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Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Verducci: Why I’ll never vote for a known steroids user for the Hall of Fame

Here are the most popular rationalizations:

1. “It wasn’t against the rules.”

The conspiracy of silence to this day tells you all you need to know about the hollowness of such a claim. Again, we were a decade outside of the steroid bust of Ben Johnson. Steroids were a well-known taboo. Everyone knew, including those who took them, steroids were a conscious, elaborate, covert decision to go outside the boundaries of fair competition, not to enable performance but to enhance it beyond what was naturally possible.

Pitcher Matt Herges, who said steroids made him “superhuman . . . an android, basically,” once said, “We didn’t have drug testing anyways. But it was still wrong.”
When George Mitchell conducted his white paper investigation into steroids in baseball, his investigators contacted 68 players. Only one of them was willing to talk about steroids: Dan Naulty, the former Twins and Yankees pitcher whose chilling story I profiled last year. Naulty lived the lie. His debunking of the “it wasn’t against the rules” nonsense is as thorough as anything I’ve ever heard:

“I was a full blown cheater and I knew it,” Naulty said. “You didn’t need a written rule. I was violating clear principals that were laid down within the rules. Whether they were explicitly stated that I shouldn’t use speed or testosterone didn’t need to be stated. I understood I was violating mainly implicit principals.

“I have no idea how many guys were using testosterone. But I would assume anybody that was had some sort of conviction that this was against the rules. Look, my fastball went from 87 to 96! There’s got to be some sort of violation in that. It was not by natural cause. To say it wasn’t cheating to me was . . . it’s just a fallacy. There’s just no way you could say that’s not cheating. It was a total disadvantage to play clean.”

(emphasis added)

Danny Posted: January 09, 2013 at 10:33 AM | 130 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, steroids

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   1. Esoteric Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:00 PM (#4342804)
Cue pile-on.

But of course Verducci is correct.
   2. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:04 PM (#4342808)
TL;DR

Did he actually give a succinct reason?
   3. Howie Menckel Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:05 PM (#4342812)

it's principles.

   4. Tom Nawrocki Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:06 PM (#4342816)
This issue is going to kill the Hall of Fame as an institution.
   5. Chip Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:06 PM (#4342819)
The word "amphetamines" never once appears in this multi-paragraph rationalization. Only in the comments.
   6. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:07 PM (#4342822)
Here's an example of why "character" has mattered from the very beginning of Hall elections. In that inaugural 1936 election, 226 baseball writers cast ballots. They could vote for up to 10 candidates, and mostly all did. A total of 2,231 votes were cast, or an average of 9.87 names per ballot. Joe Jackson, a career .356 hitter, received only two of the 2,231 votes. Jackson was fully eligible for Hall of Fame election, though commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis had banned him from baseball because of his involvement in the 1919 Black Sox scandal. The writers overwhelming decided he was not a Hall of Famer.


Isn't this disingenuous on the part of Verducci? Jackson threw games, which has nothing to do with the broad issues of PEDs. (In fact, it's the opposite, as, say what you will about steroids players, nobody disagrees that steroids players were doing their level best to win.)

If Verducci wanted to be intellectually honest, he would tell us all the times the character clause was applied to keep amps players out of the Hall. Which of course he can't do, because it never happened. But the issues surrounding amps usage are much closer to the steroids issues than freaking game-throwing.
   7. AROM Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:07 PM (#4342823)
The superhuman Matt Herges...

111 ERA+, 691 innings, almost all in relief. Best season probably 2003 - 79 IP, 2.62 ERA, 7.7 K/9.
   8. Rough Carrigan Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:07 PM (#4342824)
Is his idea that known users should suffer a stupid tax for not even being able to evade the scrutiny of those furiously averting their eyes like . . Tom Verducci?

If nobodies like Dan Naulty were going to suddenly hump up and throw 96 mph, isn't there an argument that Bonds doing something similar is more a level playing field than if he does nothing? And if Bonds is still the best player in the game on this new elevated plateau, this new level playing field, then that just confirms (along with his play through 1998) that he deserves to be in the Hall of fame.
   9. Guapo Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:08 PM (#4342825)
Looking forward to his vote for Clemens, then.

Oh wait...
   10. JJ1986 Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:09 PM (#4342829)
The conspiracy of silence to this day tells you all you need to know about the hollowness of such a claim.


Maybe people don't talk about it because of the insane overreactions from the press.
   11. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:10 PM (#4342833)
The word "amphetamines" never once appears in this multi-paragraph rationalization. Only in the comments.


On the MLB Network show last night with Costas and Verducci and a few others, the general consensus of the anti-steroids crusaders was that amps weren't really relevant because steroids were much more effective.

Even if that's true - it's quite debatable - the position is retarded, because it basically boils down to excusing one set of players and penalizing another simply because the latter set had better drugs.
   12. Shredder Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:12 PM (#4342839)
The superhuman Matt Herges...
Maybe he was like that Android in the Twilight Zone episode who is so happy to finally get a heart that he just keeps lobbing up gopher balls.

Also, there is (or at least was as of 2001) a framed Matt Herges jersey at the Tumble Inn, a townie bar in Champaign, IL.
   13. Tom Nawrocki Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:14 PM (#4342843)
Even if that's true - it's quite debatable - the position is retarded, because it basically boils down to excusing one set of players and penalizing another simply because the latter set had better drugs.


It also, as I have pointed out before, punishes players for not knowing that at some point in the future, steroids were going to work better than amphetamines did.
   14. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:15 PM (#4342844)
If nobodies like Dan Naulty were going to suddenly hump up and throw 96 mph


The Dan Naulty stories are swallowed whole, while if McGwire says that steroids didn't help him hit better - they only helped him stay on the field - he is laughed at.

