speak for others, but I would adjust everything if there was a basis for doing so.
   146. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 13, 2010 at 05:25 AM (#3436257)
Wouldn't the more sane position be just to admit that you haven't the foggiest clue how to "adjust" for this stuff and just go ahead and penalize him for using?


Bingo.

Except we do have the foggiest clue how to adjust. Lines of demarcation in the career, adjustment for park and era, ambiguities resolved against the user, common sense impressions about the player and his true talent. What's wrong with that?


Nothing, I guess, provided you have a lot more faith in the quality of that sort of statistical adjustment than I do. And as a semi-practical matter, how on Earth are you ever going to be able to reach a consensus on the degree of that penalty / statistical adjustment?

And how is some inevitable imperfections in method worse than some undefined "penalty," anyway? What's the penalty? Automatic expulsion of any user has a certain integrity, one can suppose, but it strikes me as more than a little excessive. In the end, that's not how the writers are going to come out on the matter so if one has pretensions to shaping impressions, they should get on the "adjustment" bandwagon.

Actually, my penalty is quite simple: Automatic Hall of Fame blackballing, plus whatever penalties baseball provides for being caught in the act. Obviously this latter penalty applies to current players only. Beyond that, it's up to each of us to decide whatever we choose to think about the player. Collectively that "penalty" will be whatever consensus surrounding a player's reputation eventually evolves, and it will probably be re-argued with every new generation.

And how the writers "come out" is obviously up to them. So far they seem to have done pretty well with McGwire.

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

Spitballs are out in the open, and there's a clear and well-defined fine if you're caught using them. As I said in a long ago thread, if McGwire had done his juicing in front of a dugout full of observing opponents' eyes, four umpires, a ballpark full of fans, and an entire work force of closeup TV cameras, I'd view his offense quite a bit differently.

This is one of the more baffling things I've read here, non-Retardo division. I can't for the life of me think of any reason why those things make the slightest bit of difference.


Sorry if you can't see any difference between a spitball and a steroid needle, or between an infraction that's performed in full public view with a small penalty for a violation and an infraction that's performed surreptitiously and carries a stiff suspension. Maybe someone else can help you out, or maybe you'd just rather pose the rhetorical question and won't be satisfied with any answer you don't agree with. That's up to you.
   147. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: January 13, 2010 at 05:48 AM (#3436267)
Sorry if you can't see any difference between a spitball and a steroid needle, or between an infraction that's performed in full public view with a small penalty for a violation and an infraction that's performed surreptitiously and carries a stiff suspension. Maybe someone else can help you out, or maybe you'd just rather pose the rhetorical question and won't be satisfied with any answer you don't agree with. That's up to you.


I agree with you in a sense, but only as it applies to the pre-testing era.

Spitballs, and corked bats, carried with them the possibility of the offender getting nabbed in the act. They were cheating, but there was the potential for the game's arbiters (in this case, the on-field ones) to catch them. Pre-testing juicing struck me as a kind of cheating before the games rulesmakers wised up to it, similar to being the first team to use technology to steal signs. But now, the mechanism is there to catch them. It's not on the field, but there's a system of detection and a prescribed set of penalties for juicing that didn't exist before the testing/punishment phase was instituted. In a sense, I'm more likely to mentally lump a current guy who gets busted in with the spitballers and bat corkers than I would be the pre-testing juicers.
   148. Tom Nawrocki Posted: January 13, 2010 at 05:52 AM (#3436269)
an infraction that's performed in full public view with a small penalty for a violation and an infraction that's performed surreptitiously and carries a stiff suspension


Here's a good bar-bet question: Who got the longer suspension, Joe Niekro for doctoring a baseball, or Rafael Palmeiro for flunking a steroids test?
   149. Chip Posted: January 13, 2010 at 05:53 AM (#3436270)
Again with the ludicrous claim that spitballs were offered "in full public view."

I'll repeat #95, again:

Except for the elaborate lengths pitchers, catchers and other co-conspirators went to to hide the fact that they were loading/scuffing/cutting the ball.
   150. McCoy Posted: January 13, 2010 at 05:54 AM (#3436271)
In a sense, I'm more likely to mentally lump a current guy who gets busted in with the spitballers and bat corkers than I would be the pre-testing juicers.

I actually think as we move forward steroids will end being lumped in with spitballs and corked bats precisely because of what you mentioned. There is a system in place now and punishments that can and are handed out. In people's minds the cheater can be and are punished. Whereas before they viewed it as these cheaters getting away with something. Human beings love the concept of fairness.

Oh and I should point out that if you don't get caught now that also provides people with an out. With a system in place people can say you are clean or nothing was proven. People love outs as well.
   151. Home Run Teal & Black Black Black Gone! Posted: January 13, 2010 at 05:59 AM (#3436273)
I've always enjoyed gamesmanship cheating like spitballs.
   152. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: January 13, 2010 at 06:00 AM (#3436275)
Except for the elaborate lengths pitchers, catchers and other co-conspirators went to to hide the fact that they were loading/scuffing/cutting the ball.


