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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds Deserve their honors

The PED hysteria is a witch-hunt, and the performance of Alex Rodriguez at an advanced age and after missing more than a year, shows that PEDS did not create his amazing performances of the past, according to former MLB consultant on player evaluation, Mike Gimbel.

caiman Posted: September 24, 2015 at 07:59 AM | 62 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: alex rodriguez, barry bonds, steroids, witch-hunt

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   1. Rennie's Tenet Posted: September 24, 2015 at 09:45 AM (#5045296)
A quick note to remind that there weren't actually any witches.
   2. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: September 24, 2015 at 10:37 AM (#5045339)
"Deserves got nothin' to do with it!"
   3. Dr. Phil Posted: September 24, 2015 at 11:08 AM (#5045427)
Or - ARod having half a good season proves that his use of PEDs extended his performance window thru the entire season. Without PEDs he would have been a half-season player.

Wow, that was easy. Making up facts is fun.
   4. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: September 24, 2015 at 11:21 AM (#5045442)
Bonds and Rodriguez are obviously qualified Hall of Famers, and it's kind of a joke at the institution's expense if they're kept out.

But, y'know... I wouldn't feel bad for them. I feel bad for Tim Raines and Alan Trammell; hell, I even feel a little bit bad for Orel Hershiser for being better than Jack Morris at the exact things Jack Morris's zealots were always banging on about that allegedly made him special, and poor Orel only got two years on the ballot. I can't say I feel bad for Barry Bonds or Alex Rodriguez at all.
   5. theboyqueen Posted: September 24, 2015 at 11:43 AM (#5045470)
FTA:

I am over 71 years old. I had a torn rotator cuff in my left shoulder two years ago. While I could throw very hard about 50 years ago, I would have trouble breaking a pane of glass today, even with my right arm, which is my throwing arm. I went to the doctor to get it treated. Guess what they did? They injected my shoulder with steroids! Did they think that I needed the injection to pitch for the Mets? Of course not. This is a standard medical treatment to repair your body and, in my case, after two injections and exercising under medical supervision, it worked and my shoulder is now fine.


Steroids!
   6. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: September 24, 2015 at 11:55 AM (#5045492)
I had a torn rotator cuff in my left shoulder two years ago. ... I went to the doctor to get it treated. Guess what they did? They injected my shoulder with steroids!

Gimbel should have his children taken away!
   7. Qufini Posted: September 24, 2015 at 12:24 PM (#5045540)
For what it's worth, caiman is Mike Gimbel.
   8. Srul Itza Posted: September 24, 2015 at 12:28 PM (#5045544)
They injected my shoulder with steroids!


Anabolic or corticoid? Little bit of a difference between the two.
   9. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: September 24, 2015 at 12:41 PM (#5045557)
In his last interview, Phil Rizzuto talked about being medically treated with steroids, and then burst out, "Ohhhhh, nooo, not those kind!"
   10. Booey Posted: September 24, 2015 at 01:19 PM (#5045582)
Anabolic or corticoid? Little bit of a difference between the two.


Honest question though - does the JDA prevent players from using substances that would be perfectly legal under the treatment of a doctor for anyone else?
   11. cardsfanboy Posted: September 24, 2015 at 01:40 PM (#5045594)
Bonds and Rodriguez are obviously qualified Hall of Famers, and it's kind of a joke at the institution's expense if they're kept out.

But, y'know... I wouldn't feel bad for them. I feel bad for Tim Raines and Alan Trammell; hell, I even feel a little bit bad for Orel Hershiser for being better than Jack Morris at the exact things Jack Morris's zealots were always banging on about that allegedly made him special, and poor Orel only got two years on the ballot. I can't say I feel bad for Barry Bonds or Alex Rodriguez at all.


Agree.

The thing we "know" about Bonds and Arod is both of these guys aren't stupid, I would wager that both of these guys would easily fit in the top 25 percentile of intelligence among ball players(if not higher, not talking baseball intelligence, talking general intelligence). These are guys who were probably pretty aware of what the possible reaction would be if they were ever discovered using and they choose to use regardless of the potential punishment, these aren't Pedro Guerrero level of intelligence who it would be believable that they would be easily fooled into thinking there was no consequences to their eventual discovery, but fairly smart men who weighed the pros/cons and made a decision.

The headline uses the wrong word. Deserve is not really the proper way to describe Bonds and Arod(Earn would probably be better). They are obvious qualified hofers, that much is true, but they lost the "deserve" title when they decided to cheat (and yes the same could be said about a few dozen other hofers, this isn't about the hypocrisy of who's in or who's not, that is a completely different discussion, but about using the word deserve to talk about a few guys who made a conscious decision to cheat, to me, deserve should be reserved for the guys who put up good careers and were exemplary in other aspect)
   12. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: September 24, 2015 at 01:43 PM (#5045595)
Honest question though - does the JDA prevent players from using substances that would be perfectly legal under the treatment of a doctor for anyone else?


Not quite on point but I know one of the issues with getting NHL players into the Olympics was that the Olympic testing program had some issues with respect to legal medications. At the very least the JDA have substances that are legal on the banned list but you can get a Therapeutic Use Exemption for some of those.
   13. toratoratora Posted: September 24, 2015 at 01:59 PM (#5045608)
Honest question though - does the JDA prevent players from using substances that would be perfectly legal under the treatment of a doctor for anyone else?

I'm not sure about that but MLB did let A-Rod take testosterone in 2009.
From SI

What hasn’t been reported until now is that Rodriguez won that MVP with permission from Major League Baseball to use performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).

