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— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen

Monday, February 09, 2009

Don’t Blame A-Rod

In 2004, Major League Baseball, under the terms of an agreement with the MLBPA, started instituting penalties for players that tested positive for certain drugs that were believed to be drug-enhancing.

25 years before, Major League Baseball also came to terms with the MLBPA on a drug-testing deal, though cocaine was the more worrisome issue in the eyes of the public.  Unfortunately, Bowie Kuhn subsequently announced that he was the final authority for anything not specifically outlined in the drug-testing arrangement, forcing the union to opt out of the agreement at their earliest allowed juncture.  Future commissioners further muddied the waters, ending any hopes for a new drug-testing agreement, most notably Fay Vincent, who attempted to circumvent the contract agreed to with the MLBPA and then taking the further, reprehensible step of actually threatening Gene Michael, Buck Showalter, and Jack Lawn in order to prevent them from testifying to the arbitrator.  There simply was no reason for players to trust the owners at this point.

But are the owners to blame for the various performance-enhancing drugs used in baseball and other sports over the last 50 years?  Nope.

Any blame, if there is blame to be distributed, should be pointed directly at how we, the fans, view athletic excellence.

We expect our athletes to be supermen.  Hurt your hamstring and have to miss games?  You’re a slacker and should get back into the game.  Torn labrum?  Stop being a sissy and bear it, Don Drysdale didn’t need no MRI!  Stress fracture in your foot?  Rub some dirt on it.

For fans, the belief has always been that athletic excellence is something that an athlete should risk everything for.  Playing in pain, running into walls, brutal crushing tackles, are the currency of fandom’s love and abiding respect.

The famous Pete Rose-Ray Fosse collision in the 1970 All-Star Game provides a compelling example of this phenomenon.  Played over and over again, fans bring this up as an example of hard-nosed play from Charlie Hustle.  But the negative effects of that play still affect Ray Fosse.  Nearly 40 years later, Fosse still has trouble lifting his arm on some days.  His shoulder still occasionally throbs with the same pain he experienced constantly for years after that fracture.

Now, I’m not saying that Rose should have been disciplined or bears any fault for that, but it is an example of the mindset of fans as a whole that has caused players to risk their health to achieve excellence.  After all, who cares if Pete Reiser runs into a wall to win games?  Who cares if 20-year-reunions of NFL teams look like a pamphlet for the Americans with Disabilities Act?  The circus is over and the gladiators have returned to wherever they were before.

Combine this attitude with society’s adoption of DuPont’s slogan of “Better Things for Better Living…Through Chemistry” over the last half-century and you have a perfect storm in which athletes feel enormous societal pressure to take whatever they can, do whatever they can, to win.

Steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs are not the products of the 1990s.  Charles-Édouard Brown-Séquard was making injections derived from the testicles of guinea pigs in the 1800s.  Babe Ruth injected himself with extractions derived from sheep testicles in the 1920s.  The German army injected their soldiers with testosterone in order to improve battle performance.  Dianabol, the first widely available anabolic steroid, was first developed by John Ziegler in 1958 as a performance-enhancing drug and was released to the public in 1962, when it immediately was adopted by athletes varying from lithe sprinters to bulky weightlifters.

I dare anyone to try to name an era in sports in the last in which any semblance of purity, now suddenly demanded by the public, actually existed.  By all means, please direct us to this golden time where no currently banned performance-enhancing drugs were available, but went unused by the wholesome players of yesteryear.  It’s certainly not the 80s or 90s or 2000s, when steroid use apparently came most popular.  It certainly wasn’t the 60s and 70s, when players were distributing now-banned amphetamines and starting to experiment with steroids themselves.  The only difference between a slugger in 1938 and a slugger in 2008 is the quality of the goodies he can get his hands on.

Until then, when you see A-Rod’s face appear on the screen, with an ESPN Talking Head, delivering a steroids screed from a soapbox of sanctimony and wonder who’s it fault, make sure to point at yourself, in the glare of the television.  Fans demand athletes when to jump and the athletes simply heard the answer to “How high?”

Dan Szymborski Posted: February 09, 2009 at 05:12 PM | 71 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Zoppity Zoop Posted: February 09, 2009 at 05:19 PM (#3071944)
Depending on the views of the reader, I wager Zim has either earned unabiding love or undying hatred.
   2. rr Posted: February 09, 2009 at 05:23 PM (#3071951)
Zim has either earned unabiding love or undying hatred.


Neither from me, although it is a thoughtful post. I do always find it interesting when Libertarians/rightists start talking about "structural factors" and systemic/societal pressures/issues affecting people's actions:

Any blame, if there is blame to be distributed, should be pointed directly at how we, the fans, view athletic excellence

Combine this attitude with society's adoption of DuPont's slogan of "Better Things for Better Living...Through Chemistry" over the last half-century and you have a perfect storm in which athletes feel enormous societal pressure to take whatever they can, do whatever they can, to win.


***
   3. Dan Szymborski Posted: February 09, 2009 at 05:29 PM (#3071956)
I do always find it interesting when Libertarians/rightists start talking about "structural factors" and systemic/societal pressures/issues affecting people's actions:

I'm talking about a moral and ethical responsibility, not a legal responsibility, which I feel are different.
   4. alskor Posted: February 09, 2009 at 07:13 PM (#3072111)
Any blame, if there is blame to be distributed, should be pointed directly at how we, the fans, view athletic excellence.


Alright, 'fess up. Which primate injected A-Rod with the steroids against his will?

And which of you convinced him to lie about it?
   5. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: February 09, 2009 at 07:25 PM (#3072137)
unabiding love (but in a manly way).
   6. alskor Posted: February 09, 2009 at 07:58 PM (#3072180)
unabiding love (but in a manly way).


