Rafael's 'Roids

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It's a fair bet that no one was expecting future Hall of Famer and Viagra shill Rafael Palmeiro to be the first big-name baseballer to test positive for steroid use under Major League Baseball's new policy. Earlier this year, when the sports equivalent of HCUA was grilling athletes about drug use, Palmeiro, that rare player who has over 3,000 hits and nigh on 600 homers, was emphatic that he had never used steroids in his career–an eloquent and dry-eyed counterpoint to blubbering baby Mark McGwire.

Yesterday Palmeiro, 40, again vigorously denied that he ever "intentionally used steroids. Never. Ever. Period."

In a statement issued through the Orioles yesterday and later read by Palmeiro during a conference call, he said he was prevented from discussing the specifics of the case by "order of the independent arbitrator" who denied Palmeiro's appeal of the suspension. He admitted he "wasn't able to explain to the arbitrator how the banned substance entered my body" and he apologized to the league, the Orioles, his teammates "and, most of all, my fans."

His [10-game] suspension, which will cost him $163,934.42 of his $3- million salary, took effect with yesterday afternoon's game against the White Sox.

Whole account here.

Am I the only baseball fan who doesn't think less of Palmeiro for using steroids? He's in a pickle because he used them after they were banned from Major League Baseball (which only happened in 2002. But his long and productive career is self-evidently a testament to more than drug use: He has a great work ethic and always kept himself in shape. Steroids doubtless helped that longevity (just as they may have shortened Jose Canseco's career). And so did, I'm sure, a countless number of other supplements, not to mention work-out routines, diet restrictions, and more. Steroids or not, he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame every bit as much as Ryne Sandberg and chicken-and-groupie enthusiast Wade Boggs, this year's inductees into Cooperstown.

Performance-enhancing drugs are simply one tool among many that top-level athletes use to maintain their edge. Yes, yes, if a given organization or sporting authority bans them, players should respect those rules. But I'm convinced that one of the main reasons drugs are banned is simply because they are "drugs" and we have a bizarre, fucked-up relation to drugs: We all practice better living through chemistry but we are quick to cordon off good drugs from bad.

Much of the anti-drug rhetoric in sports is that certain substances screw up the "natural" essence of the players and that they disrupt "the level playing field." If any of that is true, then why not ban weight training? Or off-season conditioning? Or players who fall outside of certain heights and weights that might give them "advantages"? Or any semi-secret strategy plans or routines devised by cagey coaches and managers? Or a countless number of other things that can give some players an edge? Why are drugs seen as contaminating sports in a way that other interventions–all of which are precisely designed to give indivduals and teams an advantage in competition–are not? Especially since, in the end, it's far from clear that drugs, any more than hugs, "raw talent," or a winning attitude, make the player? Success in sports is an unpredictable mixture of a thousand different variables. So why single out drugs–or more precisely a small subset of drugs–as pernicious?

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  1. Anyone who’s been on this here blog for a while and has paid attention to this subject knows that I’ve brought up the exact same points as you, Nick.

    Doesn’t mean that a lot of folks will still start crying about how Palmerio cheated.

  2. But his long and productive career is self-evidently a testament to more than drug use: He has a great work ethic and always kept himself in shape.

    Raging debate here on Dallas sports radio (the Ticket – great station for political incorrectitude) about whether it is just a coinkydink that Rafael became a home run hitter the same year Jose Canseco joined his team. Jose claims to have introduced him to the stuff.

    “Always keeping yourself in shape” is not exactly inconsistent with steroid use, after all.

    As to whether drug-enhanced athletes should be viewed any differently than other athletes, I am agnostic. As someone who has seen what steroids can do, I can tell you that someone using them definitely has an unfair advantage over someone who does not.

  3. If you didn’t slice the throat of your ex-wife and the guy living hin her poolhouse, you say, “Not guilty, Your Honor.” If you DID, you say, “One hundred percent, absolutely Not Guilty.”

    If you don’t use steroid, you say, “No sir, I’ve never used steroids.” If you DID, you say, “I want to be perfectly clear…,” chew the scenery, and poke your finger in the air.

  4. i love the outrage by sports pundits at “performance-enhancing drugs”…as if trying to enhance your performance is a bad thing. how dare these players try to better themselves. i guess all pro athletes should be exactly equal and they should all look like pudgy double-chinned sports reporters.

  5. “Performance-enhancing drugs are simply one tool among many that top-level athletes use to maintain their edge.”

    Sort of like aluminum bats. Or Stick-um.

  6. Not that it really matters, but if I don’t say something, Welch will…

    At the time of his testimony, Palmeiro didn’t yet have 3,000 hits and to this day is still short of 600 home runs.

