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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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   201. McCoy Posted: January 13, 2010 at 07:08 PM (#3436686)
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;

How many years creates a tradition? Steroids have been with baseball for at least 30 years now. Isn't that approaching tradition territory? Or do we have to wait another twenty years before we move it into the tradition territory?
   202. fra paolo Posted: January 13, 2010 at 07:11 PM (#3436691)
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?

I think it does alter the argument. The 'use steroids? no hall' conditional cannot apply to, say, Manny, because he was caught by the present regime. It can only apply to usage before the current regime.

The problem is that prior to the testing, how do we treat these players? There is the grey area, and we have to look at each case on its merits. It's not fair to punish them for steroid use if MLB does not have a rule against PEDs. So we need to define what period we're really looking at.

Using illegal drugs falls under the character clause of the HoF requirements, IMO. Precedent (eg, Prohibition-era players) suggests that this is no bar to HoF election.
   203. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 13, 2010 at 07:13 PM (#3436695)
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;

How many years creates a tradition? Steroids have been with baseball for at least 30 years now. Isn't that approaching tradition territory? Or do we have to wait another twenty years before we move it into the tradition territory?


Good question; come back in 20 years and see how the consensus has evolved. But for the time being it's pretty clear that it's not being treated like spitballs.

And once again, you can pull your hair out and scream at my bringing this up for the 1001st time, but look at the respective fates of Perry and McGwire. It speaks volumes about the closed world of BTF that this is so easily (and often angrily) dismissed.
   204. SoSH U at work Posted: January 13, 2010 at 07:15 PM (#3436701)
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.


Wow, you're really reaching there McCoy.

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.


I've never said anything about the validity of the numbers, so that's not really relevant to me.
   205. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: January 13, 2010 at 07:16 PM (#3436704)
It speaks volumes about the closed world of BTF that this is so easily (and often angrily) dismissed.


I dunno. My guess is that the majority of Primates are a silent majority on this subject. How many members really post in these threads on a regular basis?
   206. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 13, 2010 at 07:19 PM (#3436706)
Are you nuts? I've given "my" reasons innumerable times: Steroids corrupt the game by tilting the playing field;


This is a reason to not like steroids, but it doesn't do anything to distinguish steroids from spitballs.

steroids are taken surreptitiously;


Again, not distinguishing. Do you see why people think you're not making sense?

spitballs are part of a longstanding baseball tradition;


This is where you get into the surreal.

spitballs are punished as a misdemeanor; steroids are met with HoF blackballs and (now) long suspensions;


And these are not reasons why one should be treated differently from the other.

"cheating is cheating" is about as coherent (or incoherent) a statement as "speeding is robbery".


But you can't articulate an independent (and coherent) reason for distinguishing one form of cheating over the other (!). If you can't do that, then "cheating is cheating."
   207. JL Posted: January 13, 2010 at 07:20 PM (#3436708)
I think it does alter the argument. The 'use steroids? no hall' conditional cannot apply to, say, Manny, because he was caught by the present regime. It can only apply to usage before the current regime.

I think it does as well. In responses to a different set of arguments, Andy/Jolly notes that MLB suspension/punishment policies provide some information as to how we should look at some of this. The fact that the first suspension is 50 games suggests to me that it does not rise to the level of banishing from the HOF (as opposed to something like gambling on baseball).
   208. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: January 13, 2010 at 07:29 PM (#3436718)
The distinction between steroids and spitballs is an easy one to draw. Steroids are illegal and dangerous. Spitballs are only illegal within the context of the baseball rules and, while they might be marginally more dangerous than regular pitches, the danger pales in comparison to steroids.

That being said, I can't see any logical distinction between amphetamines and steroids aside from aesthetic arguments.
   209. DL from MN Posted: January 13, 2010 at 07:30 PM (#3436721)
Why not just throw out 50 games for every year McGwire said he juiced? If he still meets the standards after throwing out 300 games, he's in.
   210. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 13, 2010 at 07:32 PM (#3436725)
Are you nuts? I've given "my" reasons innumerable times:
He misspoke. I'm not asking for your "reasons." I'm asking for your reasoning. To quote Eric Idle, "An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition."

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".
You honestly don't understand the petitio principii fallacy, do you?

If your argument is "A is worse than B," it's not enough to simply identify differences between A and B; you have to show why those differences are relevant. And "Lots of people think A is worse than B" isn't an answer at all.

You say steroid use was surreptitious. So's spitballing. How is that a distinction? Your response is, "There was a chance of being caught with spitballing, but not with steroids." Yes, that is a distinction. But why is it relevant?

You say that spitballs are punished as a misdemeanor. But steroids were punished less than that, until a few years ago. So again, how is that an argument? Plus, well, that's not a reason; it just restates the premise: spitballs are better because people think they're better. As does your claim that steroids are "met with HOF blackballs." That's not a reason.
   211. McCoy Posted: January 13, 2010 at 07:36 PM (#3436732)
I've never said anything about the validity of the numbers, so that's not really relevant to me.

So what is relevant then? you don't care about the numbers and you don't want to punish them. What exactly are you arguing against with me on this topic.

Wow, you're really reaching there McCoy.

Not being able to play baseball seems to me to be a pretty severe baseball punishment.
   212. bads85 Posted: January 13, 2010 at 07:39 PM (#3436738)
spitballs are part of a longstanding baseball tradition;


Spitballs aren't a baseball tradition. Even if they were, longstanding cheating doesn't make cheating more palatable.

>>>"cheating is cheating" is about as coherent (or incoherent) a statement as "speeding is robbery".<<<<

One can't be a little bit pregnant.
   213. SoSH U at work Posted: January 13, 2010 at 07:40 PM (#3436740)
So what is relevant then? you don't care about the numbers and you don't want to punish them. What exactly are you arguing against with me on this topic.


Me arguing with you? I noted how spitballing and pre-juicing steroids were a different type of cheating. You've been trying to pick that apart today for some reason, despite initially agreeing with me last night.
   214. Tom Nawrocki Posted: January 13, 2010 at 07:41 PM (#3436743)

And these are not reasons why one should be treated differently from the other.


It's also a relatively new phenomenon. The penalty for doctoring the baseball is ten games' suspension, and has been for quite a while. The penalty for steroid usage was ten days until 2006, when the 50-game penalty was introduced.

So either Andy waited until 2006 to decide that steroids were worse than spitballs, or this isn't really a factor in his decision-making.
   215. bads85 Posted: January 13, 2010 at 07:42 PM (#3436744)
But for the time being it's pretty clear that it's not being treated like spitballs.


Right --- spitballers are almost non-existent while there are still guys on roids. Even if we stretched spitballers to include "altering the ball", I'd bet there are more guys on roids than guys altering the ball.
   216. McCoy Posted: January 13, 2010 at 07:46 PM (#3436752)
but look at the respective fates of Perry and McGwire

And would Perry be a HoF'er right now if he retired in 2001 instead of in 1983? Would a notorious cheater like Perry have been inducted in this climate? And would McGwire have gotten inducted in 1989 if he had retired in 1983?

I would say that McGwire would have gone in in 1989 and Perry would be on the outside looking in right now.
   217. SoSH U at work Posted: January 13, 2010 at 07:50 PM (#3436756)
And would Perry be a HoF'er right now if he retired in 2001 instead of in 1983?


You know, that's a really interesting question. I have to think that if he were side by side on the ballot with McGwire, he'd have a lot harder time getting in right now.
   218. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 13, 2010 at 07:51 PM (#3436758)
How many years creates a tradition? Steroids have been with baseball for at least 30 years now. Isn't that approaching tradition territory? Or do we have to wait another twenty years before we move it into the tradition territory?