That's cool - ARod might be down with that. Word is, the book coming out has a chapter questioning his sexuality.



I s*** you not: http://njfrogman.blogspot.com/2009/02/sports-illustrateds-selena-roberts-to.html
   7. The Marksist Posted: February 09, 2009 at 08:12 PM (#3072201)
unabiding


You mean "abiding," right? 'Cause the word you used? I do not think it means what you think it means.
   8. birdlives is one crazy ninja Posted: February 09, 2009 at 08:13 PM (#3072202)
Combine this attitude with society's adoption of DuPont's slogan of "Better Things for Better Living...Through Chemistry" over the last half-century and you have a perfect storm in which athletes feel enormous societal pressure to take whatever they can, do whatever they can, to win.

Fans demand athletes when to jump and the athletes simply heard the answer to "How high?"

It's that and each athletic's drive for the next big contract.
   9. Guts Posted: February 09, 2009 at 08:14 PM (#3072206)
Excellent work, Zim.
   10. zenbitz Posted: February 09, 2009 at 08:18 PM (#3072210)
Nice post, Dan.

We tolerate a rather large amount of "cheating" in professional athletes. But for some reason - chemical enhancement - is the one that has the greatest stigma. Is it because it's (sometimes) illegal?

Here is a weird parable - make of it what you will.

My mother-in-law (who is basically totally insane) is a health nut. She also has a pathological fear of doctors and "western" medicine - preferring any and all herbal or natural cures. She is in her 60s and has - for her age - very dark hair. Not true of her siblings of similar age. She gets very upset when people assume she dyes her hair. She doesn't dye it - she takes some Chinese herb which (allegedly) keeps her hair from graying!

In her mind - dying her hair is "cheating" but taking drugs (Chinese herbs) isn't!

(I would like to point out that I have no idea if the herb she takes effects her hair color at all... but if you want I can find out what it is...)
   11. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: February 09, 2009 at 08:23 PM (#3072217)
That's cool - ARod might be down with that. Word is, the book coming out has a chapter questioning his sexuality.

OH MY GOD. If he's gay or bi he really is evil.
   12. JC in DC Posted: February 09, 2009 at 08:23 PM (#3072218)
For fans, the belief has always been that athletic excellence is something that an athlete should risk everything for.


I love the piece, DS, despite being in solid disagreement with it. This central assertion of your argument is merely an assertion, however. I think it's an inaccurate representation of the fan's views of the athlete. I know I certainly don't think an athlete should risk everything for athletic excellence, I don't think the Ray Fosse - Pete Rose example illustrates your point, and I think there are many counter-factuals to the claim. Think for instance of the approval Tillman got for choosing country over sports; think of the mixed reaction (thus showing some positive reaction) to Barry Sanders quitting football; think of the way teams and fans excuse players for deaths/illnesses in families. There are many things that show fans (and others, including athletes) are able to place sports in wider contexts. (For instance, many of us stated our opposition to steroids/PEDs on the basis of such a claim.)
   13. JC in DC Posted: February 09, 2009 at 08:27 PM (#3072224)
And, actually, DS, I wonder - respectfully - if your libertarian views on this issue don't encourage you to believe that supposition, precisely so you can have no pity or concern for or guilt over those athletes who say athletic excellence isn't worth cheating or the medical risk associated with certain approaches.
   14. Dan Szymborski Posted: February 09, 2009 at 09:59 PM (#3072480)
Fans generally don't ask players to risk third parties for wins, but they do ask players to risk serious health issues and consequences in order to win to themselves. As I note, just check the vox populi when a player sits out due to an injury. If there were that many libertarians out there, Ron Paul would be president!

As I noted to Ron (Johnson, not Paul) in another thread, I'm not sure that the negative consequences of today's steroid use (which is likely far more finely administered than just injecting gobs of whatever into people like in East Germany) are actually worse to the body, physically, then playing the NFL (assuming not using steroids, naturally).

I do have concern for the health of the players, which is why I applaud that the players and owners were finally able to come to a drug-testing arrangement, but I don't feel that, prior that arrangement with penalties, I have the right to evaluate A-Rod's or Bonds's or McGwire's personal risk/reward assessments.
   15. TDF, situational idiot Posted: February 09, 2009 at 10:05 PM (#3072491)
think of the mixed reaction (thus showing some positive reaction) to Barry Sanders quitting football


Barry Sanders walked out on his team after the draft and free agency period - when it was too late to replace him, even though he knew he was retiring. Oh, and he did it by fax (so he didn't have to look anyone (especially the fans) in the eye) and wasn't heard from for months afterwards.

Please, point some of this "positive reaction" to me.
   16. BDC Posted: February 09, 2009 at 10:11 PM (#3072504)
Yes, this is a thoughtful essay, Dan. I'm not sure about the Pete Reiser types, though. I imagine that personalities like Reisers would be risk takers no matter what they did for a living. Baseball has also over the years been well-stocked with Bobby Abreus, who are shy of walls, never come out of the lineup, and still make All-Star teams and a lot of money. I don't know that fans' or peers' expectations could ever mold an Abreu into a Reiser.
   17. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: February 09, 2009 at 10:23 PM (#3072528)
Baseball has also over the years been well-stocked with Bobby Abreus, who are shy of walls, never come out of the lineup, and still make All-Star teams and a lot of money. I don't know that fans' or peers' expectations could ever mold an Abreu into a Reiser.