Either player testimony is relevant or it isn't, to any fair minded and intellectually honest person.

And it's not like there aren't plenty of Alex Sanchez's out there.
   15. Rough Carrigan Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:15 PM (#4342845)
#11. Ray, and because when this set of media stiffs were kids and naively hero worshipping, these were the guys they were idolizing. They're too lazy/cowardly to arrive at the self-damning realization that they were chumps.
   16. AROM Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:16 PM (#4342847)
But the issues surrounding amps usage are much closer to the steroids issues than freaking game-throwing.


As are bat corking and scuff balling. I don't argue that any such stuff is not cheating. Just have an issue with the degree of punishment handed out.
   17. Danny Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:21 PM (#4342853)
The word "amphetamines" never once appears in this multi-paragraph rationalization. Only in the comments.

He quotes Naulty saying that speed was just as against the rules as steroids, which he then ignores.
   18. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:21 PM (#4342854)
On the MLB Network show last night with Costas and Verducci and a few others, the general consensus of the anti-steroids crusaders was that amps weren't really relevant because steroids were much more effective.


I got through about 45 seconds of it. Long enough to hear Verducci pat himself on the back for his 2002 article. As someone who was in the stands during the 1988 ALCS while 35,000 people were chanting "steroids...steroids" at the top of our lungs at Jose Canseco the number of media types asking why nothing was done when the problem became notable in the late 90s is laughable.

Verducci and the rest completely failed at their jobs in such spectacular fashion that it says an awful lot about the business of media that any of these people have jobs today.

I don't care who gets in today and in the future. I don't think the Hall of Fame is going to collapse as an institution or anything like that but for me personally, I'm done arguing about this stuff. I'm sure I'll visit because I love the history of the game but if Jack Morris gets in today (which I expect) good for him. If Craig Biggio gets in, good for him. The Hall is no longer about the best of the best, it's about playing "gotcha!" and that's sad to me.
   19. Rickey!'s people were colonized by wankers Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:22 PM (#4342856)
On the MLB Network show last night with Costas and Verducci and a few others, the general consensus of the anti-steroids crusaders was that amps weren't really relevant because steroids were much more effective


Chemical additives that change your brain chemistry, give you energy to play the game, and theoretically help you concentrate during at bats - perfectly okay.

Chemical additive that change your musculature, allow you to heal quickly after weight room training, and theoretically help you drive pitches further - of the devil.

The primary difference, and the reason amps are ignored (aside from the point Carrigan makes @15) is that the sportswriters really, really like an "eyeball test" and you can't eyeball brain chemistry.
   20. JC Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:31 PM (#4342865)
So why didn't he vote for Sosa?
   21. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:32 PM (#4342867)
Cue pile-on.

But of course Verducci is correct.


I'm not sure what your opinion is worth, Esoteric, if you won't stick around to support it.

It's just an empty conclusion.
   22. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:35 PM (#4342870)
No Sosa:

I tend to be slightly tougher than average on the Hall of Fame voting scale, but this year voted for six (right around the recent average of the electorate) of the 36 names on the ballot: Bagwell, Craig Biggio, McGriff, Jack Morris, Tim Raines and Curt Schilling.


And no Piazza either. This despite him going on at length during MLB Network's roundtable as to how he couldn't withhold a vote for a player on suspicion alone.
   23. Guapo Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:37 PM (#4342875)

Forget the racists and scoundrels comparison. Here's my issue with steroid users as it relates to the "character clause:" it's about how they played the game between the lines, not how they conducted themselves outside of it. It's an issue of competitive integrity, not personal integrity. They bastardized baseball, eroded the implicit fairness of it and disadvantaged those who chose to play fairly to extents never seen before.


And those who refused to play with black people weren't eroding the fairness of competition?
   24. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:44 PM (#4342885)
Tweet from Neil Best;

"Maybe we sportswriters should have recused ourselves from '13 Hall of Fame voting in penance for blowing coverage of Steroids Era for years."
   25. Esoteric Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:44 PM (#4342886)
I'm not sure what your opinion is worth, Esoteric, if you won't stick around to support it.
This is utterly hollow coming from you of all people. In an earlier thread I did just that -- stuck around to support my argument -- and for my troubles you called me dishonest, a liar, a fool, and told me that I shouldn't even bother to make my argument because it was (to your point of view) manifestly unsupportable. You, specifically, are one of the main reasons it's not worth it to me to engage in these conversations. The enjoyment I derive from Primer, curiously enough, is just about inversely related to the number of posts from other members directly impugning my integrity (not just my intelligence, but my ethics and honesty -- do you have any idea how incredibly insulting this is?) for disagreeing with the majority view around here on steroids.

I have a lot of respect for you, Ray, but you've behaved like a boor towards me on this issue -- which is particularly appalling because I've made a conscientious effort to avoid character and ad hominem attacks on my end when talking about this subject -- and you aren't really owed the benefit of the doubt at this point. Furthermore, what's the point of me "sticking around?" It seems disingenuous for you to demand it, given that you know full well that A.) you are NEVER going to change your opinion on this issue; B.) you have already (in your opinion) reviewed, assessed and dismissed anti-steroid arguments like Verducci's (or mine). What is it your looking for? A continued scrum? A nonstop catfight? Somebody to rhetorically beat up on? I don't get it.
   26. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:45 PM (#4342889)
And no Piazza either. This despite him going on at length during MLB Network's roundtable as to how he couldn't withhold a vote for a player on suspicion alone.