Good question; come back in 20 years and see how the consensus has evolved. But for the time being it's pretty clear that it's not being treated like spitballs.
Was your favorite game show Family Feud, the show where you didn't need to give correct answers; you just needed to guess how people responded to a survey? Why would you wait to see how a consensus has evolved before forming your own opinion?
   219. McCoy Posted: January 13, 2010 at 07:54 PM (#3436764)
Me arguing with you? I noted how spitballing and pre-juicing steroids were a different type of cheating. You've been trying to pick that apart today for some reason, despite initially agreeing with me last night.

I did? Where? My view is that spitballs and steroids ran about the same risk of getting caught and punished which is to say that there pretty much was no risk of getting caught.
   220. bads85 Posted: January 13, 2010 at 07:55 PM (#3436767)
but look at the respective fates of Perry and McGwire. It speaks volumes about the closed world of BTF that this is so easily (and often angrily) dismissed.


That is Tommy in CT rhetoric -- you really should take a deep breath, wipe your chin, ad start over. The BBWA isn't the "open world."

Perry was voted in the Hall during in a time when the BBWA hadn't been beat over the head with cheating, and he didn't admit to cheating until after he was elected. The attitudes of the BBWA were much different in 1991 than 2007-2000. Since his election, there have been many people who have wondered in Perry really should be in the Hall. If Perry were on the same ballots in this time, there is a very good possibility he is treated much differently.
   221. SoSH U at work Posted: January 13, 2010 at 08:04 PM (#3436783)
I did? When? My view is that spitballs and steroids ran about the same risk of getting caught and punished which is to say that there pretty much was no risk of getting caught.


Post 150. You were responding to the point I've pretty much been making this whole time.
   222. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 13, 2010 at 08:10 PM (#3436791)
Was your favorite game show Family Feud, the show where you didn't need to give correct answers; you just needed to guess how people responded to a survey? Why would you wait to see how a consensus has evolved before forming your own opinion?


I guess I just have a hard time believing that Andy's true answer is "consensus." He certainly doesn't seem to blindly adopt that position on, say, social issues -- although I think he does cite "consensus" on social issues in which he agrees with the majority.
   223. Srul Itza Posted: January 13, 2010 at 08:13 PM (#3436796)
Baseball views this sort of "cheating" as a distinctly minor infraction


And they viewed steroid-taking as no infraction at all, since there were no penalties in place until recently.

The more that comes out about how wide-spread it was, and how many people undoubtedly knew about it, the more it becomes absurd to apply an ex post facto penalty such as "banning" from the Hall of Fame. And the idea that former players should be banned, so current ones will be scared, is a little too "Pour encourager les autres" for me.
   224. Srul Itza Posted: January 13, 2010 at 08:15 PM (#3436800)
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


The reaction is as much gamesmanship as the original cheating is gamesmanship. It is an effort to obtain maximum benefit from the other guy getting caught -- while hoping that nobody on your team gets caught any time soon.
   225. McCoy Posted: January 13, 2010 at 08:16 PM (#3436803)
Post 150. You were responding to the point I've pretty much been making this whole time.

Post 150 is me saying that people will eventually come around to my way of looking at it not me saying that I think steroids and spitballs are different.

I believe that spitballs and steroids have always carried the same amount of risk of getting caught and punished for doing either.
   226. Srul Itza Posted: January 13, 2010 at 08:17 PM (#3436804)
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.


And, of course, this will never change or evolve.
   227. SoSH U at work Posted: January 13, 2010 at 08:25 PM (#3436817)
I believe that spitballs and steroids have always carried the same amount of risk of getting caught and punished for doing either.


Not from the baseball establishment, regardless of your silly go to prison, miss games explanation. One carried a distinctly baseball punishment, and no criminal one; the other carried a criminal punishment and no baseball one. I don't think those two significant differences cancel one another out and make them equal.
   228. Srul Itza Posted: January 13, 2010 at 08:33 PM (#3436826)
What really cracks me up, is that a major basis for Andy's position is the collective wisdom of the Base Ball Writers Association of America -- whereas, on most issues, Andy is probably more likely to line up with the BBWAA members who think about steroids with some rationality as opposed to the "burn them at the stake" guys .
   229. McCoy Posted: January 13, 2010 at 08:38 PM (#3436830)
Not from the baseball establishment, regardless of your silly go to prison, miss games explanation. One carried a distinctly baseball punishment, and no criminal one; the other carried a criminal punishment and no baseball one. I don't think those two significant differences cancel one another out and make them equal.

How many players got punished for throwing spitballs since 1920? MY point was that baseball knew they had players throwing spitballs and they did nothing about it. Umpires let it go, the leagues let it go, the fans let it go, the reporters let it go, virtually everybody for 90 years let it go. So while there might have been a rule on the book that said it was illegal the reality of the situation was that cheating was completely condone and allowable in baseball. Baseball knew cheating was going on and they condoned it and even let it thrive. To argue that spitballs are different because there are rules against it or because you could get caught on the field is a completely nonsensical argument when you actual look at what happened in the real world.
   230. SoSH U at work Posted: January 13, 2010 at 08:48 PM (#3436842)
How many players got punished for throwing spitballs since 1920?


Specifically spitballs, or any kind of doctored balls? Quite a bit more than were suspended for pre-testing steroids, that's certain.

But really, I guess a lot depends on how rampant you think the practice is. If you think it's been pretty commonplace throughout baseball history, then I can see the idea that baseball has long looked the other way and allowed the practice to thrive. If you think that it's a practice that isn't terribly common, then no, it's not really that analgous to pre-testing.

Either way, it still doesn't change the fact that there actually was the possibility of catching/punishing the first set and not the other, but the first scenario would draw them closer.
   231. HGM Posted: January 13, 2010 at 08:55 PM (#3436851)
I personally don't understand why doing something that you have no chance of getting caught and no chance of being punished because there are no rules in place for it is somehow worse and should retroactively receive a harsher punishment than doing something that is against the rules and carries a punishment.

If a player post-2006 or whatever tests positive three times, no HoF for them - because that's the rule.
   232. bads85 Posted: January 13, 2010 at 08:59 PM (#3436855)
Specifically spitballs, or any kind of doctored balls? Quite a bit more than were suspended for pre-testing steroids, that's certain.


Exactly. Plus, "true" spitballs pretty much went the way of the Do-Do because players found much better ways to doctor the ball that would allow them:

A. to escape detection
B. more control over the movement of the ball.
   233. McCoy Posted: January 13, 2010 at 09:00 PM (#3436858)

Specifically spitballs, or any kind of doctored balls? Quite a bit more than were suspended for pre-testing steroids, that's certain.


Pretesting steroid era for the most part lasted about 10 to 15 years. I don't think any spitball cheaters were caught the first 10 to 15 years of the rule. I think the first person to get suspended got suspended in the 40's.

Either way, it still doesn't change the fact that there actually was the possibility of catching/punishing the first set and not the other, but the first scenario would draw them closer.

In theory it was possible to get caught but the reality of the situation was that you were not going to get caught. And again it was possible to catch steroid users. They broke the law. They broke the law on company ground in full view of the company. How can you possibly think that baseball couldn't punish that?
   234. McCoy Posted: January 13, 2010 at 09:02 PM (#3436860)
Exactly. Plus, "true" spitballs pretty much went the way of the Do-Do because players found much better ways to doctor the ball that would allow them:

Simply not true. The spitballs and doctored pitches never went away. Plus there really was never a "true" spitball. Calling something a spitball means you put a foreign substance on the ball not that you only spit on a ball.
   235. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 13, 2010 at 09:06 PM (#3436864)
They broke the law. They broke the law on company ground in full view of the company. How can you possibly think that baseball couldn't punish that?


