Speed is to steroids as pot is to heroin

Ken Davidoff of the New York Post is an idiot, as evidenced in this exchange with John Schuerholz.

KD : I have one question, one challenging question for you. You know how much I respect you, but one thing I’ve read that irks me a little. I think you’ve had some ceremonies where the team introduces Hank Aaron as “The real home run king” or “The true home run king.” Am I right on that?

JS : Yeah.

KD : Are you OK with that? Is that your domain?

JS : Listen. If you were in Atlanta and you worked for our organization, you would feel the same way. He’s without dispute, people in baseball would look at him as the guy they say is the quote-unquote real home run champion. There’s no questions about how he hit his home runs.

KD : But he admitted to using amphetamines . He used illegal PEDs, just like Bonds did.

JS : I’m not going to make a big deal out of this. He is for us the real home run champion. It’s our view. He’s our home run king. It’s our opinion. And we honor him for that. And I’m not going to stop saying it about him.

Good for JS, though I wish he had said, “Listen, moron. No one ever hit the ball further by taking greenies. Hank didn’t have the best seasons of his career after his 35th birthday, when Bonds, who hit a HR every 16.1 AB’s, began hitting them every 8.5 AB’s (from ’99-’04). Nor did he undergo an unprecedented growth spurt more than 20 years after puberty.

From “Game of Shadows”:

For his part, [equipment manager Mike] Murphy could document Bonds’ physical changes via the changes in his uniform size. Since joining the Giants, Bonds had gone from a size 42 to a size 52 jersey; from size 10 ½ to size 13 cleats; and from a size 7 1/8 to size 7 ¼ cap, even though he had taken to shaving his head. The changes in his foot and head size were of special interest: medical experts said overuse of Human Growth Hormone could cause an adult’s extremities to begin growing.

Regrettably, such false equivalences are repeated as gospel by many in the sabermetrics crowd, baseball’s version of the tea party.

Witness these insipid comments on Hardball Talk, which addressed the Davidoff Q&A:

Holy smokes, [JS} completely handwaves away the fact that Aaron did essentially what Bonds did. That’s some amazing cognitive dissonance. He’d make a great politician.

Why is Greg Maddux a first ballot hall of famer? Is he 100% clean? Really? How do you know that? If Maddux gets in, then Clemens and Bonds have to get in since they failed the same # of drug tests as Maddux…zero.

I demand scientific proof from you that steroids makes you hit a ball farther. That is my challenge to you. Do you accept? Yes or No.

It’s difficult arguing facts with people who chose to ignore them.

Now, as for the effects of speed, have you ever seen a big meth addict? Speed, or greenies, don’t build body mass. Those making the comparison frame the argument as one of morality, or legality. That’s irrelevant. I’m opposed to Bonds’ induction into the Hall because he used artificial means to create an unfair advantage, not because he broke the rules.

Conflating greenies with steroids is willful ignorance, and to what end? To ensure the enshrinement of known cheaters?

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13 Comments on Speed is to steroids as pot is to heroin

  1. “It’s difficult arguing facts with people who chose to ignore them.”

    This. The speed = roids correlation is dumb.

    As time goes by, though, I actually find myself harboring more and more sympathy for the ‘roiders. Business-wise at all levels baseball is basically omnium contra omnes. I can see how the culture developed and was most likely promoted, officially or not, by organizations themselves. Steroids saved the sport after the 1994 strike. Otherworldly guys like Bonds, etc. bear the brunt of our wrath for the numbers they put up, but I think of them more and more as a symptom produced by the dynamic, not special cases.

    With regard to the HOF, extra-legal edges have always been part of the game. Is scuffing a ball the same as taking steroids? With regard to the US legal system, clearly not. With regard to the rules of the game, strictly speaking both are cheating as both seek to give a given player an edge. Fans at this point tend to look at lubing up balls, widening the batter’s box, or altering the pitcher’s mound as quaint, something permissible if not exactly within bounds, while ‘roids is neither.

  2. Good points, I think the difference is impact, but I don’t think precedent should guide our decisions. If Gaylord Perry was up for enshrinement today I wouldn’t support him.

  3. Right on. For me the important thing is consistency (which either way is a MAJOR issue for the HOF andHOF voters). Is cheating cheating or is there a spectrum? If it’s a spectrum, where do we draw the line and why? I totally respect what you’re saying about Perry (and by extension, others).