  7. I generally agree with Nick’s views on the relationship between MLB, performance-enhancing anything, and its players. The league sets its own rules, and the players break them at their own peril. Whether or not it means anything to ban certain substances and/or practices, while not banning others, is another debate. Did Palmeiro cheat? If the test results are incontrovertible, then yes, at least in that he broke a rule to which his players’ union agreed. Will I cry about it? Nah.

    I do think less of Palmeiro for this, though (though not enough to cut him from my fantasy team, which needs all the performance enhancement it can get). It’s pretty careless to carry out the self-righteous routine that he did before Congress — allowing that I thought the Congressional hearings were a travesty — and then not meticulously police the substances that he ingested. I always figured that Palmeiro was smarter than that, at least based on how he’s acquitted himself on the field.

  8. Err, he tested positive for a “banned substance”–could have been a supplement just as easily as ‘roids.

    Whatever it means to fans, think of his teammates. Not sure when the original test happened, but the O’s went into a ridiculous tailspin shortly thereafter.

    Sad.

    He’s hit decent for a 1b/DH type, but I bet Raffy’s wishing he retired last year.

  9. Steroids confer an unfair advantage to users in that they give a leg up to athletes willing to risk their health for the sake of performance. Weight training, etc. offers a fair advantage in that it is available to any athlete who wants to put in the time and effort to improve natural talent – with no risk to his/her health. Think of drugs as subsidies, perhaps. If Nick had his way, athletes who don’t want to risk damaging their health through drug use would be forced out of sports or would lose out financially to drug-enhanced competition. (And, yes, I’m aware that sports carry certain health risks – musculo-skeletal damage, etc. – but those risks are intrinsic to competition in a way that drugs are not.)

  10. I always liked Raffy and I think he deserves to be in the HOF. SDBird Fan is right, we don’t know what the banned substance is. It could be a less severe banned supplement than steroids (if it is, I recommend that Raffy publicize what the supplement is or people will think the worst). Cheating hasn’t been an automatic DQ for HOFers yet (how many corkers are in the HOF?), but the ‘roids may get him. This is especially due to the fact that he did a great deal of his work as a DH, which makes his case more precarious.

  11. As soon as I heard about the positive steroid test I thought, ?He?s not going to the Hall of Fame.? Somebody has to take the rap for the steroid era. McGuire and Bonds? numbers are so overwhelming, it?s impossible to keep them out of the Hall even with steroids. Besides, Bonds was a Hall of Fame player even before he started using steroids. While Palmeiro?s numbers are legitimate Hall of Fame numbers, they are not overwhelming like Bonds or McGuire. In addition, he was never a great defensive player and he never led any team anywhere. More importantly, he is the one guy from this era who actually has tested positive for steroids. While I think only a fool would conclude that McGuire and Bonds and Sosa didn?t use steroids, the fact remains they either were never tested or never tested positive for them. That is enough cover for baseball writers to send those guys to the Hall, especially now that they can make themselves feel better about it by keeping Palmeiro out. I think Palmeiro is done as a Hall of Fame candidate.

  12. Somebody has to take the rap for the steroid era. McGuire and Bonds? numbers are so overwhelming, it?s impossible to keep them out of the Hall even with steroids.

    Ha! Insert the words “Pete Rose” for “McGuire and Bonds,” and “gambling” for “steroids,” and decide if it’s still true.

  13. Why are drugs seen as contaminating sports in a way that other interventions … are not?

    I agree with Sean. The only defensible reason I’ve seen for banning steroid use in a competitive setting is that it damages, or poses a high risk of damaging, the long-term health of the user in exchange for short-term benefits. Unfortunately, the drug hysteria to which Nick refers makes it impossible for the layman to understand the actual degree of risk. Do steroids really damage health? Which ones, and how much, and in what ways, and can that be counteracted? I dunno. And unless you’re a doctor or researcher in the field, you probably don’t know either.

    Score yet another Pyrrhic victory for the Drug Warriors! Ignorance shall cloak the land, etc. And many will conclude that the bull we’re fed about steroids is the same as the bull we’re fed about pot. Sigh.

  14. Why does every H&R post about steroids and sports contain the same disingenuous shock that sports have arbitrary rules? Don’t people want to see more home runs? Just move the fences in!

  15. Didn’t MLB know about this days before the HOF inductions? Didn’t Palmiero screw Ryne Sandberg’s wife? Wanna bet Ryno knew all bout this days before his HOF induction?

  16. From here:

    Palmiero’s At Bats divided by Home Runs (AB/HR):
    1986 24.3 —only 73 at bats
    1987 15.8 —221 at bats
    1988 72.5 —500+ at bats from here down
    1989 69.9 —slow natural improvement?
    1990 42.7 — ” ” ” ”
    1991 24.3 —kinda big jump
    1992 27.61
    1993 16.1 —another big improvement
    1994 19.0
    1995 14.2
    1996 16.1
    1997 16.2
    1998 14.4
    1999 12.0
    2000 14.5
    2001 12.8
    2002 12.7
    2003 14.8
    2004 23.9 —Balco busted, Giambi, Bonds in trouble
    2005 31.8 —Incomplete stats, tests positive nonetheless

    Just some interesting stats, and I’m no baseball expert, but the 1992-93 increase in homers per AB is mighty suggestive to my lay analytic eye (and the person at the above link had the same idea, and was kind enough to do the calculations so that I didn’t have to!).