Wasn't there just a a story from some FBI agent who claimed that he told MLB that Canseco and McGwire were using? Doesn't their (non-)punishment suggest what MLB's response to that would have been?
   236. SoSH U at work Posted: January 13, 2010 at 09:08 PM (#3436866)
Pretesting steroid era for the most part lasted about 10 to 15 years. I don't think any spitball cheaters were caught the first 10 to 15 years of the rule. I think the first person to get suspended got suspended in the 40's.



And players were actually grandfathered in during the first years of the rule. I'm not surprised there weren't a lot of suspensions.


it was possible to get caught but the reality of the situation was that you were not going to get caught.


But players did get caught. Niekro, Honeycutt, even Perry on one occasion, for example, were. Not often, but I don't really know how common the practice was, so it's hard to say how likely getting caught was.


And again it was possible to catch steroid users. They broke the law. They broke the law on company ground in full view of the company. How can you possibly think that baseball couldn't punish that?


They only broke the law on company ground in full view of anyone if they chose to inject at the ballpark, which wasn't required to use the product. And again, baseball itself had no mechanism for testing/punishing. I'm sorry you see that as a distinction without a difference, but I disagree.
   237. Tom Nawrocki Posted: January 13, 2010 at 09:15 PM (#3436875)
Browns pitcher Nels Potter was the first person suspended for throwing a spitball, in 1944. He got suspended for ten games.

I think Brian "Scuffy" Moehler was the most recent, in 1999 when he was with the Tigers. He also got ten games.
   238. Daunte Vicknabbit! Posted: January 13, 2010 at 09:17 PM (#3436879)
Pretesting steroid era for the most part lasted about 10 to 15 years. I don't think any spitball cheaters were caught the first 10 to 15 years of the rule. I think the first person to get suspended got suspended in the 40's.


Pretty sure the Neyer/James book says that part of the rule was a grandfather rule allowing active spitballers to continue throwing the pitch. If active known roiders were allowed to continue roiding, guys would probably have come out about their use. Now we know what MLB should have done!
   239. flournoy Posted: January 13, 2010 at 09:26 PM (#3436888)
You honestly don't understand the petitio principii fallacy, do you?


I have to say, this is one of the funniest things I've read on BBTF.

Speaking for myself, I understand neither the petitio principii fallacy, nor the narglefork eluurph theorem, nor even the flutoziphic yojiroko dichotomy.
   240. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 13, 2010 at 09:31 PM (#3436895)
Robert Ludlum just doesn't make sense anymore.
   241. Home Run Teal & Black Black Black Gone! Posted: January 13, 2010 at 09:35 PM (#3436902)
I don't mind when spit gets on my balls.

All things considered.
   242. bads85 Posted: January 13, 2010 at 09:53 PM (#3436917)
And players were actually grandfathered in during the first years of the rule. I'm not surprised there weren't a lot of suspensions.


Right -- until 1934. Plus, for a very long time, pitchers were given a warning. You would have to get caught twice in one game to get a suspension. This wasn't initially the case when MLB implemented the a rile against spitters and a corollary rule against defacing the ball -- both called for an immediate ejection and a ten day suspension. The immediate backlash was so severe that MLB put the warning in.
   243. bads85 Posted: January 13, 2010 at 10:01 PM (#3436927)
The spitballs and doctored pitches never went away.


There is a distinct difference between a spitball and a doctored ball. Even the Official Rules of MLB address the separately. However, I don't feel like having a semantics discussion --- if you want to lump spitballs in with doctored balls for this discussion, that is fine by me. However, many guys have been suspended for doctoring the balls over the years while only a few have been suspended for actual spitballs.

You are right --- the loaded (spitball) never really went away --- even when baseball cracked down hard in 1968 (up until that point, a pitcher could still take his hand to the mouth). Even with the crackdown a few "loaders" still exist today, but the more prevalent problem is defacing the ball.
   244. McCoy Posted: January 13, 2010 at 10:04 PM (#3436930)
They only broke the law on company ground in full view of anyone if they chose to inject at the ballpark, which wasn't required to use the product. And again, baseball itself had no mechanism for testing/punishing. I'm sorry you see that as a distinction without a difference, but I disagree.

It wasn't required but they did it. Again you are arguing theory and ignoring what actaully happened.



But players did get caught. Niekro, Honeycutt, even Perry on one occasion, for example, were. Not often, but I don't really know how common the practice was, so it's hard to say how likely getting caught was.


And Jose and Mark got caught as well. So did Carlton, Rose, Luzinski, and many others for greenies and baseball did nothing.
   245. Ron Johnson Posted: January 13, 2010 at 10:05 PM (#3436934)
The fact that the first suspension is 50 games suggests to me that it does not rise to the level of banishing from the HOF


And the fact that the first negotiated penalty was the same as for being caught doctoring a ball should tell us something about how the baseball community viewed the whole matter. Bad publicity "forced" MLB and the PA to re-open the matter and left us with the current level of penalties.

EDIT: Coke to Tom
   246. Spahn Insane Posted: January 13, 2010 at 10:12 PM (#3436944)
"An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition."

No it isn't.
   247. SoSH U at work Posted: January 13, 2010 at 10:17 PM (#3436954)
It wasn't required but they did it. Again you are arguing theory and ignoring what actaully happened.


I'm arguing theory over reality? You're saying that players could have been jailed and therefore suspended for the use of PEDs before testing began, even though no one ever was. That's a hell of a lot more theoretical than I'm getting.

And Jose and Mark got caught as well. So did Carlton, Rose, Luzinski, and many others for greenies and baseball did nothing.


How does this fact help your point that somehow pre-testing juicing/pill popping was the same as spitballing/scuffing? Baseball didn't discipline the PED users. It did discipline the ball doctorers.
   248. Spahn Insane Posted: January 13, 2010 at 10:25 PM (#3436967)
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.

Even if true (which, as others have pointed out, is dubious--the penalties for steroid use were, until recently, less than or equal to those for other forms of cheating), a mere statement that people DO view steroid use as more severe does not JUSTIFY their viewing them as more severe. Your asserting it as a justification is circular.
   249. McCoy Posted: January 13, 2010 at 10:26 PM (#3436971)

How does this fact help your point that somehow pre-testing juicing/pill popping was the same as spitballing/scuffing? Baseball didn't discipline the PED users. It did discipline the ball doctorers.


Again baseball has something like 90 years of baseball played and they punished a handful of players in those 90 years. The steroid era before testing lasted about 10 to 15 years. Suspending somebody for a spitball every ten to 15 years isn't exactly a strong piece of evidence in support of the belief that cheating in that manner had any kind of real repercussions.

I'm arguing theory over reality? You're saying that players could have been jailed and therefore suspended for the use of PEDs before testing began, even though no one ever was. That's a hell of a lot more theoretical than I'm getting.


How is that theoretical? It is an actual and known repercussion of breaking the law. The FBI went to baseball and told them they had steroid users and really when it comes down to it with Canseco at the very least a steroid dealer. Baseball could have done something but they did not. That has been my argument. Baseball knew they had spitballers, they could have done something but they did not.

In theory baseball could have caught and punished spitballers but they chose not too. In theory baseball could have caught and punished steroid users but they chose not too.
   250. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 13, 2010 at 10:39 PM (#3436988)
Even if true (which, as others have pointed out, is dubious--the penalties for steroid use were, until recently, less than or equal to those for other forms of cheating), a mere statement that people DO view steroid use as more severe does not JUSTIFY their viewing them as more severe. Your asserting it as a justification is circular.
Yeah, I've been trying to explain that one to him for five years now. Good luck.
   251. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 13, 2010 at 10:51 PM (#3437002)
Ah, the beautiful herd of independent minds. BTF iconoclasm at its best.