I should've gone into chemistry so I could concoct an insanely expensive miracle pill to cure WAD, Wall Aversion Disorder.
   18. drdr Posted: February 09, 2009 at 10:33 PM (#3072539)
As I noted to Ron (Johnson, not Paul) in another thread, I'm not sure that the negative consequences of today's steroid use (which is likely far more finely administered than just injecting gobs of whatever into people like in East Germany) are actually worse to the body, physically, then playing the NFL (assuming not using steroids, naturally).


Steroids were declared illegal because of the side-effects of steroid abuse. Low doses and medical supervision can give benefits with minimal risk (probably comparable to other "legal" products that athletes take regularly), but high doses can give you strong immediate impact (and substantial risk to your health). Problematic side-effects weren't observed among Ziegler's athletes who took small doses, but among weight-lifters who took them without control.
   19. McCoy Posted: February 09, 2009 at 10:36 PM (#3072545)
And a lot of fans hate Bobby Abreu for not wanting to crash into a wall. Meanwhile Aaron Rowand gets cheered as a hero because he crashes into a wall in what might be a meaningless game.
   20. Mike Green Posted: February 09, 2009 at 10:38 PM (#3072549)
Attitudes toward risk are not confined to sport. I see it all the time in my work- many workers employed in noisy occupations are reluctant to wear hearing protection (which is provided) because it is uncomfortable. What is most frustrating is the reaction of the person taking the risk when the damage occurs.

That said, if A-Rod did start using PEDs in 2001, as he has said, coming off a .316/.420/.606 season as a 24 year old shortstop and after signing a huge contract, I would describe the decision as an insane risk/reward assessment.
   21. drdr Posted: February 09, 2009 at 11:22 PM (#3072608)
In European football, at least in top clubs, players take so many vitamins and medicines that team doctors basically carry the whole pharmacy with them, just for everyday use. I don't see any reason for it to be different in baseball. When player takes all that and is advised by someone he trusts, why shouldn't he take steroids too? (I suppose A-Rod was under some kind of medical supervision). Low doses of steroids shouldn't be any greater risk than some of the legal stuff.
Doping rules in European football are those of the world anti-doping agency, I think. So, all that stuff that players take is legal, though not always healthy.

An argument can be made that proper application of steroids can be positive for player's health. Low doses under doctor's supervision shouldn't produce negative side-effects, and better recovery time should prevent many injuries and help minimize effects of those that aren't prevented. But steroids are too stigmatized for it to be tried in any sport. Plus, there is the question of controlling the dosage - how to catch those who take high, dangerous doses.

As for players taking PED's, I think that one of the players or former players said: If one player started drinking deer's piss and suddenly improves by 20 HR's, at least half of the players would immediately start drinking deer's piss too.
   22. drdr Posted: February 09, 2009 at 11:33 PM (#3072625)
Just to make it clear, I'm anti-PED and for heavy penalties for those who do take them. Not because of "sanctity" of sports, but because they force others to choose between keeping up and their health. But with all the information about steroids and all other legal supplements players take, I wonder if proper steroid therapy wouldn't improve long-term health of the players.
   23. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 09, 2009 at 11:41 PM (#3072635)
Good essay, Dan, though you're really only stating half of the story. There's more than enough blame for everyone, fans, players, owners, agents, and the media. But in the final analysis some players made one choice and other players made another. So I can't see the "Don't blame A-Rod" reasoning, since it was his choice to juice.

And a lot of fans hate Bobby Abreu for not wanting to crash into a wall. Meanwhile Aaron Rowand gets cheered as a hero because he crashes into a wall in what might be a meaningless game.

When I was nine years old I was at a Nats game when they were trailing the Yankees by 22 to 0, and in one of the late innings Jim Busby crashed into the centerfield wall in order to rob Gus Triandos of a three run homer that would have made it 25 to 0. He was out cold for a couple of minutes before limping back into position, and the crowd went nuts cheering him.
   24. Drew (Primakov, Gungho Iguanas) Posted: February 09, 2009 at 11:56 PM (#3072652)
The only difference between a slugger in 1938 and a slugger in 2008 is the quality of the goodies he can get his hands on.


I've generally believed this, though never with evidence to support it.

I believe Dan to be generally right. Also, I think that the reason is huge contracts and/or fame.

We as fans are secretly jealous of their money and their fame, and therefore more likely to secretly want players to crash and burn. Therefore, we ride them until they crash. If we didn't demarcate ourselves away from the players so readily, we would consider them as humans more easily. And we would be more concerned for their welfare as people.

Instead we see the contracts and go "Well, #### him, he's making a bazillion dollars a year playing a damn game. He deserves to be ground into hamburger for his job. I have to do it, so he should have to do it a thousand times over, because he's making that money and I'm not. The major league ballplayer must pay for his intransigence."

We create PED users because there is no check or balance on the desire of people to see other people brought down to their level. Since the perception is that we will never bring down the MLB player's salary to our level, we decide that we must take them down as many pegs as possible, through blood, injuries, and wrecked careers. MLB players can't escape that expectation, and so unless they are of very high character and mindful ability, they resort to PEDs so they can relax on their regimens a little bit, gain some peace of mind.

That is the way most fans operate. I'd like to think I don't operate that way, but I do. I'm not someone who's going to root for a player to cripple himself playing, or to cripple others playing--but I do get agitated when a high-priced player my team needs can't play. These people are human like everyone else, so my agitation is misplaced.