  17. Shelby (and Sean) notes: “The only defensible reason I’ve seen for banning steroid use in a competitive setting is that it damages, or poses a high risk of damaging, the long-term health of the user in exchange for short-term benefits.”

    Something to think about: Palmeiro is the 20th year of his career; Bonds has been around for a long, long time, as has Sosa, and McGwire lasted 16 seasons. Even Canseco put in 17 seasons–and would probably still be playing if he wasn’t such a jackass. So assuming these guys are all steroid cases and have been for a chunk of their careers, it’s hard to see how their pro lives have been shortened by juicing.

    While steroid “abuse” (variously defined) might lead to severe health problems (though probably not of the Lyle Alzado type), it’s far from clear that more moderate use leads to long-term health problems. More here.

  18. jc,

    The past couple of days have seen a strange juxtaposition of Boggs, Sandberg, and Palmeiro.

    I know someone who happened to run into Wade Boggs at a bar a few years ago, and, after Boggs warmed up to him, told him that everyone in baseball knew about Raffy and Mrs. Ryno. Apparently Ryno, upon finding out, demanded that the Cubs front office trade him or Palmeiro. Which would explain the boneheaded deal the Cubs made during the ’89 offseason which sent Raffy to the Rangers.

  19. Real sports on HBO did a very interesting expose on steriod use among MEN (key word here, MEN, not women, or children, and they purposfully only studied the effects on MEN)

    The conclusion was amazing. They did extensive research to find definitive examples of steroids (that were used properly, not the extreme .0001% examples of abuse) causing adverse health effects. They dug into the history of the anti-steriod movement. (lyle Alzato if anyone can remember that far back, who by the way did NOT die of sterioid use, but brain hemorage, even his surgeon could not pin it on steriods no matter how hard he was presured to)

    They presented no less then 10 case studies of men who used sterioids over extensive periods of time (one case of a man using for almost 40 years, and he spent time in prison for assiting over 2500 other men to use steriods) Real Sports did an excellent job of asking the relevant questions, and the final answer near as they could tell is, Men using steriods in a non abusive enviornment could expect to maintain a healthy body.

    Now a comment for all those who say ‘unfair advantage against those who dont use’. Bullshit, strawman…. everyone has access to steriods, everyone pretty much knows that steriods offer just one more edge, like weight training, unbanned suplement use, diet, and just a natural affinity for a particular sport.

    The biological analysis on Lance Armstrong that Discovery ran was amazing, his muscle and bone structure as well as the efficiancy level his lungs opperate make him a natural cyclist. Biological affinity alone made him a sure win, should he be banned for unfair competitive advantage? His advantage is so great, nobody short of a bionic human would be able to compete, at least with sterioids a player has a choice and an avenue to maintain that competitive edge.

    Steriod use by athletes, whatever…. could there be a bigger non issue thats plauging the news right now?

  20. From Mariotti’s column:

    After Palmeiro’s first 100 at-bats this year, he had exactly one home run. In his next 243 at-bats, he hit 18 homers.

    That may be nothing more than coincidence, but if we are attempting to get to the bottom of The Steroids Era and protect the game’s non-juiced eras, perhaps it is circumstantial evidence.

    Here’s another spike: In Palmeiro’s first four seasons as a regular with the Texas Rangers, after his trade from the Cubs, he hit a collective 70 home runs.

    In 1993 — Jose Canseco’s first full season with the Rangers — Palmeiro’s home-run total shot to 37. After the strike-shortened season in ’94, he proceeded to string together seasons of 39, 39, 38, 43, 47, 39, 47, 43 and 38 homers. How does a guy who was dealt by the Cubs because they thought he couldn’t hit for power — as if Mark Grace did? — wind up with 569 home runs?

  21. Remember how young he was when he hit the bigs. There’s no way excuses get accepted, and aren’t even the topic of this reason thread, but:

    1987 15.8 —221 at bats
    –early commence to lively ball era, strike zone expanded from ’88-90
    1988 72.5 —500+ at bats from here down
    1989 69.9 —slow natural improvement?
    1990 42.7 — ” ” ” ”
    –Raffy’s a lefty slap hitter, see Brett, George for similar numbers, albeit from a faster baserunner in a 2bs/3bs park.
    –’92-
    zone shrinks, new batter-friendly parks open (Camden), hitters start dominating

    –’94
    Expansion. (Would have been the record-setting year, had it not been for the strike.)

