Friday, August 10, 2007

Continuing the Conversation

Did you drink coffee this morning?

Yeah

Well then, you're guilty of using a performance enhancing drug! All your accomplishments are now suspect!

Cute.

Let me know how many people go to an early grave from caffeine usage.

Well, it's probably also true that a lot of the pitchers Bonds faced were using PED's, so it all washes out.

Ah, the two wrongs make a right argument.

I don't like it that pitchers are using either. But I haven't been ordered to stand and applaud for any pitchers for whom there is a similar chain of evidence as there is for Bonds. Any pitchers hit their peak after 35? Any pitchers transform from all-around good pitchers to strikeout specialists in late career? Any pitchers the subject of grand jury testimony?

Two names remotely qualify that I can think of -- Curt Schilling and Roger Clemens. Schilling peaked late, and Clemens has had unprecedented longevity. I suspect most of the pitchers who were using fall into the category of guys barely hanging on. My impression is that most effective pitchers walk a very fine line, and wouldn't want to mess it up.

In any instance, if we stipulate that Bonds used, we have two scenarios:

  1. Almost everyone, including pitchers used
  2. Bonds is one of the few players that used.

In the first case, baseball becomes a sport I don't care as much about in general, and am this less inclined to celebrate Bonds's achievement. In the second case, that would be a reason to discount his record.

To summarize, either Bonds was successful in a game that I find much less appealing, or he had an unfair advantage.

I still think you're a racist for celebrating McGwire and Sosa but not Bonds

Tough.

Or let me put it another way -- are you saying we were wrong to celebrate McGwire and Sosa or wrong the not celebrate Bonds?

If the former, well then maybe we're a little bit smarter now. A lot more news about PED's has come out in the last nine years that we didn't have in 1998.

Should we pretend we don't know that in order to remain "consistent?"

And this type of argument is especially annoying coming from places like Baseball Prospectus. They would be the first to castigate others for ignoring evidence in order to hold on to some sentimental position -- be it the existence of clutch hitting, the myth of The Closer, the importance of hustle, etc. But for Bonds, only smoking-gun proof will do. To fail to avoid the obvious conclusion is to rush to judgment motivated by racism. No, it's using the brain God gave me.

I am quite sure that if Ken Griffey and Barry Bonds's fates were reversed -- if Bonds has suffered through numerous injuries that last five years while Griffey closed in on the record, we would be celebrating Griffey right now. The rejection of Bonds is about Bonds, not about race.

----

Which brings me to what I think PED did for Barry -- basically it was a fountain of youth for him. What happened to Griffey is what happens to most players as they get older -- their bodies start to break down, and they can't be as effective.

They say that youth is wasted on the young. Bonds changed that equation. As his career progressed, he became smarter and smarter about hitting and the strike zone. Couple that with a body that was not deteriorating, perhaps even getting stronger, and you've got a pretty powerful force. In essence Bonds got the benefit of increased wisdom but still has a 27-year old body to execute his new knowledge.

I never said that Bonds owes all his success to pharmaceuticals. What he has done requires a great deal of dedication to his craft and hard work.

I wish we could have seen what he would have done without the help.