In fairness that may not be the issue, Verducci could simply be incompetent.
   27. rudygamble Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:45 PM (#4342890)
I watched the MLB Network show and I thought Costas/Verducci made a compelling argument regarding steroids, separating the 'morality' of it with its impact on the 'integrity' of the game.

Morality is subjective and a slippery slope given the competitive nature of baseball. Who knows how many HOFers would've taken steroids if they played in the steroid era (some like Schmidt have admitted they would've succumbed)? Amps, scuffing baseballs, stealing signs, corked bats, etc. are all questionable from a morality perspective. And that's before you get into immoralities like racism that can be tied to several HOFers.

The argument regarding 'integrity of the game' is that steroids distorted statistics to an unprecedented degree. Mainly, HR totals went through the roof and that impacted pitching approaches which led to a ridiculous level of walks for a guy like Bonds. Since steroid testing, there has been a significant regression in HR rates amongst league leaders (no one coming close to 60). I think there's a valid, quantitative argument that steroids impacted the integrity of the game in a way that amphetamines did not.

While I disagree with Verducci's stance on never voting for a known steroid user (and favor Posnanski's and Costas's more relativistic stance that would vote in any known steroid user who is non-borderline - e.g., Yes to Bonds & Clemens while No - for now - to McGwire, Palmeiro, Sosa), I think Verducci's stance has merit.
   28. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:45 PM (#4342892)
Here's my issue with steroid users as it relates to the "character clause:" it's about how they played the game between the lines, not how they conducted themselves outside of it. It's an issue of competitive integrity, not personal integrity


Isn't Gaylord Perry in the Hall?

I will give Verducci credit at least for (a) not tarnishing players who have pretty much no PED evidence against them, like Bagwell; and (b) elevating pretty good "clean" players like Fred McGriff.
   29. JJ1986 Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:50 PM (#4342900)
The argument regarding 'integrity of the game' is that steroids distorted statistics to an unprecedented degree.


Baseball stats have always been distorted by era and playing conditions. You can't compare deadball stats to Babe Ruth-era stats, to 1968-stats anymore than you can compare any of them to sillyball-era stats.
   30. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:50 PM (#4342901)
Esoteric, I'm not going to respond to that.
   31. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:53 PM (#4342904)
But of course Verducci is correct.


Did not RTFA, but doesn't this depend on how he defines "known" and whether he is absolutely consistent in applying that definition?
   32. Danny Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:58 PM (#4342913)
The argument regarding 'integrity of the game' is that steroids distorted statistics to an unprecedented degree. Mainly, HR totals went through the roof and that impacted pitching approaches which led to a ridiculous level of walks for a guy like Bonds. Since steroid testing, there has been a significant regression in HR rates amongst league leaders (no one coming close to 60). I think there's a valid, quantitative argument that steroids impacted the integrity of the game in a way that amphetamines did not.


HR per Game:
Year     HR
2009   1.04
2008   1.00
2007   1.02
2006   1.11
2005   1.03
2004   1.12 
(testing with punishments)
2003   1.07 ("anonymous" testing)
2002   1.04
2001   1.12
2000   1.17 


Is it clear when testing started just by looking at the (unmarked) chart? I wouldn't think so. How about for individual leaders?

2009: 47
2008: 48
2007: 54
2006: 54
2005: 51
2004: 48
2003: 47
2002: 57
2001: 73
2000: 50
   33. rudygamble Posted: January 09, 2013 at 01:07 PM (#4342925)
Baseball stats have always been distorted by era and playing conditions. You can't compare deadball stats to Babe Ruth-era stats, to 1968-stats anymore than you can compare any of them to sillyball-era stats.


Agreed that every era has distortions. You can't compare counting stats across eras but you can certainly compare players based on stats like WAR, OPS+, ERA+, etc (with a massive asterisk for pre-integration years).

But how many of those distortions would you attribute to questionable player behavior? Distortions caused by mound height, liveliness of ball, stadiums, etc. are environmental. We'll never know if the baseballs were livelier during the sillyball era (wouldn't be surprised) but, assuming that's not the case, the distortions in HR totals + the aging curve (e.g., Clemens, Bonds, Sheffield) are fundamentally different in that they were driven by questionable player actions.
   34. Moloka'i Three-Finger Brown (Declino DeShields) Posted: January 09, 2013 at 01:09 PM (#4342928)
Jackson threw games, which has nothing to do with the broad issues of PEDs.


6: Ray, if you want an even easier way to distinguish Shoeless Joe, isn't the obvious point that the writers voting on the 1936 ballot rejected a guy who had been banned from baseball? That fact, it seems, would go beyond mere "character" concerns (although conspiring to throw a WS could certainly implicate one's character too). I mean, now there's the Pete Rose Rule, but even without it, isn't it reasonable to say that it's putting the cart before the horse to give the "highest honor" the game has to a guy who's not even eligible to participate in it? (I suppose this is a Bill James argument from the NHBA.)
   35. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 09, 2013 at 01:10 PM (#4342931)
This is utterly hollow coming from you of all people. In an earlier thread I did just that -- stuck around to support my argument -- and for my troubles you called me dishonest, a liar, a fool, and told me that I shouldn't even bother to make my argument because it was (to your point of view) manifestly unsupportable.

Don't take it personally, Esoteric. Ray throws around "dishonest" like a spastic sprays piss all over a bathroom floor. He's utterly incapable of not conflating his subjective premises and preferences with some sort of "objective" POV, and the fact that he won't even respond to your spot-on comment means that he knows that he hasn't got a leg to stand on.
   36. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 09, 2013 at 01:15 PM (#4342939)
the fact that he won't even respond to your spot-on comment means that he knows that he hasn't got a leg to stand on.