    I agree with the macro argument that it doesn’t matter, but dammit, I don’t think Raffy did ‘roids, particularly not the latest incident, he’s just never seemed… that dumb.

    /Crap, O’s are like the Pittsburgh Pirates of ’88.
    //If the Phils moved in across the river.
    ///Slashes don’t take the pain away.

  22. The Great Ape…

    I would like to see a better statistical anaylis on his HRs. The biggest missing piece, and i suspect its left out intentionaly to skew the numbers in favor of the anti-steriod fear mongers. What was his hit percentage vs. home runs…

    Steriods can do alot for someone, but they cannot help your hand eye coordination, only practice can bring up your hit percentage. I would be willing to bet that his hit percentage increased as his home runs vs. at bats increased.

    You can take all the steriods you want, but if you cant hit the ball for shit, they were worthless.

    But of course the in your face obvious is overlooked when you have a preconcieved bias going into it.

  23. Mariotti is, as always, a bigger jack ass than Canseco.

    A sabremetrician will tell you that HR rate for a player later in his career correlates more closely with his doubles rate at a younger age. A man’s athletic prime is usually about age 29 and Palmeiro’s breakout HR year was age 28. This is so usual and typical that Mariotti only proves how little he knows.

  24. The good libertarin that I am, i have no problem with roids being used/legal in the general sense. What I have a problem wioth is that the subrosa use was instrumental in prepetraing massive fraud on the public by baseball. It’s like selling tofu w/o disclosing that the tofu is really made of meat.

    Now a comment for all those who say ‘unfair advantage against those who dont use’. Bullshit, strawman…. everyone has access to steriods, everyone pretty much knows that steriods offer just one more edge, like weight training, unbanned suplement use, diet, and just a natural affinity for a particular sport.

    1) Not everybody has access
    2) “Just one more edge” is a gross understatement. It is a huge advantage compared to other supplements and the relative inefficiency of non-roid lifting.
    3) Until it is legal, it is absolutely unfair b/c the price of excelling at your trade should never involve the possibility of criminal prosecution as a direct result of your actions.

  25. So Kanabiis,are you for the totally unregulated use of drugs by athletes?Do you ban some drugs and not others?I think banning them is a lot easier than not.

  26. w/r/t to mariotti, I can’t stand the fucker and never read him even though I get the Sun-Times every day. That was just a POI posted elsewhere that was easy to copy and paste. It certainly proves nothing on its own, but is a valid piece of the whole puzzle so-to-speak.

  27. Bart-Great ape et al.

    Access to sterids- You are telling me that million dollar + a year athletes cant find steriods but the kid down the street who works at wendy’s and QBs for the local HS team can find them in abundance? Highly paid trainers and physicians cant get some roids from Mexico where they are not only legal, but sold over the counter in some places. Yea… thats beliveable.

    Bart- Why should I give a shit about athletes and drugs? Illegal? Maybe you should look into the history of why certain drugs are illegal, I’ll give you a hint, if its not because of impact on some pharma industry, its knee jerk reactions to some high profile yet statisticly insignificant episode that almost 100% of the time the dead abuser is to blame (read ephidrine).

    But thank you for putting words into my mouth, unregulated, thats a charged word, kinda like the ‘for the children’ argument. Im for regulation, unban the shit, get out of the dark ages and give up on the war on drugs, it failed 20 years ago, it only serves as smoke in mirrors and punishes everyone that doesnt choose alchol (a much worse, drug then most, and documented for more deaths then probably every other drug combined)

  28. yes, i misspelled a few words, so what.. preemptive on the gammar nazis.

  29. Access to sterids- You are telling me that million dollar + a year athletes cant find steriods but the kid down the street who works at wendy’s and QBs for the local HS team can find them in abundance? Highly paid trainers and physicians cant get some roids from Mexico where they are not only legal, but sold over the counter in some places. Yea… thats beliveable.

    I never meant to imply any of the above. As a successful year-round athlete from age 6 to 22, I had never seen or been offered steroids. It wasn’t until 21 that I actually knew someone I could go to if I wanted them. Granted, I never asked, but that is not the point. The point is that I can’t run over to GNC and pick a bottle off the counter, just like anyone else without the appropriate connections.

  30. I keep thinking of George and Martha and their exceptionally gifted son Harrison:

    http://www.libertarianthought.com/texts/harrison.html

    A little taste:

    THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.

  31. Dammit, sorry, George and Hazel!

  32. So Great Ape,

    Since YOU did not find access (I think that if you somehow felt the need to juice, it wouldnt have been hard to find). Up untill age 21 it would have been foolish for you to even attempt to juice, I dont deny the fact that roids in a growing young mans system is trouble, thats documented.