I think you're missing what Andy's saying. You can't scuff a ball back in the clubhouse or in the dugout outside the prying eyes of opponents and the umps. It has to be done on the field of play. You have to hide the fact that you're doing it, but you still have to do it in front of everyone.
   153. Robinson Cano Plate Like Home Posted: January 13, 2010 at 06:04 AM (#3436278)
Great article. Thanks, Pos.
   154. Chip Posted: January 13, 2010 at 06:15 AM (#3436287)
I think you're missing what Andy's saying. You can't scuff a ball back in the clubhouse or in the dugout outside the prying eyes of opponents and the umps. It has to be done on the field of play. You have to hide the fact that you're doing it, but you still have to do it in front of everyone.


No, I'm not missing anything.

The method of delivering the cheat is disguised, it's hidden, it's done surreptitiously. Did Gaylord Perry take out a jar of K/Y Jelly on the mound and dip the ball into it, or did he secretly place the substance on his uniform BEFORE he went on the field? Did Elston Howard sit down at home plate to file down the edge of his shin guard so he could scuff the ball for Whitey Ford, or did he do it in secret in the clubhouse BEFORE he went on the field? Even the on-field stuff was always done with the intent to conceal what was actually happening.

And plenty of off-field stuff has always gone on. Balls, bats, and gloves have all been doctored in secret in the clubhouse and elsewhere, out of view of umpires and the opposition. It's anything but "out in the open."
   155. cardsfanboy Posted: January 13, 2010 at 06:25 AM (#3436290)
Is there more ire directed at baseball's record holders? Undoubtedly. But that's kind good thing. It means, deep down, we care about the sport and its participants in a way that we don't care about football. I suppose there are a lot of reasons why, but ultimately football players are anonymous and expendable, and the public treats them as such. If they want to destroy their body through the juice, well, they were going to destroy it through playing the damn game anyway.

absolutely loved this comment. another point in the argument about the national pasttime, nobody cares about football, except how it affects this weeks fantasy league...
   156. cardsfanboy Posted: January 13, 2010 at 06:39 AM (#3436296)
andy, I really do respect your opinion, I don't agree with you, and honestly wish the anti-steroid crowd was on average as sane as you in their opinions. My thought is fairly simple, mlb didn't honestly care, the fans didn't care at the time, so it boils down to a society that was allowing something to happen that really wasn't 'right' but it happened, and to retroactively(even only 10 years later) to apply current morality to the situation is bs, and disingenuine(sp)

the hof is about the history of the game, and best players of the time, if you can make an argument that McGwire wasn't one of the best players of his day, then keep him out of the hof, but we aren't really talking about how he rates all time in comparisons to others.
   157. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: January 13, 2010 at 06:48 AM (#3436298)
The method of delivering the cheat is disguised, it's hidden, it's done surreptitiously. Did Gaylord Perry take out a jar of K/Y Jelly on the mound and dip the ball into it, or did he secretly place the substance on his uniform BEFORE he went on the field? Did Elston Howard sit down at home plate to file down the edge of his shin guard so he could scuff the ball for Whitey Ford, or did he do it in secret in the clubhouse BEFORE he went on the field? Even the on-field stuff was always done with the intent to conceal what was actually happening.


I understand all that, and I'm pretty sure Andy does too. But Gaylord Perry had to take the vaseline from his uniform to the ball on the field of play, in full view of everyone. Of course he tried to hide the fact that he was doing it, but he was still doing it out in the open. Andy never said the guys doing the cheating weren't trying to hide their intentions. Only that there was the possibility their actions could be detected by the on-field observers. The "out in the open" comment refers to where the actions were taking place, not the sense that the perpetrators were doing it without trying to conceal their efforts.

Where I differ from Andy, as I said above, is that there is now a method for catching those players who take PEDs. The fact that such detection can't be done by the on-field observers may matter to him. To me it doesn't.
   158. cardsfanboy Posted: January 13, 2010 at 07:03 AM (#3436300)

Just using the National League for McGwire's career, HRs per 100 ABs


and as mentioned, why use per at bat instead of plate appearance??? is it remotely possible in your world that he learned to swing at better pitches,regardless of hr per at bat?
   159. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 13, 2010 at 07:04 AM (#3436301)
Nothing, I guess, provided you have a lot more faith in the quality of that sort of statistical adjustment than I do. And as a semi-practical matter, how on Earth are you ever going to be able to reach a consensus on the degree of that penalty / statistical adjustment?

Collectively that "penalty" will be whatever consensus surrounding a player's reputation eventually evolves, and it will probably be re-argued with every new generation.

Thought these two sentiments were kind of amusing coming in the same post.

We don't have to reach consensus on a "statistical adjustment" any moreso than we need to reach one on the moral "penalty" we apply to players. Nor any moreso than we've reached one on other controversial issues such as how to look at Japanese leagues, segregation, war credit, era adjustments, old fielding stats, Pete Rose, career vs. peak arguments, etc. What fun would a site like this be if there was consensus?
   160. bads85 Posted: January 13, 2010 at 08:47 AM (#3436326)
Of course he tried to hide the fact that he was doing it, but he was still doing it out in the open.