Under baseball’s performance-enhancing drug policy, players can apply for a so-called therapeutic use exemption (TUE) to take certain medical substances otherwise banned by MLB. A doctor appointed by both sides—the independent program administrator (IPA) -- reviews all applications. Baseball also has an expert medical panel to advise the IPA. If an exemption is granted, the player cannot be punished for using that substance. The exemption is good for one year.

Before the 2007 season, Rodriguez asked for permission to use testosterone, which has been banned by baseball since 2003. The IPA in '07 was Bryan W. Smith, a High Point, N.C., physician. (Baseball did not yet have the advisory medical panel.) On Feb. 16, 2007, two days before Rodriguez reported to spring training, Smith granted the exemption, allowing Rodriguez to use testosterone all season.

The exemption was revealed in a transcript of Rodriguez’s fall 2013 grievance hearing. During that proceeding, MLB entered into evidence several exemptions applied for by Rodriguez during his Yankees tenure. In his testimony, MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred called testosterone “the mother of all anabolics” and said that exemptions for the substance are “very rare,” partly because “some people who have been involved in this field feel that with a young male, healthy young male, the most likely cause of low testosterone requiring this type of therapy would be prior steroid abuse.”
   14. Jeltzandini Posted: September 24, 2015 at 02:06 PM (#5045612)
The thing we "know" about Bonds and Arod is both of these guys aren't stupid, I would wager that both of these guys would easily fit in the top 25 percentile of intelligence among ball players

My vague but highly rigorous impression is that Bonds is quite bright and ARod no better than average.
   15. Mirabelli Dictu (Chris McClinch) Posted: September 24, 2015 at 02:13 PM (#5045617)
They are obvious qualified hofers, that much is true, but they lost the "deserve" title when they decided to cheat (and yes the same could be said about a few dozen other hofers, this isn't about the hypocrisy of who's in or who's not, that is a completely different discussion, but about using the word deserve to talk about a few guys who made a conscious decision to cheat, to me, deserve should be reserved for the guys who put up good careers and were exemplary in other aspect)


Somewhat semantic and somewhat not: A-Rod made a conscious decision to cheat. Bonds made a conscious decision to use PEDs. The distinction being whether there existed a testing program, penalties, or a reasonable expectation that the rest of the sport was predominantly clean. My hypothetical HOF ballots would have Bonds and Clemens in, A-Rod and Manny out.
   16. cardsfanboy Posted: September 24, 2015 at 02:20 PM (#5045621)
Somewhat semantic and somewhat not: A-Rod made a conscious decision to cheat. Bonds made a conscious decision to use PEDs. The distinction being whether there existed a testing program, penalties, or a reasonable expectation that the rest of the sport was predominantly clean. My hypothetical HOF ballots would have Bonds and Clemens in, A-Rod and Manny out.


I'm not really seeing a distinction. It doesn't really matter (except to lawyers, and considering that is the most evil people in the world, siding with them is never a good thing) what the technical rules are on cheating, anyone would have known that roids or other PED's were something that was against the spirit of the game, and would have been perceived as cheating by most people, which is why they hid their usage instead of openly acknowledging it.

Personally, I support PED's. Openly do them, have a doctor administer them etc. I want the best athletes in the best possible shape with the best ability to remain healthy, PED's provide that feature, but I'm in a vast minority and know it.

My vague but highly rigorous impression is that Bonds is quite bright and ARod no better than average.


I'm fairly certain Bonds is extremely intelligent, but my impression on Arod was that he was above average at least.
   17. Booey Posted: September 24, 2015 at 02:45 PM (#5045638)
anyone would have known that roids or other PED's were something that was against the spirit of the game, and would have been perceived as cheating by most people, which is why they hid their usage instead of openly acknowledging it.


Or because it was illegal. Same reason athletes typically aren't open to discussing their recreational drug use, hooking up with underage groupies, etc.

Edit: Not saying that most people wouldn't have considered it cheating, just that it's not the ONLY reason why an athlete would keep quiet about it. It might not even be the main reason.

   18. bbmck Posted: September 24, 2015 at 02:57 PM (#5045643)
A-Rod and Barry both collected MLB paychecks in 2015 to the best of my knowledge. A-Rod getting paid slightly more to play than Barry got for coaching, McGwire is/was also working in MLB. If Cooperstown wants to present the history of the game they will need to figure something out. By and large the drawing card is that MLB and some teams and players think the institution is meaningful and gift them with millions of dollars worth of memorabilia to generate ticket sales and players will make unpaid public appearances on behalf of the institution and generate a lot of revenue for the HoF.

Simply on inertia the HoF is likely to exist for decades without doing anything to address their hypocrisy and terrible plaque room standards of both inclusion and exclusion but there is a generation growing up with smart phones in their hands and some of them will play baseball and a thousand or so will play MLB (others will grow up in other countries where smart phones are not common devices) and a few dozen will be among the best to ever play the game and will be eligible for the HoF 40+ years after Barry and Clemens first failed to be selected on 75%+ of the ballots. Hopefully the HoF isn't too surprised when someone admires Barry and/or Clemens and seeks to match or exceed the accomplishments of those players and feels no urge to gift Cooperstown with memorabilia from their milestone moments or even have any interest in attending a ceremony that Cooperstown has to celebrate the career of that player.

If executives in Cooperstown want a preview of things to come on their current path they can call 1-888-221-NLBM.
   19. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: September 24, 2015 at 03:04 PM (#5045648)
Bobby Bonds raised his boy to be cynical as all hell before he ever put on a major league uniform. I have little doubt that the story told in the tell-all book about Barry--that after watching with intense envy the entire sports world genuflecting before McGwire and Sosa in '98, he deliberately decided to flagrantly roid himself up to Incredible Hulk proportions and show the world what a great ballplayer roided to the gills could do--is true basically as told.
   20. Mirabelli Dictu (Chris McClinch) Posted: September 24, 2015 at 03:13 PM (#5045661)
Granted that I come at this from a perspective of strength sports, where steroid use is the norm and yet typically not reported on for reasons of legality. I'm a lifetime natural, but most aren't.