You say steroid use was surreptitious. So's spitballing. How is that a distinction? Your response is, "There was a chance of being caught with spitballing, but not with steroids." Yes, that is a distinction. But why is it relevant?

Relevant to whom?

You say that spitballs are punished as a misdemeanor. But steroids were punished less than that, until a few years ago.

But once the full extent of the problem became obvious to all, how long did it take for that to change? And what prevented knowledge of the problem from being exposed to a greater extent prior to 2003 and then 2006? Couldn't have anything to do with resistance from the union, could it? Resistance you were loudly in favor of.

By contrast, spitballs have come into widespread public notice at exactly two points in my lifetime. The first came in 1955, when Preacher Roe wrote his full confessional in SI ("The Outlawed Spitter Was My Money Pitch"). What happened there? A bit of outrage, and then absolutely nothing but stories from teammates and not a few opponents who mostly just admired his cleverness.

The second, of course, involved multiple incidents surrounding Gaylord Perry. Who became so hated for that heinous violation that they elected him to the Hall of Fame.

Plus, well, that's not a reason; it just restates the premise: spitballs are better because people think they're better. As does your claim that steroids are "met with HOF blackballs." That's not a reason.

Well, what was the reason that George Bush was twice elected president? Every "reason" that you can give can just as easily be dismissed as "no reason at all" to someone who admits no reasoning other than his own. Your argument begins with the premise that there can be no distinctions of gradation among "cheating" that can possibly meet whatever standard of "reasoning" you're trying to enforce.

So let me ask you a rhetorical question of my own: How would you (or Ray) "reason" that there could be a "logical" distinction between steroids and spitballs? Or is this one of those questions where you've decided in advance that there are no "rational" answers? It's hard not to draw that conclusion.
   252. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 13, 2010 at 10:52 PM (#3437004)
>>>"cheating is cheating" is about as coherent (or incoherent) a statement as "speeding is robbery".<<<<

One can't be a little bit pregnant.


OK, so then let's sentence you like a robber when you hit 56 MPH on the Washington Beltway. And let's deal with a condom manufacturer the same way we deal with a third trimester abortionist. Makes about as much sense as treating spitballs like steroids.

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

but look at the respective fates of Perry and McGwire

And would Perry be a HoF'er right now if he retired in 2001 instead of in 1983? Would a notorious cheater like Perry have been inducted in this climate?


I have no reason to believe that he wouldn't. Have you seen a single writer say that "I voted for Perry then, but I wouldn't if I had it to do over"? Just about the ONLY writers who bring up Perry are those among the 23% who favor McGwire's induction.

And would McGwire have gotten inducted in 1989 if he had retired in 1983?

Probably not, since without those steroids and the complementary training methods, it's highly unlikely that his career would have advanced as spectacularly as it did.

The better question is whether McGwire will be elected by the Veterans' Committee whenever that balloting comes around. At that point it's entirely possible that the consensus about him will have changed. But I'll leave that sort of prediction to the rest of you.
   253. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 13, 2010 at 10:52 PM (#3437005)
but look at the respective fates of Perry and McGwire. It speaks volumes about the closed world of BTF that this is so easily (and often angrily) dismissed.

That is Tommy in CT rhetoric -- you really should take a deep breath, wipe your chin, ad start over. The BBWA isn't the "open world."


Well, then what other body better reflects the consensus of the current baseball community? And where have their views on steroids been published and broken down statistically? You tell me. This dismissing of the BBWAA reminds me more than a little bit of the views of some of my more fanciful friends in 1972 and 1984 that the 49-to-1 state majorities that elected Nixon and Reagan "didn't really represent the views of the American people." But that's what living in a cocoon can do to you.

Perry was voted in the Hall during in a time when the BBWA hadn't been beat over the head with cheating, and he didn't admit to cheating until after he was elected.

Knowledge of Perry's ball doctoring was every bit as widespread during his career as belief in McGwire's juicing has been since the congressional hearing. McGwire didn't confess until five years later, but unlike Perry, his reticence didn't seem to help him in the interim.

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

What really cracks me up, is that a major basis for Andy's position is the collective wisdom of the Base Ball Writers Association of America -- whereas, on most issues, Andy is probably more likely to line up with the BBWAA members who think about steroids with some rationality as opposed to the "burn them at the stake" guys.

Thanks for the Greek Style compliment, Srul. But when I invoke the "baseball consensus" as embodied in the votes of the BBWAA, I'm doing so as a means of demonstrating as a fact that that consensus exists, and as a "baseball conservative" (for want of a better word) in most cases I'm likely to treat that consensus with a great deal of respect, much as I treat election outcomes even when I voted for the loser.

And trust me, if Bonds and Clemens sail in on the first vote three years from now, I'll be just as quick to acknowledge and respect that consensus as well. You're welcome to save this paragraph if you wish.

But I disagree with your implication that those anti-McGwire voters are all of a "burn them at the stake" kind, though given the influence of Repoz and his ubiquitous pinata posts, I guess I can understand how you might come to that conclusion. But once you get past the flamers who write before they think, you've got a large group of voters who take their roles seriously, and who have come to the honest conclusion that steroids are enough of a blight on the game that it would be absurd to honor its prime practitioners with a plaque in Cooperstown. You can reduce all that to "burn them at the stake," but that's little more than silly rhetoric on your part, and in your private moments I'm pretty sure you know that as well as I do.
   254. JL Posted: January 13, 2010 at 10:58 PM (#3437016)
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 do not consider the difference between 10 games and 50 games to be "light years."
   255. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 13, 2010 at 11:03 PM (#3437022)
You say steroid use was surreptitious. So's spitballing. How is that a distinction? Your response is, "There was a chance of being caught with spitballing, but not with steroids." Yes, that is a distinction. But why is it relevant?

Relevant to whom?


Relevant to the issue of how spitballing is different in any meaningful way from steroid use as far as cheating goes.

You say that spitballs are punished as a misdemeanor. But steroids were punished less than that, until a few years ago.

But once the full extent of the problem became obvious to all, how long did it take for that to change?


Why is more people doing something a reason to treat that thing more harshly than the thing that less people are doing? The spitballer has an advantage that the vast majority of players don't have; not so for steroids.
   256. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 13, 2010 at 11:08 PM (#3437028)
I personally don't understand why doing something that you have no chance of getting caught and no chance of being punished because there are no rules in place for it is somehow worse and should retroactively receive a harsher punishment than doing something that is against the rules and carries a punishment.

I don't really understand the notion that MLB needed an explicit rule against something that was already against the law. You don't need a rule against spiking the other team's water cooler, or having an opposing player knee-capped before the game, do you? You need a rule against doctoring the ball or corking your bat because the rule is what defines those acts as cheating.

The notion that guys like Mark McGwire didn't know they were doing something wrong/illegal/against the rules is pretty silly. If they didn't know it was cheating, why did they try so hard to hide it? Why did they talk about all the other reasons for their success--from new batting coaches to new girlfriends to new goatees--without mentioning the new drugs? Why, with a few exceptions, didn't they try to convince all their teammates to start doing it? Why was Jose Canseco seemingly the only guy willing to talk openly about this stuff? It's fairly obvious that the rules merely codified something that just about everyone already thought/knew--namely, that they weren't supposed to be using steroids.
   257. bads85 Posted: January 13, 2010 at 11:24 PM (#3437045)
By contrast, spitballs have come into widespread public notice at exactly two points in my lifetime.


Spitballs came into blinding widespread notice in 1967 after the Cal Koonce piece in The Sporting News. People had been clamoring about spitballs for some time, but the TSN article blew the roof of the matter, causing MLB to finally address the matter in 1968 with a radical new rule change and increased attempts at policing the acts. I don't know how you could forget all that.
   258. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 13, 2010 at 11:24 PM (#3437047)
The notion that guys like Mark McGwire didn't know they were doing something wrong/illegal/against the rules is pretty silly. If they didn't know it was cheating, why did they try so hard to hide it?


