Re: Baseball

1

Uh, the baseball season's over, nothing's happening.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:21 AM
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So, does the big list of other dopers out there make people forgive Barry Bonds some, as just doing what the other stars are doing?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:22 AM
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No.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:23 AM
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2: no.

I'm just glad Sen. Mitchell had the integrity not to implicate any current Red Sox players.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:24 AM
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No, I don't forgive him for taking away the opportunity of knowing where he would have stacked up all time without steroids. Of course, I was never particularly upset about that.

What it should make one do is lessen the degree to which one thinks the steroid use explains Bonds' greatness, since he was competing with other steroid users (incl. the people pitching to him) and was much, much better.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:26 AM
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Baseball thread: red and blue for National League, just red for American.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:28 AM
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I think they should just legalize performance enhancing drugs. Also genetic engineering, cyborg athletes, and total robots. Then I might start watching the game.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:32 AM
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I'm just glad the Orioles sent Miguel Tejada to the Astros the day before the report came out. Of course, I've been wanting to get rid of that bum for some time...

Not happy to see Brian Roberts on the list, though. All the evidence they had on him was that Larry Bigbee said Brian Roberts had told him he tried it once. To include Roberts based on that hearsay without including, say, Mark McGuire, is something of an injustice.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:32 AM
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What, those drug addicts?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:34 AM
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Uh, the baseball season's over, nothing's happening.

In other words, things are about as interesting as when the baseball season is happening.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:34 AM
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Also, I felt that Curt Shilling was suspiciously absent from the list.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:35 AM
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without including, say, Mark McGuire Sammy Sosa, is something of an injustice
Heh heh, I just struck out Mark McGuire.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:35 AM
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I go to sports events to see exceptional feats of skill and the chance for great drama. The other stuff is for others to work out.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:36 AM
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I'm just glad the Orioles sent Miguel Tejada to the Astros the day before the report came out.

I heard the league received the report a few days before its release. So maybe the parties knew?


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:39 AM
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Mark McGuire the Albany Times-Union columnist?


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:40 AM
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So, does the big list of other dopers out there make people forgive Barry Bonds some, as just doing what the other stars are doing?

Well, I certainly hope so. But I was absolutely shocked to see some article taking as its presumption that ROGER CLEMENS doesn't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame now. Really? It's not clear that somewhere like 30 to 70% of players were doing this sort of thing, varying from team to team and organization to organization?

I like how ten of the 2004 Orioles were mentioned, but not Rafael Palmeiro.

What it should make one do is lessen the degree to which one thinks the steroid use explains Bonds' greatness, since he was competing with other steroid users (incl. the people pitching to him) and was much, much better.

Exactly.

Also, "McGwire" has a W in it.

If the perception is that violations of the rule will not be punished, then the rule does not exist.

Tennis has a rule against performance-enhancing drugs. Lifetime ban for first offense. No other sport really does, although the cost-benefit analysis has gotten a bit more tilted toward "don't do it, it's too risky" since the suspensions have gotten longer..


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:43 AM
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the list of nameswas unsurprising, save for the relatively few names on it compared to what i was expecting. over dinner during the football game last night, we were of the opinion that the list was heavily yankees/mets/orioles/balco because that's the only people mitchell ended up talking to, and not because those were the only teams with players on them.


Posted by: tweedledopey | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:45 AM
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14: Well, I'm pretty sure the Orioles knew, and their Astros probably had their suspicions. But it would have been a lot harder to sell that trade to the Astros fan base after the report came out than it was before. Tejada's value definitely dropped when the report came out - the Orioles probably would have only gotten 4 spare parts from the Astros for Tejada, instead of the 5 spare parts they got....


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:46 AM
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16- Would having a juiced player corridor in the Hall of Fame be a good compromise?


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:47 AM
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2: No.

The list is oddly incomplete - some missing suspects have already been mentioned. The obvious, and correct, conclusion is that they missed a lot of people due to lack of cooperation and evidence. What this doesn't tell us is how incomplete it is. With a couple of exceptions, everyone agrees that the rate of usage was something like 1/3. Which - given that this list runs the full gamut - suggests that most players - from MVPs to scrubs - were in fact clean. If that's so, it makes the arguments of 2 and 5 fairly bogus.

To me the most interesting thing is how many of the players apparently only started using after injuries - Pettite, Knoblauch, Kevin Young (the only Pirate user - so that's why they haven't won in 16 years), and more. If I were to speculate, I'd say that there was a smallish subculture of serious users - the juicers like Clemens, Bonds, & Dykstra - and the vast majority who wanted to be clean, some of whom turned to the juicers when their careers went into jeopardy.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:47 AM
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Point: Brian Roberts got dicked over by Larry Bigbie and probably has more cause then anyone else named to be outraged that he's being smeared.

Counterpoint: Dude hit 15 HRs in half a season out of no where, his previous career high for a whole season was like 10.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:48 AM
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19: Do you really believe that even now, they've positively identified more than, say 25% of the juiced players?

PED use amongst atheletes is *not* the exception.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:48 AM
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16: I like how ten of the 2004 Orioles were mentioned, but not Rafael Palmeiro.

Yeah, that was surprising. Of course, I actually still believe that Palmeiro was innocent, and got set up by Tejada and his "B12" shot.

Can you tell I don't like Tejada?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:49 AM
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To argue from authority for a minute: as of 2001 Bill James was saying that, depending on how you adjust for improved quality of play over time, Roger Clemens was the greatest pitcher ever to play.

That case has only gotten stronger subsequently.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:50 AM
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Would having a juiced player corridor in the Hall of Fame be a good compromise?

It's absurd, but it would make me happy in a way.

But seriously, Clemens - he was more or less washed up when he left the Red Sox. He went to the Blue Jays, juiced, and went on to win 5 of his 7 Cy Youngs juiced. So, without the juice, he was a nice player with a 12-14 year career, half of it in decline. How is that a HOF player?

We know (as well as we can - no one is claiming 100% usage) that there are HOF pitchers who were clean through the steroid era. So why should Clemens get rewarded with the HOF for juicing? Please, explain this to me.