How many times have you said, "Tough it out--you're making millions?"
   25. _ Posted: February 10, 2009 at 02:12 AM (#3072743)
Someone should tell these players who are "doing it for the fans" that there's no evidence that steroids even work!
:-)

Why did A-Rod do it? Because he wants to go in the Hall of Fame. Why did he confess and apologize? Because he wants to go in the Hall of Fame.
   26. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: February 10, 2009 at 02:37 AM (#3072761)
Why did A-Rod do it? Because he wants to <strike>go in the Hall of Fame</strike> make a lot of money. Why did he confess and apologize? Because he wants to <strike>go in the Hall of Fame</strike> make a lot of money
FTFY
   27. birdlives is one crazy ninja Posted: February 10, 2009 at 03:05 AM (#3072785)
Why did he confess and apologize? Because he wants to <strike> go in the Hall of Fame </strike> make a lot of money

I agree with the first part of your sentence (he did roids to make a lot of money) but how much bearing could confessing hold regarding making more money. His current contract is not in jeopardy and by confessing, he hurts the marketing value surrouding his chase of Bond's HR record down the road.
   28. Exploring Leftist Conservatism since 2008 (ark..) Posted: February 10, 2009 at 03:17 AM (#3072796)
I would have loved a clean game, but that didn't happen.
I have no interest in the government drug testing anyone, for anything, or being even peripherally involved in drug testing, with one exception: probable cause.
His Rodness is a sneaky little ####, but so are a lot of other players, and I can't tell you I wouldn't have cheated, too, if millions of dollars were at stake.
I would like to have the legal right not to be tested, even by a private entity, for anything. I fully expect to see a pig flying by my living room window before that happens.
I do have a problem with guys who took illegal drugs that other guys didn't and got the clean guys' jobs as a result.
Damned if I know what to do about that, though, and none of the baseball and drug stuff is as interesting to me as who the Mets should go after if they have another $9 mil in the budget.

Carry on.
   29. QuixoticQuasiQuandary Posted: February 10, 2009 at 03:30 AM (#3072808)
How many times have you said, "Tough it out--you're making millions?"


I disagree with this premise. There might be agreement that in a general sense we want to see highly paid athletes "earn" their paycheck, but I've not once thought that a player should just "tough it out." I might have a skewed perspective due some of the injuries I suffered during my high school days as an offensive lineman. Maybe it's memory loss, but I can't think of a single time that I would have risked further injury even for a paycheck. I refuse to hold another person to a higher standard than I set for myself. I also believe that most fans feel the same.

...I don't feel that, prior that arrangement with penalties, I have the right to evaluate A-Rod's or Bonds's or McGwire's personal risk/reward assessments.


I'd like to thank Dan for making this statement. This is exactly why I don't get riled up about the "cheating" in baseball. We, as fans, must accept the context of these players' actions. I hate the idea some of the best baseball moments of my time might have involved steroid use by the players, but I still enjoyed those moments. The numbers might have been inflated during the "Juiced Era" (formerly known as the Juice-ball Era); it still was an exciting time in baseball.

I believe that players who cheated should be punished, but I believe the stigma associated with the cheating should be removed. As many people have stated in this thread, there is enough blame to go around. Players are human as evidenced by the poor choices some of them make.
   30. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: February 10, 2009 at 03:37 AM (#3072813)
Any blame, if there is blame to be distributed, should be pointed directly at how we, the fans, view athletic excellence.

Oh please. Professional athletes do what they do to make money. Guys took steroids to be better players and therefore earn more money. Taking steroids as they did is illegal. People that break the law in order to cheat the system and fatten their pockets deserve our scorn.

Classic rationalization here.
   31. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: February 10, 2009 at 03:44 AM (#3072816)
There might be agreement that in a general sense we want to see highly paid athletes "earn" their paycheck, but I've not once thought that a player should just "tough it out."
There is a certain hypocrisy between how sportswriters treated Carl Pavano and how they treat steroid abusers.
   32. _ Posted: February 10, 2009 at 04:03 AM (#3072829)
Well, if you believe A-Rod did it only for money, you'd have to doubt his claim that he "basically" only did it between 2001-03 after he had already signed the richest contract in history. Of course everyone wants to make money, but that's not all that drives these guys (or most people, really). His explanation that he wanted to justify the contract makes pretty good sense. Legacy and place in history don't matter to everyone, but I believe that having already accomplished what he had to that point, and given that he seems to care a great deal about how he's perceived, and given that he does seem to genuinely revere the game - yeah - it's not just about money.
   33. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: February 10, 2009 at 04:10 AM (#3072831)
Time and time again I've argued that a decent drug policy would involve at least some limited use of these substances during the second half of seasons and such.

I also think allowing it would lead to the development of better and safer substances that would specifically target the unusual rigors a professional athlete demands from his body. A baseball where the best players have fewer injuries and longer careers strikes me as an improved version of the game.

At some point, surgeries to repair damage to parts of the body are going to involve more and more "unnatural" methods to best repair the damaged body part. The gray area on what should and should not be allowed only gets grayer from here.

I don't really care what happens to ARod unless and until the government gets involved. As Dan points, folks are being a little bit naive as to the extent professional athletes have always gone to in order to maximize their ability. 50s and 60s baseball wasn't filled with speed freaks because of its fun as a recreational drug.
   34. JPWF13 Posted: February 10, 2009 at 05:11 AM (#3072864)
The famous Pete Rose-Ray Fosse collision in the 1970 All-Star Game provides a compelling example of this phenomenon. Played over and over again, fans bring this up as an example of hard-nosed play from Charlie Hustle.


I have to disagree- the media hyped that as an example of a hard nosed play- the majority of Fans I know (including myself always viewed it as an instance of Rose being a jackass. (of course I don't come from Cincy and most fans I know don't come from Cincy...)

Fans who weren't actually around at the time may view it as an example of a hard-nosed play because the media has told them ever since that it was.
   35.     Hey Gurl Posted: February 10, 2009 at 05:40 AM (#3072891)

We tolerate a rather large amount of "cheating" in professional athletes. But for some reason - chemical enhancement - is the one that has the greatest stigma. Is it because it's (sometimes) illegal?