Who said they thought it wasn't illegal? That alone could be reason to shut one's trap about it, rather than loudly announcing it in the clubhouse and to the media.
   259. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 13, 2010 at 11:25 PM (#3437049)
Ray, just out of curiosity, what other "equivalencies" do you see beyond steroids and spitballs? Arson and shoplifting? (both illegal) Offsides and face mask grabbing? (both against the football rules) 3 second violations and body slamming? (both frowned upon in basketball) Your monochromatic view of crime and punishment is of great interest to me, and I wish to subscribe to your publication.
   260. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 13, 2010 at 11:27 PM (#3437054)
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 do not consider the difference between 10 games and 50 games to be "light years."


So there's a lifetime ban for a third spitball offense?
   261. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 13, 2010 at 11:30 PM (#3437055)
Spitballs came into blinding widespread notice in 1967 after the Cal Koonce piece in The Sporting News. People had been clamoring about spitballs for some time, but the TSN article blew the roof of the matter, causing MLB to finally address the matter in 1968 with a radical new rule change and increased attempts at policing the acts. I don't know how you could forget all that.

I missed it because the World Series was about my only exposure to baseball that year. So tell me how many subsequent violators were caught, and what was the extent of their punishment? And what sort of rules and penalties was Gaylord Perry operating under during his Hall of Fame career?
   262. bads85 Posted: January 13, 2010 at 11:31 PM (#3437057)
>>>
OK, so then let's sentence you like a robber when you hit 56 MPH on the Washington Beltway.
<<<<

If you want to play the analogy game, pick two capital crimes. Doctoring the ball isn't speeding -- up until very recently, it carried the longest suspension other than fixing games.

>>>Well, then what other body better reflects the consensus of the current baseball community?<<<

Why not look at the actual baseball community? Look how it reacted during the Golden Days of Roids and look at how it quickly embraces roid users back into the fold after suspensions. Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez certainly weren't treated as pariahs by the current baseball community after their suspensions. Compare that to how game fixers are treated.


>>>This dismissing of the BBWAA reminds me more than a little bit of the views of some of my more fanciful friends in 1972 and 1984 that the 49-to-1 state majorities that elected Nixon and Reagan "didn't really represent the views of the American people." But that's what living in a cocoon can do to you.<<<<

Preacher, heal thyself. Your adulation of the BBWA reminds me of Bill James' groupies in the 1980's who didn't know #### about stats, but preached James like the Holy Gospel.
   263. Chip Posted: January 13, 2010 at 11:32 PM (#3437059)
Who said they thought it wasn't illegal? That alone could be reason to shut one's trap about it, rather than loudly announcing it in the clubhouse and to the media.


They kept amphetamine use publicly quiet for the same reason.
   264. Dan Szymborski Posted: January 13, 2010 at 11:35 PM (#3437063)
You don't need a rule against spiking the other team's water cooler, or having an opposing player knee-capped before the game, do you?

You would if it had been previously ruled in binding arbitration that MLB would have to negotiate any policy concerning water coolers and pre-game violence with the MLBPA, as is what happened with MLB and drugs.

One can't say that there was an unwritten rule about drug use in the way you can with your examples, because it was already ruled that MLB wasn't allowed to have unwritten rules about drug use and that only actual, negotiated rules could exist.
   265. bads85 Posted: January 13, 2010 at 11:36 PM (#3437064)
I missed it because the World Series was about my only exposure to baseball that year.


The ramifications of the rule change lasted well beyond that year.

>>>So tell me how many subsequent violators were caught, and what was the extent of their punishment?<<<<

Cheaters is a much more accurate term than violators. The extent of their punishment was the maximum penalty in baseball (outside of gambling).
   266. Steve Treder Posted: January 14, 2010 at 12:01 AM (#3437084)
Spitballs came into blinding widespread notice in 1967 after the Cal Koonce piece in The Sporting News. People had been clamoring about spitballs for some time, but the TSN article blew the roof of the matter, causing MLB to finally address the matter in 1968 with a radical new rule change and increased attempts at policing the acts.

Anybody remember the Vitalis TV commercial, featuring Don Drysdale and Herman Franks?

Drysdale on the mound, Dodgers vs. Giants. Big game, big crowd noise. Suddenly Franks bursts out of the dugout and runs out onto the field, yelling at the umps: "Greaseball! Greaseball! He's throwing a greaseball!"

The umps turn to Drysdale. He calmly walks off the field, then returns from the locker room an instant later (come on, it's a TV commercial) holding something ... he walks back out to the mound, and then triumphantly holds up his bottle of Vitalis, slowly turning and showing it to the umps, and one and all ... thunderous applause from the stands.

Even in commercials, the Giants lost at the end.
   267. Jittery McFrog Posted: January 14, 2010 at 12:07 AM (#3437086)
You don't need a rule against spiking the other team's water cooler, or having an opposing player knee-capped before the game, do you?

You would if it had been previously ruled in binding arbitration that MLB would have to negotiate any policy concerning water coolers and pre-game violence with the MLBPA, as is what happened with MLB and drugs.


Genuine curiosity here:

Suppose, in some alternate universe, that there has been a binding ruling that MLB must negiotiate any policy concerning water coolers with the MLBPA. Suppose further that yesterday accomplished hitter Spikey McPoisonpants admitted that during his career (all of which occurred after said ruling) he spiked the opposing pitcher's drinks in many (or, since we're already being hypothetical, all) of the games he played.

Would you really not consider Spikey McPoisonpants to have cheated? Would you not count it against him when evaluating his HOF case?
   268. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 14, 2010 at 12:12 AM (#3437092)
One can't say that there was an unwritten rule about drug use in the way you can with your examples, because it was already ruled that MLB wasn't allowed to have unwritten rules about drug use and that only actual, negotiated rules could exist.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but that ruling only stated that drug testing had to be subject to collective bargaining. MLB still could discipline players based on their possession, use, or distribution of illegal drugs.

There clearly was an unwritten rule against the use of steroids in baseball, even if there wasn't a written enforcement policy.
   269. Home Run Teal & Black Black Black Gone! Posted: January 14, 2010 at 12:15 AM (#3437094)
Guys, come on, I made a fellatio joke. WTF?
   270. Jittery McFrog Posted: January 14, 2010 at 12:16 AM (#3437098)
One can't say that there was an unwritten rule about drug use in the way you can with your examples, because it was already ruled that MLB wasn't allowed to have unwritten rules about drug use and that only actual, negotiated rules could exist.


Isn't this only true with regard to the way the player is treated by MLB? I don't see why this should matter to the standards of public opinion. I mean, we are still talking about McGwire, right? The one who isn't an MLB player any more, but whose career is being judged by the public? What's wrong with unwritten rules about how the public will think about your actions? Those are an unavoidable part of life for any public figure.
   271. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 14, 2010 at 12:38 AM (#3437123)
Who said they thought it wasn't illegal? That alone could be reason to shut one's trap about it, rather than loudly announcing it in the clubhouse and to the media.

I'm a bit confused by some of the arguments in this thread, but some people seem to be saying they there wasn't really any rule against steroid use before 2002, and no real prospect of users being caught or punished prior to that year.

This has, ironically, been used both as an argument for why steroid users shouldn't be retroactively penalized by HOF voters, as well as an argument for why their actions were worse than doctoring the ball.

If nobody is actually making those arguments, then just ignore my posts on the subject.
   272. Tom Nawrocki Posted: January 14, 2010 at 12:40 AM (#3437124)

Anybody remember the Vitalis TV commercial, featuring Don Drysdale and Herman Franks?