Note - this contrasts with Bonds, who was clearly HOF pre-juicing, albeit for different accomplishments. But it is seriously unclear to me that Clemens, pre-juice, was a HOFer.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:54 AM
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21: See, thats what kills me. I have great memories of Brian Roberts for that half-season, and now its tainted, and I'll never know if it was real or not.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:56 AM
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I'm for keeping both Bonds and Clemens out of the hall. They were serial cheaters. Screw em....


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:59 AM
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1993 was the only year in Clemens' Red Sox career significantly above average. He was not in decline when he left. If he had just been a league average pitcher for the next five years after leaving Boston and then retired, he'd be an obvious Hall of Famer.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:01 AM
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So what to do now? My guess is that they can't retroactively punish anyone - the list is far too incomplete. But if I were Bug Selig and not impotent (so, not Bud Selig at all), I'd put in the strictest of all possible drug tests and stiff stiff penalties. Of course, MLBPA is probably the strongest players union ever, so nothing's gonna happen other than words.


Posted by: tweedledopey | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:01 AM
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Also all the players on amphetamines in the 1970's, right?


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:02 AM
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26: yeah, that half-season was fantastic, but even then you had to know something wasn't quite kosher, right? I mean the guy hadn't hit home runs like that before or since. Still, nice while it lasted.

And that I think speaks to a larger point: The media is much more concerned with steroids then the fans are. I loved every HR Roberts hit that year and yet I knew he was probably cheating to do it. Look at Jason Giambi, people have known for over a year he was a cheat and he's suffered what exactly?


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:05 AM
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4: You're familiar with Brendan Donnelly, right?

Also: there may not be any current Red Sox players in the list, but the report includes some excellent emails between Epstein and Charrington and some of their scouts, on both Gagne and Donnelly. They pretty clearly knew, or strongly suspected, that both were using PEDs, and they signed them anyway. Which I think is pretty damning, in the long-run.


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:05 AM
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heavily yankees/mets/orioles/balco because that's the only people mitchell ended up talking to

17- If this is true and if people thought 'everyone is doing it', then the league doesn't really achieve its goal with the report release, does it? It seems that only league-wide representation would be the only way that the league can reestablish record legitimacy.

An interesting question is whether what baseball is doing is best for the sport. I think it probably is, but no one takes cycling or track and field seriously now. Don't hear too much about drug use the NFL and the league is wildly popular. Would anyone seriously believe drug use in that sport isn't common?


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:05 AM
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A better question -- how many, if any, of the named players were members of the Rangers when Bush was an owner?


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:08 AM
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If the perception is that violations of the rule will not be punished, then the rule does not exist.

I can lose respect for some of these players, I can think they're weak-minded, but I actually wouldn't say they were cheating. Except, unfortunately, for those who were already very good players and ended up setting records.

But as for the "tainted" record books, all records end up getting set in eras that are conducive for that particular stat. No matter how good of a base stealer Jose Reyes is, the record for steals in a season is not going to get broken until incentives for various types of player, and for teams, become quite different from what they are now.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:13 AM
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as of 2001 Bill James was saying that

Bill James' head has been in the sand as deeply on this issue as any other. He denied Bonds was on the juice long after most people had admitted to the obvious facts.

Anyway, as of 2001, Clemens had been on the juice for 5 years.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:14 AM
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Anything that puts baseball back in the news is terrible.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:15 AM
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So, does the big list of other dopers out there make people forgive Barry Bonds some, as just doing what the other stars are doing?

No, because it points out that there's little to forgive: there's the game as written and the game as played, and Barry played the latter. But it ought to make people rethink the focus on Bonds as the avatar of evil.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:15 AM
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1993 was the only year in Clemens' Red Sox career significantly above average. He was not in decline when he left.

Excuse me? 11-14, 9-7. 10-5, 10-13. That's not decline? That's HOF numbers?

That's a power pitcher wearing down. That's why every power pitcher with 7 good years isn't in the HOF.

I'm not saying he was shit. Maybe he would've had longevity, been a 15-12 pitcher for another 5 years, which would have added enough to his 7 brilliant years to add up to a HOF career. But there was no sign of that. He was in decline, he reversed that decline with steroids Plain as the nose on your face.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:18 AM
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39: so the question is, how many other pitchers did the same and did not become great?

He also worked really hard after leaving the Red Sox, with whom he had become lazy.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:19 AM
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Also all the players on amphetamines in the 1970's, right?

Amphetamines don't increase strength, bat time, or fast twitch muscle speed. They don't improve the body's ability to heal. They aren't much more effective than caffeine as far as athletic performance goes. A complete red herring.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:21 AM
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Sorry, I meant to say 1993 was the only year where he was not significantly above average.

Evaluating a pitcher by wins, by themselves, is so obviously absurd that I can't imagine why you're doing it. What was the winning % of his team in those years? What was the winning % of his team if you take out the games he pitched? These aren't rhetorical questions, I haven't looked up the answers, but if you're going to cite wins I expect that you know them, since the numbers are nearly meaningless otherwise.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:21 AM
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31: I actually though at the time that Brian Roberts' home runs were legit and that he was just having the breakout year that I always new he could have. Sure, he hasn't hit as many since then, but he had a pretty nasty injury that season which I think messed with his swing. And he does still hit a lot of doubles.

Its sad, really. I always like him because he was short and scrawny, and that gives hope to short and scrawny guys like me. Now if may turn out that I need to hit the juice if I'm ever going to have that major league baseball career I've always dreamed of....


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:24 AM
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39: so the question is, how many other pitchers did the same and did not become great?

He also worked really hard after leaving the Red Sox, with whom he had become lazy.

Well, he worked really hard because steroids make it both easier and more effective to work really hard. A student who does a great job memorizing the answer key has, indeed, shown some discipline, but doesn't necessarily deserve an A.

As for the first question, we don't know. We do know that there are almost certainly clean HOF pitchers in the current era, unless you're claiming 90+% usage (which no one credible has done). And we know that every HOF pitcher who retired before 1990 accomplished their feats without steroids.