A cheat is still a cheat though. I am not trying to be snarky here; I just can't wrap my head around what you guys are saying. Are you saying that cheating by altering the ball is a lesser form of cheating because cheating under watchful eyes means there is a better chance of getting caught?

Whie there is a twisted sense of cheating as gamesmanship in baseball, there is usally a very angry reaction from the opposing team when a player is caught. I don't recall a suspected steroid user getting thrown at for juicing (probably because the teams knew a beanball war would break out because their suspected juicers would get thrown at also). There certainly is retalitaion for altered balls and other such nonsense, and the players don't treat that sort of cheating with with a kindly "Aw shucks" grin -- unless the guy doing it is a teammate.

>>>Sorry if you can't see any difference between a spitball and a steroid needle, <<<

Are you saying that certain acts of cheating are misdemeanors and steroids are felonious acts of cheating? Are you saying that altering the ball doesn't change the playing field as much as steroids? I'd say a pitcher altering the ball tips the balance in his favor more than if he used steroids. I'd also say that there were (are) fewer pitcher altering the ball than were (are) juicing.

Maybe that is what you guys are getting at --- baseball can police itself better if the cheating is on the playing field. However, it is still cheating.

>>an infraction that's performed surreptitiously and carries a stiff suspension.<<<

Altering the ball is performed surrepitiously, even if it is on the playing field. I am all for increasing the suspensions for altering the ball.

BTW, I am in no way condoning steroids use because other forms of cheating exist in baseball. In fact, I will go as far to say that steroids permeated the game because other forms of cheating were taken too lightly. The "It is OK as long as you don't get caught" atitude led to players, management, reporters, and even fans turning a blind eye to what was happening.

>>>Actually, my penalty is quite simple: Automatic Hall of Fame blackballing, plus whatever penalties baseball provides for being caught in the act. <<<<

I think there should be an automatic permanent suspension for anyone caught using steroids (following proper due process). I really don't know what to do with guys who were found out after they retired.
   161. AuntBea Posted: January 13, 2010 at 09:49 AM (#3436337)
FWIW, McGwire, steroids and all, had my very hypothetical HOF vote before the events of the last few days. Now he does not. Apparently, McGwire would like me to evaluate his career as it would (and should, he says) have been without the steroids. This imaginary McGwire must wait his turn behind an imaginary injury-free Bo Jackson, an imaginary drug and injury free Doc Gooden, and many others. In short, Mac + steroids: hall of famer. Imaginary Mac (his choice) without "enhancement-free" steroids? My hypothetical hall of fame, ironically, only has room for real players and their careers.
   162. Blackadder Posted: January 13, 2010 at 10:10 AM (#3436339)
Sorry, I still have no idea what Andy is talking about. I agree that being "out in the open" is a difference, but I have no idea how it is a relevant difference. It seems about as important as the fact that McGwire's last name starts with an "M" and Perry's starts with a "P". I guess there could be an aesthetic difference--Perry's deceit was more impressive for having to done in public--but how is that relevant to anything?
   163. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 13, 2010 at 01:17 PM (#3436351)
Sorry if you can't see any difference between a spitball and a steroid needle, or between an infraction that's performed in full public view with a small penalty for a violation and an infraction that's performed surreptitiously and carries a stiff suspension. Maybe someone else can help you out, or maybe you'd just rather pose the rhetorical question and won't be satisfied with any answer you don't agree with. That's up to you.

I agree with you in a sense, but only as it applies to the pre-testing era.

Spitballs, and corked bats, carried with them the possibility of the offender getting nabbed in the act. They were cheating, but there was the potential for the game's arbiters (in this case, the on-field ones) to catch them. Pre-testing juicing struck me as a kind of cheating before the games rulesmakers wised up to it, similar to being the first team to use technology to steal signs. But now, the mechanism is there to catch them. It's not on the field, but there's a system of detection and a prescribed set of penalties for juicing that didn't exist before the testing/punishment phase was instituted. In a sense, I'm more likely to mentally lump a current guy who gets busted in with the spitballers and bat corkers than I would be the pre-testing juicers.


That's a reasonable perspective, since (hopefully) (presumably) baseball's got a much better chance of catching them now. But I still would keep the HoF blackball in place, just to remind the current superstars that their future reputation might also be at stake.
   164. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 13, 2010 at 01:18 PM (#3436352)
Again with the ludicrous claim that spitballs were offered "in full public view."

I'll repeat #95, again:

Except for the elaborate lengths pitchers, catchers and other co-conspirators went to to hide the fact that they were loading/scuffing/cutting the ball.


I think you're missing what Andy's saying. You can't scuff a ball back in the clubhouse or in the dugout outside the prying eyes of opponents and the umps. It has to be done on the field of play. You have to hide the fact that you're doing it, but you still have to do it in front of everyone.


No, I'm not missing anything.

The method of delivering the cheat is disguised, it's hidden, it's done surreptitiously. Did Gaylord Perry take out a jar of K/Y Jelly on the mound and dip the ball into it, or did he secretly place the substance on his uniform BEFORE he went on the field? Did Elston Howard sit down at home plate to file down the edge of his shin guard so he could scuff the ball for Whitey Ford, or did he do it in secret in the clubhouse BEFORE he went on the field? Even the on-field stuff was always done with the intent to conceal what was actually happening.