As such, I see anabolic steroids as having been part of the world of athletic competition for the past 60 years or so. Unless a sport is tested, I assume that the majority of top competitors are juicing. This is true in sports where the reward for a world record is bragging rights and a plastic trophy, which means you'd be naive to assume that it's not true where there are nine-figure contracts at stake.

Baseball, of course, has a long tradition of treating illegal performance enhancing drugs as just part of the game; this is the point that the "but amphetamines!" crowd has been making for years. The culture of the game itself decided generations ago that performance enhancing drugs were part of the continuum of things you could do to gain a competitive edge or keep up with the Joneses. Baseball then elected to juice the ball, build bandbox ballparks, market the hell out of home runs, pay the highest salaries to the home run hitters, and even agree to strike any language regarding steroids from player contracts. In that environment, choosing to use performance enhancing drugs is very much within the culture of the sport; in an untested sport that's set up to reward PED use, it's pointless moralizing to call it cheating. You might as well claim that it's cheating to use steroids in professional bodybuilding.

Establishing testing and penalties for use takes the presumption from baseball being an "open" sport to a "tested" sport. In an open sport, you assume the competition is using, whether you choose to or not. In a tested sport, you do indeed have the presumption that the competition is clean. How reasonable that presumption is, is a question I don't want to get into here. The point is, taking drugs in a tested sport is a dramatically different situation from taking them in an open sport, and I do think the appropriate response differs.
   21. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: September 24, 2015 at 03:40 PM (#5045689)
Teams didn't merely look the other way on their players using steroids. They encouraged them to, at least some of them. I personally know a guy--well, I don't know him very well, but I know his father well--but the son washed out of the low minors about ten years ago, after his manager and coaches repeatedly told him that he needed to, quote, "get stronger." According to him they would repeat those two words to him like a mantra anytime he talked to a coach about his playing time or future prospects: "You need to get stronger." Well, he was already working his ass off at strength training, and they knew that. It wasn't very hard for him to understand exactly what they meant he needed to do if he stayed in baseball. He never touched steroids and washed out of the game. When his manager told him he was being released, he said, obviously agitated, "I've been slaving away for years trying to get stronger, what else do you want me to do?" and the manager just said "whatever you have to" and wouldn't say anything else.

I've heard and read very similar tales from players who didn't make it; that's the only one I heard firsthand. He and others could just be grinding axes and spewing bullshit. But I very much doubt it.
   22. Dudefella Posted: September 24, 2015 at 04:18 PM (#5045723)
#20:
Establishing testing and penalties for use takes the presumption from baseball being an "open" sport to a "tested" sport. In an open sport, you assume the competition is using, whether you choose to or not. In a tested sport, you do indeed have the presumption that the competition is clean. How reasonable that presumption is, is a question I don't want to get into here. The point is, taking drugs in a tested sport is a dramatically different situation from taking them in an open sport, and I do think the appropriate response differs.


While I agree with almost all of what you're saying, I think I wouldn't even go so far as to say that "tested" sports deserve any presumption that the athletes are clean. I mean, you know this (hi from The Bad Place, btw): the Crossfit Games are "tested." So are the Olympics, the Tour de France, the IPF, and the NFL. I think the only fair presumption is that the guys who haven't been popped yet, haven't been popped yet.
   23. deputydrew Posted: September 24, 2015 at 04:23 PM (#5045728)
These are guys who were probably pretty aware of what the possible reaction would be if they were ever discovered using


Why? If you assume Bonds started using after the 1998 HR bonanza, why would he assume he'd be a pariah? No one else was.
   24. cardsfanboy Posted: September 24, 2015 at 04:31 PM (#5045738)
Why? If you assume Bonds started using after the 1998 HR bonanza, why would he assume he'd be a pariah? No one else was.


Common sense. Nobody had been caught yet, everyone was hiding it, but there was already some pretty public outcry against perceived users, before anyone even had been caught yet. It was pretty obvious the tide was eventually going to turn, to think it wasn't would have been living with your head buried in the sand.
   25. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: September 24, 2015 at 04:40 PM (#5045751)
While I agree with almost all of what you're saying, I think I wouldn't even go so far as to say that "tested" sports deserve any presumption that the athletes are clean.


I think it's safe to presume there are any number of players still using. But in any sport* with testing the presumption for the individual should be clean until proven otherwise.

Why? If you assume Bonds started using after the 1998 HR bonanza, why would he assume he'd be a pariah? No one else was.


I don't know if anyone could predict the degree to which the press/public would turn on the steroid users, and the steroid users alone, but I do think it should have been understood that the PEDs for Everyone era wasn't going to last forever.

* How many we assume are using is dependent on the degree to which PEDs EP. In sports where there's a more direct relationship between speed/strength/endurance and results (such as cycling or powerlifting), we can probably assume greater usage rates than in a sport that's primarily skill-based such as baseball.



   26. Walt Davis Posted: September 24, 2015 at 05:39 PM (#5045783)
Disagree with cfb completely.

It wasn't cheating. First it wasn't against the rules. And it's not like it wasn't against the rules because nobody had thought to include it in the rules. They had been testing in the Olympics for 30 years, many other sports were testing, baseball had been talking about steroids for a decade ... and there was no rule. Blame the MLBPA if you want but it was a conscious, knowing decision on the part of the MLB power structure to keep roid use legal within baseball.