    The fact remains, if a highly paid athlete wanted roids they could take them. If the gvt. would get the hell out of my life we wouldnt even have this discussion.

    My points are not that I want or even condone athletes using steriods, my point is purely based on a fundemental belief that gvt has no posistion to regulate substances that I take, even if it leads to my death. 10 out of 10 people die, whos right is it to take the choice of how I die out of my hands. Certainly not some nanny stater.

    Roids are banned in sports purely because of gvt regulations… if roids were legal in the states, im sure they would be legal in a regulated body like the MLS.

  33. They presented no less then 10 case studies of men who used sterioids over extensive periods of time

    Wow, no less than ten case studies? So the margin of error on any sort of statistical conclusion therefrom was, what, +/- 98%?

  34. My preferred, but only half baked, solution is one part libertarian, one part statist — you guys will love it!

    1 Part L – allow athletes to use any and all performance enhancing drugs (probably put them in a prescription needed category)

    1 Part Statist – Heavily regulate athlete’s salaries. Bring them way back down to earth, probaly with one aspect being a requirement to have a lifetime pension at a high percentage of salary.

  35. kanabiis,

    I don’t disagree with anything in your last post. However, it didn’t address anything I said in my 12:58 post, but maybe that wasn’t where you intended to head.

  36. I haven’t been following the steroids business too closely, so I probably missed it. Has anyone ever compared the players’ use of steroids to movie stars’ use of plastic surgery? I’ve always wondered why there seems to be abundant moral outrage at using the syringe to enhance earnings potential, yet apparently no such outrage at using the scalpel for the same purpose in a different industry.

  37. JMoore,

    Both improve your chance of success, but the quick answer is that plastic surgery does not improve your acting ability while roids do improve your athletic ability.

  38. I am not a doctor, so I don’t know how harmful or not harmful steroids are. I am inclined to think that they are like any other drug, used in moderation probably benificial in some ways, abused and they are deadly just like any other drug. If you allow them, no doubt some people are going to abuse them and harm themselves just like any other drug. I will say that as a baseball fan I do not like what steroids are doing to the game. Steroids benifit hitters at the expense of pitchers. Pitching is more like a golf swing, its more technique than pure strength. That is why someone like Mariano Rivera, who is lucky to weigh 170 lbs soaking wet, can bring it at 95 mph and there are 6 foot three inch 220 pound guys that can’t break 85 mph. Letting hitters use steroids throws the game out of whack as it did in the 1990s. I am not a fan of 11-10 four hour games. If I wanted that I would watch college baseball where they use alluminum bats. Regardless of the social issues invovled, use of steroids fundementally alters the game of baseball in a way I don’t particularly like. I don’t think I am the only one of this opinion. For this reason, baseball has every right to ban the use of steroids and should ban steriods, not to save a bunch of millionaire jocks from harming themselves, but to protect the quality of their product.

  39. Yes I can see that difference, but can we really deny that beauty is the key factor in determining earnings in Hollywood? Acting ability may get you awards, but a great body gets you moolah.

  40. Phil-

    Considering the fact that untill Lyle Alzato died, and his widow and estate misrepresented the facts regarding his death, which lead to congressional hearings regarding steriods, I would say that a case study of even 3 people would generate more accurate results then what was presented to congress almost 30 years ago. 1 athlete who died, who happened to use steriods.

    But lets not let facts cloud the issue…

  41. “Now a comment for all those who say ‘unfair advantage against those who dont use’. Bullshit, strawman…. everyone has access to steriods…”

    Sort of like alumininum bats. Would you like to see aluminum bats made legal in MLB, or do you “have a bizarre, fucked-up relation to” light metals?

  42. kanabiis-I think you oversimplify the question.Those who choose not to use steroids would be at a disadvantage to steroid users.How do you reconcile that?What would happen to the game?

  43. Those who choose not to use steroids would be at a disadvantage to steroid users.How do you reconcile that?What would happen to the game?

    Those who workout would have an advantage to those who don’t. The “advantage” aspect is irrelevant. The only valid reason for having an anti-steroid rule on the books is because the rule-makers may prefer a game that is less skewed towards offence (as joe’s consistent references to aluminum bats alludes to). Banning them for health reasons or because the are banned by the feds are bogus reasons.

    As to Rafael, I give him the benefit of the doubt. Steroid tests are not flawless. They do produce false positives. In addition, I don’t believe the exact substance that he tested postive for was revealed. That is relevant. I’d like to see Rafael be fully forthcoming about his supplement regiment. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him vindicated and have this incident be thrown back into the face of the blowhards on capitol hill.

  44. Aluminum bats- They contribute to more home runs, and pose a legitimate safty issue…the MLS bans them, collegate sports do not. Would I like to see them used in MLB, hell i dont care, maybe more home runs would prompt me to turn on the TV and watch… Hell more injuries in MLB might be cool to.. isnt that why people watch NASCAR for the crashes, and football for the hits and hockey for the fights? Last time i checked congress hasnt made aluminum bats illegal… so how do they fit in this argument?

