Tuesday, November 30, 2004


Instant polls on the internet are emblematic of a society steeped in instant gratification. Hardly representative let alone scientific; almost always simplistic. But every once in a while an instant poll poses a question with serious implications. A recent instant poll on ESPN asked the following:

Baseball hasn’t had a 50-homer guy since 2002. With that in mind, which would you prefer?

1. Tougher drug testing even if it meant fewer HR’s.
2. Juice ‘em up and let ‘em rip.

As of November 24, in the AM, with 32,375 respondents including yours truly (if you don’t vote you cannot see the totals), the tally stood at 83.9% in favor of No. 1 and 16.1% in favor of No. 2. I got wrapped up in the impending holiday and didn’t have a chance to check in later that day to see the final tally, but even had the percentages changed significantly the early numbers were striking.

There are several interesting preliminary conclusions to draw from this admittedly meager sample:

1. Prodigious numbers of home runs by individual players have fallen off dramatically since drug-testing of any sort was implemented.
2. Prodigious numbers of home runs by individual players have fallen off dramatically since awareness of drug use generally has grown among fans.
3. Those voting appeared skeptical that the home runs totals by some players prior to 2002 were achieved without “help.”
4. Fans would rather see legitimate home runs even if that means fewer of them.
5. The Lords of baseball who claim fans would rather see home runs than tight pitching match-ups might have to revise their thinking.

I have visited the ESPN site subsequent to November 24 to see if the final results were available but I wasn’t able to find anything. If someone out there knows how to recall earlier poll results from ESPN’s site I would appreciate any feedback.

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