Second, yes it was against the law but amp use was against the law and, for most of the time, amps were on a tougher "schedule" with legal penalties and actual potential jail time just for possession. Baseball of course had been using amps for 40+ years when Bonds joined BALCO.

Third, roid use was quite open within the game of baseball. Not as open as amp use, but players talked to other players, shared dealer information, shared drugs. Heck, guys like Grimsley and Manny Alexander seem to have been dealing. If you were on the Mariners and wanted to get as strong as Bret Boone, all you had to do was ask Bret Boone.

Fourth, with a few exceptions, the players weren't upset about this. Guys were cheering on Mac and Sosa. I recall Mac hitting a bomb off Hershiser -- I think it was the one that broke the McDonald's sign but I might be confusing highlights -- and the camera caught Hershiser's reaction. It wasn't "you cheating scum" it was a "Wow!" of admiration.

The use of roids was open, in the spirit of the game, accepted within the game, not against the rules of the game. Yes, players should have (and seem to have) known that public reaction would be negative if it came out that they were using. But owners, players, fans in blessed ignorance and the press were all happy with what was going on.

So it wasn't cheating by the rules of the game, it wasn't cheating by the spirit of the game, it wasn't cheating in the eyes of the players, managers, owners and it wasn't cheating by the law of the land anymore than amp use was. (What #38 said.) It was only "cheating" by some naive publicly perceived "Olympic" ideal of true sportsmanship that has never existed but makes some folks feel all warm inside like 1950s family value myths.

As to Bonds and BALCO in particular -- BALCO was a legally incorporated entity operating in the light of day. They sponsored a track team for crying out loud. Their roster of Olympic clients wasn't exactly a secret. Bonds wasn't hiding anything -- he had a freelance reporter for NYT Magazine come out to do a big story and watch him and Sheffield work out with Greg Anderson. It couldn't have been more "on the up and up." (The brazenness of BALCO sponsoring a track team is just brilliant in its way.)

Through my cycling, I've met two former pro riders who chatted about their experiences. One raced in the 70s in the big races in Europe and he was pissed about the cheating then and pissed about the current cheating ... but that there had been 40 years of continuous cheating points to the futility of thinking a sport is ever clean. And, from his stories, it sounds like it was nearly every cyclist 40 years ago and we have pretty good evidence that it has been the vast majority of pro cyclists at least through the Armstrong era.

The other guy raced about 20 years ago. He never made it to the elite level, only AAA. He says it's because he wouldn't do PEDs. He was encouraged to by coaches, etc. He didn't seem angry at all, he simply saw it as one of the sacrifices you have to make if you want to reach the elite level -- just like you've got to commit to 20 hours of riding every week and working out and eating right and pushing your body to its limits in a race. Just as others might not have the level of commitment necessary to reach and maintain their "natural" physical peak, he wasn't willing to make the commitment to PED use to reach the next level. (It's of course possible that he simply wasn't good enough under any circumstances and/or didn't have sufficient commitment ... he didn't seem very fond of his days in pro cycling.)
   27. Rob_Wood Posted: September 24, 2015 at 05:58 PM (#5045796)

Walt has stolen my thunder (thanks Walt) so I will simply say that I agree with him. cfb has a totally wrong interpretation of history of PEDs in MLB. PED users were not pariahs in baseball circa 1998-2001. There is no reason for Bonds to believe that he would become a pariah if he got caught using PEDs at the time. And it wasn't cheating, at least how I and others normally use that term.
   28. Rally Posted: September 24, 2015 at 06:29 PM (#5045824)
For some reason the public attitude towards the big power hitters changed between 1998 and 2001. It went from "this is really cool" to "this is ridiculous". Maybe because people think Bonds is an #######. Hard to be sure why, but it happened.
   29. toratoratora Posted: September 24, 2015 at 06:41 PM (#5045836)
For some reason the public attitude towards the big power hitters changed between 1998 and 2001. It went from "this is really cool" to "this is ridiculous". Maybe because people think Bonds is an #######. Hard to be sure why, but it happened.


Partly Bonds being an asshat, but mostly I think it ws because while it's cool to see a long standing record broken from time to time, it's another thing when those records get smashed on an annual basis.
Between 1928 and 1997, one player hit 60 HR. Sosa did it three times in four years.
Is it any wonder people got skeptical?

Baseball then elected to juice the ball, build bandbox ballparks, market the hell out of home runs, pay the highest salaries to the home run hitters, and even agree to strike any language regarding steroids from player contracts.

This.
Times ten.
The main reason I don't make a big deal about steroids is that I assume near everyone was using them.
Their use was,if not encouraged, certainly condoned with a wink and a nudge.

I've told this before but I remember watching PTI the day after the found Creatine in McG's locker. Wilbon thought it was no big deal. After all, football players juice like mad and the public yawns. Tony K though, thought it was going to be a huge deal because baseball had such numerical ties to the past and how they romanticized such things.
So even then, the press was debating steroids.
I do think that in the post Michael Johnson era, all athletes knew that the juicing brush could hurt their public image.
That's why they hid the use in ways players never hid amps. If they really thought there was nothing wrong with the use, they would have had fishbowls stocked in the clubhouse.
   30. Mirabelli Dictu (Chris McClinch) Posted: September 24, 2015 at 06:43 PM (#5045838)
#22: I had wondered what your BBTF handle was during the Tony Gwynn thread.


What you're referring to was what I was trying to sidestep with the "How reasonable that presumption is, is a question I don't want to get into here" comment. I'd agree that there are tested sports where it's clear that basically everyone is using, and that in those sports 1) use is part of a level playing field and 2) generally the powers that be so little want to pop people that the drug test is really an IQ test.

