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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Steroids era muddies Hall of Fame ballot, forces lines to be redrawn

Tim Brown talks Jack Morris:

I once had lunch with a retired Jack Morris in Santa Monica, the interview set up by a public relations firm. Morris was stumping, I think, for something All-Star game related, so we talked about that for a while over iced teas and tuna sandwiches. Morris had come up short in a handful of Hall votes. We talked about that, too. He asked if I’d voted for him. I said I hadn’t. He said he compared favorably with Bert Blyleven. I said I hadn’t voted for him, either.

Steroids:

What I know is this: I cannot vote for a player who used performance-enhancing drugs, or one who I strongly believe used them. I wish I didn’t care. But I do.

And adds another ballot to the total:

Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Edgar Martinez, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling and Larry Walker.

 

Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: December 20, 2012 at 02:08 PM | 23 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame

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   1. John Northey Posted: December 20, 2012 at 03:17 PM (#4329468)
I'd ask if Gaylord Perry was on the ballot would he vote for him? What about Whitey Ford? Both known to have used the spitball which is just as much cheating as PED's, if not more as it makes the ball move in weird ways thus increasing the risk of harm to the batter.
   2. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: December 20, 2012 at 03:31 PM (#4329486)
He said he compared favorably with Bert Blyleven.

Appears Jack Morris is just as deserving a member of a theoretical Analyst Hall of Fame as he will be of the baseball one.
   3. bachslunch Posted: December 20, 2012 at 03:42 PM (#4329496)
I'd ask if Gaylord Perry was on the ballot would he vote for him? What about Whitey Ford? Both known to have used the spitball which is just as much cheating as PED's, if not more as it makes the ball move in weird ways thus increasing the risk of harm to the batter.

Add Don Drysdale to the wet-ball list, as well as Don Sutton for scuffing.

And then there's John McGraw's tripping base runners and grabbing base runners' belts to keep them from advancing. Which is also "cheating," if in a different way.
   4. RJ in TO Posted: December 20, 2012 at 03:45 PM (#4329499)
For whatever reason, I thought Ford was a scuffer, rather than a spitballer. I remember reading the stories about Elston Howard cutting the balls for him, using his shin guards.
   5. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: December 20, 2012 at 03:49 PM (#4329504)
Aren't most "spitballers" really scuffers?

I'll say this for Brown's ballot, it's nice to see Bagwell and Piazza not painted with the PED brush. I'm somewhat sympathetic to those who are anti-PEDs, it's the making #### up aspect of it ("Bacne!") that I find frustrating.
   6. RJ in TO Posted: December 20, 2012 at 03:55 PM (#4329512)
Aren't most "spitballers" really scuffers?

It's probably a fine distinction, but I've always thought of them as separate categories, in terms of how they "modify" the ball. Either way, both are against the rules.
   7. bachslunch Posted: December 20, 2012 at 03:56 PM (#4329513)
Whitey Ford did have Elston Howard cut balls for him, but he also apparently did so himself, often using his wedding ring. He also sometimes loaded the ball up, either with mud or a concoction of baby oil, turpentine, and resin. See this story:

http://espn.go.com/page2/s/list/cheaters/ballplayers.html
   8. RJ in TO Posted: December 20, 2012 at 04:02 PM (#4329518)
Thanks. I was also aware of the wedding ring trick he used, but I hadn't heard about the method he used to load the ball up.
   9. Walt Davis Posted: December 20, 2012 at 04:26 PM (#4329531)
Don Sutton for scuffing.

And apparently add Sutton to the spitballers. His son Daron and Mark Grace were talking about this openly one night on a DBacks* broadcast. Daron even accused dad of pulling out the old "foreign substance? Everything I use is made right here in America?" line. They talked about it like it was open knowledge Sutton threw a spitter but it was the first I'd heard of it.

*Not a DBacks fan and very much not a Grace as broadcaster fan, they must have been the only TV feed for some game on mlb.tv. So no idea if they talked about this semi-regularly or not.
   10. Walt Davis Posted: December 20, 2012 at 04:33 PM (#4329539)
And ... don't jump to spitballers. Jumping to spitballers grants the point that PED use was "cheating".

1. Start with "PED use wasn't against the rules when Bonds, Clemens, etc. allegedly used, why is it cheating?"

2. After they answer that, point out that everything they said was true of greenies. Were greenies users cheaters?

3. Ask them whether the fact that a large number of players were using, were using fairly openly, were sharing information with one another, etc. shows that it was accepted practice among players and within baseball culture (part of #2 really).

