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Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Economist: If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’

An argument in favor of letting PED users into the Hall of Fame.

Only in 2005 did the sport formally and specifically prohibit the use of a long list of substances, begin to test for them, and suspend players with positive results. Before then, using steroids in baseball was roughly analogous to, say, using Adderall for high-stress office work: you had to break the law to get it without a prescription, and it might harm your health in the long run, but no one would test you for it, or punish you if you got caught.

Given that system, staying clean would seem to be a greater offence for baseball players, who are paid to do everything within the rules to help their teams win, than taking steroids is. Bobby Abreu got raked over the coals for being reluctant to chase after deep fly balls for fear of crashing into the outfield wall. So why does, say, Lance Berkman, whom the press has lionised for his criticisms of steroid users, get a free pass for putting his team at a competitive disadvantage (assuming he in fact did not use PEDs)? At least Mr Abreu can claim he was trying to avoid an injury that would have harmed his club even more than failing to catch the ball would. In contrast, the likes of Mr Berkman prioritised their own well-being long after retirement over their teams’ imperative to win now. Like all of us, professional athletes respond to incentives, and baseball players who doped did no more and no less than what they were paid to do.

The only way to prevent behaviour we disapprove of is to adjust the risk-return tradeoff so that it is no longer in people’s interest to try.

David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: January 12, 2013 at 10:45 AM | 7 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: steroids

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Big Train Rollin' Posted: January 12, 2013 at 11:50 PM (#4345987)
@tangotiger: Straight Arrow reader: "Football HOF finalists released today. No discussion whatsoever by the media about PEDs." #Hypocrisy

USA Today says [Ray] Lewis tallied a team-high 15 tackles in his second week back in action after tearing his triceps in October. His speedy recovery, a marvel in itself...

Yes, truly a marvel. How DID he do it?
   2. Bug Selig Posted: January 13, 2013 at 09:38 AM (#4346075)
He prayed - conspicuously. Then, he did a dance that included a throat-cutting gesture and everyone cheered.

Wait - what was the question?
   3. Bad Fish Posted: January 13, 2013 at 12:45 PM (#4346164)

The OJ, no doubt.
   4. salajander Posted: January 13, 2013 at 12:46 PM (#4346166)
I think the key quote is
But there are few worse crimes for a museum than whitewashing history, which is what leaving them out entirely would amount to.

   5. McCoy Posted: January 13, 2013 at 12:49 PM (#4346169)
Except being honored by the Hall of Fame is different than being in the museum. Barry Bonds is in the museum. Roger Clemens is in the museum. The museum isn't pretending that Clemens or Bonds don't exist by not choosing to honor them. The Hall of Fame is an award/prize/honor. If they don't wish to give Bonds a prize that is their prerogative.
   6. Srul Itza Posted: January 13, 2013 at 12:52 PM (#4346172)
They're in the museum. They are not in the Hall, which is a separate issue.

Can we not go through this every time that comes up, as we do with Pete Rose?

The museum records baseball history, including Pete Rose, the Black Sox, and Barry Bonds.

The Hall confers a self-declared "high honor" based on whatever standard the current BBWAA consensus and/or Veterans Committee(s) are currently applying.

EDIT -- OR WHAT McCoy said.

   7. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: January 13, 2013 at 02:33 PM (#4346234)
At least Mr Abreu can claim he was trying to avoid an injury that would have harmed his club even more than failing to catch the ball would. In contrast, the likes of Mr Berkman prioritised their own well-being long after retirement over their teams’ imperative to win now.

Now, that's funny.

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