Thursday, June 18, 2009

27 comments This Is How I Feel About Steroids

This is a short post.

If steroids are really that great of a performance enhancer, then why are we posting from our moms basement* and not playing in the majors? I'll inject steroids in my ass if it will help me to hit a 98 mph fastball into the stands, and gain a multi million dollar contract. YOU HAVE TO HAVE GOD GIVEN TALENT FOR IT TO WORK, PEOPLE!!!!

*In all seriousness, we have all played organized sports. It is NOT that easy to hit a good fastball (was on a team that hit against Brian Wilson--fucker carried Londonderry through the playoffs) Anyways, you have to have skills to hit a major league fastball. I'm not saying steroids dont do anything, but I think its far less of an effect than we think.


Evan said...

Stumbled across this blog a couple months after getting so frustrated with another crappy Bill Simmons article and I have grown to really enjoy it. However, I am not sure what Fred brings to the table. So far all of your posts have been needless space fillers or irrelevant.

I normally don't like to bash peoples blogging attempts, but considering the whole purpose of this blog is to critique the awful journalists out there, I feel its necessary to point out that Fred has brought nothing of value to this blog.

Chris W said...

I enjoy Fred Trigger. But this post doesn't gibe with me. I get what you're saying--steroids don't make you a major leaguer nor do they make a major leaguer a HOFer.

But all you have to do is look at the huge jump in performance for the known steroids users to see that they do allow you to violate the fundamental trust of baseball.

Bonds looked like your garden variety HOFer before roids. After roids he started to look like the greatest hitter ever to play the game.

Clemens was a top 10 pitcher before steroids. After steroids he was pitching Cy Young caliber baseball about 5 years after that should have been humanly possible and was well on his way to a pedigree that screamed "greatest pitcher of all time".

A-Rod seems, statistically, like the greatest SS ever to play the game, but how do we measure him against non-roding SS's?

And Sammy--remember when I said "steroids don't make a regular MLBer into a HOFer". Well the meridian in Sosa's career between "regular MLBer" and "HOFer" seems to crease right around when he supposedly started taking steroids (weight gain, big head, etc).

It's pretty clear that steroids aren't a magic "HOF" juice potion. But it's also pretty clear that steroids distort how good a player is and transform already great players into unthinkably great players and throw the whole continuum of baseball out of whack in ways that only rule changes (dead ball era ending, raised mounds, integration) could prior to this.

And rule changes affected each player the same. Steroids doesn't. It's a huge problem, even if it's not a magic elixir of greatness.

Fred Trigger said...

those are fair criticisms, and I appreiciate them.

I'm really just trying to bring something different to the table other then just bashing bad writing(no offense, ben).

I told ben in an email, I wasnt sure what direction I was going to go, so I'm just trying to feel out the waters, and get a feel for blogging.

This is definately one of the more reasonable blogs I've been on, and that is why I volunteered to be a writer on it.

Evan: I encourage you to email me and let me know why I suck* (seriously) so I can improve upon it.

*I am dead serious, email me. I wont bite your head off. This is just a hobby for me and ben. Let me know how I can improve.

Most of the time I am writing at work* so I cant elaborate as good as I can normally (not that its good to begin with).

*I'm just throwing it out here right now. I'm in the military, good for me. I'm a cook, however, so its not like I'm doing anything crazy. I hate to admit it, but, asides from paperwork and cooking, my job is really easy (Asides from trying to please everybody, but thats another story.) Your military does work, I just happen to have some down time, occasionally.

I do encourage feedback, however, so please, tell me what is good, and what is not.

Fred Trigger said...

I'm going to bite, Chris. Roger Maris, Brady Anderson, Todd Hundley. Were they taking better PED's that year?

Like I said: I'm pretty sure they do something, I just wish I knew how much they improved performance. Thats all I'm saying.

Bengoodfella said...

Evan, thanks for reading. I like how you have grown to really like the ol' blog here. I think that describes us well. If you keep visiting the site you may eventually remember why you stopped by in the first place. Very appropriate.