If you want to put Clemens in the Juicers' Wing on the basis of his superior on-steroids performance, then I'd vote for that.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:25 AM
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41: Agreed. Amphetamines are part of the sport. You might as well ask ballplayers not to drink Gatoraid.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:27 AM
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And we know that every HOF pitcher who retired before 1990 accomplished their feats without steroids.

Why is that?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:28 AM
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They aren't much more effective than caffeine as far as athletic performance goes. A complete red herring.

Not a red herring at all: amphetamines do enhance attention, which in a game like baseball, in which everything's measured in split-seconds, really does matter. (Which Hall of Famer said of greenies "The ball just looks that much bigger, the seams that much more defined?" Seriously, I can't remember.)

As to the broader question of PEDs, well, LASIK is perfectly legal and is much more responsible for this generation of three-true-outcome players. The other thing:

If I were faced with a choice between 1) millions of dollars with a little risk or 2) a trip to the real world I'd never lived in and its attendant salaries, I'd have used in a heartbeat. (Esp. if I were from, say, the Dominican.)


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:29 AM
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A complete red herring.

Accepting your facts, the standard for cheating here is that the player does something which is illegal, which they believe will give them a substantial advantage over players who don't do that illegal thing, and they have to be right about that?


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:30 AM
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Evaluating a pitcher by wins, by themselves, is so obviously absurd that I can't imagine why you're doing it

Well, because claiming that a 10-13 record for a .500 team is "above average" is obviously absurd.

But fine, WHIP: 0.96, 1.17, 1.05, 1.21, 1.08, 1.04, 1.07, 1.26, 1.14, 1.43, 1.32, 1.03, 1.09.

Do you see any pattern there? Do you see 3 years worse than any of the others, all clustered together in years with poor W-L records, and all preceding an improved WHIP, and steroids? Quelle surprise.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:30 AM
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this generation of three-true-outcome players

I have no idea what this means.

amphetamines do enhance attention

As does caffeine. Seriously. Amphetamines have an effect on play that is a marginal improvement over a pedestrian, legal product. Steroids and HGH (can) change everything about a player's performance. Look at Bonds' numbers after he starts using - completely different. Don't let the fact that he was a HOFer beforehand blind you to the fact that what he achieved on the juice was, literally, inhuman. No amount of greenies in the world can do that to a player. So yes, red herring. Amphetamines probably have a smaller impact on play than the switch from wool to modern fabrics.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:36 AM
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Amphetamines don't increase strength, bat time, or fast twitch muscle speed. They don't improve the body's ability to heal. They aren't much more effective than caffeine as far as athletic performance goes. A complete red herring.

47 gets it right.

I was convinced by Dave Meggyesy's book about his football career. Taking a benzedrine put him in the right frame of mind to focus in the perfect way and not make mistakes that he would otherwise make.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:37 AM
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Amphetamines probably have a smaller impact on play than the switch from wool to modern fabrics.

Love to see that study.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:38 AM
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Accepting your facts, the standard for cheating here is that the player does something which is illegal, which they believe will give them a substantial advantage over players who don't do that illegal thing, and they have to be right about that?

I'm actually not making a cheating-is-immoral argument here. I'm saying that Clemens (in particular) owes his HOF credentials primarily to taking an illegal drug that was not taken by most of his cohort and by none of his predecessors. The fact that some of his predecessors took the pharmacological equivalent of Jolt Cola doesn't really impact that argument.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:39 AM
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The fact that Clemens started taking the drugs in 1996 is really damning. Much worse than the Bonds situation if you presume they really do have such an effect.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:40 AM
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Love to see that study.

Go exercise for 3 hours in St. Louis in July in a wool suit (complete with wool undershirt).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:40 AM
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Go exercise for 3 hours in St. Louis in July in a wool suit (complete with wool undershirt).

You mean "compete, against people doing the same," right?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:42 AM
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this generation of three-true-outcome players

I have no idea what this means.

Sorry: Three True Outcomes. The ability to see the seams on the ball, not just the rotation, allows hitters to determine the break of the pitch far better than they ever have before. LASIK has had as much of an impact on the game as steroids, I'd argue. (In fact, there was an interesting study a while back that talked about how the two enhancements cancel each other out: if you get strong, you swing for the fences, whereas with your LASIK eyes, you should try to be Tony Gwynn.)

As does caffeine. Seriously. Amphetamines have an effect on play that is a marginal improvement over a pedestrian, legal product.

As someone who takes amphetamines daily, and who for years self-medicated (unsuccessfully) with caffeine, I'm going to have to respectfully disagree. The kind of focus 15 mg. of Dexedrine provides is entirely different from what you get from a shot of espresso. (Also, no jitters.) Hell, I sometimes wonder what I could've made of my career if I'd taken amphetamines in high school. (My ceiling still would've been JC, but still, it might've been a good JC, where they served steroids, which means I could've transferred to a real college as a junior.)


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:53 AM
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You mean "compete, against people doing the same," right?

Not sure if you're trolling or not, but:

Poor playing conditions favor the average over the exceptional. Recent, high-profile example: Steelers 3, Dolphins 0 on probably the worst NFL playing field since the Sneakers Game. Running in ankle-deep mud, Carl Lewis is only a bit faster than I am. Dehydration can take 10% off an athlete's performance (cycling factoid). That's costing Lance Armstrong a lot more than it is me.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:55 AM
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As someone who takes amphetamines daily, and who for years self-medicated (unsuccessfully) with caffeine, I'm going to have to respectfully disagree.

Fair enough. I still hold that it isn't a fraction of the difference between steroids + HGH and clean. The evidence for my position is Barry Bonds (and Clemens, actually). What is the evidence that a 1970s player on greenies broke every record in baseball history?