And plenty of off-field stuff has always gone on. Balls, bats, and gloves have all been doctored in secret in the clubhouse and elsewhere, out of view of umpires and the opposition. It's anything but "out in the open."


The response to this is pretty damn simple: Baseball views this sort of "cheating" as a distinctly minor infraction, a view that's reflected not only in the small penalties, but even more so, by the way that the umpires allowed such farcical scenes as letting a pitcher roll a challenged ball to home plate; or letting a challenged ball be tossed around and rubbed up before being handed to the umpire for inspection. If the powers that be really cared about spitballs, the mere performance of such a blatant doctoring of the evidence would have resulted in an automatic presumption of guilt.

Of course then we would have had David and Ray saying "How do we know that they were really cheating? You can't prove that there was spit on the ball before Gaylord Perry rolled it to home plate. And what about their right not to incriminate themselves?" Some things would never have changed.
   165. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 13, 2010 at 01:18 PM (#3436353)
Sorry, I still have no idea what Andy is talking about. I agree that being "out in the open" is a difference, but I have no idea how it is a relevant difference. It seems about as important as the fact that McGwire's last name starts with an "M" and Perry's starts with a "P". I guess there could be an aesthetic difference--Perry's deceit was more impressive for having to done in public--but how is that relevant to anything?

Maybe you should ask the first 1,000 people in the OB directory if you still can't see the difference between a (metaphorical) misdemeanor and a felony, as evidenced by (a) the respective penalties and (b) the lengths they seem to be going to in order to stop them.

The point is that like all subjective judgments, it eventually comes down to what the consensus within the game is, not what you or I may think about it. And from all the evidence---penalties; Hall of Fame votes; etc.---it's pretty obvious that the consensus within the game is that steroid use is viewed as being light years worse than spitballs. Just as society in general views grand larceny or embezzlement far more seriously than going 10 MPH over the speeding limit.
   166. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 13, 2010 at 01:33 PM (#3436357)
andy, I really do respect your opinion, I don't agree with you, and honestly wish the anti-steroid crowd was on average as sane as you in their opinions. My thought is fairly simple, mlb didn't honestly care, the fans didn't care at the time, so it boils down to a society that was allowing something to happen that really wasn't 'right' but it happened, and to retroactively(even only 10 years later) to apply current morality to the situation is bs, and disingenuine(sp)

the hof is about the history of the game, and best players of the time, if you can make an argument that McGwire wasn't one of the best players of his day, then keep him out of the hof, but we aren't really talking about how he rates all time in comparisons to others.


That's certainly a legitimate alternate take to the HoF's mission, but I still see a distinction between the HoF as a museum and archive, and the HoF as a means of honoring past players. I'm certainly not saying that McGwire doesn't warrant a place in the former, but that doesn't mean he should therefore deserve a plaque.

And for the honor that McGwire (etc.) deserves, well, I voted for him for the Hall of Merit. Of course most fans have never heard of that, but that's irrelevant to the larger point that one institution is strictly about acknowledging on the field performance (at least for players), while the other is about that as well, but more. They're first cousins, but not identical twins.
   167. baudib Posted: January 13, 2010 at 05:20 PM (#3436518)
McGwire told Congress he wanted to talk about the positive, and actively work to prevent kids from taking steroids. Well, where has he been for 5 years? What did he do? I'd like for him to elaborate on why steroids are a dead end, and how he regrets taking them and what harm they did. Because otherwise I just think he's a guy who benefited enormously from steroids and knows it, and just wishes he hadn't gotten caught.
   168. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 13, 2010 at 05:34 PM (#3436530)
McGwire told Congress he wanted to talk about the positive, and actively work to prevent kids from taking steroids. Well, where has he been for 5 years? What did he do? I'd like for him to elaborate on why steroids are a dead end, and how he regrets taking them and what harm they did. Because otherwise I just think he's a guy who benefited enormously from steroids and knows it, and just wishes he hadn't gotten caught.
Just to point out -- because I've heard other people say this -- he wasn't caught.

EDIT: Just to be clear, I'm not implying he's innocent, obviously. I'm just saying that he's in a different boat than Manny, or A-Rod, or Palmeiro.
   169. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 13, 2010 at 05:40 PM (#3436539)
Sorry, I still have no idea what Andy is talking about. I agree that being "out in the open" is a difference, but I have no idea how it is a relevant difference. It seems about as important as the fact that McGwire's last name starts with an "M" and Perry's starts with a "P". I guess there could be an aesthetic difference--Perry's deceit was more impressive for having to done in public--but how is that relevant to anything?

Maybe you should ask the first 1,000 people in the OB directory if you still can't see the difference between a (metaphorical) misdemeanor and a felony, as evidenced by (a) the respective penalties and (b) the lengths they seem to be going to in order to stop them.
Nice bait and switch, but that's not what he's talking about. You claimed that it was a relevant distinction in terms of how bad the offenses were that one was done in secret and one was done (sort of) in the open. And yet you've never explained why on earth this specific fact would matter.