I think Fred is just trying to sort of find his voice and what he is good at, which is pretty much what he said below as well. On the whole people can email us and tell us what sucks and what doesn't. Don't worry, nothing is going to change with Fred joining us now. There is still plenty of bad journalism to mock and unproven and unsolicited opinions to give out.

I do have to say I agree with Chris on this issue, I think that depending on the player steroids can take a player from average or above average to great or Hall of Fame worthy. I see what Fred is saying because many times I think the benefits of steroids can be over rated in some cases, but I do think it throws baseball out of whack.

To answer for Chris, I think those guys may have had good years or only took PED's for that year. That's a tough question, but they may just be one year wonders.

Fred Trigger said...

I think this is why me and Ben get along. He pretty much summed up how I feel.

I never said PED's dont do anything, I was just wondering how much they did.

You can see all the scrubs listed in the report didnt accomplish anything, but the superstars somehow became better. I honestly wish there was a study to show how much better it made a player, but it will never happen.

McGwire was not a scrub, he broke the record for slugging percentage when he was a rookie (later broken by Ryan Braun). I dont know. I really wish this would go away. GO ECKSTEIN!!!!!!!!!!!

Chris W said...

"I'm going to bite, Chris. Roger Maris, Brady Anderson, Todd Hundley. Were they taking better PED's that year?

Like I said: I'm pretty sure they do something, I just wish I knew how much they improved performance. Thats all I'm saying."

Well that's not really what I'm saying.

I'm not talking about one year. I'm talking about 3 guys we know took steroids (Bonds, Clemens, Sosa) who did things that no one had really ever done before.

1.) Bonds was able to increase his HR totals to unthinkable levels (both in terms of his career and historically) AT THE AGE OF 35. His peak period came from 35-39

2.) Sosa was able to put up both unthinkable numbers and the entirety of a HOF AFTER THE AGE OF 29. We're talking about 5 years of post-peak improvement to HOF levels from non-All-star levels.

3.) Clemens speaks for itself.

It's not that these guys had one or two great seasons and we say "but these seasons don't make sense! It must be steroids."

It's that these guys took steroids and we can see they had late career, prolonged stretches of super-greatness that are not only unlikely, they are unprecedented (even among the majority of their contemporaries).

It's not that Brady Anderson had one huge season so he must be on steroids.

It's that Bonds WAS on steroids and we can see that he did things that the human body shouldn't be able to do for a long long long long time. And when I say that I don't mean "hit a lot of home runs." I mean "keep improving by a preposterous margin at an age where, medically, you are not capable of improving on your own--at least not to that extent."

Bengoodfella said...

Ok, so Chris you were taking a longview in saying that the totals put up by players were unprecendented and not just a one year effect? I think it can be argued that steroids have a great effect on players ability to improve on a short term and a long term basis.

In regard to one year wonders, I can't help but think those players were not on steroids because they would have continued doing them based on the one year's totals. It actually looks stranger there is a one year outlier than it would look stranger if Anderson, Maris, and Hundley did it over a long time period.

Fred Trigger said...

UGH, I wish there was a way to post a table here, but look at Bonds Baseball Reference page. Only a couple of years really stand out, right? I mean, the dude walked 151 time in 1996 for christs sake! He was obviously a--and i fucking hate to say this--feared hitter.

McGwire had a similar stretch.

I just want to see a study on it, thats all. I'm not saying your wrong, I would just like to see more evidence.

Chris W said...

Barry Bonds hadn't topped 188 on OPS+ since he was 28 (right when you'd expect a great player to put up his career high OPS+). He had a number of excellent seasons from 29 to 34, tapering off just as you'd expect him to: 183, 168, 188, 170, 178, 155. Exactly what you'd expect from a great player who was starting to age.

Then he turned 35. By the time most players turn 35 their diminishing returns begin to increase. Not Bonds.

35: 188 OPS+

That in and of itself proves nothing. It's right in line with what he posted in some of his post-prime years.