I kind of think there is a Hollywood effect, to a degree. We all have this image in our heads of a game being played in 2050 by robots and superhumans. We've seen so many movies where guys can inject themselves with drug X and gain superpowers or roll around in radiation and suddenly have laser sight or whatever. Such a world is frightening, and "Steroids" seem like step one towards that world.

Of course, I am being somewhat facetious, but surely the media plays a large role in the explanation for the gap of knowledge between what steroids actually do and what the general public seems to think they do.
   36. alskor Posted: February 10, 2009 at 07:12 AM (#3072924)
Im a little sick of hearing this "they werent against the rules at the time" angle

If a player got arrested for possession of steroids before, during or after 1991/the Fay Vincent memo there is no question baseball could and would have suspended that player. Doing things that are illegal was always grounds for suspension. There is no specific punishment worked out between MLB and the MLBPA for if a player commits murder or some other capital crime, but there is no question MLB could punish/suspend a player in that instance. Its a minor technicality that these steroids werent covered by the CBA and were not explicitly against the rules. This was because of collective bargaining issues and MLB/MLBPA power struggles - NOT because anyone thought this wasnt "cheating." If you could go back in time to 1990 and ask players, managers, FO people, MLB execs, sportswriters and fans what they would think if a player was using a steroid for the purpose of performance enhancement Im sure they would all tell you "that's cheating." I think the Fay Vincent memo is just further evidence of this, but its intuitive as well.

ARod used two illegal substances - one controlled substance that required a subscription and one that was just flat out illegal. He was taking these with the intention of using them to enhance his on field performance. Whether or not and to what degree they actually aid baseball performance is another - and possibly fruitful - discussion. We dont need a rule to tell us this is cheating. Is there a rule in the official rules or CBA that specifically prohibits electronically stealing signs the way the Giants did against the Dodgers in 1951? No, there isnt. All there is, ironically, is a memo from the Commissioner saying "you can't do that." Same as there was with ARod and other juicers. Sign stealing just isnt the MLBPA's hot button issue the way steroids are - which is why Vincent admitted he didnt think he could enforce the '91 memo.

In fact, Ill go further and say this: If you went back to 2001-2003 and gave ARod Sodium Pentathol and asked if he thought what he was doing was "cheating" he would have had to admit "yes." If you did the same thing to him now he would again say it was cheating.



It was cheating IMO.
   37. ptodd Posted: February 10, 2009 at 08:07 AM (#3072943)
Babe Ruth injected himself with extractions derived from sheep testicles in the 1920s


So that was a form of testosterone I imagine. Et tu Babe?
   38. drdr Posted: February 10, 2009 at 08:27 AM (#3072948)
Im a little sick of hearing this "they werent against the rules at the time" angle

If a player got arrested for possession of steroids before, during or after 1991/the Fay Vincent memo there is no question baseball could and would have suspended that player. Doing things that are illegal was always grounds for suspension. There is no specific punishment worked out between MLB and the MLBPA for if a player commits murder or some other capital crime, but there is no question MLB could punish/suspend a player in that instance. Its a minor technicality that these steroids werent covered by the CBA and were not explicitly against the rules. This was because of collective bargaining issues and MLB/MLBPA power struggles - NOT because anyone thought this wasnt "cheating." If you could go back in time to 1990 and ask players, managers, FO people, MLB execs, sportswriters and fans what they would think if a player was using a steroid for the purpose of performance enhancement Im sure they would all tell you "that's cheating." I think the Fay Vincent memo is just further evidence of this, but its intuitive as well.

ARod used two illegal substances - one controlled substance that required a subscription and one that was just flat out illegal. He was taking these with the intention of using them to enhance his on field performance. Whether or not and to what degree they actually aid baseball performance is another - and possibly fruitful - discussion. We dont need a rule to tell us this is cheating. Is there a rule in the official rules or CBA that specifically prohibits electronically stealing signs the way the Giants did against the Dodgers in 1951? No, there isnt. All there is, ironically, is a memo from the Commissioner saying "you can't do that." Same as there was with ARod and other juicers. Sign stealing just isnt the MLBPA's hot button issue the way steroids are - which is why Vincent admitted he didnt think he could enforce the '91 memo.

In fact, Ill go further and say this: If you went back to 2001-2003 and gave ARod Sodium Pentathol and asked if he thought what he was doing was "cheating" he would have had to admit "yes." If you did the same thing to him now he would again say it was cheating.


Actually, Vincent may be one of those responsible for the lack of steroid testing. He tried to take full power and control over the subject that should have been collectively bargained. MLBPA was, of course, against it and steroids became a gray area - if somebody was arrested, he could have been disciplined, but until 2004 if somebody was merely discovered to be using steroids, no punishment could have been leveled.

Of course, players had long-standing precedent on their side - it was illegal to take greenies without prescription since 1965, and everybody who was at least a bit connected to baseball knew in 70's and 80's that lots of players were taking them continuously, and nobody reacted. And amphetamines are Schedule II in CSA, and steroids are Schedule III (after Balco, THG was added as Schedule I).
   39. davis21wylie Posted: February 10, 2009 at 10:55 AM (#3072957)
I don't think athletes push themselves to (and sometimes past) the limit at the behest of the fans at all. Most players couldn't give a s$%# about what the fans think. They do it in order to make money. And there's nothing wrong with that. We complain about how much athletes make, but their careers last 10 years if they're lucky, and they have to basically pack in all of their earnings (which normal people like us have the "luxury" of spreading over 30-40 years of work) into that tiny window. A baseball player drafted right out of high school has practically nothing to fall back on if he doesn't make it to the bigs and succeed once there, so he goes all out and does everything he can to play as well as he can for as long as he can. That even goes for somebody like A-Rod, whose large pile of cash will still have to last him from age 40-ish until the day he dies. So no, they're not doing this to win our respect or anything like that, they're doing this to provide financially for themselves when the day inevitably comes that their only marketable skill evaporates.
   40. Dan Szymborski Posted: February 10, 2009 at 03:09 PM (#3073017)
Is there a rule in the official rules or CBA that specifically prohibits electronically stealing signs the way the Giants did against the Dodgers in 1951? No, there isnt. All there is, ironically, is a memo from the Commissioner saying "you can't do that." Same as there was with ARod and other juicers. Sign stealing just isnt the MLBPA's hot button issue the way steroids are - which is why Vincent admitted he didnt think he could enforce the '91 memo.