4. Then you can get down to trivial stuff like spitballs and Babe Ruth drinking goat urine although if the have maintained their cognitive dissonance through #s 1 to 3 there's probably not much point in further conversation.
   11. Ron J2 Posted: December 20, 2012 at 04:39 PM (#4329543)
#9 Sutton and spitballs are an interesting and important part of on-field discipline. He was scheduled to be suspended for throwing a spitball and threatened to sue (for defamation -- I think most lawyers here would say he had no chance of prevailing, but evidently MLB got different legal advice). After which a directive went out saying in effect no suspensions without physical evidence to back up the accusation.
   12. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: December 20, 2012 at 04:40 PM (#4329544)
1. Start with "PED use wasn't against the rules when Bonds, Clemens, etc. allegedly used, why is it cheating?"

Because it provided them an unfair competitive advantage. See, e.g., The Mitchell Report.

2. After they answer that, point out that everything they said was true of greenies. Were greenies users cheaters?

Perhaps, but they didn't obtain an unfair competitive advantage. See, e.g., The Mitchell Report.

Since one substance provided an unfair competitive advantage and the other didn't, it makes perfect sense to distinguish them.
   13. Bob Tufts Posted: December 20, 2012 at 04:57 PM (#4329555)

There were more lines drawn during the "Cocaine Era".


As for amphetamines and ADHD drugs, I trust a medical professional and not a political hack like the Senator:

"It would absolutely give you a competitive advantage. Fatigue, focus, concentration, maybe aggression," said Dr. Michael Joyner, a sports physiologist and anesthesiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. "And if they were using it during training, (there is an) ability to train harder, longer, the ability to have fewer bad days."
   14. John Northey Posted: December 20, 2012 at 05:04 PM (#4329560)
What is funny is how much stuff can do that, such as caffeine, that is legal. The question is what determines a PED from a 'so what'. Much like what determines that cigarettes are legal (and deadly to those who use and those who are near those who use) but marijuana (which isn't as deadly) is not.
   15. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: December 20, 2012 at 05:10 PM (#4329569)
1. Start with "PED use wasn't against the rules when Bonds, Clemens, etc. allegedly used, why is it cheating?"
Because it provided them an unfair competitive advantage. See, e.g., The Mitchell Report.

2. After they answer that, point out that everything they said was true of greenies. Were greenies users cheaters?

Perhaps, but they didn't obtain an unfair competitive advantage. See, e.g., The Mitchell Report.
Since one substance provided an unfair competitive advantage and the other didn't, it makes perfect sense to distinguish them.


The Mitchell Report says no such thing. It only says that a decision was made not to expand the report's scope to include amphetamines. The text makes no distinction between the unfairness of various PEDs.

I left this on a different thread earlier today, but it also applies here:
MLB also ignored early in-house steroid warnings and expunged any acknowledgement of them from the Mitchell Report 12 years later, MLB also approved contracts that had had generic steroid clauses specifically deleted, MLB made personnel moves based on their knowledge of players being on or going off steroids, MLB held team seminars to teach players how to use steroids more safely, and MLB gave testimony before Congress that was more provably false than Rafael Palmeiro's was.

The Mitchell Report was a tactical effort to put space between MLB management and their history of actions and inactions, and it's pure suckerbait to accept it as a valid and sincere account. And I say this as someone who absolutely agrees that earlier steroid use was cheating. The difference between me and MLB is that it didn't take me more than a decade to figure that out.
   16. Walt Davis Posted: December 20, 2012 at 05:13 PM (#4329575)
Please, SBB, your bizarre misinterpretation of a footnote is beside the point. As Bob points out, even if Mitchell believes what you ascribe to him (without support), that's irrelevant as there is quite a bit of evidence of the performance-enhancing aspects of amphetamines and the fact that they were practically the first thing banned in the Olympics, etc. But you know that, you're just trying to be annoying.
   17. Poster Nutbag Posted: December 20, 2012 at 05:25 PM (#4329583)
MLB also ignored early in-house steroid warnings and expunged any acknowledgement of them from the Mitchell Report 12 years later, MLB also approved contracts that had had generic steroid clauses specifically deleted, MLB made personnel moves based on their knowledge of players being on or going off steroids, MLB held team seminars to teach players how to use steroids more safely, and MLB gave testimony before Congress that was more provably false than Rafael Palmeiro's was.

The Mitchell Report was a tactical effort to put space between MLB management and their history of actions and inactions, and it's pure suckerbait to accept it as a valid and sincere account. And I say this as someone who absolutely agrees that earlier steroid use was cheating. The difference between me and MLB is that it didn't take me more than a decade to figure that out.