That's before my time, but I remember the Pepsi commercial with Catfish Hunter and Dwight Gooden. Catfish shows Doc how he uses the condensation on the outside of a cold Pepsi can to moisten his fingers in preparation for throwing a pitch. Doc says, "Hey, Catfish, that's illegal!"
   273. dlf Posted: January 14, 2010 at 12:44 AM (#3437125)
Perry ... didn't admit to cheating until after he was elected.


Perry was elected to the Hall in 1991. His autobiography "Me and the Spitter," in which he admitted throwing his first spitter in 1964, was published in 1974.
   274. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 14, 2010 at 12:53 AM (#3437128)
The Mike Scott example never really enters these discussions, and they should. The writers awarded him the Cy Young Award in 1986 when he was alleged to have doctored the ball regularly, and when such doctoring was widely cited as a major reason behind his rather freakish year. I suppose he never was "caught" -- other than the doctored baseballs that were displayed and attributed to him from time to time in video reports -- but there hasn't been a player before or since, including Perry, against whom the drums of accusation beat more loudly. The Astros made the division and played the Mets in the playoffs, and the accusations were aired nationally. The Mets' fear of facing him in Game 7 was attributed at least 50% to him doctoring the ball, as opposed to his overall brilliance that year.

Every writer who voted for him for the Cy Young Award, it's safe to say, knew of the allegations.
   275. zenbitz Posted: January 14, 2010 at 12:59 AM (#3437130)
Imagine a drug - in pill form.
It improves your hitting across the board say, 10%
It only lasts a few minutes, so you have to pop it right before your next plate appearance.

It has no long term side effects.

Better or worse than doctoring the ball? Why or why not?
   276. Srul Itza Posted: January 14, 2010 at 01:00 AM (#3437131)
But once the full extent of the problem became obvious to all, how long did it take for that to change?


On what date did the "full extent" become obvious to "all"? Who is "all"? Given what we now know, isn't it clear that the Lords of the Game and their employees were well aware of widespread juicing, and did nothing about it for a very long time. And then they treated it just like a spitball.

It was not until Congressional grandstanding that the penalties were heightened. But then, I forget that you consider the two wisest institutions in the western world to be the United States Congress and the Base Ball Writers Association of America.
   277. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 14, 2010 at 01:03 AM (#3437133)
Imagine a drug - in pill form.
It improves your hitting across the board say, 10%
It only lasts a few minutes, so you have to pop it right before your next plate appearance.

It has no long term side effects.


If it had no long-term side effects, I would have no problem with it being legalized in MLB.
   278. Srul Itza Posted: January 14, 2010 at 01:08 AM (#3437136)
There clearly was an unwritten rule against the use of steroids in baseball


Clearly? Really?

If anything is clear, it is that people knew or should have known about the widespread use of steroids, but didn't do a damn thing about it. That's a hell of a lot more like tacit consent, than an unwritten against.
   279. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 14, 2010 at 01:18 AM (#3437140)
Clearly? Really?

If anything is clear, it is that people knew or should have known about the widespread use of steroids, but didn't do a damn thing about it. That's a hell of a lot more like tacit consent, than an unwritten against.


You're limiting the potential universe of legitimate "rulemakers" in baseball to baseball players and baseball management. By accident of professionalism and union rules, there happens not to have been an independent governing body over MLB as there is over the Olympics and, for example, soccer in Europe. Those governing bodies banned steroids in sports under their jurisdiction long ago. If there were an analogous entity with authority over baseball, and a mandate to independently look out for the integrity of the competition, that entity would long ago have banned steroids in baseball.

It's a big stretch to take a mere historical and operational accident, and draw the conclusions you're drawing. Other voices and stakeholders in the game -- particularly the writers and commentators -- are clearly acting as if steroid use broke an unwritten rule. As are, for that matter, many ex-players -- though that doesn't seem to be a unanimous opinion.(**)

(**) It's hard to know when, for example, Henry Aaron calls for forgiveness of McGwire, and potential entry in the HOF, if he believes McGwire broke an unwritten rule, or not. One interpretation of Aaron's thoughts is that he thinks McG broke an unwritten rule, but doing so isn't sufficient to bar entry; the other is that he doesn't think McG broke an unwritten rule.
   280. fra paolo Posted: January 14, 2010 at 01:28 AM (#3437147)
The fact that the first suspension is 50 games suggests to me that [steroid use] does not rise to the level of banishing from the HOF

The problem with that, though, is that the third offense brings a lifetime ban. So steroids might be worthy of a banishing from the HoF, but that's why I think one needs to proceed by looking at individual cases. A blanket-ban doesn't work, but ignoring use isn't fair either.
   281. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 14, 2010 at 01:30 AM (#3437150)
I don't really understand the notion that MLB needed an explicit rule against something that was already against the law. You don't need a rule against spiking the other team's water cooler, or having an opposing player knee-capped before the game, do you? You need a rule against doctoring the ball or corking your bat because the rule is what defines those acts as cheating.
Who said that it was against the law? Certain substances were/are against the law In certain places under certain circumstances. If people train in the offseason where it's legal, does that mean they weren't cheating but people training in the U.S. were? That would be unworkable.
   282. bads85 Posted: January 14, 2010 at 02:18 AM (#3437173)
His autobiography "Me and the Spitter," in which he admitted throwing his first spitter in 1964, was published in 1974.


I stand corrected.
   283. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 14, 2010 at 02:37 AM (#3437186)
The incongruity of Andy taking a hard line against "juicers" but apologizing for spitballers and amphetamine users is really interesting. Finding some whimsical distinction between steroid users and one of spitballers and amphetamine users is odd enough, but stating that both of them are different? Not being able to make out a coherent argument as to why spitballers are different from steroid users, and almost going so far as to romanticize that form of cheating? It's really interesting to me.
   284. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 14, 2010 at 03:01 AM (#3437192)
Clearly? Really?

If anything is clear, it is that people knew or should have known about the widespread use of steroids, but didn't do a damn thing about it. That's a hell of a lot more like tacit consent, than an unwritten against.


I could have phrased that better. My point is that you didn't need an unwritten rule, because there were written laws in place.

The players pretty clearly knew they were doing something they shouldn't be, since they concealed their use and lied about it when asked directly. Even now, McGwire isn't claiming that he thought it was permitted at the time. If they thought they weren't cheating, they should have been encouraging their teammates to use, but we hear of very few cases of that happening, and even those that did were discreet and limited in scope.

I would also argue that the many players who stayed clean even though steroids could have improved their performance or ability to stay on the field supports the fact that many players regarded it as cheating.

Who said that it was against the law? Certain substances were/are against the law In certain places under certain circumstances. If people train in the offseason where it's legal, does that mean they weren't cheating but people training in the U.S. were? That would be unworkable.

Who do you have in mind? Which guy(s) only used steroids in jurisdictions where they were legal?
   285. Wes Parkers Mood (Mike Green) Posted: January 14, 2010 at 03:10 AM (#3437198)
McGwire was a lesser player than McGriff except when he was using. McGriff arguably falls short of the dividing line. There are too many first basemen in the Hall. Ergo, they both should be out, in my view. McGwire needs every bit of his 30s peak to be a decent candidate (he was still obviously a lesser player than Alan Trammell, juicing or not). Perry was an overwhelmingly good candidate, probably one of the top 15 starting pitchers of all time.

It would be nice if people who know baseball this well could campaign for Trammell with a little more vest and defend McGwire with a little less. The principle that a very good player who became a great one due to PED use should be honoured seems to me to be one that (at minimum) reasonable people can differ on.
   286. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 14, 2010 at 03:12 AM (#3437200)
Who said that it was against the law? Certain substances were/are against the law In certain places under certain circumstances. If people train in the offseason where it's legal, does that mean they weren't cheating but people training in the U.S. were? That would be unworkable.