These situations are not comparable. A commissioner has wide leeway to set and enforce guidelines for in-game conduct. A commissioner does not have wide leeway to set and enforce drug rules.

Of course he didn't think he could enforce the memo. His memo had only very slightly more authority than me writing a memo that for now on, I'm in a new 2% marginal tax bracket created just for me.

In fact, Ill go further and say this: If you went back to 2001-2003 and gave ARod Sodium Pentathol and asked if he thought what he was doing was "cheating" he would have had to admit "yes." If you did the same thing to him now he would again say it was cheating.

Now you're getting circular. You're arguing that steroids were cheating because cheaters were using steroids.

There is no specific punishment worked out between MLB and the MLBPA for if a player commits murder or some other capital crime, but there is no question MLB could punish/suspend a player in that instance.

And if this happens, I hope the MLBPA appeals it and wins. If A-Rod had set off dirty nukes in Boston, that should be an issue for the legal system, not baseball, apart from possible suspension for being unable to appear for games. Even the owners don't believe they can actually enforce the morals clause, as witnessed for the Rockies settling for 95% of what they owned Denny Neagle.
   41. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: February 10, 2009 at 03:24 PM (#3073030)
There is a certain hypocrisy between how sportswriters treated Carl Pavano and how they treat steroid abusers.

If Pavano's name is on the list, would that blow the lid off the whole "help you recover from injury" angle?
   42. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: February 10, 2009 at 04:09 PM (#3073079)
I believe that players who cheated should be punished, but I believe the stigma associated with the cheating should be removed.


You make it sound as if the stigma is worse than the punishment, but I'd argue that a big reason for the stigma is that there has been no punishment.

If A-Rod were suspended for the next year without pay, I think most fans would think justice had been done and not worry about it (as long as A-Rod didn't start using again).
   43. HGM Posted: February 10, 2009 at 04:12 PM (#3073083)
If A-Rod were suspended for the next year without pay, I think most fans would think justice had been done and not worry about it (as long as A-Rod didn't start using again).

But the smarter fans would realize that that'd be a gross misuse of power.
   44. JPWF13 Posted: February 10, 2009 at 04:20 PM (#3073098)
If a player got arrested for possession of steroids before, during or after 1991/the Fay Vincent memo there is no question baseball could and would have suspended that player.


Completely false, you need to work on your research a bit more. There is no question but that if Fay had suspended a player on such grounds the Union would have immediately filed a grievance and won- because in fact stuff like this did happen (involving drugs other than Peds) and the Union won.
   45. alskor Posted: February 10, 2009 at 04:24 PM (#3073103)
Now you're getting circular. You're arguing that steroids were cheating because cheaters were using steroids.


So? If it looks like cheating and smells like cheating - well, its probably cheating.
   46. JPWF13 Posted: February 10, 2009 at 04:45 PM (#3073126)
If A-Rod were suspended for the next year without pay, I think most fans would think justice had been done and not worry about it (as long as A-Rod didn't start using again).


I have just enough faith in my fellow humans to think that if ARod was suspended for next year without pay, he'd be seen as being unfairly punished and scapegoated.

The real question is, what if, everyone who fail;ed the 2003 tests (all 103- or all still in the MLB) were suspended for a year without pay.

Or better yet, let's retroactively go back and fine every former MLB player who anyone ever saw take greenies.

So? If it looks like cheating and smells like cheating - well, its probably cheating.


Is having TJ surgery cheating?
How about playing with a steel pin in a formerly fractured leg?
Is taking Creatine cheating?
Is taking three Tylenols on a game day that the player feels especially sore cheating?
Is drinking a can of Jolt Cola cheating?


It's cheating when it's against the RULES.
When it's not against the rules it's not cheating.

The Commish does not create the rules, he enforces them.
   47. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: February 10, 2009 at 04:51 PM (#3073132)
25 years before, Major League Baseball also came to terms with the MLBPA on a drug-testing deal, though cocaine was the more worrisome issue in the eyes of the public. Unfortunately, Bowie Kuhn subsequently announced that he was the final authority for anything not specifically outlined in the drug-testing arrangement, forcing the union to opt out of the agreement at their earliest allowed juncture.


Was this the criticism you made a while back about Kurn with regards to drugs?
   48. Dan Szymborski Posted: February 10, 2009 at 05:10 PM (#3073154)
Was this the criticism you made a while back about Kurn with regards to drugs?

Yup.
   49. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: February 10, 2009 at 05:22 PM (#3073166)
Kurn? How the heck did I make that typo.
   50. Slacker George Posted: February 10, 2009 at 10:20 PM (#3073573)
Any blame, if there is blame to be distributed, should be pointed directly at how we, the fans, view athletic excellence.


I don't agree.

