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Monday, September 24, 2012

The Baldest Truth: Nadel: Baseball’s enduring steroid stain

And here I thought the R Radical Record years were the enduring Stains.

Lots of people claim to be “old school,” but they’re not. I am.

Need proof? I get the newspaper every day. Need more proof? I read it, front to back. Need still more proof? I even read the agate pages in Sports!

...Anyway, something in the bottom right corner of the baseball agate page in today’s Charlotte Observer caught my eye. It was a string of items in the This Date In Baseball feature that AP makes available daily. Here is the string:

1988 - Jose Canseco became the first major leaguer to hit 40 homers and steal 40 bases in one season.

2000 - Rafael Palmeiro became the 32nd player to hit 400 home runs.

2001 - Alex Rodriguez hit his 48th home run, breaking the major league record for shortstops.

2001 - Sammy Sosa became the first player to hit three home runs in a game three times in a season.

2006 - Barry Bonds hit his 734th career home run, an NL record.

Yep, in baseball’s last quarter century, Sept. 23 was a big day for juicers.

Going forward, it’s going to be interesting how the game deals with its history concerning this period.

It’s difficult for the game to be proud of its heritage when so many of its major milestones were established by guys who got where they were by jabbing themselves in their keisters with syringes.

I mean, how many records and notable achievements involving home runs from 1985-2005 weren’t influenced by steroids?

Repoz Posted: September 24, 2012 at 11:40 PM | 319 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, steroids

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   301. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 27, 2012 at 05:25 PM (#4247538)
I can't speak for Andy, but those numbers are entirely speculative. The number of times Aaron used amps is entirely speculative. There isn't a stitch of evidence that he took the field a single additional time because of amps.


But that doesn't matter. Andy has excused all amps players on the notion that what they were doing was only "restorative" or "allowed them to take the field." And so it's clear even under Andy's view of this that he doesn't care about add-ons to raw numbers from amps. And it _has_ to be that amps at a minimum added on raw numbers, because Andy agrees that players who were not "well-rested" saw a benefit to becoming "well-rested." So clearly amps players were adding on. They had to be.
   302. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 27, 2012 at 05:29 PM (#4247546)
I absolutely love this. Since when does it matter for steroids players that the player has only been shown to have used steroids once in his career? Do you see how you're using a double standard, Andy? Do you see why I have charged you with arguing in bad faith? You have said that with good evidence that a player ever used steroids you would ban him from the Hall. Are you now saying that "just once" is ok for steroids players? Otherwise, why even mention that Aaron may only have used once?

Again not Andy, but the difference is in leverage per use. A dose of amps lasts a few hours and each "impacted" game requires a new dose. Not so with steroids.

I'm not sure your hypothetical "just once" 'roider exists, but if he does, I'd almost certainly say no harm, no foul.


You're well into cartoon land here.
   303. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: September 27, 2012 at 05:32 PM (#4247552)
You're well into cartoon land here.

Steroids don't leverage into more games than amps? Really? Roiders have to dose up before every single game they want to impact?
   304. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 27, 2012 at 05:38 PM (#4247556)
Using steroids once does virtually nothing, particularly if the player doesn't supplement the use with working out. Has any anti-steroids crusader ever excused a steroids player on the basis that he may only have used once?
   305. cardsfanboy Posted: September 27, 2012 at 05:40 PM (#4247559)
What you got?


I don't know.

I'm arguing that
1. roid users prior to testing should be evaluated strictly upon their numbers. That their hof eligibility has no bearing on whether they used or not.
2. that testing exists and that the punishment spelled out in testing is the extent of the punishment to the players, the numbers are still valid, and their hof case is still based upon their actual numbers.
3. That roid cheating prior to testing is not any fundamentally different type of cheating than amp usage, and that people who want to argue for the sanctity of a record are lying to themselves about the history of the game for whatever reason.
(Note I'm not one of those who argue that lasik is the same as roid or amp usage....just like I don't argue that doctoring the ball is the same as amp or roid usage etc.)


I don't bring this argument up too much, because it's my personal opinion, but I find that roid usage is the least reprehensible of the styles of cheating, because it requires that the person doing the cheating to actually do a significant amount of work/effort to get the advantages. Vs amps is just a magic pill that basically allows a person who doesn't take the game seriously to perform at peak levels with no effort...etc. (I accept that that is a minority opinion, but it is my fundamental belief on the issue) If I ranked the "evilness" of styles of cheating it would go
1. Tanking the game (whether it's bribing an ump etc)
2. interferring with other players(grabbing belt buckles, tripping them etc)
3. Altering the field outside of the rules(like the Braves did with their batter box, watering the basepaths down heavily when facing a faster team, or raising the mound etc)
4. Altering the playing material (corked bat, spit balls) etc.
5. Sign stealing (beyond the acceptable, such as relaying signs from the stands)
6. Performance enhancers that require no effort to take advantage of(such as greenies), beyond performance enhancers that are commonly used by everyday people(such as coffee, mountain dew, but not to include gnc supplements, etc)
7. Performance enhancers that require effort.



