Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Timing Is Everything

How fitting.

On the day MLB announced it would supply players (sell them, actually) with legal supplements, the most damning allegations yet regarding Barry Bonds’ use of illegal ones are about to hit the street according to a story on ESPN’s web site.

Excerpts from Game of Shadows, written by San Francisco Chronicle reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, will appear this week in Sports Illustrated.   The full book is scheduled to be released later this month.


Pawnking said...

Remember the old SNL skit about the "All Drug Olympics" where the athletes made Schwarzenegger look like a pre-pubecient girl? The joke was that already 137 records had been broken, with men weightlifting like, 9,000 lbs or so.

Maybe MLB needs to adopt that as their official position. Already we have the greatest baseball season in history tainted by drugs. Why fight it? Wouldn't you love to see Ryan Howard hit 89 dingers this year? Like you wouldn't pay to see that even if you knew for a fact he was on the juice.

fletch said...

The excerpt to slated to appear in the upcoming issue of SI has already been posted online. Only click through if you have the time -- it's 14 pages.

Tom Goodman said...

More and more I am leaning toward very harsh terms for drug abuse in sports. One strike and you're out for the season. Period. Nothing short of that would send a message. I no longer trust any of the batting statistics of the last ten years or so. None of them.

Pawnking said...

Alas, Tom, you are correct, without a doubt. In hindsight, we were all fools for bot seeing what drugs were doing to the sport we loved so much. And those of us who love the numbers of the game can only look at the 90s and eary part of this decade and sigh.

On the plus side, if baseball really does start to actually enforce tough doping stnadards (call it the Barry Bonds rule), we should get back to baseball as it was in the 70s, with more light hitters in the lineups leading to imrpoved complete games, more steals, more plays involving defense, less focus on the longball as the be all end all of the game, which it is great danger of becomming.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Baseball is a great game. It has to be to survive the horrible people who have been involved in it over the years. Look at the scandals:

In the early days of the game, only scoundrels would actually make a profession of it. The Black Sox weren't the first team to take money to throw games, I am certain.

Later, as Babe Ruth brought the people back, they turned a blind eye to his off the field antics, but those, too eventually started to become so excessive it hurt baseball.

Later, baseball became a big hotbed of racism, with many who followed the game not wanting it to integrate, and many more wanting it to do so.

Strawberry and Gooden in the 80s tarnished the game further with their generations' curse: illegial drugs.

Of course, the strike and cancelled world series was a deadly blow which came about as a result of too many hands wanting bigger pieces of a huge pie.

In the last 10 years, the big scandal will turn out to be performance enhansing drugs such as steriods, HGH, etc.

My thinking it, if baseball has been able to withstand all the other attempts to kill it, it will withstand this, too.

Tom Goodman said...

Pawnking: very well said. Baseball will withstand this latest debacle.

Oisín/Wizlah said...

Whilst I have no doubt baseball will indeed withstand the scandal on drugs as a game, it will be interesting to see how carefully we all look at stats from now on. A hardline on performance enhancers (me, I'm all for a one year ban for a postive test, and a lifetime ban for a repeat offence, with sensible appeal procedures) will keep cheats to a minimum, but we know it's never going to go away. The drugs change and then the sport tries to keep up with it.

Baseball's ability to throw up natural spikes in a player's career confuse things, so we'll always be asking the question - was it real or enhanced? The only way to keep on top of those doubts and respect a player for elevating their game (however briefly) is a transparent and dynamic anti-doping policy. (But as any cycling fan will tell you, that's still not enough.)

At least in the two years that we've had a drugs policy, Selig has had the sense to recognise it needs to evolve. Both players and owners will have to recognise that this is not something that can be changed every couple of years - we need to be working regularly with WADA and the other sporting bodies who test regularly for performance enhancers to swap information. Again, it will be interesting to see whether drug testing's dynamic nature will be recognised in the next labour agreement.

Tom Goodman said...

I have now heard or read several well-known baseball commentators (Kurkjian, Gammons etc.) say that if Bonds resorted to persistent, wholesale use of steroids because he was jealous of McGwire and Sosa he would lose not only their respect but potentially their HOF votes. These guys don't get it. Motive isn't the issue here. If the allegations prove true, they describe a guy who cheated for years. That is the only issue that matters here; not jealousy, vanity or anything else.

Oisín/Wizlah said...

I'm loath to sympathise with these guys, but I guess if there's not a culture of accepting that champions might cheat to be even better, it's a tough concept to get used to. As a result, no-one wants to say 'he's a cheat'. Look at the way the giambi story was spun - all the pathos of a guy who felt 'compelled' and none of the straight out tough questions. Everyone walked softly-softly round his 'admission' and slyly referred to it in their columns. I never got the sense that anyone stood up and directly confronted him on it.

Or to take another example - how many times has the spitballer excuse been run out to stop guys from making the hall of fame? Maybe that's why they're focussing on motive. it gives them a reason to ban the guy, instead of just saying - 'you cheated, you're not in.'

I agree with you Tom - folk are missing the point hugely. Everyone needs to get their heads right on this, recognise the problem doesn't just have a present, but a past - writ large in the stats of the 1990s.