If the fans are at fault for how they (I'm not including myself in this group) view athletic excellence, are these same fans angry at the players who haven't been outed for PED use, through either their innocence or non-leaks? Because if you're telling me that I forced a player to do this because of my own selfish expectations, then you're also saying I should be hopping mad at the non-ARods of the world who don't go to such lengths. Or even greater lengths.

It boggles the mind what players could be doing to their bodies but aren't. Or are doing to their bodies but I don't know about. How about amputing their arms and attaching gorilla arms? I'm all for it. Sure, they'd have to take more time to groom, but anything for my enjoyment of the game.

Do I need to spell out to players what illegal, immoral, unethical things I don't expect them to do in exchange for my loyalty?
   51. Steve Treder Posted: February 10, 2009 at 10:34 PM (#3073598)
The famous Pete Rose-Ray Fosse collision in the 1970 All-Star Game provides a compelling example of this phenomenon. Played over and over again, fans bring this up as an example of hard-nosed play from Charlie Hustle.


I have to disagree- the media hyped that as an example of a hard nosed play- the majority of Fans I know (including myself always viewed it as an instance of Rose being a jackass. (of course I don't come from Cincy and most fans I know don't come from Cincy...)

Fans who weren't actually around at the time may view it as an example of a hard-nosed play because the media has told them ever since that it was.


I'm a fan who was actually around at the time. I watched the play on TV as it happended.

I viewed it then, and always have since viewed it, as an example of hard-nosed play. Not because the media told me to, but because it was.

And I'm not from Cincy, and have never been a Reds fan.
   52. JPWF13 Posted: February 10, 2009 at 11:45 PM (#3073680)
I viewed it then, and always have since viewed it, as an example of hard-nosed play.


Well you just told me a lot about you.
   53. Steve Treder Posted: February 11, 2009 at 12:30 AM (#3073716)
Well you just told me a lot about you.

Well, I'm not exactly sure what you're choosing to read into it "about me." But the situation is this:

- Catchers don't have any right to position themselves between an onrushing baserunner and the plate and expect not to get creamed. That's within both the letter and spirit of the rules, and so it has always been.

- The play Rose made was nothing special about him. Frank Robinson would have made it exactly the same way, and Rose learned a lot of his baserunning approach from Robinson. And Hal McRae learned a lot of his baserunning approach from Rose, and George Brett learned a lot of his baserunning approach from McRae. To think that this play was one that Rose and only Rose would have made is naive.

- It's obviously the pits that Fosse suffered long-term effects from that injury. But Rose in no way went out of his way to hurt Fosse, or intended for Fosse to suffer any lingering effects of the play.

- Every baseball player risks injury every time they make a play. A catcher who puts himself in the position Fosse put himself on that play is knowingly taking a particular risk.
   54. JPWF13 Posted: February 11, 2009 at 12:52 AM (#3073733)
But the situation is this:


you forgot one thing,
it wasn't a World Series Game
it wasn't even a Spring Training Game where the runner is desperate to prove his scrappiness to the manager

it was an all star game
an exhibition


And Hal McRae was one of the dirtiest player I ever saw, citing HIM as an example? Hell one of my Law School profs used film of McRae taking out a fielder of an example of when a DA could prosecute an athlete for what happens on the field.
   55. Steve Treder Posted: February 11, 2009 at 01:05 AM (#3073739)
it was an all star game
an exhibition


In the modern era, everyone plays the All-Star Game as an exhibition. In 1970, that was distinctly not the case: every player played to win. Right or wrong, that's how it was, for Rose, Fosse, and everyone else playing that game.

Hell one of my Law School profs used film of McRae taking out a fielder of an example of when a DA could prosecute an athlete for what happens on the field.

Cute, but the fact is that no DA has ever prosecuted McRae, or any other baseball player in history, for his actions in breaking up a double play. I very strongly suspect your Law School prof never played second base or shortstop in professional baseball.
   56. JPWF13 Posted: February 11, 2009 at 01:13 AM (#3073745)
I very strongly suspect your Law School prof never played second base or shortstop in professional baseball.


No he was an ex-Hockey player, and he did once prosecute a minor league hockey player for on ice conduct...
   57. Steve Treder Posted: February 11, 2009 at 01:18 AM (#3073747)
No he was an ex-Hockey player, and he did once prosecute a minor league hockey player for on ice conduct...

Bully for him. The fact remains that in the history of professional baseball in the US, no baserunner has ever been prosecuted for his actions in breaking up a double play.

Baseball is a contact sport. Fielders get hit by baserunners, within the letter and spirit of the rules.
   58. comrade DDT Posted: February 11, 2009 at 02:58 AM (#3073840)
from #39:

I don't think athletes push themselves to (and sometimes past) the limit at the behest of the fans at all. Most players couldn't give a s$%# about what the fans think. They do it in order to make money.

Well, yes, but fans ultimately pay the players' salaries (either directly or indirectly), so these two are not unrelated. Players want to do well to make money, and baseball as a whole, and the players individually, makes money by producing an interesting product that people pay to see.


So no, they're not doing this to win our respect or anything like that, they're doing this to provide financially for themselves when the day inevitably comes that their only marketable skill evaporates.


I think that the constant campaigning/whining of several retired players in past years re: their HoF chances says otherwise, at least in some cases.
   59. Bug Selig Posted: February 11, 2009 at 10:11 PM (#3074904)
I think we, as a group are being pretty cynical in examining the motives of athletes. I remember playing through injuries in high school, sometimes with doctor-prescribed help. There was no question of money or glory or the Hall of Fame. The motive was simply team-based. To me, the standard for playing was simply "Am I hurt to the point that my backup is a better player today than I am?"

In the Rowand/Busby examples, I doubt seriously that the roar of the crowd had anything to do with their thought processes. More valuable to them, I would think, would be the reaction of their teammates.