How many 20/20 players have gotten LASIK? My impression is far fewer than have been implicated in steroids, but that may be changing. It's certainly a far newer thing than steroids (Dykstra bulked up in '87, I believe).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 11:01 AM
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58, you're acting as if how many e.g. home runs you hit, or other typical measures of a player's performance, measure something absolute as opposed to how much better they are than their competition. This would make it difficult to explain things like the minor league home run record.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 11:01 AM
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60: This would make it difficult to explain things like the minor league home run record.

Are you implying Crash Davis was juiced?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 11:10 AM
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What is the evidence that a 1970s player on greenies broke every record in baseball history?

Actually, there's evidence that almost ever player after WWII took greenies daily, so you can start with Hank Aaron and work your way around. Of course, because everyone took them until 2006, the playing field might have been level. However, there's evidence that greenies do far more for hitters than pitchers, many of whom popped them hours before game time because they didn't want to "over-think" their grip and release points on the mound.

I'm not saying that they're comparable to anabolic steroids, but given that there's no solid evidence that HGH actually enhances performance, it's at least comparable to that.

How many 20/20 players have gotten LASIK?

There's a Michael Lewis article somewhere or other about this, but I can't find it. Basically, it said that everyone's getting their eyes improved to the I-can't-watch-TV-all-I-see-are-pixels level. Let me see if I can't dig out that article.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 11:12 AM
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But as for the "tainted" record books, all records end up getting set in eras that are conducive for that particular stat.


I was listening to a commentary on the radio about the report this morning and wondered just how long it would be before people started referring to this as "the steroid era."

Answer: about 10 seconds.


Posted by: Magpie | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 11:19 AM
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You know who needs to lose his job because of this?

Bud Selig

Won't happen, though....


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 11:23 AM
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given that there's no solid evidence that HGH actually enhances performance

The circumstantial evidence around the Bonds case is pretty overwhelming on this point - it was at least as much HGH as steroids. You've read the long SI piece the the Game of Shadows authors, right? Among other things, HGH allows you to work out during the season - until its advent, players always lost muscle mass due to the rigors of 162 games in 180 days. But with HGH, Bonds (and others) got stronger during the season; steroids alone don't do that - the body just can't handle it.

The late 60s seem to give some sort of doubt to the twin premises that A. Everyone was on greenies, and B. They helped hitters more. I intuitively agree with both of those, so we must be missing something.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 11:24 AM
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The media is much more concerned with steroids then the fans are.

This seems true to me. If you care much about steroid use, you long ago ceased to be a baseball fan.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 11:33 AM
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You've read the long SI piece the the Game of Shadows authors, right? Among other things, HGH allows you to work out during the season - until its advent, players always lost muscle mass due to the rigors of 162 games in 180 days.

I've actually read the whole book, and while I agree, that's what they claim, there's a lot of debate in the scientific community as to whether or not it's true.

But with HGH, Bonds (and others) got stronger during the season; steroids alone don't do that - the body just can't handle it.

It's the "steroids alone" phrase here that bothers me. It's not "steroids alone" in the way it used to be, when you cycled off and on a single steroid. The real advance came with steroid regimens, in which you cycled off one and onto another; used a kicker to prevent man-boobs and "the cream" and "the clear" at different times, &c.

The late 60s seem to give some sort of doubt to the twin premises that A. Everyone was on greenies, and B. They helped hitters more. I intuitively agree with both of those, so we must be missing something.

This one's easy: the height of the mound.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 11:39 AM
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But did they raise it in the early 60s and then drop it again after '68?

a lot of debate in the scientific community as to whether or not it's true.

I didn't find that article putting any doubts in my mind. First of all, they did find that it added 5 lb of muscle and took off 5 lb of fat - seems like a helpful thing for an aging athlete. Second, it seemed that they were looking at its anti-aging properties - will it make a 50- or 60-yr-old feel or be younger. That's a very different question from its effects on a much younger person using it as part of a regimen.

Anyway, your point about the much more sophisticated regimens is right anyway; it doesn't necessarily matter what any given part of the regimen does, as long as we agree that what Bonds and the more sophisticated juicers were doing was as far from the state of the art circa 1990 as steroids in 1990 were from protein shakes. In 90 days or so, Bonds built up so much muscle that he tore his own shoulder. That shit ain't right.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 11:52 AM
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Another vote for open sports. There have been all kinds of technical advances and improvements in nutrition, training, etc. that have transformed the game. Performance-enhancing drugs got dragged into the drug war circus, but the drug war is a bad thing. The problem with steroids is that it makes athletes into better athletes. Why is that a problem? (Same for amphetamines and lasix.)

I had a steroid for a crippling shoulder problem awhile back. Miracle drug! It makes sick people healthy and healthy people stronger.

The "everyone does it" argument is persuasive to the extent that it's true. It's also persuasive to the extent that the victims have a chance to turn the tables if they want. (I.E., "everyone beats up cripples" isn't persuasive because only non-cripples beat up cripples). Juice has become the new sports standard, though anyone who wants to play clean can, if they want.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 11:56 AM
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I was going to make an argument about the 1996 Red Sox not giving Clemens enough run support, but the numbers aren't what I expected. I nevertheless disclose the results: the 1996 Red Sox, for whom Clemens had a 3.63 ERA in a league where the average ERA was 5.05, scored 3.82 runs per game in games he started, 4.04 runs per game for the season overall, and 4.09 runs per game in games he didn't start.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 11:57 AM
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If you care much about steroid use, you long ago ceased to be a baseball fan.

Excuse me? Because Bonds cheated, Selig looked away, Fehr told us we dasn't look, and all of SF loved it, I'm supposed to stop being a baseball fan? My choice is to embrace bullshit like 73 or to walk away? No, fuck them.

I'm too busy looking out the window and waiting for spring.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 11:59 AM
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I think that they did lower the mound the year after Koufax and Gibson had unbelievable seasons in 1968. Bob Gibson had a 1.12 ERA that year, a modern-era record.

Any sports buffs out there who can tell me if Koufax and Gibson ever faced one another? Doesn't seem like a good strategy.