Hard to add more substance when this and Tuft's #13 NAIL it.....very well put.
   18. Walt Davis Posted: December 21, 2012 at 05:13 AM (#4329899)
What is funny is how much stuff can do that, such as caffeine, that is legal. The question is what determines a PED from a 'so what'.

Saw a presentation about the stats of HGH testing (it didn't seem very effective) and he included a brief intro on WADA regulations. He said a substance had to meet two of three criteria:

1) It had to be proven to be performance-enhancing
2) It has to be proven to be harmful
3) It has to violate the spirit of competition (or something like that)

He also claimed (this was news to me) that caffeine was listed by WADA at some point. But it's been shown that even big doses of caffeine aren't really harmful (at least not to whatever extent #2 requires). It is considered performance-enhancing. We all noted that #3 is big enough to drive a truck through and it's not clear why this wasn't invoked for caffeine. Maybe the 39 empty coffee cups on the WADA conference table helped them decide caffeine is not cheating.

Regarding HGH, there's little/no evidence that it's performance-enhancing; it's health effects aren't particularly well-known either. His work had nothing to do with either (some of his colleagues did work one of the studies showing no impact of HGH) but was focused on determining whether a set of proposed HGH markers could reliably detect HGH usage. The main upshot is that the markers they looked at drop so fast after usage is stopped that you'd have to catch them within at most a week. (if I recall all the results correctly)
   19. dlf Posted: December 21, 2012 at 09:06 AM (#4329922)
Saw a presentation about the stats of HGH testing (it didn't seem very effective) and he included a brief intro on WADA regulations. He said a substance had to meet two of three criteria:

1) It had to be proven to be performance-enhancing
2) It has to be proven to be harmful
3) It has to violate the spirit of competition (or something like that)


All that collapses into the third category and only the third category. Water is clearly performance enhancing and, drank to excess, can be fatal. WADA bases its decisions, as do all posters here, on what they individually and uniquely believe to be the spirit of competition, a vague, nebulous, and impossible to define standard.
   20. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 21, 2012 at 09:26 AM (#4329932)
Caffeine was dropped from the WADA list in 2004. It was not an outright ban; doin' a dew was not considered to violate the spirit of competition, I guess. The limit was 12 micrograms per mL in urine, which supposedly requires one to drink eight cups of espresso. As we all know, doses that high are actually performance degrading. WADA eventually figured that out, but they continue to test for caffeine and theoretically could re-list it again at any time. There have been occasional calls to do so.
   21. bachslunch Posted: December 21, 2012 at 10:48 AM (#4329993)
MLB also ignored early in-house steroid warnings and expunged any acknowledgement of them from the Mitchell Report 12 years later, MLB also approved contracts that had had generic steroid clauses specifically deleted, MLB made personnel moves based on their knowledge of players being on or going off steroids, MLB held team seminars to teach players how to use steroids more safely, and MLB gave testimony before Congress that was more provably false than Rafael Palmeiro's was.

Gonfalon, this is terrific stuff and I'd be happy to echo it in other venues. If you've got a couple citations I can include with all or some of it should I get a chance to repost, that would be ideal.
   22. Ron J2 Posted: December 21, 2012 at 11:20 AM (#4330045)
He also claimed (this was news to me) that caffeine was listed by WADA at some point


It was. A modern pentathlete (Alex Watson) got a two year suspension in 1988 (just before the Seoul games) for excessive caffeine levels.

The interesting thing about caffeine as a PED is that it is very much a case of more is not better. Indeed massive amounts of caffeine have been shown to be a performance reducer.
   23. Ron J2 Posted: December 21, 2012 at 11:30 AM (#4330063)
MLB also approved contracts that had had generic steroid clauses specifically deleted


That's a result of an earlier arbitration ruling (from back in the Uberroth era). Private deals that touched on discipline (in the Uberroth era cases they were individually negotiated tests for recreational drugs, but the ruling would have carried forward to PEDs. The ruling was pretty clear)

Also, I'm pretty clear that one reason that MLB as an organization didn't react earlier to steroids is a widespread belief that:

a) steroids only make you stronger
b) strength doesn't help you as a player

As examples (on the strength side -- there's no evidence that any player I mention was using PEDs) consider Sparky Anderson's constant sniping at Lance Parrish and the fact that Anderson destroyed Nelson Simmons' career over the subject of off-season workouts. Or the quote (from 1991) from Russ Nixon about Ron Gant's off-season workout program.

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