Who do you have in mind? Which guy(s) only used steroids in jurisdictions where they were legal?
Not the foggiest idea, although "the Clear" was legal in the U.S. until 2004, and that and other substances may or may not have been legal in other countries, either OTC or with a prescription. Unlike your water cooler spiker, who would have to act on U.S. (or Canadian) soil -- and so we'd know what he was doing was illegal -- training with steroids could take place anywhere in the offseason. That's why you can't hang an "unwritten" argument on illegality.
   287. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 14, 2010 at 03:16 AM (#3437204)
That is Tommy in CT rhetoric -- you really should take a deep breath, wipe your chin, ad start over. The BBWA isn't the "open world."

Well, then what other body better reflects the consensus of the current baseball community?
The MLBPA? The first 100 names in the Boston phonebook?
And where have their views on steroids been published and broken down statistically? You tell me. This dismissing of the BBWAA reminds me more than a little bit of the views of some of my more fanciful friends in 1972 and 1984 that the 49-to-1 state majorities that elected Nixon and Reagan "didn't really represent the views of the American people." But that's what living in a cocoon can do to you.
This is getting even more nonsensical. Reagan and Nixon were elected. Nobody voted for the BBWAA.
   288. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 14, 2010 at 03:32 AM (#3437210)
Who do you have in mind? Which guy(s) only used steroids in jurisdictions where they were legal?


As we've worked through this issue over the past few years several arguments made by the anti-steroids zealots have been exposed as lies:

Lie # 1: Steroids are bad because they're illegal.

But then when Sosa testified before Congress, the zealots screamed that he had "carefully worded" his statement such that his denial could hold true even if he had taken steroids in the Dominican Republic. But why should this have been a concern, if the problem with steroids is that they're illegal?

Lie #2: Steroids are bad because of The Children.

But it is only the zealots and the media that are telling kids that the athletes are on steroids and that using steroids turns you into a star; the athletes are certainly not the ones telling kids that. Moreover, if this were truly such a big concern, the focus should also be on other sports as well, such as the NFL. But the NFL players that test positive are ignored.

Lie #3: Steroids are bad because they compromise a player's health.

But the zealots don't care about, say, NFL linemen, or boxers, who are being seriously compromised healthwise.

Lie #4: Steroids are bad because they are cheating.

But the zealots don't care about amphetamines or spitballs.

Lie #5: If an accused player does X to prove his innocence (gives an interview; files a lawsuit; testifies under oath; etc.) he will earn credibility.

But the reaction to the extraordinary steps Clemens took showed that this wasn't true.

Lie #6: If an accused player confesses, he will at least earn some significant measure of respect.

But then when McGwire confessed (the same thing happened with ARod), the zealots complained that they didn't get the whole story and that therefore their intelligence was insulted, and immediately began searching for new ways to call the player a liar based on what the player said or what he didn't confess to -- or what he stated as his belief.

--

It's not unreasonable to care about steroids and to think that they probably impact baseball performance (even though I don't sign on to that). But to be dishonest about it, or to come out swinging against steroid users but give amphetamine users a pass, simply doesn't wash.
   289. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 14, 2010 at 05:27 AM (#3437270)
Mike Lupica has discovered the problem with McGwire's interview. He cried too much.

Nobody is defending what Bonds did with his own drug use, ever. But Bonds didn't start the "steroid era." McGwire is the one who did that. He doesn't get cleared now because of a crying jag that started to make you think he was watching some kind of all-day "Old Yeller" movie marathon.

The guy sure did do a lot of crying, before he ever got to Costas. It was reported in the St. Louis paper that he cried on the phone. It was reported in USA Today by Mel Antonen that he cried on the phone. Tim Kurkjian reported that McGwire cried on the phone with him. Everybody who watched the Costas interview saw what happened there. But the question that doesn't go away is why he was so broken up if all he was doing was taking "low dosages" of steroids to heal.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/2010/01/13/2010-01-13_dishonor_still_bonds_them_both.html#ixzz0cYcMHMbX


Lupica also doesn't give McGwire full credit since the reporters McGwire spoke to were "hand-picked."

McGwire told a different kind of story, even more nuanced, to the country on Monday, through a series of hand-picked reporters.
   290. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 14, 2010 at 06:04 AM (#3437292)
The incongruity of Andy taking a hard line against "juicers" but apologizing for spitballers and amphetamine users is really interesting. Finding some whimsical distinction between steroid users and one of spitballers and amphetamine users is odd enough, but stating that both of them are different? Not being able to make out a coherent argument as to why spitballers are different from steroid users, and almost going so far as to romanticize that form of cheating? It's really interesting to me.

Well, I must admit I feel flattered at all the attention you're giving to li'l ol' me, since it's only to you and your fellow literalists here on BTF that the moral and substantive distinction between steroids and spitballers is impossible to discern; and that the PE effects of steroids and greenies are equivalent. The only honor left to me now is for Repoz to make a pinata post out of me. Anybody know how much he charges for that?

(Oh, gee, there I go again, citing the opinions of someone besides you, Srul and Nieporent, the self-appointed all-wise and all-knowing arbitrators of baseball culture. I throw myself at the mercy of this august tribunal.)

It's not unreasonable to care about steroids and to think that they probably impact baseball performance (even though I don't sign on to that). But to be dishonest about it, or to come out swinging against steroid users but give amphetamine users a pass, simply doesn't wash.

Promise me that you'll never change, Ray. You owe me at least that much.
   291. CrosbyBird Posted: January 14, 2010 at 06:08 AM (#3437293)
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.

In other words, Position X is correct because the majority of people think Position X is correct. That's a logical fallacy; if Position X is correct, it is correct on its own merits, and if it is incorrect, it is incorrect no matter how many people believe it.

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

I think these are particularly lousy reasons: the spitball tilts the playing field; spitballs are doctored surreptitiously; performance-enhancing drugs are part of a longstanding baseball tradition (the amphetamines -> cocaine -> steroids -> HGH chain has a 50+ year legacy); how baseball chooses to punish an infraction is not evidence of its severity, but merely its prioritization of enforcement. (For example, baseball's substance abuse policy doesn't distinguish heroin and PCP from marijuana, but I don't know many folks who consider them equally problematic.)

You've got a perfectly legitimate reason that you're ignoring for some reason. Steroids, unlike the spitball or the corked bat, create an environment where competitive advantage is weighed against potential physical side effects in addition to risk of detection. People might disagree over whether that is compelling, but it is an undeniable difference that doesn't rely on an appeal to popularity.

My personal opinion is that baseball cracked down on steroids primarily because the government involved itself, and the powers that be didn't want to be investigated by Congress and/or risk the anti-trust exemption. In other words, a business decision, not a moral one. Historically, baseball has prioritized its financial well-being over morality, so I don't think its an outrageous theory.
   292. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 14, 2010 at 06:10 AM (#3437295)
That's why you can't hang an "unwritten" argument on illegality.

As I clarified earlier, I'm not hanging an "unwritten" argument on illegality. Although I'm not a lawyer, McGwire appears to have violated written laws, as do others who admitted to or were caught using steroids.

If a player announced that he did steroids in a jurisdiction where they were legal, pre-testing, and claimed he therefore had nothing to apologize for, then I wouldn't be morally offended (although some of his peers might be). From an intellectual standpoint, I'd like to understand how steroids impacted his performance, and to be able to put his performance in its proper context.

But that hasn't happened. I don't know of anyone who has defended their steroid use on the grounds that it was done legally outside the U.S., nor do I know of anyone who has tried to use the legality of steroids outside the U.S. as some kind of justification for their illegal steroid use within the U.S. (Rick Ankiel did claim that he used HGH legally, with a doctor's prescription--he was not punished by MLB and his reputation seems to have survived.)

