PED apologists violate their own liturgy

Familiar language from ESPN’s Christina Kahrl, who claims the HOF is already compromised by PEDs.

I mean, c’mon, no Mike Schmidt or Hank Aaron in the Hall of Fame? By their own admission they broke the same baseball rule on the books that Bonds did, and they did so for the same reason — to enhance their performance.

She’s talking about amphetamines, which were once doled out like Morrison’s peppermints in most, if not all, of baseball clubhouses. That doesn’t make it right, but they weren’t consumed in the shadows. Eddie Mathews wasn’t snorting lines with Hank in a toilet stall, for instance, a la Canseco injecting McGwire. Greenies didn’t give one player a significant advantage over another.

Besides, it’s ridiculous to compare the banned substances.  The proof is in the stats, yet the apologists ignore the evidence. Perhaps because it totally destroys their argument.

What else explains Bonds’ production in the twilight of his career? Bonds’ lowest OPS, in four seasons from ages 36-39, was 1.278. His highest OPS in the prime of his career, from ages 26-29: 1.136. He had 69 more homers from ages 36-39.

Fortunately, someone else crunched the numbers typically required by the statistically obsessed.

Below are the top 15 OWPs of all time, regardless of age. Before 2001, no player had reached .924, Bonds’ OWP for the whole period that covers ages 36-39. Notice how unusual it is for someone aged 36-39 to have such a great OWP. It appears that no one has aged as well as Bonds.

Rank

Player

YEAR

OWP

AGE

1

Barry Bonds

2002

0.942

37

2

Barry Bonds

2004

0.929

39

3

Barry Bonds

2001

0.922

36

4

Mickey Mantle

1957

0.915

25

5

Babe Ruth

1920

0.913

25

6

Fred Dunlap

1884

0.909

25

7

Ted Williams

1941

0.908

22

8

Barry Bonds

2003

0.897

38

9

Babe Ruth

1923

0.896

28

10

Babe Ruth

1921

0.891

26

11

Ted Williams

1957

0.891

38

12

Babe Ruth

1926

0.883

31

13

Ted Williams

1942

0.881

23

14

Pete Browning

1882

0.88

21

15

Babe Ruth

1924

0.879

29

Dare I mention the freakish guns and engorged head?

Apparently none of this is sufficient proof for the likes of Kahrl, who writes of “the purported performance-enhancing benefits of PEDs.”

This from the group that sneers at those who ignore the irrefutable evidence found in the numbers.

Maddux slighted again, and was Smoltzie better than Glavine?

I’m thrilled that the last pitcher chosen in ESPN’s ranking of the 100 greatest players in MLB history is the perpetually underrated Knucksie, #100 overall.

Not so much with the highest-ranked pitcher: Roger Clemens.

ESPN cautions its list is a “judgment-free zone where Barry BondsRoger Clemens and even Pete Rose are welcome.” (Rose debased the game but earned every one of his 4,256 hits. He shouldn’t be lumped together with players who came upon their stats dishonestly.)

I don’t understand how you overlook the cheating, which allows ESPN to rank Barry Bonds ahead of The Hammer and Ted Williams. But those who do so will never convince me that Clemens was the best pitcher in baseball history. He wasn’t even the best of his generation.

His ranking, at #7 overall, speaks to to the most overrated stat in all of baseball: the strikeout. If Warren Spahn was pitching today the stat geeks would insist his 363 wins were attributable mostly to luck, as he averaged only 4.4 K/9 IP.

Strikeouts are about all that Clemens has over Mad Dog, who ranks at #13, third among pitchers (Walter Johnson finished 12th). I’m repeating myself but apparently some people refuse to listen.

Maddux has had as many dominant seasons as Clemens, finishing with an ERA under 3.00 nine times. Granted, Clemens did it 12 times, but in two other years Maddux finished with ERA’s of 3.00 and 3.05. And no pitcher in modern history (Pedro in ’99 was close) can match Maddux’s 1995 campaign: 19-2 with a 1.56 ERA and an 0.811 WHIP. Even though strikeouts were not his bread and butter he had more K’s that year (181) than hits and walks combined en route to his fourth consecutive Cy Young.

Maddux was more durable, totaling 200 innings or more 18 times. Add three more innings over two seasons and Maddux would have 20 seasons of 200 or more IP. Clemens topped 200 innings 15 times.

My favorite Maddux stat? From July 31, 1993, through August 4, 1995, a two-year period, Mad Dog had 56 quality starts in 57 games pitched.

And Maddux has been better in October, with a 3.27 ERA, compared to 3.75 for Clemens. His first Fall Classic appearance might have been his best; the fearsome Indians (with Manny Ramirez hitting seventh) managed to get but FOUR balls out of the infield in Game 1 of the ’95 Series. Time of game: 2:37.

Maddux had one more win and a better WHIP (1.143 to 1.158). Clemens had a better ERA (3.12 to 3.16) even though Mad Dog had ERA’s of 3.96 or higher in each of his last six seasons. Conversely, three of Clemens’ worst years came between his 30th and 34th birthdays, a period when most pitchers are at their best, or close to it. It’s reasonable, then, to conclude that had Clemens not cheated he wouldn’t have made it into the Top 100.

Oh, and Maddux was the best fielding pitcher of his era, if not ever.

If only he had juiced, or pitched for the Yankees and Red Sox. Or had a strikeout ratio like Tommy Hanson’s and John Rocker’s.

They didn’t make the list, of course, though Smoltzie and Glavine did. Some may quibble with Smoltz ranking 18 spots higher than his former teammate, but I’m good with it. Glavine had more wins and one more Cy Young Award, but Smoltzie had a better ERA and WHIP and, for three years, was as dominant a closer as the game has seen. And he had no  peer in October. Some people say that doesn’t matter, but they’re typically the same people who say cheaters deserve a pass.