I'm a lifelong Koufax fan, but Gibson on his best day might have been better.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:01 PM
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Not a baseball fan, but the problem seems to be the lax enforcement more than anything else. It's against the rules, but it doesn't seem to be enforced because no one wanted to acknowledge that there was a problem. One way or the other: either have it be a clean game and nail the cheaters, or allow steroid enhancement, regulate it, and nail those that go outside of it. It's this routine of trying to enforce it while pretending it isn't happening that is counterproductive.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:02 PM
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Gibson had 28 complete games and 11 shutouts that year. They did in fact lower the mound the next year, almost doubling Gibson's ERA.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:03 PM
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Clemens had a 3.63 ERA in a league where the average ERA was 5.05

Exactly. Not HOF. Maybe if he held out like that for enough years, got on a winning team so those 10-13 years turned into 13-10 years, he ends up at 36 looking like a HOFer. But that's far from a foregone conclusion. Whereas I don't think any realistic post-'98 projection for Bonds keeps him out of the HOF. Except maybe him becoming the living embodiment of the Steroids Era.

63: The Mitchell Report uses that term explicitly, and a lot of sports writers had been for awhile. So not that surprising.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:09 PM
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Another vote for open sports. There have been all kinds of technical advances and improvements in nutrition, training, etc. that have transformed the game. Performance-enhancing drugs got dragged into the drug war circus, but the drug war is a bad thing. The problem with steroids is that it makes athletes into better athletes. Why is that a problem? (Same for amphetamines and lasix.)

John, I'm surprised that this expression of paternalism bothers you. Steroids are a great deal worse for you than pot, but even so a job that make you smoke three joints a day to succeed would be a pretty fucked up one.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:10 PM
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I know they lowered the mound - it would have been too awkward watching Gibson throw 35 complete game shutouts in '69. But I want to know if/when it was raised.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:11 PM
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anyone who wants to play clean can, if they want.

In cycling, it's increasingly clear that they can't - or couldn't before last year. The evidence suggests that, for all but the best, you can't even finish a race like the Tour de France without doping. So if you're merely world-class, you can't compete clean. If you're an all-time great, you can compete, but not win, clean.

And to follow on to snarkout's excellent point - the stuff these guys take is insanely dangerous - stuff that isn't approved for human use in any country in the world. It's neither rational nor ethical to make that the prerequisite for playing.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:15 PM
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72:

May 25th, 1961; September 24th, 1961; June 18th, 1962; July 3, 1963; April 26, 1966.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:19 PM
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72: Found one source that had Gibson 1-4 lifetime against Koufax. Gibson's prime came a little after Koufax had retired.

There were a lot of extremes in pitching & hitting in 1968: including Yaz winning AL batting title with a .301 average and Luis Tiant having the greatest year ever that no one has heard of thanks to Gibson and McClain's 31 wins (he had a 1.60 ERA & .168 opponent batting average, the latter an all time record).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:19 PM
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The Legion of Asterisks adds to the jade.

Yet—when I heard that Red Sox Spring Training tickets go on sale tomorrow, I was happy.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:40 PM
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Three joints a day? Provided by management? Quality stuff? the line will stretch around the block.

Many athletes destroys their bodies without steroids, especially football linemen who have a life expectancy of about 55. Steroids makes it worse, maybe a lot worse, but those are killing jobs.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:45 PM
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It makes sick people healthy and healthy people stronger.

I have post set to go entitled "PEDs for Ph.Ds," because damn it, who doesn't want a little enhancement?


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:51 PM
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Really, do we care about lance Armstrong's lost nut and Sheryl Crow's sexual needs? God gave us two of them for a reason. Live fast, die young, and leave an emaciated, shriveled corpse like Lyle Alzado's.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 1:39 PM
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/i


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 1:39 PM
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Clemens had a 3.63 ERA in a league where the average ERA was 5.05

Exactly. Not HOF.

Seriously, bro - echoing the earlier comment, when you start out by using W/L as your metric, your argument loses a fair bit of force.

Clemens ERA+ was 139 that year. (btw, I was one of about 3000 people who saw him pitch his last game as a Red Sox that season, where he punched out 20 Tigers - my baseball highlight). That's absolutely HoF worthy. If it ain't, you're going to need a big truck to start emptying out Cooperstown...

Nolan Ryan's career ERA+ = 111.
Tom Seaver = 127
Bob Gibson = 127
Jim Palmer = 126
Cy Young = 138

I would also say that you are making a big leap conflating HGH and steroids. I think it's pretty clear, Game of Shadows aside, that HGH is probably pretty useful for recovering from, and perhaps avoiding, injury (which is nevertheless a pretty desirable characteristic), but doesn't otherwise increase muscle or performance.


Posted by: McKingford | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 1:42 PM
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84: and leave an emaciated, shriveled corpse like Lyle Alzado's.

or go out in a blaze of glory like ex-Steeler Justin Strzelczyk.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 1:49 PM
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Seven months earlier, he apparently had stopped drinking and smoking marijuana, according to his friends and his ex-wife, Keana.

Your problem right there. Probably he had been brainwashed by a sobriety cult.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 1:54 PM
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And to follow on to snarkout's excellent point - the stuff these guys take is insanely dangerous - stuff that isn't approved for human use in any country in the world. It's neither rational nor ethical to make that the prerequisite for playing.

What makes this worse is the pyramid effect. People often say that these risks are balanced against rock-star level salaries, so that's not so bad. They forget that for every kid who makes the majors, there are several thousand who drop out along the way. The more prevelant the abuse is in the majors, the more pressure to get started at an early age. When you've got high school kids juicing (and we already do) who have an outside chance of making it in the minors, let alone a trip to the majors, you really have to ask yourself about the costs.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 1:58 PM
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Maybe if he held out like that for enough years, got on a winning team so those 10-13 years turned into 13-10 years, he ends up at 36 looking like a HOFer.

I'll use this as an opportunity to plug the Baseball Reference website. They've got a "neutralize stats" feature which is pretty cool - it converts a player's stats to assume him playing on a neutral field, on a neutral team (which, apparently, would score 4.42 runs per game).