I don't think that's the type of sport baseball is working to become, though. I get the impression that the game really is trying to clean itself up--both of steroids and amphetamines--which means that I'd consider steroid use in baseball today cheating in a way that I wouldn't consider it cheating in the NFL.
   31. Booey Posted: September 24, 2015 at 06:45 PM (#5045840)
For some reason the public attitude towards the big power hitters changed between 1998 and 2001. It went from "this is really cool" to "this is ridiculous". Maybe because people think Bonds is an #######. Hard to be sure why, but it happened.

HR fatigue may have entered into the equation too. McGwire/Sosa broke a record that had stood for 37 years (and really wasn't even challenged for 36 years). Bonds broke a record that was only 3 years old. During the summer of '98, 60 homers felt like a really big deal. But by the end of 2001, there had been six 60 homer seasons in the last 4 years and it no longer felt very special. I never felt any animosity towards Barry and I was still much less excited about the 2001 HR chase than I was in 1998. By then it was hard not to admit that for whatever reason, HR's just didn't quite mean what they used to.

Also, in September of 2001, Americans had something else on their minds that seemed a little more important than sports records...

Edit: coke to tora
   32. cardsfanboy Posted: September 24, 2015 at 06:46 PM (#5045842)
There was already people having issues with Canseco on Roids before 1998, and the only reason it wasn't big during the homerun chase was because the chase was a fun story that people didn't want tarnished, even then people were trying to dig up roid issues. It was pretty obvious that inevitably there was going to be a backlash against it.

   33. Booey Posted: September 24, 2015 at 06:58 PM (#5045857)
There was already people having issues with Canseco on Roids before 1998

Was there? He was widely believed to be using way back in 1988, and other than the hecklers in Boston with their steroid chant I don't remember him getting any flak for it. Maybe the Fenway crowd was calling him out as a cheater, but it seemed more just like any other excuse to heckle an opponent to me, no different than they would've done if he'd gotten a DUI or been caught with a hooker or something. I don't remember anyone saying that his MVP award should be taken away, or that his 40/40 "record" was tainted and shouldn't be recognized, or that he shouldn't have been eligible to play in the postseason or make the HOF if his career warranted it, etc, etc. All those reactions to PED use materialized a decade and a half later.
   34. Squash Posted: September 24, 2015 at 07:11 PM (#5045866)
It wasn't cheating. First it wasn't against the rules. And it's not like it wasn't against the rules because nobody had thought to include it in the rules. They had been testing in the Olympics for 30 years, many other sports were testing, baseball had been talking about steroids for a decade ... and there was no rule. Blame the MLBPA if you want but it was a conscious, knowing decision on the part of the MLB power structure to keep roid use legal within baseball.

How could it not be against the rules if it couldn't legally be within the rules? It's a jurisdictional question. If you can't legally make something within the rules, then by definition it's outside the rules - making the ruling is not your bailiwick.

Punishment however is a different question - what the 2004 agreement created was a process for MLB to formally punish players within MLB above and beyond whatever legal punishments/restrictions were already in place.
   35. cardsfanboy Posted: September 24, 2015 at 07:11 PM (#5045867)
Was there? He was widely believed to be using way back in 1988, and other than the hecklers in Boston with their steroid chant I don't remember him getting any flak for it. Maybe the Fenway crowd was calling him out as a cheater, but it seemed more just like any other excuse to heckle an opponent to me, no different than they would've done if he'd gotten a DUI or been caught with a hooker or something. I don't remember anyone saying that his MVP award should be taken away, or that his 40/40 "record" was tainted and shouldn't be recognized, or that he shouldn't have been eligible to play in the postseason or make the HOF if his career warranted it, etc, etc. All those reactions to PED use materialized a decade and a half later.


Most everywhere he played he was being heckled, and just because the reaction wasn't to the level it would get, it was pretty apparent that it was going to escalate at some point in time. That sports writer in St Louis who saw the drug in McGwires locker wasn't the only person talking about this stuff, innuendo and whispers was everywhere and it was boiling and it was pretty obviously boiling, the homerun chase just put the innuendo back in the closet for the greater enjoyment of the moment, but it didn't stop people from grumbling about it.

I don't think anyone could have predicted how over the top the reaction might have been, but it was pretty clear that there was going to be a reaction and some people were going to get burned by it. (whether they thought they would lose hof eligibility is a different story, but they had to know that there was going to be some type of negative reaction when it did come out)
   36. cardsfanboy Posted: September 24, 2015 at 07:13 PM (#5045871)
How could it not be against the rules if it couldn't legally be within the rules? It's a jurisdictional question. If you can't legally make something within the rules, then by definition it's outside the rules - making the ruling is not your bailiwick.


Easy....you go home to the Dominican where it's legal and you do it there. Then others can use the logical argument if they can do it, then why should we be punished for living in an area where it's illegal?

   37. Rally Posted: September 24, 2015 at 07:20 PM (#5045881)
That wasn't creative in McGwire's locker. It was Andrew 'Steen' Dionne. Legal then, illegal now.
   38. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: September 24, 2015 at 07:30 PM (#5045889)
Between 1928 and 1997, one player hit 60 HR. Sosa did it three times in four years.


Is there really that much difference between 63-66 HR in a 162 game season, and 56-58 in a 154?
   39. toratoratora Posted: September 24, 2015 at 07:32 PM (#5045890)
Raises hand.
I confess to steroid heckling Canseco on numerous occasions and I was far from the only guy in the stands doing so
Is there really that much difference between 63-66 HR in a 162 game season, and 56-58 in a 154?

Hitting 7-8 HR in 8 games after a dynamite year already is a lot to ask.

But I think the public (Led on by the press) romanticizes certain numbers in sports and 60 was one of the most sacred of all. So from an emotional standpoint, yeah, I think it was a big deal. And it was bigger deal that something that had only been done twice in history was now happening on a seemingly annual basis.