Or it just means that I don't want the thread to devolve into namecalling and mudslinging, try as you might to take us there.

I generally enjoy Esoteric's posts and think he's an intelligent poster. I'll leave it at that.
   37. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 09, 2013 at 01:15 PM (#4342940)
Esoteric, I'm not going to respond to that.


Didn't you just respond to it by saying that you weren't going to respond to it?

If you didn't want to respond, you shouldn't have posted anything at all.
   38. Esoteric Posted: January 09, 2013 at 01:18 PM (#4342944)
Let's just move on.
   39. rudygamble Posted: January 09, 2013 at 01:27 PM (#4342962)
Is it clear when testing started just by looking at the (unmarked) chart? I wouldn't think so. How about for individual leaders?


Touche. The only HR totals that jump off this page for me (http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/HR_top_ten.shtml) are McGwire (1998/1999), Sosa (1998,1999,2001), and Bonds (2001). The fact that 6 of the 8 seasons of 60+ HRs occurred in this four year span seems statistically odd, no?

Or the fact that Bonds put up the top 3 WAR batting seasons (and the 7th + 11th) for 35+ (2000-2004). Or that Bonds' top four offensive seasons occurred from 36-39. Or that 4 of Sheffield's top 5 occurred from 31-35, McGwire's 1st/3rd best batting seasons were at 34-35. 4 of top 5 for Sosa were 30-33.

While I'm sure there are some other greats that had odd aging curves, I would wager that the sillyball era is distorted vs. other eras in this regard.
   40. SoSH U at work Posted: January 09, 2013 at 01:27 PM (#4342963)
Didn't you just respond to it by saying that you weren't going to respond to it?

If you didn't want to respond, you shouldn't have posted anything at all.


But then his post wouldn't count in the demonimator.
   41. Swoboda is freedom Posted: January 09, 2013 at 01:29 PM (#4342966)
Let's just move on.

No I think we should deal with it like my family does. Bring it up for years afterwards, especially when drunk.
   42. Nasty Nate Posted: January 09, 2013 at 01:35 PM (#4342974)
If you didn't want to respond, you shouldn't have posted anything at all.


I disagree. He was acknowledging that he read the post w/o responding to it.
   43. Nasty Nate Posted: January 09, 2013 at 01:36 PM (#4342976)
Let's just move on.


No I think we should deal with it like my family does. Bring it up for years afterwards, especially when drunk.


... anything is more interesting than more HOF discussion...
   44. cmd600 Posted: January 09, 2013 at 01:43 PM (#4342984)
I've made some comments in another thread about the abomination of that MLB network show last night, they may have been better saved for here, but whatever. Here's the issue I have

Pitcher Matt Herges, who said steroids made him “superhuman . . . an android, basically,”


Steroids, and greenies, its incredibly important to include them, both give you a rush of energy that lets you do things like hit the gym harder. Steroids, and greenies, don't make you superhuman, you still have to put in the necessary work, but they sure make you feel like you're superhuman. And guys like Verducci, and Costas, who haven't the first clue about what steroids, and greenies, do to your body, hear these lines, see the records of their youth being broken and say things like comparing steroids to "nuclear weapons", while everything else from amps, to scuffing the ball and corking the bat are "conventional weapons". Verducci said this last night, and no one called him out on it, much less even try to get him to explain how much more steroids help a player than any other form of 'cheating', whether it was banned at the time or not.

Somehow, someone needs to put these guys at the table and pretty much depose them on steroids until they finally realize they don't know jack #### about them. As long as guys like Verducci think they already know all they need to about steroids, which to them is that they pretty much turn you into a home run hitting machine, we're not going to get anywhere.

EDIT: Goddamnit, this thread is going to turn into some stupid fight. Eso, I mentioned this back in the other thread, but you had abandoned it by this point, but I think you somewhat fall into the group mentioned here, though at the sane end. You said steroids increase the permanent baseline, while greenies get you back to 100% (please correct me on that paraphrase if necessary). But greenies are used for the same thing steroids are, to hit the gym harder, and increase that permanent baseline.
   45. rr Posted: January 09, 2013 at 01:43 PM (#4342985)
I respect you, Eso, but if you really want to "move on" WRT this issue, you might want to avoid making the first post in a thread about it a poke at the many people who disagree with you on it.

In fairness, you did explain your position in detail a couple of days ago, multiple times, but you can't expect that everyone will just let something like #1 go--not at BTF on the HOF/steroids thing.
   46. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 09, 2013 at 01:47 PM (#4342990)
Or it just means that I don't want the thread to devolve into namecalling and mudslinging, try as you might to take us there.

I generally enjoy Esoteric's posts and think he's an intelligent poster. I'll leave it at that.


Right, until the next time that you pull the "dishonest" gun out of your everready holster.
   47. JJ1986 Posted: January 09, 2013 at 01:47 PM (#4342991)
Or the fact that Bonds put up the top 3 WAR batting seasons (and the 7th + 11th) for 35+ (2000-2004). Or that Bonds' top four offensive seasons occurred from 36-39. Or that 4 of Sheffield's top 5 occurred from 31-35, McGwire's 1st/3rd best batting seasons were at 34-35. 4 of top 5 for Sosa were 30-33.


First, we have no idea if Sosa use steroids. He also changed his offensive approach in his late-20s and even then 30-33 is not that old to peak. Sheffield had his best offensive season at 27, his next best (by rate) at 26 and another of his top 5 at 23. McGwire and Bonds, sure, but that's two players out of hundreds who took steroids.