If you neutralize Clemens' 1996 season he comes out with a 19-9 record and a 2.80 ERA. I'd say a player who puts up a career full of those seasons is yes, indeed, HOF worthy.

The other thing I'd say is that the contemporaneous sense of Clemens in 1996 was that he was definitely headed to the HoF.


Posted by: McKingford | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 2:01 PM
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McKingford,

It's silly to compare single-season ERA+ to career ERA+, because the career's going to include the pitcher's decline phase. The best alternative is to talk about peak ERA+, and Clemens had pretty clearly hit the end of his peak in '92. Starting in '86:

169, 154, 141, 132, 213, 164, 175

Then, in '93, you have him at 107, barely above league average. He's excellent in '94 (177), then merely good in '95 (117). But he didn't pitch a full-season -- '95's not his fault, I know -- and that's part of what we talk about when we're talking about decline phase. It's not just the quality of the performance, it's an issue of durability. (The extreme case: Larry Walker, who was excellent until the end on the rare occasions he could play.) The fact that he then trends upward -- both in quality and quantity -- the same season he starts using steroids, indicates to me that he used steroids to reverse the normal aging curve.

Had he declined naturally, his final few seasons would've looked more like Seaver's final few: league average, dragging his career ERA+ down into the 120s. Instead, he propelled it into the 140s ... which puts him well behind someone like, say, the best pitcher in the history of the game, Pedro Martinez.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 2:04 PM
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1. We can forgive Bonds for steroids, but 90% of the hatred of Bonds stems from the fact that he comes off as a huge jerk. Sammy Sosa comes off as a happy, good-natured guy. He won't get the Bonds treatment even if they find pictures of him personally squeezing monkey glands into a vial.
2. There are lots of reasons to dislike Clemens, but the quality of his pre-1996 performance doesn't seem like one of them. Piling on, Clemens through 1996 had 3 Cy Youngs, 192 wins and an average ERA+ (weighted would be higher) of 147 (compare: Walter Johnson 147, Lefty Grove 148.). That's hall of fame right there.
3. Poor Mo Vaughn


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 2:06 PM
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(That said, since he had approx. 200 wins in 95, there's every shot he'd have been a Hall of Famer if he had a Seaver-esque regression from age 32 forward.)


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 2:06 PM
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Piling on, Clemens through 1996 had 3 Cy Youngs, 192 wins and an average ERA+ (weighted would be higher) of 147 (compare: Walter Johnson 147, Lefty Grove 148.). That's hall of fame right there.

If he retired n '96, that is. If he continued playing, his career ERA+ wouldn't have been nearly so high. (All of which makes Pedro's age-35 ERA+ of 161 all the more impressive.)


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 2:08 PM
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I'd like to note tote that Clemens' great play at the end of his career is being used as an argument against sending him to the Hall of Fame.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 2:11 PM
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Let me clarify: I'm not pro-Clemens, just pro-drugs. Hate him! This is a matter of principle for me. More drugs!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 2:13 PM
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95: I know that, I'm just taking the opportunity to tarnish his late-career achievements. (One of my favorite moments growing up? Seeing Clemens in the dugout weeping in '86.) This is all part of my plan to get MLB to retroactively award the Mets the 2000 World Series title, since 60 percent of the Yankee's starting rotation and 80 percent of their bullpen were juiced.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 2:15 PM
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SEK,

Normally I'd agree that it's problematic to compare a single season with a career (for ERA+, or anything else, for that matter) - for precisely the reasons about decline you mention.

But JRoth was trying to use 1996 as an *example* of decline - or worse, that Clemens was washed up. I'm agreeing with washerdreyer that it is not. If Rocket's ERA+ for that season was better (as it was) than the *career* ERA+ for famous HoF pitchers, then JRoth's argument fails. In other words, this wasn't Roger's peak season, but a "decline" season. If your decline season is still at a level above that of reputable HoF players, then you are still a ways away from being washed up, as JRoth was claiming.


Posted by: McKingford | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 2:18 PM
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97: Well Piazza was on Pert Plus, and we all know that gives your swing more body and bounce.

I enjoyed attending the game where Clemens got his 300th win and 4000th strikeout.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 2:20 PM
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98: That makes sense. I think we're in agreement though -- it was a steep decline and indicative of waning prowess. (At least, Clemens certainly thought it was, or he wouldn't have started juicing.)


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 2:20 PM
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As I've said before, this shouldn't stop with sports. Quite a few Nobel prizes are obviously tainted, and that motherfucker Erdős wasn't "eccentric". He was juiced to the point that he needed constant personal care. All of his proofs are going to have to be redone.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 2:23 PM
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Chill, Emerson, I'm with you. PEDs for Ph.Ds! PEDs for Ph.Ds!


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 2:26 PM
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I don't think it is so clear how to assess the effects of PEDs on Clemens' later career. Strikeout pitchers have aged well in the modern era. Look at Schilling at 37, Johnson at 38, Smoltz at 38, Ryan in his 40s. Even Maddux was more or less untouchable until age 36 or so. And Clemens' peak was comparable or higher (in some cases, much higher) than these pitchers.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 2:27 PM
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89: When you've got high school kids juicing (and we already do) who have an outside chance of making it in the minors

I have such mixed feelings on the issue of major league athletes and steroids that I have outsourced my opinions to my betters, but this leakage into high school is worth a pause. What you describes extends far beyon "outside chance" to "no chance to make the minors" and is quite widespread. Given the lower overall skill level in high school (and college) sports, the "boost" one gets from steroids goes a lot farther. In particular, one of the key factors for whether a high school athlete gets varsity play time (or excels if they are already playing) in almost all sports is how physically mature they are compared to their peers.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 2:27 PM
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Given the lower overall skill level in high school (and college) sports, the "boost" one gets from steroids goes a lot farther.