I say this as a huge Bonds fan and a guy who loved every minute of the 98 race. I had tears in my eyes when big Mac broke the record
   40. Rob_Wood Posted: September 24, 2015 at 08:14 PM (#5045942)

While I agree with tora's point, the battle over the sacredness of 60 home runs was fought by Roger Maris in 1961. For well over 30 years, Maris held the single season home run record at 61. And Maris was not a media darling or one of the icons of the sport, especially during the 1990s.

I would imagine that the vast vast majority of baseball fans and executives would have been happy to see a current player eclipse Maris's total. Everybody old enough to have lived through the 1998 home run chase will pay testament to that belief.

While cfb and others have a valid point that some "backlash" was probably inevitable, it took a villain like Barry Bonds (okay, strike "like") to tip the scales all the way to the other side. We could live with McGwire being the all-time single-season home run champ, even embrace it and relish in it. But the thought of a cheating scum like Barry Bonds holding that record made people hopping mad. I still cannot really fathom it.
   41. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: September 24, 2015 at 08:27 PM (#5045953)
It's part racism and part the fact that Barry Bonds was a colossal ####### to everyone around him practically from his crib. The baseball press near unanimously hated his guts long before he touched steroids.

Maris held the record longer than Ruth did. As someone too young to remember Maris, that was startling to realize.
   42. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: September 24, 2015 at 08:33 PM (#5045956)
Maris held the record longer than Ruth did. As someone too young to remember Maris, that was startling to realize.


Technically no. Ruth held the record from the end of 1919 till the end of 1961, 42 years. Maris held the record from the end of 1961 till the end of 1998, 37 years.
   43. Booey Posted: September 24, 2015 at 08:35 PM (#5045959)
Raises hand.
I confess to steroid heckling Canseco on numerous occasions and I was far from the only guy in the stands doing so


Sure, but did you really think he was a dirty cheater that disgraced the game and all his accomplishments were irrelevant because of it like people do with steroid guys now, or was it just a handy excuse to heckle an already unlikable opponent?
   44. Booey Posted: September 24, 2015 at 08:39 PM (#5045963)
Is there really that much difference between 63-66 HR in a 162 game season, and 56-58 in a 154?


I think there is, in the same way that 20 wins feels different than 19, 50 homers feels different than 48, or a .400 avg feels different than .390. Number of games doesn't really change the "feel" much. At least not to me.
   45. toratoratora Posted: September 24, 2015 at 09:29 PM (#5045979)
Sure, but did you really think he was a dirty cheater that disgraced the game and all his accomplishments were irrelevant because of it like people do with steroid guys now, or was it just a handy excuse to heckle an already unlikable opponent?

I'll go with heckling an already unlikable opponent for $500, Alex.
That comes with the caveat that we were heckling for being a cheater.
Pretty much same as we'd have razzed a guy (Sosa?) with a corked bat or any other inconvenient deal.

I don't get to uptight about roids. Obviously the league didn't care. The PA didn't care. The press didn't care.

It's also true that things changed post Jose. If forced to guess I'd say a small % of the league was using in his time (And likely had been since at least the 60's. See the AFL Chargers for some interesting stuff re steroids in the Sixties)but by the late nineties I think Gammons had it right when he quoted an anonymous player as saying "The only people who don't use them are too stupid or scared." (Scared usually involving religious beliefs)

So if everyone is using and the powers that be don't give a damn, why should I?
I'm most certainly not going to get all morally judgmental about it. Are you freaking kidding me? If I'm some kid from the ghetto's of South America or some third world poor Caribbean country (And anyone who's done some traveling through the islands knows how poor they are)and I'm a middling player and someone tells me if I take these pills I can make enough money to not only take care of me and my kids but my kids kids kids, I'm doing that in a heartbeat.
Cripes.
We take people, teach them to be massively competitive from the gate, celebrate athletes who are obsessed with winning (Cough, cough, Jordan) and then ask them not to do something that makes them better, earns them more money, wins more games, contributes to the team. That's against everything they've ever been taught and every instinct drilled into them from the second their athletic prowess stood out.
Of course many of them are going to use, especially as the skills start to fade and the exit from the only thing they've ever known beckons.

I also tend to agree with McG's statement about why he used them to stay on the field, that they helped heal the small nagging day to day injuries that drag. I see that as one of the main benefits of juicing. I'm friends with some pretty serious MMA types, a few of whom do steroids and pretty much all of them agree with that assessment.

My main beef with steroids is they skew the field against the guy who, for whatever reason, doesn't want to take them. That's not fair to him and he shouldn't have to take an uncontrolled illegal substance to compete.
But again, whatever.
Ask Rick Helling how complaining to your peers about that works out.

Part of, hell, I think a big reason, Bonds is the prime target for steroid smearing is that he was simply too damn good. Take a good to great player like McG or Sosa, load them up, they do wild things. Take an Inner Circle HoF'er and give him roids and you get the baseball version of the Hulk. Bonds broke the game. I mean really, 232 BB, 120 intentional. A 1.422 OPS. 243 OPS+. That's absurd. Those are video game numbers. Naturally "traditionalists" had a cow. His numbers were to staggering to ignore.

I think there is, in the same way that 20 wins feels different than 19, 50 homers feels different than 48, or a .400 avg feels different than .390. Number of games doesn't really change the "feel" much. At least not to me.

It's 8 HR in 8 games. That's a big difference.
   46. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: September 24, 2015 at 09:33 PM (#5045983)
Deserve's got nothin' to do with it.
   47. Squash Posted: September 25, 2015 at 01:59 AM (#5046058)
How could it not be against the rules if it couldn't legally be within the rules? It's a jurisdictional question. If you can't legally make something within the rules, then by definition it's outside the rules - making the ruling is not your bailiwick.