    The quote I keep going back to is from HOFer and famed spitball Stanley Coveleski who played from 1912-28. In Glory of Their Times he’s talking about the enormous pressure on ballplayers to produce or someone else will take their spot. He concludes by saying, “That baseball is a worrying game.” Again, he started playing 100 years ago. I can’t imagine the pressure today. I don’t agree with going to any and all extremes to get an edge, but I see why players would (personally as well as organizationally).

  4. I’m for consistency though I wouldn’t favor nitpicking, and I’m glad you’re not one of those trying to equate PED’s w/ greenies.

  5. Not only are amphetamines not equivalent to steroids, but Aaron was open about his usage: exactly once. It’s not like his career HR totals are going to be severely out of whack because of one single dosage of amphetamine. Bonds, on the other hand, used for a long period of time, and (so far) has not been honest about his usage.

    We can forgive mistakes- it’s only human to feel pressure and to screw up every now and then. It’s another thing completely to feel pressure and “screw up” for five years in a row.

  6. Bonds’ motive: He was jealous of McGwire and Sosa. I don;t think Bad Henry felt compelled to take greenies because he resented Mays and Mantle.

  7. Jack Straw // January 13, 2013 at 12:40 pm //

    The sabremetrics crwod is “baseball’s version of the tea party”? That doesn’t even make sense. The tea party people are polite, clean, hard-working, and understand that the US cannot tax its way out of the fiscal situation politicians of both parties have put us in.
    Like Ken Rosenthal the other day on ESPN, you spew hate reflexively. It is what you ARE.

  8. Like i said, it’s difficult arguing facts w/ people who choose to ignore them.

  9. roadrunner48 // January 13, 2013 at 5:21 pm //

    I pitched a game against a Division I team once, and let me tell you, facing really good hitters makes you realize how short 60’6″ is. A line drive up the middle comes so quickly it’s almost invisible. Players have described how with Bonds and McGuire, the ball coming off their bats didn’t sound like anything they had ever heard. It was that explosive. They could have killed somebody. Seriously. I wish someone in the media would point that out.

  10. Damn, my hat size is four bigger than Bonds’ at the height of his ‘roid use. But then, I come from a long line of fatheads.

    I read that interview with Schuerholz before atlmalcontent posted this, but my reaction was pretty much the same as his, although without the apt metaphor. But I would add that the whole point of Davidoff’s asking the stupid question is so that he could inject his false equivalency into the story. Friggin’ asshat.

  11. pepefreeus // January 14, 2013 at 1:12 am //

    I read this yesterday and had the exact reaction that Erik did. It seems to have become an article of faith with PED apologists that Aaron has admitted to years and years of greenie abuse. The best part is (and this has literally happened to me) if you assert what he really wrote, they’ll fucking accuse him of lying! They take his admission, made of his own free will in a book he co-authored, at a time when literally no one cared and he had zero reason to be evasive or coy about it, but reject the details of the actual words he wrote.

    This time last week, I wouldn’t have known Ken Davidoff from Adam. After his disgracefully foolish two day stand on “Clubhouse Confidential” and this swill, he’s now pretty well taken over the “top” spot on my list of idiot writers.

    He also thinks that since Clemens wasn’t convicted of perjury that he is “innocent” (he actually used that term and wouldn’t back off of it when Bill Madden and Brian Kenney tried to explain what “not guilty” really means) thus deserving of the legal level presumption of innocence in HOF voting and that anyone who disagrees is out of step with American values.

    As for Hardball Talk…it’s about to join the list that I have Uni Watch Blog on now, of places that I used to like to visit ruined by increasingly shrill and tiresome writers and commenters.

  12. Viva Rufino Linares! // January 14, 2013 at 10:15 am //

    I say again greenies helped guys play a day game after a night game or to get on the field after a night of revelry. So, now to defend Bonds and Clemens, those in the media are going to paint everyone with a broad brush. It’s ridiculous. And to say Greg Maddux took steriods?!?!? Look at his body type. Watch the “Chicks Dig The Long Ball” Commerical. Come on. His skills diminished as he got older. Even he admitted at the end of his career he was a 6 inning pitcher.

  13. Both have good points… Interesting article..

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