   306. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: September 27, 2012 at 05:42 PM (#4247561)
Using steroids once does virtually nothing, particularly if the player doesn't supplement the use with working out. Has any anti-steroids crusader ever excused a steroids player on the basis that he may only have used once?


I know ... that's what I said. I would "excuse" the player.
   307. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: September 27, 2012 at 06:01 PM (#4247576)
But the real issue is more about the unfairness of retroactively purging them from baseball.

That's only half of it. The other half is the mountain of examples showing that before they found that old time religion and were cleansed, MLB executives, club personnel and the BBWAA writers both abetted steroid use, and denied or excused steroid use.

Willie Sutton's getaway driver doesn't get to be on Willie Sutton's jury.
   308. Fresh Prince of Belisle Posted: September 27, 2012 at 06:09 PM (#4247586)
You gotta give SBB credit for actually thinking of a new crazy argument this late in the game. Cheating per dose! It could revolutionize America. Overweight? Just break up your double cheeseburger for dinner into 13 consecutive meals, each one consisting of a single bite! Watch the pounds roll off! Want to murder someone? Beat them to death, as each punch is less murder per action than a bullet, and reduce that sentence considerably!

"No officer, I wasn't driving drunk. I had 64 shots of beer, so each one had very little alcohol compared to a full glass of beer!"
   309. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: September 27, 2012 at 06:14 PM (#4247593)
You gotta give SBB credit for actually thinking of a new crazy argument this late in the game.

I thought I thought of this crazy argument a long time ago.

Overweight? Just break up your double cheeseburger for dinner into 13 consecutive meals, each one consisting of a single bite!

Wouldn't that actullly help you lose weight?
   310. cardsfanboy Posted: September 27, 2012 at 06:20 PM (#4247596)
Wouldn't that actullly help you lose weight?


That is what I was thinking. Everything I've ever read says that small portion large numbers is better than large portions small number.
   311. zenbitz Posted: September 27, 2012 at 06:35 PM (#4247605)
OPS+ is a horrible way to measure any presumptive effect of steroids. The guy had 100+ INTENTIONAL walks/year.

Do steroids cause fear pheromones?

Bonds has one extremely flukey HR/FB year - 2001. A spike no more obscene than, oh, say, Roger Maris or Brady Anderson.

His HR/FB later years (~22%) were > than his career average (18%) (both inflated by the 40% in 2001). I am not going to analyze it, but lots of players INCLUDING HANK FREAKING AARON increase their power into their late 30s... it's the rest of their game that suffers.

BBREF doesn't have Aarons HR/FB... dumb, should have checked that first. His career highs in HR/PA? Age 37 and 39. Lead the league in AB/HR from ages 37-39. Bonds' best HR/PA years were age 36 and 38 (40 actually second but only 52 PAs). Lead the league in AB/HR age 35 to 39 AND age 27, 28 and 31.

If Bonds unluckily hit 50 HRs in 2001 instead of 70, he'd probably still be playing.

Just to nail this home: Bonds in 2001 hit 72 HR on 170 FBs (42.2%). If you regress 42% to HIS NEXT BEST YEAR (2002, 26.3%) he hits 45.


   312. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: September 27, 2012 at 08:45 PM (#4247673)
That isn't really the distinction that matters. It needs to go a little further. t doesn't matter how much you want to cheat if what you are doing does not in fact have the effect of giving you a leg up. Thus, the distinctions I have set out.
"Doesn't matter" for what?

If a student cranes his neck and peers over at his classmate's test paper and copies down all the answers onto his own answer sheet, that's "cheating" even if it turns out that the teacher gave out different versions of the test to adjacent students so that copying would be ineffective. What the student did "does not in fact have the effect of giving him a leg up," but it's still cheating, and he'd be laughed out of the principal's office and straight to detention if he argued that it "didn't matter" because it was unsuccessful. Morally, it certainly does matter. (On the other hand, if we're trying to find out how well he knows the subject matter by looking at his grades, we can ignore the fact that he cheated, since it was unsuccessful.)
   313. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: September 27, 2012 at 08:52 PM (#4247677)
I thought I thought of this crazy argument a long time ago.
Before or after you thought that a mosque would only be okay if it was a museum instead but a museum would only be okay if it was a mosque instead?
   314. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 27, 2012 at 09:58 PM (#4247713)
OPS+ is a horrible way to measure any presumptive effect of steroids. The guy had 100+ INTENTIONAL walks/year.

OK. How about SLG? No walks there.