But then a funny thing happened:

36: 259 OPS+
37: 268 OPS+ (career high)
38: 231 OPS+
39: 263 OPS+
40: Injuries

We're talking about a guy who at age 37 put up a production level nearly 1.5 times as far above league average as in his previous best year.

We're talking about a guy who, after he turned 35, topped his previous season-high production FOUR TIMES IN A ROW.

That doesn't stand out? GMAB. I'm not saying he wasn't a great player before he took steroids. I'm saying that ten years after his peak years, he took steroids. Not coincidentally, ten years after his peak years, he SURPASSED HIS PEAK YEARS at an age when everyone else is tailing off. Bonds kept getting better at a ridiculously high level.

Fred Trigger said...

Hank Aarons career high OPS plus came when he was 37. Steroids? Dont know. Who does?

I'm not trying to turn this all crazy, I know what your saying but, do you understand where I'm coming from?

Chris W said...

Hank Aaron's career high at 37 was surrounded by two years well below his previous career high.

Hank Aaron's variance from his previous career high in his age 37 year was only 13 points of OPS+ or 13% or so. Not 60% as in Bonds's case.

So to sum up: Unlike Aaron, Bonds not only reached his career high at age 37, but he ALSO maintained career highs for a 4 year period between ages 36-39. Aaron, despite reaching his career high at age 37, had no such 4 year period late in his career. Like pretty much everyon else in world history, Aaron's end of his career was generally a downhill trend with one or two isolated spikes.

FURTHERMORE, Bonds's new career high was preponderately older than his old career high. AND he repeated it 3 years. Aaron's "new" career high was more or less the same as his old career high.

So your Aaron example doesn't hold a lot of water.

(verification: drymerwo. Is that how a three year old orders red wine?)

Chris W said...

See how flat Aaron's SLG% graph is?

What do you notice about Bonds's SLG% graph?

Hank Aaron's Isolated Power (SLG-BA)


It's pretty clear, power-wise that Bonds's late career was a huge, unthinkably huge jump up. And that it's no coincidence that that coincided so directly with his steroids use.

Fred Trigger said...

I know it doesnt. I was just arguing for the hell of it. Well played, sir.

Fred Trigger said...

at least we can all admit that bonds swing is a thing of beauty.

Bengoodfella said...

So basically what Chris is saying is that we all fell for Bonds' numbers even though they defied the logic of years of statistics accumulated by baseball players. Maybe Howard Bryant is right, we are all to blame.

Chris W said...

I'm still a Bonds fan even though he cheated.

Sort of like how I wasn't a Sosa fan even before we found out he cheated

Bengoodfella said...

I am not a Bonds fan because I still view him as a cheater but I still think he was a great hitter, which makes his steroid use all that much sadder for me. I feel like he was so talented without them but he did do them so I have to acknowledge that.

Fred Trigger said...

how could you not like Sosa, you dirty cubs fan? (joking, of course)

Martin said...

I was always disappointed by Bonds, because despite his lack of post-season success, I felt he the best player of the 90's, and then he decided he wanted to use steroids because of the attention McGwire and Sosa were getting. He was the best player of his generation before the steroids, and might still have been considered that if he'd never used them. From the moment his hitting numbers went batfuck insane I knew he was using. I was never a fan of the guy, but had admired the ballplayer. When he turned into a steroid clown though, it just made it a sad ending for a giant ego.

AJ said...

Do PEDs make you a HoF'er, of course not...clearly you have to have skills. But thats not even the point, the point is they used something illegal to INCREASE their natural ability. They did it because it worked, plenty of evidence out there that says that too. Bonds was a great player, but not a 70 HR guy before he took. He is the extreme. He is a guy that had maybe the greatest eye at the plate, greatest instincts to hit a give him something that makes him stronger and what do you get? The greatet power hitter to ever play the game. No it didn't help him hit a ball, but it allowed him to morph into a player he never could have been unless he was on something.