   48. zonk Posted: January 09, 2013 at 01:47 PM (#4342992)
Upon further examination, I'm inclined to agree that Dan Naulty isn't a hall-of-famer...
   49. Bad Fish Posted: January 09, 2013 at 02:04 PM (#4343017)
6 of the 8 seasons of 60+ HRs occurred in this four year span seems statistically odd, no?

Yes it is odd, but steroid use isn't the only obvious answer. I would say that the contraction of the strike zone had as much or more to do with the explosion of power. Also, Bonds altered his approach to the batting as he got older. I think he grew to really appreciate the value of only swinging at what he could destroy, rather than what he thought would be in the strike zone. His *ahem* improved power provided a powerful negative feedback to not throw the ball anywhere near his power alley, further increasing walks and giving him latitude to wait for mistakes. He may have been chemically enhanced, but he was also a hitting genius.
   50. cmd600 Posted: January 09, 2013 at 02:20 PM (#4343031)
the contraction of the strike zone


Along with expansion, smaller parks, and some reports of a juiced up ball. I'm not sure why we wouldn't have expected home runs to peak.
   51. akrasian Posted: January 09, 2013 at 02:20 PM (#4343032)
And as was discussed on RSBB extensively at the time, there were a number of other things going on. First - steroids or not, players were spending much more time in the weight room, which presumably would have some effect anyway. Bats had changed - handles were being made slimmer, a scoop taken out of the end, to put more of the mass in the sweet spot. For years basically every ballpark change favored the hitter. There were questions about the composition of the yarn in baseballs. Less shame was held by hitters for striking out, which had the effect for some of swinging freely with two strikes. I'm sure I'm forgetting other points discussed at the time.

All of these would tend to increase home runs, at least for some players. The increased working out would balance out somewhat with pitchers also being in better shape, and the increasing expansion of the bullpen presumably would have an effect also. But with a number of changes occurring in a relatively small point in time, it shouldn't be a shock that the number of outliers increased both for hitters and for pitchers (seen in some incredible ERA+s).
   52. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 09, 2013 at 02:24 PM (#4343033)
Tour de force demolition of the anti-anti-steroid argument by Verducci. Even McGwire knows he cheated by roiding, so much so that he doesn't even think he has a case to plead in opposition.

But what does he know, as against the lawyers and the spreadsheets ....?
   53. smileyy Posted: January 09, 2013 at 02:26 PM (#4343034)
Tom Verducci to PED users: "Don't get caught!"
   54. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 09, 2013 at 02:27 PM (#4343037)
“I was a full blown cheater and I knew it,” Naulty said. “You didn’t need a written rule. I was violating clear principals that were laid down within the rules. Whether they were explicitly stated that I shouldn’t use speed or testosterone didn’t need to be stated. I understood I was violating mainly implicit principals.
Do you think Naulty spelled the word "principles" wrong when he was saying it?

EDIT: (Answer: no: Verducci is just so incompetent that he can't even cut-and-paste.)

EDIT 2: Coke to Howie.

EDIT 3: Incidentally, Verducci is patting himself on the back for "profiling" Naulty, but Naulty had said the same things five years earlier to the Daily News.

EDIT 4: We made fun of Verducci's "logic" last time around, too. Glad to see he's recycling the same article.
   55. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 09, 2013 at 02:34 PM (#4343050)
Esoteric: assuming everything you say in #25, what was the point of your post #1, then?
   56. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: January 09, 2013 at 02:36 PM (#4343053)
Tom Verducci to PED users: "Don't get caught!"

That's a pretty good rule to follow actually. If you are going to do something illegal or shady, that should be your first order of business.

Yes it is odd, but steroid use isn't the only obvious answer.

But it is an answer. Please let's not do another round of 'steroids don't really help you hit a baseball' lunacy.
   57. Rickey!'s people were colonized by wankers Posted: January 09, 2013 at 02:41 PM (#4343058)
Right, until the next time that you pull the "dishonest" gun out of your everready holster.


For the record, I don't personally think the anti-PED contingent is necessarily dishonest. I just think they're stupid on this issue. Totes diff.
   58. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 09, 2013 at 02:43 PM (#4343062)
For the record, I don't personally think the anti-PED contingent is necessarily dishonest. I just think they're stupid on this issue. Totes diff.


Well, the choices, given the cartoonish steroids vs. amps/spitballs arguments they make, are between stupid and dishonest. I try to give them the benefit of the doubt that they're not idiots.
   59. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 09, 2013 at 02:46 PM (#4343067)
For the record, I don't personally think the anti-PED contingent is necessarily dishonest. I just think they're stupid on this issue.


Yes, exactly.
   60. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: January 09, 2013 at 02:48 PM (#4343070)
On the MLB Network show last night with Costas and Verducci and a few others, the general consensus of the anti-steroids crusaders was that amps weren't really relevant because steroids were much more effective.

Even if that's true - it's quite debatable - the position is retarded, because it basically boils down to excusing one set of players and penalizing another simply because the latter set had better drugs.


So, just use shitty versions of steroids and you're ok?
   61. JJ1986 Posted: January 09, 2013 at 02:50 PM (#4343073)
I think stupid and dishonest are both really unnecessarily harsh. I think it's just a conclusion-first thing, where they first decide that steroids are bad and then have to come up with the reasons why.
   62. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 09, 2013 at 02:50 PM (#4343075)
6 of the 8 seasons of 60+ HRs occurred in this four year span seems statistically odd, no?