Easy....you go home to the Dominican where it's legal and you do it there. Then others can use the logical argument if they can do it, then why should we be punished for living in an area where it's illegal?


I'm making more a rhetorical point - MLB legally couldn't make steroid use within the rules, therefore they didn't have to rule on whether steroid use was against the rules - it was automatically so, since it couldn't be anything else. What the league didn't have was a negotiated agreement with the Player's Association to punish players within baseball for using steroids (suspensions, banning, etc.) above and beyond whatever legal punishments players using steroids would already face (fines, probation, jail time, etc., whatever the punishment for illegal possession of steroids is).
   48. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 25, 2015 at 07:06 AM (#5046066)
The thing we "know" about Bonds and Arod is both of these guys aren't stupid, I would wager that both of these guys would easily fit in the top 25 percentile of intelligence among ball players(if not higher, not talking baseball intelligence, talking general intelligence).

My unscientific impression is that Bonds is very intelligent and A-Rod is not very bright. I guess based on the results you could question how smart either one of them is -- they made many millions of dollars, perhaps more than they could have if they hadn't cheated (perhaps not), but they likely have denied themselves the game's biggest honor and a lot of post-playing career earnings potential.

While cfb and others have a valid point that some "backlash" was probably inevitable, it took a villain like Barry Bonds (okay, strike "like") to tip the scales all the way to the other side. We could live with McGwire being the all-time single-season home run champ, even embrace it and relish in it. But the thought of a cheating scum like Barry Bonds holding that record made people hopping mad. I still cannot really fathom it.

I agree that the main thing was that people didn't like Barry, but McGwire was a great home run hitter from his rookie season, and frequently mentioned as the guy who could break Maris' record. Also, while McGwire merely had a great season in the year he broke the record, Bonds kind of made a mockery of baseball statistics with his big 4-year run. His numbers were like something out of a video game, getting on base 60+% of the time one season, slugging over .800, batting .370 which power hitters not named Ruth aren't supposed to do. His cumulative OPS+ of 256 for those 4 years would be tied for the single-season record; Ruth's best was 255. Something just didn't feel right.

Bonds wasn't hiding anything

This is ridiculous. You can't claim that Bonds was completely open about his PED usage when he's never admitted to knowingly using them. Either he's telling the truth and he didn't know what he was putting in his body, or he's lying. But no player as far as I know, and certainly not Bonds, has made the "well it wasn't really cheating" argument in public. Because they know it's not true.
   49. Mirabelli Dictu (Chris McClinch) Posted: September 25, 2015 at 07:26 AM (#5046070)
I'm making more a rhetorical point - MLB legally couldn't make steroid use within the rules, therefore they didn't have to rule on whether steroid use was against the rules - it was automatically so, since it couldn't be anything else.


This is pure idiocy and ignores the landscape of sports in general over the past 50 years. In a world where some sports test and others don't, the implication is that steroid use is tacitly encouraged in the sports that don't test.
   50. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 25, 2015 at 08:20 AM (#5046087)

This is pure idiocy and ignores the landscape of sports in general over the past 50 years. In a world where some sports test and others don't, the implication is that steroid use is tacitly encouraged in the sports that don't test.

I would say this is misguided, if not "pure idiocy" as well. Some sports may not have had testing because they didn't think testing was necessary. Certainly for a long time the perception was that increased muscle mass would not help in baseball, and weightlifting was not a big portion of player training. Despite the prevalence of steroids in some sports and their widespread availability in the 70s and 80s, it seems that very few players were using them.
   51. Booey Posted: September 25, 2015 at 09:34 AM (#5046147)
double post
   52. Booey Posted: September 25, 2015 at 09:34 AM (#5046148)
I would say this is misguided, if not "pure idiocy" as well. Some sports may not have had testing because they didn't think testing was necessary. Certainly for a long time the perception was that increased muscle mass would not help in baseball, and weightlifting was not a big portion of player training. Despite the prevalence of steroids in some sports and their widespread availability in the 70s and 80s, it seems that very few players were using them.


Maybe in the 70's and 80's, but the stigma against weight training was long gone by the 90's. Guys were bulking up like never before, and if the league didn't put two and two together and decide that it was time for PED testing, that had to be a deliberate choice and not merely an oversight.
   53. zack Posted: September 25, 2015 at 09:48 AM (#5046165)
Just as others might not have the level of commitment necessary to reach and maintain their "natural" physical peak, he wasn't willing to make the commitment to PED use to reach the next level

There's also the fact that EPO can straight-up kill you, unlike steroids which might mess up your body some time in the future, maybe.
   54. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: September 25, 2015 at 10:10 AM (#5046187)
I have little doubt that the story told in the tell-all book about Barry--that after watching with intense envy the entire sports world genuflecting before McGwire and Sosa in '98, he deliberately decided to flagrantly roid himself up to Incredible Hulk proportions and show the world what a great ballplayer roided to the gills could do--is true basically as told.

Even though Ken Griffey, the clean one in the purported conversation, publicly denied that it ever occurred?

Griffey:
"The conversation that supposedly happened, I don't ever remember happening. That's it. I just don't remember talking about the use of performance-enhancing drugs. The only thing that Barry and I ever really talked about was me coming out to San Francisco and working out with him. And I told him, 'For six weeks, I can't leave my family.' …As far as the other thing, that conversation didn't happen."

The press reported those remarks for a day before going back to the much more exciting narrative "But before I kill the record books, Mr. Bond, allow me to explain my plan and my motives."



Why? If you assume Bonds started using after the 1998 HR bonanza, why would he assume he'd be a pariah? No one else was.