    Bart- athelets that dont lift weights are at an extreme disadvantage to those who do, athletes that pay major attention to the foods they consume also have an advantage, athletes who have access to high paid doctors who monitor all askpects of thier health have an advantage. In the case of say sprinters, those who are geneticly built with fast twitch muscles have an advantage over slow twitch marathon runners in the 100 yard dash and will probably beat that marathon runner 100 out of 100 times. There are advantages that you have control of and advantages you dont, why not afford yourself with every availble competitive edge you can, especially if its as simple as an injection of some testosterone. Or are you suggesting we now regulate the weight training, food consumption and genetic makeup of athletes?

    If roids were legal, would we even be discussing this…

  45. I would like to go on record as agreeing with everything John said at 1:46 PM.

    As a fan of the game, I also think that steroids harm the quality of the product and should be banned. I dont particularly care about preserving the health of the athlete. I am not their parents. They can worry about their own health.

  46. What exactly is the quality of the product? some arbitrary line? who defines the quality? the fans? MLS? congress? What exactly is a quality game vs. a sub par game? How exactly would you quantify quality in baseball? How exactly is that quality degraded by steroids is there a mesurement I can take? Since the materials used in the bats keep coming up, is a game with aluminum bats less quality then a game with wood bats? How about pre ban and post ban baseball, what has changed to bring the quality back, is it mesurable, or is it some notion in the back of your mind that so and so isnt juiced anymore?

    You may see troll, i see valid questions.

  47. w/r/t false positives, it is not an issue in this case. There are 2 samples taken, one is saved for when the first turns up opsitive if the player wants to have a retest done. Also, with Raffy, he was tested 2-5 weeks after his Congress appearance. After the positive result and the recopnfirmation of the result, there was an appeals process thru an independent arbitrator. The arb decided the matter was final and then the info was released yesterday. He probably tested positive for a steroid precursor, but it wouldn’t be anything that you take by accident.

  48. kanabiis-Why should those who choose not to use drugs be penalized?There is clearly a difference between training,nutrition,etc. and drug use.

  49. Why is this guy considered a Hall of Famer? What position does he play now? DH. What position did he play when he was younger? DH. What position has he been at for the most games? DH. Has he ever been the most feared hitter in the game? Top 5? Top 10? Or has he just been above average for a long long time? Also, he’s a DH. That’s like giving Steve Nash the MVP despite the fact that he doesn’t play any defense either. Oh, wait…

  50. If he was born 15 years earlier (and hence did not play in the Era of Inflated Offensive Statistics), he’d be Darrell Evans.

  51. Ok, i concede… its a pointless argument, untill they are legalized the anti-roid crowd will fall on the ‘its illegal’ argument, which may be vailid on its face, but that doesnt make it right.

    But just because I like to sound like a broken record I will insert choice words into Phil’s last statement. And let me point out that steriods is no more performance enhancing then say protien for muscle growth, vitamins for proper bio balance, diet for steady supply of nutrients etc. Sacrifice any of those from your daily routine as an athlete and you will surely notice a drop in your ‘competitive edge’

    Why should those who choose not to use drugs be penalized?

    Why should those who choose not to lift weights be penalized?

    Why should those who choose not to eat a healty diet be penalized?

    Why should those who do not have a genetic predispotion for a particular sport be penalized?

    etc. etc.

    I suppose you are in favor of disbanding the concept of a draft, since it penalizes those who have not shown any history of excellence in a particular sport, but may be the next Michael Jordon? Hundreds of thousands compete to become professional atheletes, very few win that lottery, dont kid yourself into believing that these few lottery winners dont do everything in thier power to gain that competitive edge over the next guy. Because some body of legislative do gooders decide to favor those who shower them with the most money by enacting laws that favor that particular industry does in no way reflect on the true merits of the substance.

    /this might be my last post on the subject since I believe i have said everything that needs to be said about this particular war on a particular drug….

  52. And let me point out that steriods is no more performance enhancing then say protien for muscle growth, vitamins for proper bio balance, diet for steady supply of nutrients etc. Sacrifice any of those from your daily routine as an athlete and you will surely notice a drop in your ‘competitive edge’

    That’s like saying a $100 bill, a $10, and a $1 bill are all on the same footing b/c they’re green and called money. You can’t possibly be that ignorant about steroids to believe your statement.

  53. kanabiis –

    What was his hit percentage vs. home runs…I would be willing to bet that his hit percentage increased as his home runs vs. at bats increased.