Yes it is odd, but steroid use isn't the only an obvious answer.
Do people think steroids were only used in that four-year span? So why would steroids be a likely explanation for that phenomenon?
   63. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 09, 2013 at 02:52 PM (#4343077)
I think stupid and dishonest are both really unnecessarily harsh. I think it's just a conclusion-first thing, where they first decide that steroids are bad and then have to come up with the reasons why.
I believe that process would be appropriately labelled stupid and dishonest.
   64. Rickey!'s people were colonized by wankers Posted: January 09, 2013 at 02:53 PM (#4343079)
Well, the choices, given the cartoonish steroids vs. amps/spitballs arguments they make, are between stupid and dishonest. I try to give them the benefit of the doubt that they're not idiots.


They're not idiots either. They're stupid on this issue. For some complex of reasons, they have taken a morally absolutist stand on the issue of "unnatural enhancement" of baseball players in the 1990s. I think they fail to think through the question with any rigor, but I don't think this means their idiots. Idiots are incapable of thinking through any issue. Kehoskie, for example. Esoteric isn't an idiot. He's just painfully wrong on this issue.
   65. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: January 09, 2013 at 02:54 PM (#4343081)
Robert,
Does it concern you that many players used steroids and do not show an increase in performance?
   66. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 09, 2013 at 02:55 PM (#4343083)
I think stupid and dishonest are both really unnecessarily harsh. I think it's just a conclusion-first thing, where they first decide that steroids are bad and then have to come up with the reasons why.


How would that not fit stupid and dishonest?

EDIT: Coke to David.
   67. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 09, 2013 at 02:56 PM (#4343086)
6 of the 8 seasons of 60+ HRs occurred in this four year span seems statistically odd, no?
It certainly is. All six of those seasons were had by three players, as well. So you had a concatenation of events- 1) the most power / home run friendly context in the history of professional baseball, 2) two all-time great power hitters and one damn good one peaking at the right time, 3) growing understanding of the utility of weight-training for playing baseball, and in particular for power hitting, 4) growing understanding of the utility of performance enhancing drugs for playing baseball.

I think the main issues were (1) and (2). (3) and (4) are factors in (1), but not the primary factors.
   68. rudygamble Posted: January 09, 2013 at 03:00 PM (#4343092)
Along with expansion, smaller parks, and some reports of a juiced up ball. I'm not sure why we wouldn't have expected home runs to peak.


Expansion and smaller parks have remained and we haven't seen further 60 HR seasons. Don't see how that's a variable.

Juiced ball is a potential explanation.

Understand that we should question whether the assumed impact of steroids = Bonds/Sosa/McGwire reaching 60+ HR totals (and crazy HR/AB rates for years where Bonds had 200 walks) vs. 40-50 HR totals is true. But do people here really believe that steroids isn't responsible for at least 50% of this delta?
   69. JJ1986 Posted: January 09, 2013 at 03:03 PM (#4343109)
How would that not fit stupid and dishonest?


It's not dishonest because it's a genuine belief (of course it can lead people to make dishonest arguments, but anything can). Maybe it is stupid, but that kind of thing happens to everyone and it certainly doesn't make you a stupid person.
   70. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: January 09, 2013 at 03:12 PM (#4343163)
Wonderful article, cogent and clear. I endorse every word.
   71. cmd600 Posted: January 09, 2013 at 03:12 PM (#4343168)
Expansion and smaller parks have remained


Well, as we move away from expansion, the effects will be diminishing. And I think we've seen a turn back towards pitcher's parks recently.
   72. sunnyday2 Posted: January 09, 2013 at 03:29 PM (#4343220)
Wow. I'm not a regular here, I don't know much about historical relationships among the posters (though this reminds me of Bosnia and Serbia)
but this jumped out at me. Goose, meet gander.

Ray (RDP) Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:32 PM (#4342867)
I'm not sure what your opinion is worth, Esoteric, if you won't stick around to support it.

Ray (RDP) Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:50 PM (#4342901)
Esoteric, I'm not going to respond to that.
   73. sunnyday2 Posted: January 09, 2013 at 03:30 PM (#4343226)
I guess what gets me about the BBWAA majority is stuff like "I'll never vote for a known steroids user," followed by a failure to vote for Bagwell and Piazza.

Not to mention that many of these guys have covered/do cover NFL football, where steroids suspensions are usually followed by a vote to the Pro Bowl team.
   74. Rickey!'s people were colonized by wankers Posted: January 09, 2013 at 03:31 PM (#4343227)
I think stupid and dishonest are both really unnecessarily harsh. I think it's just a conclusion-first thing


I think any argumentation that is developed by putting the conclusion first and reasoning backwards is stupid, by definition.

(Do you have any idea how much it pains me to be lining up with Ray and David in public?!)
   75. akrasian Posted: January 09, 2013 at 03:31 PM (#4343231)
Expansion and smaller parks have remained and we haven't seen further 60 HR seasons. Don't see how that's a variable.

IIRC, since the late '90s virtually all ball park changes have favored pitchers. Dodger Stadium's decreased foul ground is one of the few changes to favor the hitter. But there have been a number of changes - not least, the Rockies infamous humidor, that decrease offense.
   76. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 09, 2013 at 03:32 PM (#4343234)
(Do you have any idea how much it pains me to be lining up with Ray and David in public?!)


Not as much as it pains us?
   77. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: January 09, 2013 at 03:38 PM (#4343253)

(Do you have any idea how much it pains me to be lining up with Ray and David in public?!)


Do you have any idea how much it pains other members to read the congratulatory circle jerk you, Dave, and Ray just completed while demonstrating exactly why esoteric doesn't want to discuss the issue with you?
   78. Nasty Nate Posted: January 09, 2013 at 03:39 PM (#4343257)
IIRC, since the late '90s virtually all ball park changes have favored pitchers. Dodger Stadium's decreased foul ground is one of the few changes to favor the hitter. But there have been a number of changes - not least, the Rockies infamous humidor, that decrease offense.