As for the (metaphorical) misdemeanor vs. felony, that's the question, not the answer. The issue is why one is a misdemeanor and one is a felony. In any case, at the time period we're discussing, steroids were more of a misdemeanor than scuffing/corking/etc. Even if one believes that Fay Vincent's memo somehow banned steroids in baseball, the penalty for using them was less than for those things. And when the players and owners first negotiated an actual steroid policy, the penalty was about the same. Only Congress -- not the league, the owners, or the players -- insisted that steroids be treated like a metaphorical felony by MLB.
   170. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 13, 2010 at 05:41 PM (#3436542)
Just to point out -- because I've heard other people say this -- he wasn't caught.

Just to point out -- because I've heard other lawyers say this -- that if he wasn't "caught" by the law, he was nevertheless left with no other way out but confession if he wanted to have any semblance of a life in baseball. Fortunately for him, the message finally sunk in through that thick skull of his.

Or, as Joe Louis might have put it: You can duck, but you can't hide.
   171. Zipperholes Posted: January 13, 2010 at 05:46 PM (#3436549)
Just to point out -- because I've heard other lawyers say this -- that if he wasn't "caught" by the law, he was nevertheless left with no other way out but confession if he wanted to have any semblance of a life in baseball. Fortunately for him, the message finally sunk in through that thick skull of his.

Right, he "wasn't caught" in the same way that Roman Polanski "wasn't caught" until last year.
   172. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 13, 2010 at 05:46 PM (#3436552)
As for the (metaphorical) misdemeanor vs. felony, that's the question, not the answer. The issue is why one is a misdemeanor and one is a felony.

Hard as it may be for you to accept this, the answer is because that's how they're viewed by almost everyone except the nitpickers. At bottom all you're really saying is that your don't agree with this collective judgment---a judgment that's clearly seen by the respective fates of Gaylord Perry (HoF) and Mark McGwire (HoF blackball). Obviously nothing will ever remove this bone from your throat, but that's your problem, not everyone else's.
   173. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 13, 2010 at 05:54 PM (#3436563)
McGwire told Congress he wanted to talk about the positive, and actively work to prevent kids from taking steroids. Well, where has he been for 5 years? What did he do?


What did he do to help? It's very simple. He wasn't out there telling kids that he took steroids and that steroids helped him hit all those home runs. Only the media was doing that.

Now his message is that yes, he took steroids, but he regrets it and they didn't help him hit home runs. Except that of course the media is intent on telling kids that, yes, steroids DID help him to hit all those home runs.

The "we want to prevent kids from taking steroids" lie revealed itself at the same time that the moral outrage did.
   174. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 13, 2010 at 05:55 PM (#3436565)
Right, he "wasn't caught" in the same way that Roman Polanski "wasn't caught" until last year.
Worst. Analogy. Ever.
   175. baudib Posted: January 13, 2010 at 06:00 PM (#3436570)
What did he do to help? It's very simple. He wasn't out there telling kids that he took steroids and that steroids helped him hit all those home runs. Only the media was doing that.


Even for you, this is a stretch, Ray.

DN:

Just to point out -- because I've heard other people say this -- he wasn't caught.


You mean caught by baseball? OK. But it's pretty clear that the FBI did catch him, and had they had an interest in going after users, he was dead to rights. Fear of prosecution is the reason McGwire gives for his non-admission before Congress.
   176. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 13, 2010 at 06:01 PM (#3436572)
As for the (metaphorical) misdemeanor vs. felony, that's the question, not the answer. The issue is why one is a misdemeanor and one is a felony.

Hard as it may be for you to accept this, the answer is because that's how they're viewed by almost everyone except the nitpickers.
Hard as it may be for you to accept this, that isn't an answer at all. Here's a hint for you, because it's something you've had trouble with your whole life, or at least as long as I've known you on BBTF: "Lots of people think so" isn't an answer to any question. (*)


(*) Other than, I suppose, "What do lots of people think?"
At bottom all you're really saying is that your don't agree with this collective judgment---a judgment that's clearly seen by the respective fates of Gaylord Perry (HoF) and Mark McGwire (HoF blackball). Obviously nothing will ever remove this bone from your throat, but that's your problem, not everyone else's.
Of course I don't agree with that "judgment," but that's not the point at all. What I'm "really" saying above is that you haven't supplied any reasoning for your opinion.

"Judgments" without reasoning behind them are by definition irrational. The fact that lots of people hold a particular view does not constitute logical support for that view.
   177. Zipperholes Posted: January 13, 2010 at 06:03 PM (#3436574)
The "we want to prevent kids from taking steroids" lie revealed itself at the same time that the moral outrage did.

So because the media is telling people steroids helped him hit homeruns (which we don't know is not true), they must be lying when they claim to want to keep kids off steroids? In other words, the media should distort the story in order to achieve a certain policy result?
   178. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 13, 2010 at 06:06 PM (#3436580)
I understand all that, and I'm pretty sure Andy does too. But Gaylord Perry had to take the vaseline from his uniform to the ball on the field of play, in full view of everyone. Of course he tried to hide the fact that he was doing it, but he was still doing it out in the open. Andy never said the guys doing the cheating weren't trying to hide their intentions. Only that there was the possibility their actions could be detected by the on-field observers. The "out in the open" comment refers to where the actions were taking place, not the sense that the perpetrators were doing it without trying to conceal their efforts.