Sport exists, in part, because people want to test their limits. They want to risk ridicule or injury for a chance at accomplishment. Kirk Gibson's homer off Eckersley isn't quite as heroic if he plays the whole game and can actually , you know, put weight on both legs. To suddenly expect people who have lived their whole lives risking more than most people and being unusually successful in that risk-taking to become purely rational and prudently cautious is delusional. They play sports, in part, because they don't stop to consider consequences. They go catch the damn ball. We, being analytical to the point that we come on this site everyday to debate this kind of thing, consider the risk while the ball caroms off the wall.
   60. grandmasterb Posted: February 13, 2009 at 03:55 AM (#3076154)
"Babe Ruth injected himself with extractions derived from sheep testicles in the 1920s." - Dan Szymborski

That is not a fact, as you make it seem to be.

"I have nothing but respect for Robert Creamer, but his criticism is far too confident and self-assured by half. He is correct that there are no signed affidavits proving that Ruth injecting himself with sheep testicles. That being said, it would fit with what we know about both the early days of the development of testosterone and Ruth's own penchant for self-destructive experimentation. It is sourced in Baseball's Hall of Shame and has also been a topic of discussion by many an old-time writer. Is it plausible that Ruth tried injections to enhance his abilities (whether in bed or otherwise)? I do think it is plausible. Is it a stone-cold fact? I can't say that any more than Bob Creamer can say with certainty that it was an ulcer, or that it was syphilis." - Dave Zirin

http://www.gelfmagazine.com/archives/the_babes_living_legend.php

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060522/zirin
   61. Dan Szymborski Posted: February 13, 2009 at 04:24 AM (#3076165)
That is not a fact, as you make it seem to be.


If one requires signed affidavits for private events that happened 90 years ago, one would find that facts are almost non-existent.

Even in the event that it turned out that Babe Ruth did not personally use sheep testicles, the point remains because the evidence that there were players doing this, as opposed to simply Ruth, is a good deal stronger, and thus the conclusion that athletes were attempting to dope at that time remains the same.
   62. Home Run Teal & Black Black Black Gone! Posted: February 22, 2009 at 10:59 PM (#3083251)
make sure to point at yourself, in the glare of the television.


Good sir: if you are blaming ME for the steroid plague then I must take offense. I had not a wit to do with it.

And if I MUST shoulder any responsibility for steroids in baseball, then I also demand credit for the power numbers put up in the eponymous era. How many of Alex Rodriguez's home runs do I get to take credit for?
   63. Home Run Teal & Black Black Black Gone! Posted: February 22, 2009 at 11:00 PM (#3083252)
"Whit", of course; though perhaps the irony of "wit" is more delicious than any proper usage could ever hope to be.
   64. The District Attorney Posted: February 23, 2009 at 12:15 AM (#3083292)
perhaps the irony of "wit" is more delicious than any proper usage could ever hope to be.
Nah.
   65. Steve Phillips' Hot Cougar (DrStankus) Posted: February 23, 2009 at 01:09 AM (#3083312)
50s and 60s baseball wasn't filled with speed freaks because of its fun as a recreational drug.


I thought it was to emulate the literary output of Phillip K. Dick.
   66. linos6 Posted: March 03, 2009 at 03:52 AM (#3090844)
Many Athelets try to make their fans proud by playing good at a game and being the BEST they can be,and its true fans expect to have the best players for their cheering team.
We want our players to make homeruns and win, so what makes our athletes to be good players?
Over the past few years they have found
   67. The District Attorney Posted: March 03, 2009 at 04:07 AM (#3090855)
Yup.
   68. linos6 Posted: March 03, 2009 at 04:26 AM (#3090869)
Many Athelets want to be the BEST players and try to make their fans proud,but whats really making these players to be good? For the past few years they have found out that our Atheletes having been taking Steroids. So now the question is why are our Atheletes taking drugs?
Is it because they feel the pressure from their fans to do good in games and be known as the Best, to be fast and strong, or is it because of how much money this atheletes really get pay. I honestly think that our Atheletes should really think about their fans and be good players but not by making the choice of using drugs or any source of drugs that will make them better, I think opur Atheletes should work hard for what they love doing, but not by making the wrong choice. Steroids or any kind of drugs its really not the right way to be a exellent player I think in order to be loved by their fans they need to work hard and dedicate themselves to the team. The true is the fans and the owners are not the people to blame for these athelets actions...so whos fault is it? I think its the atheletes fault because they are the ones who make the choice and they are the one s who to blame.

I also think that by taking drugs this super strong athletes are not only becoming popular and loved by their fans but they are also risking their lifes by taking drugs...
which may also cause them from stop playing....the question is though why the use of drugs?
Is it because our athletes care more of how much amount of money this players get or are they doing this because of the pressure they get from theit fans to be good and how much their fans expect from them? I strongly disagree with every player that makes that wrong choice because the true is if they really want to be the Best they got to be the best the right way...

I dont think players that have been found using any kind of drugs should have the opportunity to play for a Major League Baseball Team...I think using drugs is a way of cheating, but our players see it in a way of being better and winning. So now the question is is Steroids a new source for players to be good? Fans demand to have good players, but not players that cheat by using a drug that will make them better our Atheletes have to work hard and stop the use of drugs.
   69. Dr. Vaux Posted: March 03, 2009 at 04:37 AM (#3090878)
A new BTF classic!
   70. sunil sahal Posted: March 24, 2009 at 11:19 AM (#3112625)
All changes of data in an Oracle database can only be done within a transaction. A transaction must either be committed or rolled back.
How Annuities Work
   71. The District Attorney Posted: March 24, 2009 at 11:30 AM (#3112627)
#### OFF

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