    Here ya go:

    Yr AB/HR Avg.
    1986 24.3 0.247
    1987 15.8 0.276
    1988 72.5 0.307
    1989 69.9 0.275
    1990 42.7 0.319
    1991 24.3 0.322
    1992 27.6 0.268
    1993 16.1 0.295
    1994 19 0.319
    1995 14.2 0.31
    1996 16.1 0.289
    1997 16.2 0.254
    1998 14.4 0.296
    1999 12 0.324
    2000 14.5 0.288
    2001 12.8 0.273
    2002 12.7 0.273
    2003 14.8 0.26
    2004 23.9 0.258
    2005 31.8 0.28

  54. He probably tested positive for a steroid precursor, but it wouldn’t be anything that you take by accident.

    It depends on his supplement provider. Supplement manufacturers are usually, but not always, 100% reliable as to their ingredients. There are lots of small shops out there.

  55. I’d prefer MLB err on the side of caution and just suspend every player for 10 days.

    joe, interesting thing about aluminum bats… some people may remember the change in college/HS rules in 2002 calling for aluminum bats with no more than a -3 weight/length difference. Most current MLB players use wood bats that are -2. That was unheard of until the mid 80’s, most wood bats prior to that ranged from -0 to +7. (The advantage in corking wood bats is strictly to reduce the weight without greatly impacting the solidity of the bat.)

    Some people might argue in favor of using aluminum bats in the pros the the reduced chance of broken bat pieces flying and injuring people.

  56. The above post should read -2 (minus 2), the spacing just worked out funny

  57. Here’s the deal, kanabis, from a fan.

    A wooden bat has the look, sound, and action that a bat from the 1890s had. When a wooden bat hits a ball, it sounds like “Field of Dreams.” When an aluminum bat hits a ball, it sounds like something Trent Reznor would loop into a syncopated beat for a song called “Angst of the Death Puppies.”

    When mediocre contact is made with a wooden bat, the ball sort of flops, or maybe even the bat breaks. When you make mediocre contact with an aluminum bat, the ball still flies off the bat. Especially in modern ballparks, you’re liable to hit the wall with what should have been a popup.

    As you might have guessed, the answer is no, this cannot be quanitified.

  58. But just because I like to sound like a broken record I will insert choice words into Phil’s last statement.

    Woah, woah, woah, junior — my last statement of any kind on this thread was:

    Wow, no less than ten case studies? So the margin of error on any sort of statistical conclusion therefrom was, what, +/- 98%?

    Nothing you wrote after that has anything to do with anything I said, so you’d better think real long and hard about what you think you’re attributing to me.

  59. D. Straub – The history of drug testing in sports is littered with people who have tested positive for everything from antihistimines to poppy seed bagels. To presume the tests are infallible is even sillier than Raffy’s finger wagging performance last spring.

    Mo and Legate- I don’t think 423 games out of 2721 is a “great deal.” Paul Molitor played almost four times as many games at DH, Eddie Murray 573/3026, Dave Winfield 419/2973, Reggie Jackson 630/2820… His DHing is in line with the small number of HoF-ers who played entirely in the DH era.

    Phil – That’s a terrible analogy: if there was anything like a “Gambling Era,” it ended about 80 years ago. Further, Rose signed off on his own banishment (while maintaining his innocence). The banning of steroids is a still-developing movement, the banning of gambling has been explicitly posted in plain language in every clubhouse forever. Finally, I believe that MLB is not responsible for keeping Rose of the HoF ballot, that is at the discretion of the HoF.

    Adam – All of MLB saw HRs plummet after the ’87 season, that was the year of the “Happy Haitians.” Also, when you look at AB/HR your losing the context of era and ballpark. If you look at Raffy’s OPS+ (a measurement of power, average and plate discipline versus the league averages and adjusted for home park, 100 denotes an average hitter, for those of you with lives) you see a very different characterization of his development as a hitter:

    1986 24.3/90 —only 73 at bats Small sample
    1987 15.8/125 —221 at bats Happy Haitians- HRs up all over MLB
    1988 72.5/121 —500+ at bats from here down The year after, HRs down all over, bit OPS+ shows us that Raffy’s skills relative to context didn’t decline. Things were rough all over.
    1989 69.9/104 —slow natural improvement? He actually has an off-year
    1990 42.7/131 — This “jump” is pre-Canseco and is actually a return to form
    1991 24.3/155 —kinda big jump This jump is also pre-Canseco
    1992 27.61/124 Canseco shows up at the end of the season. Now keep in mind, at the age of 26 he’s already moved into upper-echelon OPS+ territory without Jose
    1993 16.1/150 —another big improvement A “big improvement” or a “return to form”? Also this is his age 28 season, when the typical player reaches his peak, which typically lasts until he’s 33/34
    1994 19.0/136 Nothing strange here
    1995 14.2/142 Or here…
    1996 16.1/133 Or here…
    1997 16.2/113 A not-unusual dip
    1998 14.4/144 A return to form
    1999 12.0/160 This is the one season in his career that furrows my brow, but even here he barely exceeds his career high
    2000 14.5/134 A return to form. It is unusual for a player to maintain this level of production at this age, but then, Hall-of-Famers are unusual
    2001 12.8/145 A return to form. It is unusual for aplayer to maintain this level of production at this age, but then, Hall-of-Famers are unusual
    2002 12.7/141 A return to form. It is unusual for aplayer to maintain this level of production at this age, but then, Hall-of-Famers are unusual
    2003 14.8/117 Perfectly naturally, pre-Balco decline
    2004 23.9/103 —Balco busted, Giambi, Bonds in trouble BALCO busted, yes, but still no testing. After 18 years, he is now an “average” player.
    2005 31.8 —Incomplete stats, tests positive nonetheless On pace for an OPS+ of about 110-115