This is truly surreal. So if McGwire had slipped the steroid pills into his mouth after taking his position at first base, that would have been just fine and dandy with Andy? Why don't I believe that?
   179. JL Posted: January 13, 2010 at 06:10 PM (#3436589)
But I draw the line at the Hall of Fame. That's an honor as well as a recognition of career value, and what McGwire did within the context of baseball was dishonorable, and IMO disqualifyingly so. That's "punishment" enough, and that's all the punishment he deserves, no more and no less.

I am curious if the current testing and punishment scheme alters the HOF argument. That is, if Joe Smith plays his entire career during testing and has a clear Hall of Fame career (by the numbers), but is suspended for 50 games for violating the testing procedure, should he be disqualified? Arguably, in this hypo, he has already had his punishment.
   180. JPWF13 Posted: January 13, 2010 at 06:11 PM (#3436594)
Of course I don't agree with that "judgment," but that's not the point at all. What I'm "really" saying above is that you haven't supplied any reasoning for your opinion.


He rarely does, or at least I can't quite follow his reasoning*... on another McGwire thread he took great offense at something I said that wasn't even directed at him... it wasn't, he's hard to engage because it's hard to understand his thought processes and analogies, and it's getting pretty clear that he simply doesn't understand the objections others are making to his assertions.

*I mean his reasoning as to why spitball use by Gaylord Perry is completely different than McGwire's steroid use is well nonsensical (to me anyway), but how do you approach it, is it based upon a faulty premises (I think so, many faulty premises), is it based upon a different definition of "cheating" than you or I would use? I think so, I'm not sure though. A differnt definition of what it means to be doing something covertly or overtly? Seems like it. We're all writing in English, but still there's a pretty clear failure to communicate.
   181. JPWF13 Posted: January 13, 2010 at 06:14 PM (#3436601)
So because the media is telling people steroids helped him hit homeruns (which we don't know is not true), they must be lying when they claim to want to keep kids off steroids? In other words, the media should distort the story in order to achieve a certain policy result?


I don't thin the media (most of it anyway) CARES whether kids use steroids or not, they just want to sell ad time/space.

So yes, I think most of them are lying when they say they want to keep kids off the stuff.
   182. bads85 Posted: January 13, 2010 at 06:22 PM (#3436615)
Baseball views this sort of "cheating" as a distinctly minor infraction,


Cheating is cheating. Anyone who takes the "level playing field" stance should be consistent about cheating across the board.

>>>it's pretty obvious that the consensus within the game is that steroid use is viewed as being light years worse than spitballs.<<<

I don't think so. Players react much more angrily to cheating on the field than their teammates and opponents using steroids. Up until very recently, the worst penalty for steroid use was the same for corking a bat or scuffling the ball.

>>>judgment that's clearly seen by the respective fates of Gaylord Perry (HoF) and Mark McGwire (HoF blackball)the answer is because that's how they're viewed by almost everyone except the nitpickers.<<<

HOF voting is not indicative of what the majority of baseball fans think or "judge" -- if Pete Rose's fate were left to the majority, he's be in the HOF right now. A consistent view on cheating isn't nitpicking, but an inconsistent view sure seems like cherry picking.
   183. SoSH U at work Posted: January 13, 2010 at 06:23 PM (#3436617)
This is truly surreal. So if McGwire had slipped the steroid pills into his mouth after taking his position at first base, that would have been just fine and dandy with Andy? Why don't I believe that?


What a terrible misreading of what I wrote Ray. If McGwire could only injest the steroid pills into his mouth while he was at first base for the steroids to take effect, that would be the equivalent.
   184. rr Posted: January 13, 2010 at 06:26 PM (#3436621)
*I mean his reasoning as to why spitball use by Gaylord Perry is completely different than McGwire's steroid use is well nonsensical (to me anyway), but how do you approach it, is it based upon a faulty premises (I think so, many faulty premises), is it based upon a different definition of "cheating" than you or I would use? I think so, I'm not sure though. A differnt definition of what it means to be doing something covertly or overtly? Seems like it. We're all writing in English, but still there's a pretty clear failure to communicate.


In Zumsteg's book on cheating in baseball, he essentially framed this as an aesthetic judgment, saying that corked bats, spitters, scuffing etc. are part of the lore/fabric of the game, whereas a guy "getting injected in the ass" in a "toilet stall" (I am paraphrasing, but he did use the ass-injection image) is ugly, gross etc. Andy isn't exactly getting at that, but I think often in steroids/spitters/greenies arguments (and many other types of arguments) that what are in fact aesthetic judgments get presented as moral ones.

Also, based on what I know about spitters and scuffing, a lot of stuff related to it (like sharpening the belt buckles used to scuff the ball) did go on in the clubhouse.

The point is that like all subjective judgments, it eventually comes down to what the consensus within the game is, not what you or I may think about it. And from all the evidence---penalties; Hall of Fame votes; etc.---it's pretty obvious that the consensus within the game is that steroid use is viewed as being light years worse than spitballs
.