Aaron: through age-34 560 SLG, age-35+ 539 SLG
Bonds: through age-34 559 SLG, age-35+ 724 SLG

Edit: to add some more:

Ted Williams: 638/624, Frank Robinson 553/474, Ruth 708/644, Mays 593/474, Griffey 560/471

ALL the other top HR hitter had SLG declines as they aged, but Bonds spiked enormously. You want me to believe that that was natural?
   315. zenbitz Posted: September 28, 2012 at 03:54 PM (#4248285)
Aaron ISO through age 34: .245, 35-39, .303
Bonds ISO though age 34: .274, 35-39, .441

They both drop off age 40+. I'm to lazy to look up other people. Realistically you would have to aggregate over all MLB.

Bonds' power increased more than Aarons. Numbers not park/league corrected.

Known roiding sluggers McGwire and Canseco did not increase their ISO after age 34.
   316. Ron J2 Posted: September 28, 2012 at 05:18 PM (#4248352)
I thought there was some evidence that Barry also* changed his approach at the plate during his run.


He made lots of changes, all of them documentable at the same time.

1. He changed the rate he hit flyballs. Generally speaking if you can change groundballs into flyballs and keep contact rate, line drive rate and walk rate the same you'll be ahead of the game. Mostly because a certain percentage of flyballs rate to become home runs. No reason to attribute this to steroids.

2. He upped the rate that flyballs turned into home runs. This can plausibly be attributed to steroids. Still, he was swinging harder than he had before and making contact at the same rate (unusually high for a power hitter. Only Pujols among pure power hitters active today had a similar contact rate). That's an awesome adjustment and I can't think of anybody

3. Somewhat related to #1 and 2. A strike zone change forced Bonds to swing at pitches he'd have taken in the past. Brock Hanke looked at the footage then available at MLB.com and found that a huge number of his HR in the 73 season came on pitches he'd simply have taken before (from the time he came into the league Bonds did not swing at pitches that he thought would be called balls). What seems to have been going on is that a pretty fair number of pitchers used the logic that -- he's the best lowball hitter in the game, let's try pitching him upstairs. Turns out he was an even better high ball hitter. He had no reason to know this. Again, no reason to attribute this to steroids and probably goes a long way to explaining #1.

4. He changed to a maple bat. And used one with an unusually thick handle. Unlike most players who switched to maple he didn't have problems with shattered bats. The guy who made his bats thinks the handle thickness was important (though in spite of Bonds' success none of his other clients were interested)
   317. Downtown Bookie Posted: September 28, 2012 at 06:58 PM (#4248445)
#316 - For whatever it's worth, you may be able to add a number five to your list.

From this site:

Beyond his alleged steroid use, Barry Bonds is guilty of the use of something that confers extraordinarily unfair mechanical advantage: the “armor” that he wears on his right elbow. Amid the press frenzy over Bonds’ unnatural bulk, the true role of the object on his right arm has simply gone unnoticed.

This is unfortunate, because by my estimate, Bonds’ front arm “armor” may have contributed no fewer than 75 to 100 home runs to his already steroid-questionable total.

Bonds has worn some sort of front arm protection since 1992. In ’94, a one-piece forearm guard was replaced by a jointed, two piece elbow model. In ‘95 it got bigger and a small “cap” on the elbow was replaced by a “flap” that overlapped the upper piece and locked the two pieces together when the arm was elongated. In ’96, the “apparatus” grew even larger and so did the “flap.”

It seems to have remained relatively the same until — interestingly— 2001, the year of his record 73 home runs, when an advanced model appeared made (apparently) of a new material. It had softer edges and a groove for the flap to slip into automatically at full arm elongation. More important, the upper half of the machine was sculpted to conform more comfortably to the contours of Bonds’ upper arm. Since 2001, the apparatus seems to have remained relatively unchanged.


Again, for whatever it's worth. And my apologies if this has already been covered in this thread.

DB
   318. Downtown Bookie Posted: September 28, 2012 at 07:04 PM (#4248448)
Using steroids once does virtually nothing, particularly if the player doesn't supplement the use with working out. Has any anti-steroids crusader ever excused a steroids player on the basis that he may only have used once?


Andy Pettitte seems to get a pass from many anti-steroid crusaders since he only used........well, you know.

DB
   319. cardsfanboy Posted: September 28, 2012 at 07:22 PM (#4248469)
Andy Pettitte seems to get a pass from many anti-steroid crusaders since he only used........well, you know.


Other players who have legitimately used have gotten a pass also, but they aren't as good so it's more or less ignored (Rick Ankiel being the one who I immediately think of)
   320. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: September 28, 2012 at 08:04 PM (#4248505)
Andy Pettitte seems to get a pass from many anti-steroid crusaders since he only used........well, you know.
For the record, Andy Pettitte used a placebo (i.e., hGH), not steroids. Strangely, though, not only does he get a pass for only using once (er, well, twice), but he gets a pass for lying about it on the grounds that he never lied about it, even though he lied about it.
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