    When you look a little more closely at his development arc, you see nothing all that out of line with other players of his stature. Also, while I read the above comment about the negative effects of steroids, most of the guys in baseball we associate with steroids have had lots of injuries: Bonds, McGwire, Giambi, Sheffield… Raffy’s been remarkably durable, having played in over 97% of his teams’ games since becoming a starter.

  60. Oh, and lest there be any questions about possible bias, I’m a lifelong Red Sox fan and have hated this guy forever.

    A GG for 28 games played at first? Please.

  61. Bart,
    There really isn’t as much of a difference between straight weight training and HGH or steroid use as you imply. If you are suggesting the slugger who lifts and eats his way to a playing weight of 245lbs is taking less of a risk than the player who uses HGH to help him recover from injury but maintains a lower body weight, you are just flat out wrong. Carrying around 245lbs on a 6’1 frame is unhealthy in itself. We know for a fact that the extra weight takes a toll on their heart. So if you are going to damn steroids for their health risk, you had better damn “clean” weight lifting too.

  62. Sorry phil, I stand corrected, I was responding to Bart… Phil was in my mind for some reason…

    call it a brain fart….

  63. Nick, you’re ignoring the point.

    SOME lines have to be drawn in order for a sport to survive as an interesting competitive endeavor. IE, we don’t let the Yankees have 800 players on their roster, even though they could easily afford it.

    Drugs is one of these cases. I don’t care to see a bunch of guys who are pharmaceutically enhanced, and thus, baseball needs to take that into account, since I’m the customer.

  64. To add to M1EK’s point, we stand in awe of players like Griffey and A-Rod because they dominate their opponents with their natural ability (and plenty of hard work too). Given what I now know, I am not interested by McGwire and his accomplishments. It’s like when I saw LeBron James play his senior year, it was fun to watch b/c he was 17 or 18 and playing with kids his age. If he was 23, I would never give a shit.

  65. Scott Ross:

    D. Straub – The history of drug testing in sports is littered with people who have tested positive for everything from antihistimines to poppy seed bagels. To presume the tests are infallible is even sillier than Raffy’s finger wagging performance last spring.

    Oh, I wasn’t presuming anything. I made an if-then statement. I’m fully aware of the possibility of a false positive. That said, MLB spends a lot of time, money, and effort guarding against them. This isn’t like going down to the local strip-mall lab and peeing in a cup to work at Wal-Mart.

    This article (available for free through tomorrow, then only to subscribers) is worth reading.

  66. I’m disappointed nobody has taken up my analogy between steroids and subsidies, or even tried to distinguish carefully between unfair and fair competitive advantage in sports. I brought it up because Reasonoids seem to have a sound understanding of competition in the marketplace.

    So here goes:
    Saying a drug-enhanced athlete is only exercising the same type of competitive advantage as someone with a naturally high VO2-max or excellent hand-eye coordination is like saying a price-supported sugar beet farmer in France doesn’t have an unfair edge over a cane producer in Haiti. The Haitian has a naturally better product, but the French farmer gets regular government (extrinsic) cash injections from a rich government which mask his ineffecient work practices and allow him to compete artificially with the Haitian. He’s also buttressed by other extrinsic mechanisms (tariffs, etc.) which exclude the Haitian from the lucrative French domestic market. It doesn’t matter how much harder, smarter or better the Haitian works as long as the French beet farmer continues to enjoy the artificial, unfair financial support of his government – the Haitian will stay poor.

    Now, does anyone here think the solution to this problem is to subsidize the Haitian to the level of the Frenchman? Didn’t think so.

  67. Well-said Sean. And to finally quell the debate above that wondered if it was simply a precursor or the real thing he got nabbed for, it was the real thing, straight-up roids. Same ones Ben Johnson got busted for.

  68. If you are opposed to pharmaceutically enhanced athletes, do you mind if I take an Advil before a round of golf? What if I smoke a little herbal swing relaxer before my next round? Chill out dudes; it’s just a game.

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