This is a key point: I paid for my first year of college, but with PEDs, could've maybe managed a scholarship at a JC. Frankly, that would've been a damn strong incentive to use them, had they been cheap and available back then.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 2:32 PM
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100: Rocket's last 4 seasons in Boston, his ERA+ was 104 (average), 177 (amazing), 116 (good), 139 (excellent). It is certainly down from his peak, but not a "steep" decline. The issue in contention is whether or not he was a HoF player before juicing after the 1996 season. I think he pretty clearly was, and I also think that was the sense by most people at the time. I will grant that he wasn't in the "perhaps greatest pitcher of all time" wing of the HoF, as he might be now (based solely on performance, juiced or not).

Now to come around to JRoth's view, I have to say I find the attention focussed on Clemens as a result of the report a bit disingenuous. The circumstantial evidence (ie. by way of anomalous career trajectory) of Rocket being on the juice is pretty compelling - *just* as compelling as the same evidence against Bonds. And yet, while nobody in the media in the last 5 years has been able to utter Bonds' name without also including the word "steroids" in the same breath, there has been hardly a whisper about Clemens being on the juice - even though Canseco outed him, and his name was associated with the Jason Grimsley investigation.


Posted by: McKingford | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 2:35 PM
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101, 102: Clearly this whole sports/steroid thing is just a trial run for any number of massively challenging ethical questions that will arise in the next 10-50 years with the advent of precisely targeted designer drugs and genetic manipulation. (Viagra is another beta test.) Our current steroids (and other drugs) will be viewed as the technological equivalent of people with bird wings trying to fly.

It is going to absolutely wrench the medical/bioethics debate away from the overwhelming focus on abortion, and will ultimately lead to a complete reconceptualization of ourselves as a species. .. and I think Mike Huckabee is just the man to help us prepare for that day.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 2:44 PM
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I don't think it is so clear how to assess the effects of PEDs on Clemens' later career. Strikeout pitchers have aged well in the modern era. Look at Schilling at 37, Johnson at 38, Smoltz at 38, Ryan in his 40s. Even Maddux was more or less untouchable until age 36 or so. And Clemens' peak was comparable or higher (in some cases, much higher) than these pitchers.

Two issues:

1. The problematic aspect of the Mitchell report is that it obviously underreports the number of players using PEDs. I wonder just how many players who deserved to be named are breathing a sigh of relief today given their name hasn't come up. This is to be expected when 2 informants provide the overwhelming majority of the evidence. How about all those players who had the good fortune to not have one of those 2 people as their supplier? And so my point is that almost everyone is under a cloud, and the fact that a name does not appear in the report cannot exonerate anyone. So for all we know, the people you mention may not be clean either.

2. Clemens' late career peak is so anomalous as to be absurd. Again, working off ERA+, Clemens had his *best* season at age 42 (226). Ryan at age 42 was also anomalous, but a fraction of that: 124. The other players you mentioned had very good seasons - but nevertheless only a fraction of what Clemens did - and at a much younger age.


Posted by: McKingford | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 2:49 PM
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and I think Mike Huckabee is just the man to help us prepare for that day

Well, he is the only candidate to massively reshape his body...


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 2:49 PM
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I agree that the 2005 Astros season beggars explanation. His 2004 is more like a Schilling's 2004. And you (McKingford) are of course correct that it's very hard to know what counts as baseline in the PED era.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 2:55 PM
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110: the PED era.

My first thought is that I see a coming split into PED and "non-PED" leagues and the non-PED leagues slowly withering away with their credibility destroyed by cheating scandals. But then again may be it will like car racing where there artificial technological constraints are accepted.

Semi-OT: An exercise I sometimes challenge people to speculate on is: "When do you think the last World Series/Superbowl/Olympics will be held? And why?"


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 3:11 PM
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78

"And to follow on to snarkout's excellent point - the stuff these guys take is insanely dangerous - stuff that isn't approved for human use in any country in the world. It's neither rational nor ethical to make that the prerequisite for playing."

But if you made it legal when prescribed by the team doctor and disclosed it would not be insanely dangerous.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 3:14 PM
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I think the truth of the matter is that steroids and HGH clearly *aren't* insanely dangerous. To quote Jeremy Giambi: "how bad can it be ... Jason is still alive."

There are doubtless health risks associated with steroids and HGH, but the risk isn't of sudden death, and probably on a whole the health risks are way less than those of smoking, drinking immoderately, or eating an American diet and living a largely sedentary lifestyle.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 3:23 PM
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Every high school health class should have a "Sensible Steroids" period. Both sides should be presented, of side by a buffed up Chet type, the other by a skinny guy in a wheelchair with a tube coming out of his nose.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 3:26 PM
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I prefer "steroids-only" education. Get your morals out of my classroom.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 3:28 PM
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They could have the guy in the wheelchair presenting the pro-steroids case. "Damn straight it was worth it! [*cough cough*].... I wouldn't want to have missed a minute of it! [*slight seizure followed by dry heaves*] ... reach for the stars, kids!"


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 3:47 PM
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106 - Wait, what? People have been talking about Clemens the juicer at least since Jason Grimsley talked in 2006.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 4:12 PM
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But if you made it legal when prescribed by the team doctor and disclosed it would not be insanely dangerous.

This is just a stupid statement. We're talking about things like equine hormones here - they're illegal because they're insanely dangerous.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 5:07 PM
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Is there a link for the list of names? I'd be pretty sad if Rivera were on it.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 5:16 PM
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106 - Wait, what? People have been talking about Clemens the juicer at least since Jason Grimsley talked in 2006.

Furthermore, all of the threads (here and elsewhere) when Bonds broke the record this year included extensive "Why don't you call Clemens a juicer?" "I do" arguments.

McKingford, you missed my point a few times (and sorry, I had to go). Look, if Clemens ended his career with 7 sterling seasons and 7 mediocre ones, he would be a marginal HOFer, with statheads advocating for him on the basis of seasons where his W-L record was deceptive. That was my point, and my argument. You keep using tricky stats (his best decline season was pretty good!) to mask that he had 7 amazing years then 4 up-and-down years - which is how power pitchers have traditionally declined.