Really? Besides the humidor, what else was there?

   79. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: January 09, 2013 at 03:44 PM (#4343270)
The spike in HR is most obviously tied to events on the field.

Look, the first HR spike in the 1990s occurred, when? 1993-1994. What happened in 1993? Expansion.

The peak of HR hitting occurred when? 1998-2001. What happened in 1998? Expansion.

Expansion gives 25 replacement level pitchers jobs. Dan Rosenheck's research for the HOM suggests that the expansion hangover can last 5+ years. Perhaps even more in an era when MLB is competing more hotly for young talent with the NFL and NBA. So MLB expands, and offense goes way up. Then MLB expands just before the talent pool catches up, and WHAMMO! offense goes up even more.

To me, this is the most sound explanation for both the HR spikes of the 1990s (and the batting average spikes), and one that at least has some research behind it. And could have further research if we wanted to examine where players were coming from.
   80. Rickey!'s people were colonized by wankers Posted: January 09, 2013 at 03:45 PM (#4343275)
Well, as we move away from expansion, the effects will be diminishing.


Agreed. There's a distinct difference between finding 12 starters and 40 relievers, from scratch, in 1993, and having two fully functional, 20 year old farm systems drafting and developing those players in 2013.

And I think we've seen a turn back towards pitcher's parks recently.


Parks opening from 1991-1996:

US Cellular (New Comiskey) 1991
Oriole Park @ Camden Yard 1992
Mile High Stadium/Coors Field 1993/1995
Progressive Field (Jacobs Field) 1994
The Ballpark @ Arlington 1994
Turner Field 1996

The only park in that list that was less hitter friendly than the park it replaced was Turner Field, a neutral park that replaced "The Launching Pad" of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. The rest were offense producing environments.

Parks opening from 1997-2001:

Tropicana Field (debuted with the Rays in 1998)
Chase Field/the BOB 1998
Safeco Field 1999
AT&T Park 2000
Comerica 2000
MinuteMaid/Enron 2000
PNC Park 2001
Miller Park 2001

Two of those are offense creating parks - Enron/MM and Chase/BOB. Maybe Miller. Three are run reducing environments: Trop, Safeco and Comerica. AT&T isn't notably different from Candlestick, that I know.

   81. The Tarp That Ate Vince Coleman Posted: January 09, 2013 at 03:47 PM (#4343279)
To Shredder re No. 12: Matt's father owns that bar. He was one of my coaches many years ago. I've known Matt since he was 5. He's a perfect example of the middle relievers who weren't going to make the bigs on their own, but carved a niche with pharmaceuticals. I'm glad he has spoken out about it.
   82. akrasian Posted: January 09, 2013 at 03:54 PM (#4343296)
Really? Besides the humidor, what else was there?

#80 answered it nicely.

I remember seeing analyses of the offensive explosion of the early mid '90s, where a significant percentage in the NL could be attributed to playing in Denver alone. Since then it has come back to Earth (so to speak) with the use of the humidor.

But as I said, in the '90s a number of factors were being pointed to as leading to offensive increases - now many are claiming it was solely due to steroids, and that doesn't seem to match up with what actually happened. Especially since pitchers could use steroids too.
   83. Rickey!'s people were colonized by wankers Posted: January 09, 2013 at 04:04 PM (#4343325)
Eric's point @79 is well made too. I think attempting to explain HR spikes that coincide with expansion years by nebulous theories of PED usage fails the most basic logical tests. I'll also note that the three players to hit 60+ HRs were all NL sluggers, which means they got the benefit of playing in the new offensive parks (Coors, Chase, Enron) and avoided the new defensive fields (Safeco, Trop, Comerica.)
   84. cardsfanboy Posted: January 09, 2013 at 04:36 PM (#4343390)
And no Piazza either. This despite him going on at length during MLB Network's roundtable as to how he couldn't withhold a vote for a player on suspicion alone.


I think the anti-roid zealots, like to say they wouldn't base a vote on suspicion alone, but if they have suspicion, they will create other reasons to withhold a vote... In Piazza's case "poor defense" in Sosa's(and Bagwell for others) case "not enough career"...etc...

Basically Bonds and Clemens are the only two players who are a lock by their careers, and fortunately they have enough public knowledge on their usage* that it's easy to blackball them. All the other players if you have suspicion, you can create a different reason to keep them out.

*It doesn't matter whether they have been exonerated or not.
   85. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: January 09, 2013 at 04:41 PM (#4343406)
The increased working out would balance out somewhat with pitchers also being in better shape

I think one big HR factor was that the juiced pitchers and their increased MPH resulted in my Ks and more HR. The faster the pitch, the faster it comes off the bat. So its additive, rather than balanced.
   86. Nasty Nate Posted: January 09, 2013 at 04:50 PM (#4343420)
#80 answered it nicely.


He didn't include the Reds' and Phillies' new parks because he was only looking a '97-'01.
   87. cardsfanboy Posted: January 09, 2013 at 04:52 PM (#4343422)
Tweet from Neil Best;

"Maybe we sportswriters should have recused ourselves from '13 Hall of Fame voting in penance for blowing coverage of Steroids Era for years."


First good tweet of the year(if not history) by a sports writer.



Pitcher Matt Herges, who said steroids made him “superhuman . . . an android, basically,”


Personal perception isn't a fact. Statistically it's been proven there is no such thing as the "hot hand" in basketball, yet people will claim that they feel like they just couldn't miss(even if they go 20 for 25). Amp users have claimed they can see better and that the world is going in slow motion. Corked bat users claim they can hit the ball farther(even though physics says that is incorrect)

I understand people have a tendency to take personal testimonies as gospel when it supports their already made conclusions, and ignore all the other evidence, but it's still a rather weak argument to bring to the table.