Common sense. Nobody had been caught yet, everyone was hiding it, but there was already some pretty public outcry against perceived users, before anyone even had been caught yet. It was pretty obvious the tide was eventually going to turn, to think it wasn't would have been living with your head buried in the sand.


Don't make me break out my portfolio of contemporary late 20th century quotes and media coverage again. The press and the sport and the public not only rubbed one out to the glistening majesty of McGwire's muscles, they directly attacked the skeptics who wanted to pee in their punchbowl. Maybe there was some implied public outcry in "Mark and Sammy saved baseball!" between the d and the b.
   55. Mirabelli Dictu (Chris McClinch) Posted: September 25, 2015 at 10:58 AM (#5046235)
Certainly for a long time the perception was that increased muscle mass would not help in baseball, and weightlifting was not a big portion of player training. Despite the prevalence of steroids in some sports and their widespread availability in the 70s and 80s, it seems that very few players were using them.


I'd disagree with the first part of your statement pretty strongly. Certainly much was made at the time they were playing of the strength--and muscles--of Mantle, Kluszewski, etc. The relationship between big bodies and big home run numbers was pretty apparent from the dawn of the live ball era on. There's a reason why the Gashouse Gorillas are all built like defensive linemen in Baseball Bugs, a cartoon that dates from 1946.

I'd also say there's no evidence that very few players were using steroids in the 1970s and 1980s, while there's a ton of evidence that other performance enhancing drugs were rampant in the sport. "Take this to play better" was somewhere between tacitly and openly encouraged in baseball's culture, and I strongly believe we've got more than one player who used steroids during this timeframe in the Hall of Fame already. We absolutely know that we have at least one, Mantle, who received at least one anabolic steroid injection during his playing career to try to recover from an injury earlier than that.
   56. Squash Posted: September 25, 2015 at 11:02 AM (#5046246)
This is pure idiocy and ignores the landscape of sports in general over the past 50 years. In a world where some sports test and others don't, the implication is that steroid use is tacitly encouraged in the sports that don't test.

Tacit does not equal within the rules. Again, I'm not talking about whether the culture of baseball encouraged steroid use - it obviously did. But baseball could not legally make steroid use within the rules. Therefore by definition it was out of the rules. They just weren't able/didn't want to punish anyone within baseball for it beyond whatever federal punishments you were already going to face.
   57. Mirabelli Dictu (Chris McClinch) Posted: September 25, 2015 at 11:12 AM (#5046264)
But baseball could not legally make steroid use within the rules. Therefore by definition it was out of the rules.


Rules of sports don't work this way anywhere but in your head. Next you're going to tell me that steroid use is against the rules of World's Strongest Man and professional bodybuilding. You're wrong.

There is plenty of behavior in professional sports that would not be legal outside of them. Tackling in football or checking in hockey are legal behaviors that would constitute assault if conducted in the parking lot. Throwing a baseball at a batter is never prosecuted, but would constitute assault with a deadly weapon if conducted in the parking lot. And don't get me started on boxing or MMA.
   58. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: September 25, 2015 at 12:52 PM (#5046355)
There is plenty of behavior in professional sports that would not be legal outside of them. Tackling in football or checking in hockey are legal behaviors that would constitute assault if conducted in the parking lot.
That's not a good analogy; assault generally requires lack of consent as one of its elements; that's why those things aren't crimes in sports. But of course consent doesn't legalize steroid use.

A better point is simply that sports are not required to ban things just because the government makes them illegal. A good analogy is legalized marijuana in Colorado, or medical marijuana in a whole bunch of states: just because the federal government has chosen to make marijuana legal does not mean that states are required to, or that they are required to enforce federal laws against it. Sure, J. Edgar Novitsky can come down any time and raid a marijuana store in Denver, but that doesn't change the fact that it's entirely legal and permissible under Colorado law.
   59. Mirabelli Dictu (Chris McClinch) Posted: September 25, 2015 at 12:57 PM (#5046358)
That's not a good analogy; assault generally requires lack of consent as one of its elements; that's why those things aren't crimes in sports.


Both participants in a bar fight are likely to end up facing charges, even if the decision to fight was mutual.
   60. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 25, 2015 at 01:55 PM (#5046405)

The analogy I have seen before is whether it would be "cheating" to spike the other team's cooler during the game. Such an act is not expressly against the rules, I don't think, but it would certainly be illegal.
   61. Mirabelli Dictu (Chris McClinch) Posted: September 25, 2015 at 02:07 PM (#5046424)
The analogy I have seen before is whether it would be "cheating" to spike the other team's cooler during the game. Such an act is not expressly against the rules, I don't think, but it would certainly be illegal.


It's not a good analogy to PED use, though, as it shifts the conversation from improving oneself to undermining others. It also takes the illegal act from malum prohibitum to malum in se. The best analogy to steroid use in sports is, of course, amphetamine use in sports.
   62. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: September 26, 2015 at 03:02 PM (#5047122)
That's not a good analogy; assault generally requires lack of consent as one of its elements; that's why those things aren't crimes in sports.

Both participants in a bar fight are likely to end up facing charges, even if the decision to fight was mutual.
The mere fact that both people were participating in the fight does not mean that they actually consented to being punched. But if they both did, they'll be charged with disturbing the peace or disorderly conduct or (and!) public drunkenness and the like.



The analogy I have seen before is whether it would be "cheating" to spike the other team's cooler during the game. Such an act is not expressly against the rules, I don't think, but it would certainly be illegal.
It would be expressly against the rules had they considered that a realistically possible act. But the same couldn't be said for steroids; they made a decision (whether it was the result of management-labor conflict or simple apathy) not to ban steroids, at a time when other sports had done so.

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