The same thing goes for Mac. He had the power, we knew that from his rookie year, but you could tell in that year he wasn't a guy that was going to mash much more then he already did. He took something, its clear, and what that did allowed him to become more patient at the plate, allowed him to sit on the pitch a split second more, and allowed him to morph into a 70 HR hitter.

Now you look at the lesser guys that used or may have used...Sosa is a clear cut example of an average player becoming a great yes, in his case it turned him into a HoF'er. He was a doubles hitter for the Sox, then turned into the hulk and a HR hitter...but he had the skills to hit at an early age, and the PEDs allowed him to use that natural ability and turn into a freak.

Ortiz to me falls into the same category as Sosa, but I'm not going into him again.

Ken Caminiti, Dykstra, Maggilio, Pudge, Juan Gonzalez, Raffy, Gonzo, Cansaco...these weren't great players, but clearly whatever they were using, or have been accused of using, made them stars.

Anyone who has watched the game of baseball should be able to see the effects of PEDs on any given player. You mentioned Brady Anderson...who doesn't believe that guy was doing something? It may have been a one year thing, but thats just as obvious as an extended period of time (like Bonds). Brady is a guy no one should have been able to remember, but he had that one huge year and now all of a sudden an average player at best is remembered.

You may not see the same effects on every user, but you have to realize that not everyone was using the same stuff. Bonds had clear and away the best steroids for performance on the field then anyone...Sosa didn't use the stuff Bonds did, and you could probably make the case that everyone used something different. Therefore the effects are going to be different.

Bengoodfella said...

Steroids turned Barry Bonds into the greatest hitter I have ever seen. I will never forget the way he hit on steroids. It was like he was a video game character, which he really was.

Martin, I am glad that Bonds chose later in his career to play better in the postseason. I don't know if I could have handled him going off on the Braves in the 91 and 92 NLCS.

I guess AJ has a point that the steroids every one took were different from each other and would probably have each person react differently to taking them. I don't know if Brady Anderson was on roids or not, because I would assume he would have just kept doing them.

Those Texas Rangers teams just seem like they were full of steroid users. Pudge is an interesting guy to throw in there, I am not saying I disagree, but it would be interesting to know if he did or not. The rest of the names, I am pretty certain they did take.

Saw Porcello pitch last night and he looked good. I'd say he is easily the second best young pitcher in baseball now, next to Tommy Hanson...I am kidding, he has had three starts and only pitched one good game. Porcello is really poised on the mound.

What happened to Homer Bailey? Is he still alive?

AJ said...

I believe Pudge was on something, and I believe he will be on that list as well. I mean the guy lost like 30 pounds in one off season.

Ya Porcello looks really good out there, and he's only 20 years old. You forget how young he really is sometimes.

Heading to the game this Saturday, and I'm happy to see Willis got pulled and will not be starting that game, or else it would have been a longgggg afternoon.

Bengoodfella said...

I can see Pudge being on something, especially since he was on the team with the other steroid users as well.

It annoys me a little bit because the Tigers went above slot to sign Porcello and then he turns out to be another great pitcher. Boras!

I am heading to the Braves-Red Sox game next week and I can't tell you how happy I am that Smoltz is not pitching for the Sox. It would have been incredibly awkward to hear me boo him while wearing a Smoltz jersey.

Foked on Baseball said...

The last game of the Sox-Braves series was by far my favorite. Not only are they my two favorite baseball teams, the games were incredible to watch. While the last game in the series was quite nicely matched up, the best part was, almost unfortunately, seeing Chipper Jones get tossed. I've had the opportunity to meet him, and he is quite the character. He's been a favorite of mine for a good 10 or so years, and seeing him play the Sox was amazing. He is quite the little drama queen, and I love it.

Fred Trigger said...

Larry is quite tha ballplayer. Chipper did have a legitimate beef with Ron Jeremy, but I think the unp knew he fucked up, thats why he started tossing everybody.

Foked on Baseball said...

Oh, the umpire absolutely knew he blew that call. It's the little man syndrome...he decided to grow a pair bigger than himself, and do the only thing that would make him feel better about himself, eject those who caught onto his blunder.