Expansion and smaller parks have remained and we haven't seen further 60 HR seasons. Don't see how that's a variable.

Juiced ball is a potential explanation.


Expansion doesn't remain, eventually the talent catches up to expansion.
Another point is that the bats have changed, got smaller and lighter and maple. Which led to a lot of splintered bats and now they have set up new standards for bats. (only recently, coinciding with testing) (I see this was addressed rather well in following posts)

Especially since pitchers could use steroids too.


I imagine that pitchers using roids, would help the homerun explosion, assuming that roids helped pitchers throw harder. A harder thrown ball met squarely is going to have more distance than a slower pitch.

   88. cmd600 Posted: January 09, 2013 at 05:04 PM (#4343443)
A harder thrown ball met squarely is going to have more distance than a slower pitch.


How true is this (I'm sincerely asking)? It's not like slow pitch softball or hitting off a tee prevents guys from being able to crush a ball. Even if it is a significant difference, doesn't the increased speed create fewer squarely hit balls, meaning fewer homers? I'd think that would greatly outweigh any benefit you'd see from hitting a harder thrown pitch.
   89. GuyM Posted: January 09, 2013 at 05:07 PM (#4343449)
Expansion gives 25 replacement level pitchers jobs. Dan Rosenheck's research for the HOM suggests that the expansion hangover can last 5+ years. Perhaps even more in an era when MLB is competing more hotly for young talent with the NFL and NBA. So MLB expands, and offense goes way up. Then MLB expands just before the talent pool catches up, and WHAMMO! offense goes up even more.
To me, this is the most sound explanation for both the HR spikes of the 1990s (and the batting average spikes), and one that at least has some research behind it. And could have further research if we wanted to examine where players were coming from.

The increase in HR hitting in 1993-94 had nothing at all to do with expansion. This has been well-researched. For example, if you look at pitchers who pitched before and after the HR explosion, their HR-allowed went up just as much as the league as a whole. I can't believe the staying power of this ridiculous myth......
   90. Nasty Nate Posted: January 09, 2013 at 05:08 PM (#4343454)
A harder thrown ball met squarely is going to have more distance than a slower pitch.


True, but less balls are met squarely when the pitches are faster.
   91. akrasian Posted: January 09, 2013 at 05:28 PM (#4343488)
One of the big advantages of steroids for pitchers (afaict) is that it allows pitchers to recover better between appearances. Which may result in better velocity, but also may show up as better command and control of pitches.
   92. Rickey!'s people were colonized by wankers Posted: January 09, 2013 at 05:38 PM (#4343506)
He didn't include the Reds' and Phillies' new parks because he was only looking a '97-'01.


I was keeping my point to "the 90s" more or less. The notable spikes in HR/G occur in 1993 and 1998. Those are both expansion years, and while you can trot out correlation vs causation if you like, it's a better logical case than something like "steroids weren't good in 1992, but they were in 1993, and then they got better in 1998 or something."
   93. Bob Tufts Posted: January 09, 2013 at 05:41 PM (#4343514)
Sportswriters that interview players for a living voting on the same players for the HOF - and then becoming the subject of interviews themselves.

It's like watching all the crappy DC Sunday talk shows.
   94. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 09, 2013 at 05:45 PM (#4343520)
Yeah, Bob, the writers now are the news, rather than the players. The Hall of Fame voting is now... about the writers! Congratulations!
   95. GuyM Posted: January 09, 2013 at 05:46 PM (#4343525)
I was keeping my point to "the 90s" more or less. The notable spikes in HR/G occur in 1993 and 1998. Those are both expansion years, and while you can trot out correlation vs causation if you like, it's a better logical case than something like "steroids weren't good in 1992, but they were in 1993, and then they got better in 1998 or something."

These aren't the only choices. We know that expansion had zero impact. We don't know how much impact steroids had, though probably about the same.
   96. cardsfanboy Posted: January 09, 2013 at 05:47 PM (#4343528)
True, but less balls are met squarely when the pitches are faster.


The increase in strikeouts indicates that is true also. There were more strikeouts, more homeruns during those eras, partially explained by an emerging acceptance of strikeouts as the natural result of obp and power, and arguably partially explained by increase velocity/difficulty to hit pitches.

   97. cardsfanboy Posted: January 09, 2013 at 05:48 PM (#4343529)
The increase in HR hitting in 1993-94 had nothing at all to do with expansion. This has been well-researched. For example, if you look at pitchers who pitched before and after the HR explosion, their HR-allowed went up just as much as the league as a whole. I can't believe the staying power of this ridiculous myth......


I've never seen this before, and it really doesn't matter that much about the individual pitchers anyways.
   98. GuyM Posted: January 09, 2013 at 05:49 PM (#4343532)
it really doesn't matter that much about the individual pitchers anyways

say what?
   99. Nasty Nate Posted: January 09, 2013 at 05:52 PM (#4343534)
Yeah, Bob, the writers now are the news, rather than the players. The Hall of Fame voting is now... about the writers! Congratulations!


This isn't a new thing which is why BBTF as a community sometimes looks like a bunch of suckers by obsessing about HOF and awards voting....
   100. Rickey!'s people were colonized by wankers Posted: January 09, 2013 at 05:58 PM (#4343540)
This isn't a new thing which is why BBTF as a community sometimes looks like a bunch of suckers by obsessing about HOF and awards voting....


The subtitle of the book was "The Politics Of Glory," for god's sake. It's nothing new.
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