I respect your opinions, too, but I have never really understood the purpose of this line of argument. We are all just fans on a website, with a minimal (at best) connection to decision and opinion-makers in and around the game, in that guys like Tango and Neyer occasionally post here. This is a descriptive statement; nothing more.
   185. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 13, 2010 at 06:27 PM (#3436622)
I understand all that, and I'm pretty sure Andy does too. But Gaylord Perry had to take the vaseline from his uniform to the ball on the field of play, in full view of everyone. Of course he tried to hide the fact that he was doing it, but he was still doing it out in the open. Andy never said the guys doing the cheating weren't trying to hide their intentions. Only that there was the possibility their actions could be detected by the on-field observers. The "out in the open" comment refers to where the actions were taking place, not the sense that the perpetrators were doing it without trying to conceal their efforts.


I re-read this paragraph and I'm still amazed. Perry's actions were only "out in the open" because there was no other way for him to carry them out -- not because he was trying to be less cheaty by allowing for the "possibility that his actions could be detected by on-field observers."
   186. bads85 Posted: January 13, 2010 at 06:33 PM (#3436627)
Andy isn't exactly getting at that, but I think often in steroids/spitters/greenies arguments (and many other types of arguments) that what are in fact aesthetic judgments get presented as moral ones.


I think you hit the nail on the head here. A good looking whore is still a whore, and an aesthetically acceptable cheat is still a cheat.
   187. McCoy Posted: January 13, 2010 at 06:37 PM (#3436633)
The whole out in the open argument is nonsensical to me because for the most part all forms of baseball cheating are out in the open. Umpires, players, managers, teams, leagues knew that Gaylord Perry or Whitey Ford were cheating and they didn't do anything. Everybody knew which players were using steroids, hell, the FBI told the leagues which players were using and they still did nothing.

Steroids were out in the open. The Oakland A's knew that Jose Canseco was using steroids before he ever played a single game for them. Sandy Alderson knew that Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco were steroid users and yet he did nothing. Then he moved up the ladder in MLB and still he did nothing. Like spitballs and such MLB could have at anytime squashed steroids if they wanted to. They chose not to.
   188. SoSH U at work Posted: January 13, 2010 at 06:40 PM (#3436637)


In Zumsteg's book on cheating in baseball, he essentially framed this as an aesthetic judgment, saying that corked bats, spitters, scuffing etc. are part of the lore/fabric of the game, whereas a guy "getting injected in the ass" in a "toilet stall" (I am paraphrasing, but he did use the ass-injection image) is ugly, gross etc. Andy isn't exactly getting at that, but I think often in steroids/spitters/greenies arguments (and many other types of arguments) that what are in fact aesthetic judgments get presented as moral ones.

Also, based on what I know about spitters and scuffing, a lot of stuff related to it (like sharpening the belt buckles used to scuff the ball) did go on in the clubhouse.



I'm not going to speak for Andy any longer, but this isn't what I'm talking about. It doesn't have anything to do with aesthetics.

My problem with pre-testing juicing (or greenie popping, to please Dial) was there were no baseball method for catching offenders or ramifications for getting caught. It was a kind of cheating (which I believe it was) without the risk. But for the spitballers and the scuffers and even the corkers, there existed the possibility that these gents could get nabbed on the field of play and suffer the appropriate punishment. There was risk. Now, that there are established procedures for testing and prescribed penalties for getting caught, I'm personally much more likely to view spitballers and juicers alike. I don't mentally lump the pre-testing juicers/greenie abusers in the same class.
   189. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 13, 2010 at 06:42 PM (#3436641)
As for the (metaphorical) misdemeanor vs. felony, that's the question, not the answer. The issue is why one is a misdemeanor and one is a felony.

Hard as it may be for you to accept this, the answer is because that's how they're viewed by almost everyone except the nitpickers.

Hard as it may be for you to accept this, that isn't an answer at all. Here's a hint for you, because it's something you've had trouble with your whole life, or at least as long as I've known you on BBTF: "Lots of people think so" isn't an answer to any question. (*)

(*) Other than, I suppose, "What do lots of people think?"


Actually, the real "problem" is that you're simply incapable of accepting any collective judgment that runs contrary to your particular idea of "reason." You frame every question as a contest between the Enligtened Forces of Reason / "Rationality" and the Irrational Force of everyone who doesn't see everything your way. No "reason" that anyone ever gives to any of your question is ever acceptable to you; all you ever do is to say "that's not an answer," or "that's not rational," or "only an idiot could believe that." The concept of "agree to disagree" finds no place in your mind.

You can't dispute the fact that baseball has made a collective judgment that steroids are an affront to the game that's on a far higher level than a goddam spitball. And your only response is to demand a "reason" for this distinction.

But of course this is a purely rhetorical question, because you've already decided that no reason is good enough; all responses to your question are either "illogical," "irrational," or perhaps the work of some dark and quasi-totalitarian mindset. It's like punching a tar baby.
   190. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 13, 2010 at 06:42 PM (#3436642)
So if McGwire had slipped the steroid pills into his mouth after taking his position at first base, that would have been just fine and dandy with Andy? Why don't I believe that?