I base my claim that there was an unwritten rule on the players' actions--the fact that players who used steroids tried to conceal that fact and actively lied about it, even when they weren't breaking any explicit rules and supposedly had no real fear of prosecution. If they did have a legitimate fear of prosection, that simply proves they were gaining an unfair advantage--as only players who were willing to risk prosecution (not to mention health risks) would gain the performance boost.

(And yes, I acknowledge that if steroids do not actually enhance performance, this is all moot. That's not a discussion I have time for now.)

......

Ray, it's nice to know what you think is reasonable and unreasonable, and what the people you consider "zealots" supposedly think, but I don't see how #289 is a reply to my question (which was not directed to you anyway).
   293. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 14, 2010 at 06:28 AM (#3437301)
(Rick Ankiel did claim that he used HGH legally, with a doctor's prescription--he was not punished by MLB and his reputation seems to have survived.)


Rick Ankiel goes in the same bin as Ryan Franklin and Matt Herges. They're not stars, so nobody cares about them.

Won't someone think of Ron Villone.

Incidentally -- not that this has anything to do with your comments -- when people use McGwire/Bonds/ARod to "show" the effects of steroid use on baseball performance, the Marvin Benards of the world get left out. This would be like concluding that drinking milk causes auto accidents by counting the people who crashed their cars after drinking milk, but not the people who didn't crash their cars after drinking milk.

I base my claim that there was an unwritten rule on the players' actions--the fact that players who used steroids tried to conceal that fact and actively lied about it, even when they weren't breaking any explicit rules and supposedly had no real fear of prosecution. If they did have a legitimate fear of prosection, that simply proves they were gaining an unfair advantage--as only players who were willing to risk prosecution (not to mention health risks) would gain the performance boost.


My impression is that they didn't have much of a fear of prosecution as long as they weren't dealing and as long as they basically kept it quiet. That calculus changes once you start loudly bragging that you're using steroids, and basically become an advocate or perhaps a pusher in the clubhouse. Why does Mark McGwire want teammates coming to him for information on where to get illegal drugs, or how to use them?
   294. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: January 14, 2010 at 06:30 AM (#3437304)
I don't know of anyone who has defended their steroid use on the grounds that it was done legally outside the U.S., nor do I know of anyone who has tried to use the legality of steroids outside the U.S. as some kind of justification for their illegal steroid use within the U.S. (Rick Ankiel did claim that he used HGH legally, with a doctor's prescription--he was not punished by MLB and his reputation seems to have survived.)



Sammy Sosa. His testimony before congress that he didn't violate the laws of this country have been inferred by many to mean that he took steroids outside of this country, and thus is just as guilty. And, assuming he was sincere in his testimony, that is what I infer as well.
   295. Chip Posted: January 14, 2010 at 06:36 AM (#3437306)
Andy keeps pretending that only people on BTF see things differently than him and the BBWAA, and yet he's doing it in a thread based on a Posnanski column.

Meanwhile just in the past 24 hours besides Posnanski we've had non-BTFers Charles Barkley and Charles Pierce joining the chorus dissenting from the Consensus of the Hacks.

But hey, at least the Hacks now have Lupica weighing in again on their side. Anything to distract us from the drooling he did all over McGwire and Sosa in The Summer of '98.
   296. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 14, 2010 at 06:36 AM (#3437307)
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.

In other words, Position X is correct because the majority of people think Position X is correct. That's a logical fallacy; if Position X is correct, it is correct on its own merits, and if it is incorrect, it is incorrect no matter how many people believe it.


The problem is that the collective judgment of baseball on the subject of steroids may be as wise or as "incorrect" as you think it is, but whatever you think it is, that collective opinion carries a hell of a lot more weight than the individual opinions of you, me, or anyone else. I know that this is a terrible sentiment to express in a forum where half the people who post here think that they could manage better than Joe Torre, 90% of them likely think that they could run the game better than Bud Selig (count me in that latter group), and about 3/4 of them see Mark McGwire's needle as no more morally objectionable than one of Mickey Mantle's greenies or Gaylord Perry's spitballs. This conceit that some of you have that you can determine the "correct" position on steroids by some sort of self-referential "logic," without any consideration of the sentiments of anyone other than yourselves, no matter how widely that sentiment is held, is simply that---a conceit.

Although since you all care about as much about what the outside world thinks as the outside world cares about what you think, I guess you can call it even. And so we continue to amuse each other with our respective bleatings in the night.
   297. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 14, 2010 at 06:41 AM (#3437310)
Andy keeps pretending that only people on BTF see things differently than him and the BBWAA, and yet he's doing it in a thread based on a Posnanski column.

Meanwhile just in the past 24 hours besides Posnanski we've had non-BTFers Charles Barkley and Charles Pierce joining the chorus dissenting from the Consensus of the Hacks.


Hmmmm, did Posnanski's views on McGwire carry the day within the recent HoF balloting? I've never once said that the views of the writers were unanimous; what I've said is that their collective judgment, such as it is, is worthy of respect due to the numbers it represents.

And of course AFAIC I'd probably take Posnanski in general over every other member of the BBWAA. I don't have any particular primal need to agree on every subject with the people I admire.
   298. CrosbyBird Posted: January 14, 2010 at 06:50 AM (#3437314)
The problem is that the collective judgment of baseball on the subject of steroids may be as wise or as "incorrect" as you think it is, but whatever you think it is, that collective opinion carries a hell of a lot more weight than the individual opinions of you, me, or anyone else.

More weight for what? In terms of who is in or out of the HOF? Sure, but that isn't what anyone talks about on BTF (EDIT: regarding PEDs and the HOF). It's hard to disagree over who has been voted in or out.

The question that I'm concerned with is not what the BBWAA does, but what is fair, reasonable, and appropriate. Those questions don't rely one whit on majority, and my opinion should matter a hell of lot more if it's supported with some semblance of a reasonable argument than one that isn't regardless of popularity.
   299. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 14, 2010 at 06:57 AM (#3437317)
I don't know of anyone who has defended their steroid use on the grounds that it was done legally outside the U.S., nor do I know of anyone who has tried to use the legality of steroids outside the U.S. as some kind of justification for their illegal steroid use within the U.S.

Sammy Sosa. His testimony before congress that he didn't violate the laws of this country have been inferred by many to mean that he took steroids outside of this country, and thus is just as guilty. And, assuming he was sincere in his testimony, that is what I infer as well.

But Sosa never admitted nor defended his use of steroids, and has denied it every time he was directly asked by reporters. Whatever Sosa personally thinks about steroid usage, he has clearly never wanted others to think he used--implying to me that either (a) he didn't or (b) he knew it would be viewed as cheating.
   300. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 14, 2010 at 07:05 AM (#3437321)
The problem is that the collective judgment of baseball on the subject of steroids may be as wise or as "incorrect" as you think it is,


The BBWAA is not a "collective judgment of baseball," but at most is the "collective judgment" of 500+ people. And so far, at most, the BBWAA has told McGwire three times that he's not close to being elected. (Yes, I agree with you that he'd be in now if it weren't for steroids.) They haven't rendered a collective judgment on anyone else. It's really early here.

Also, MLB and the MLBPA did not come to an agreement on this issue for years. They placed other things higher in priority at the bargaining table. And when they finally did come to an agreement, after being forced to do so, the penalties were so lenient that Congress forced them to make the penalties stiffer.

This conceit that some of you have that you can determine the "correct" position on steroids by some sort of self-referential "logic," without any consideration of the sentiments of anyone other than yourselves, no matter how widely that sentiment is held, is simply that---a conceit.


We were looking for distinctions. You tried to provide some, but couldn't, and were left with only a wisdom of crowds answer.
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