Can you claim he didn't begin to decline after '92? No, you already conceded the point. Who knows what he would have done after '96? No one. He was at least as likely to have ERA+s like 107, 99, and 87 as 116, 105, and 122. I already said that, in the latter case, he would have ended up in the HOF. But it was far from a slam dunk.

PS - I used the record because it's the most obvious criterion for the HOF - are you going to argue that HOF voters aren't influenced by record? That if he'd finished his career with ERA+ years around 110 but .440 records that wouldn't hurt his chances? I explicitly said that his team would affect his chances, even though that wouldn't mean anything about his actual performance. Maybe you should presume knowledge, not ignorance.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 5:16 PM
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No Rivera. here"/a>


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 5:18 PM
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That was ugly, but it works.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 5:18 PM
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No Matsui, either, which makes me happy. I'm not a Yankees fan, but living where I do I know their current roster better than any of the other teams, and I've always instinctively liked Rivera and Matsui. Glad to see them clear of this mess.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 5:28 PM
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Back in 25, you said "Clemens - he was more or less washed up when he left the Red Sox." At the point when he left the Red Sox he had had above average ERA+ numbers every year other than his rookie year, and he had an especially good year in the year he left the Red Sox. There's no indication that he was washed up at this point. Was he past his peak in a hypothetical world where he wasn't using performance enhancers? I'd strongly bet yes. Does his use of performance enhancers mask a natural decline? Of course. Would he have been in the Hall of Fame with a natural decline? Almost certainly. Here's his most similar pitchers as of that season, and note that he had, at that time, better numbers than any of them except for Pedro.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 5:29 PM
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Eh I can't be bothered to read all the comments, but Clemens had 3 Cy Young Awards by age 28. Through 1996 he had 192 wins, 111 losses, and 2400 strikeouts and was 33 years old. He led the AL in strikeouts in 1996 and was sixth in ERA.

Easy Hall of Famer.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 5:33 PM
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In his last seven seasons through 1996, Clemens led the AL in ERA three times, was second once, and sixth once. He was in the top 4 in strikeouts five times.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 6:31 PM
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120:

My comments about Clemens avoiding the same scrutiny and whispers (re steroids) as Bonds certainly weren't directed at you.

But I do think you are moving the goalposts on the issue of how you characterized Clemens. I only responded, initially, because my ears perked up when I read you say that Clemens was "washed up" in 1996, and "without the juice, he was a nice player with a 12-14 year career, half of it in decline. How is that a HOF player?"

|You keep using tricky stats (his best decline season was pretty good!)

It boils down to this: was Roger Clemens washed up in 1996 or not? You said he was. What can you point to about his 1996 stats that tell you he was washed up?

When called out on this earlier, you pointed to his W/L record. I'll certainly grant you that W/L records are relevant to HoF voters, but *you* used it for your argument that Clemens was washed up - a purpose for which it is wholly inapposite. I'm using "tricky" stats to cut through the noise of W/L to determine whether or not Clemens was done in 1996 (hell, in one of Nolan Ryan's best seasons he was 8-16, which tells you just about all you need to know about W/L). You cited his W/L records to support your contention that this was evidence of a power pitcher wearing down, when it seems to me the most obvious stat you would look at for a "power pitcher" is strikeouts. And Rocket led the league in 1996, with over 250. He also tied the record - his own - for strikeouts in a game in his very last game of 1996: I know, I was there. That is *not* good evidence of a power pitcher wearing down.

So I think it's a bit unfair of you to say I've missed the point or that I'm trying to blow smoke to prove "his best decline season was pretty good!". In fact, it takes a bit of nerve to say that when you change the terms of reference. Instead, I'm showing that the season *you* say signaled his end was, in fact, pretty good. In fact, it was better than his career average to that point.

There are two separate issues here. If you look at his last 4 seasons in Boston, we can agree that they are below his peak. But performing below one's peak is a different issue from helping or hurting one's HoF chances. My point about 1996 is not just that it is absurd to think of that as evidence of Rocket being washed up, but it's the kind of season that should be building him credit towards the HoF (see my comparison of his ERA+ that season with other HoF pitchers' *career* ERA+).

I think it boils down to this. We agree that his post-juicing years show an enormously anomalous bump in performance. I think you underestimate not only the value of his career up to the end of 1996, but how well he was regarded vis a vis the HoF at that time. I also think you overestimate the nature and likely speed of his decline. But while I will grant that is open to debate, I don't think anyone can fairly say Rocket was "washed up" at the end of 1996.


Posted by: McKingford | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 7:10 PM
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If the perception is that violations of the rule will not be punished, then the rule does not exist.

Exactly. I'm all for the paternalist arguments against steroids, but I don't see how it's an argument against the players who juiced. There's a rule against blocking the plate, but do you see MLB coming down hard on catchers doing it? As long as MLB did nothing to enforce the rule, I have no quarrel with the players who felt like steroids were the only way to compete on a level playing field. (Should we have more respect for someone like Frank Thomas for being so resolutely against them? Maybe, I don't know.)

Along the same lines, is the record book really tainted? Compared to what? I don't see how PED-era records are more tainted than pre-integration records. Records from the 70 years before blacks were allowed in are more sacred than records when people from dozens of countries have a shot at playing? I understand that Babe Ruth didn't have to cheat to get an unfair advantage, but I don't see how that fact makes his accomplishments any "cleaner" than Bonds's.


Posted by: J-Dub | Link to this comment | 12-15-07 7:41 AM
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""But if you made it legal when prescribed by the team doctor and disclosed it would not be insanely dangerous.""

"This is just a stupid statement. We're talking about things like equine hormones here - they're illegal because they're insanely dangerous."

No, they are illegal without a prescription because they are subject to "abuse". We are mostly talking about things like testosterone or human growth hormone which are naturally produced by the body and are not insanely dangerous when used under medical supervision. Of course making performance enhancing drugs illegal makes using them more dangerous just as illegal abortions will be more dangerous than legal abortions. But using these drugs is not inherently insanely dangerous. Like abortions they are banned for moral reasons not because they are insanely dangerous.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12-17-07 10:21 AM
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