Tell you what, Ray: You provide the spinach, and I'll be Popeye's lawyer.
   191. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 13, 2010 at 06:48 PM (#3436649)
Actually, the real "problem" is that you're simply incapable of accepting any collective judgment that runs contrary to your particular idea of "reason."


Andy, your rant in #189 misses the point. People are asking for your reasons; they're not asking for the conclusions formed by other people ("collective judgment").

If you're understanding the question, it seems that you're dodging it.
   192. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 13, 2010 at 06:48 PM (#3436650)
#190.

Would you treat McGwire similar to Perry if McGwire slipped the steroids pills into his mouth on the field? Why or why not?
   193. rr Posted: January 13, 2010 at 06:50 PM (#3436653)
there existed the possibility that these gents could get nabbed on the field of play and suffer the appropriate punishment. There was risk.


That's fine, but I don't see any real point in making a moral distinction based on that, since (as has been done by many) you could also say since there was no specific rule against it/punishment for using PEDs, it wasn't cheating. For the record, I am not all that interested in the question of what constitutes cheating per se.
   194. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 13, 2010 at 06:52 PM (#3436657)
The point is that like all subjective judgments, it eventually comes down to what the consensus within the game is, not what you or I may think about it. And from all the evidence---penalties; Hall of Fame votes; etc.---it's pretty obvious that the consensus within the game is that steroid use is viewed as being light years worse than spitballs.

I respect your opinions, too, but I have never really understood the purpose of this line of argument. We are all just fans on a website, with a minimal (at best) connection to decision and opinion-makers in and around the game, in that guys like Tango and Neyer occasionally post here. This is a descriptive statement; nothing more.


robin, the "purpose of this line of argument" is to attempt to bring in the views of others in the baseball world, beyond our little closed circle of lawyers, libertarians and reflexive contrarians. Whether you wish to admit it or not, on the steroids question there's a pretty strong orthodoxy on this site (as reflected in the BTF HoF percentage for McGwire, which is almost literally the mirror image of the BBWAA's) that simply refuses to recognize the legitimacy of that outside world's consensus that steroids are a much bigger deal than (say) spitballs. And sorry, but I'll continue to make note of that gap, irrelevant or inconsequential as it may seem to you.
   195. McCoy Posted: January 13, 2010 at 06:58 PM (#3436670)
My problem with pre-testing juicing (or greenie popping, to please Dial) was there were no baseball method for catching offenders or ramifications for getting caught

You get arrested and go to jail for up to 5 years. Baseball at any time could have cracked down on illegal drugs in their workplace but they did not.
   196. SoSH U at work Posted: January 13, 2010 at 06:59 PM (#3436674)
That's fine, but I don't see any real point in making a moral distinction based on that, since (as has been done by many) you could also say since there was no specific rule against it/punishment for using PEDs, it wasn't cheating. For the record, I am not all that interested in the question of what constitutes cheating per se.


Fair enough. I'll note that I differ completely from Andy on how we treat the cheating of the pre-steroids (or post-steroids juicers for that matter). If it was on a small scale, over a relatively short period of time, and done without the knowledge of so many other parties, I might look at it differently.
   197. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 13, 2010 at 07:01 PM (#3436676)
And sorry, but I'll continue to make note of that gap, irrelevant or inconsequential as it may seem to you.


You might as well "make note" of the fact that most people prefer cheese on their pizza. It has absolutely nothing to do with the issue.
   198. SoSH U at work Posted: January 13, 2010 at 07:01 PM (#3436677)
You get arrested and go to jail for up to 5 years.


That's not a baseball penalty.

Baseball at any time could have cracked down on illegal drugs in their workplace but they did not.


Sure, which is just one of the reasons I'm not interested in enacting retroactive punishments for the offenders.
   199. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 13, 2010 at 07:03 PM (#3436679)
Andy, your rant in #189 misses the point. People are asking for your reasons; they're not asking for the conclusions formed by other people ("collective judgment").

Are you nuts? I've given "my" reasons innumerable times: Steroids corrupt the game by tilting the playing field; steroids are taken surreptitiously; spitballs are part of a longstanding baseball tradition; spitballs are punished as a misdemeanor; steroids are met with HoF blackballs and (now) long suspensions; "cheating is cheating" is about as coherent (or incoherent) a statement as "speeding is robbery".

Of course every one of those reasons gets met with: "That's no reason at all." Fine. Be my guest to continue with the great BTF circle jerk, where it's only the rest of the world that's crazy, and where steroids and spitballs are viewed with a literalminded equivalency that would thrill the school board members of Dayton, Tennessee.
   200. McCoy Posted: January 13, 2010 at 07:06 PM (#3436684)

That's not a baseball penalty.


Well, I think they wouldn't allow you to play during those 5 years in prison. Plus if you get convicted and sentenced it makes it pretty easy to kick you out of baseball.

Sure, which is just one of the reasons I'm not interested in enacting retroactive punishments for the offenders.

Okay, but at any time baseball could have cracked down on spitballers and other cheaters as well. They chose not too. One set of numbers are considered valid while the other set of numbers are considered fraudulent.
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