Skip to content

Defending Jose Bautista

Sep 24, 2010, 9:51 AM EDT

Over at IIATMS, Larry takes on the manner in which folks have been trying to, um, inject PEDs into the narrative surrounding Jose Bautista’s 50-home run season.  It’s a good read, with a premise worth thinking about: while we can predict a lot on baseball, the unpredictable can still happen.  It’s funny how people can acknowledge this generally while ignoring it in specific cases like Bautista’s.

I have no idea how Jose Bautista hit 50 home runs this year, but unlke Damian Cox at the Toronto Star and other writers who have tackled the subject, I do not think it is fair to accuse Bautista of PED use or to even “ask the question,” about it, which is just a passive-aggressive way to accuse. There is a testing regime in place right now that, unlike ten years ago, entitles players, I think, until the assumption that they are innocent until proven guilty.

And of course, I continue to wonder why none of the many, many people who excoriated blogger Jerod Morris for “asking the question” about Raul Ibanez last year ago are raising holy hell about the people doing it to Bautista, but that’s probably the subject of another rant.

  1. Chris Fiorentino - Sep 24, 2010 at 10:05 AM

    I agree 100% on Bautista…in this day, with all the testing that goes on, there is really no way to make a case for him taking steroids. Maybe if he got injured and came back early, you could make an argument for him taking HGH. But other than helping him to not miss a few extra games, how can you say steroids helped him to a power surge? Did his head grow 2 sizes or did he put on 30 pounds of muscle in the off-season? If not, then how could steroids possibly help him?

  2. Joe - Sep 24, 2010 at 10:08 AM

    It seems to me that steroids affect a player’s body more than they affect a player’s stats. So, instead of comparing home run totals from year to year, why don’t we just look at some photos and see if Bautista’s body has changed in a PED-esque manner?

  3. matt - Sep 24, 2010 at 10:15 AM

    As I recall, the main problem people seemed to have about the guy that questioned Ibanez was that he didn’t seem to do his homework. I dont remember the #’s that were researched off the top of my head, but I think the issue was that if you had looked at the career of Ibanez in Seattle there was a consistent pattern of him lighting it up for half a season with a good batting avareage, homers, etc, which is what he was doing in Philly at the time. Who knows. I guess the underlying point is correct though that bloggers still get little respect so they will be grilled more than a mainstream media type.

  4. Fuggles - Sep 24, 2010 at 10:25 AM

    I say look no further than Dwayne Murphy and Cito Gaston(a former GREAT hitting coach) in taking a very talented but undisciplined hitter and teaching him how to watch for certain pitches in situations/counts. He’ll probably never hit for average… but his swing certainly is for real… without PEDs.

  5. Giant Space Ants - Sep 24, 2010 at 10:42 AM

    Probably the biggest thing is that he play’s in a hitters ballpark that’s especially well-suited for him (he hasn’t hit a HR that wasn’t to left field, except like 5 to left-center.) Even when you factor in randomness/luck, he’s had an impressive year and deserves congratulations, not accusations. And if he doesn’t hit close to 50 next year, it’s probably more of a regression to the mean than anything else.

  6. lardin - Sep 24, 2010 at 11:34 AM

    I’m sorry I don’t agree. I have to question his legitimacy as a 50 Homer guy. There currently is no test for HGH. Also there is a whole industry of creating undetectable steroids (see BALCO). In the last 15 years, the players who have hit 50 home runs in a season include: Bonds, Sosa, Arod, Big Mac and Big Papi. What do these guys all have in common? Yup you guessed it, they all took steroids.
    Further more, last year Bautista hit 13 home runs, this year he hit 50 and counting. The last person to make a jump like that was Brady Anderson when he hit 16 in 1995 and then hit 50 in 1996. Guess what, Brady Anderson took steroids.
    Do I know if he took steroids? I havent got a clue. But the question should be asked. When numbers jump that much, the question has to be asked. Imagine if we started questioning Brady Anderson in 1996 about his jump, where the sport might be now…

  7. Chris Fiorentino - Sep 24, 2010 at 11:46 AM

    Ludicrous. If his body frame hasn’t changed, then how the hell did steroids help him hit home runs???? Steroids don’t just give you magic power.

  8. John_Michael - Sep 24, 2010 at 12:09 PM

    You have a scrape on your elbow. You must have tripped over that crack in the sidewalk!!!

  9. Nikoli - Sep 24, 2010 at 12:35 PM

    The current situation is pretty sad. If you actually are clean and have a breakout year are you supposed to pace yourself throughout the year so that you don’t hit too many homeruns causing PED accusations to start flying around?

  10. mcsnide - Sep 24, 2010 at 12:37 PM

    Just like everyone else here, I have no idea whether Bautista took PEDs. I’m personally quite willing to believe that this is just a random fluctuation that needs no particular cause, but I also wouldn’t be shocked if it one day came out that he did use.
    Craig, do you really think no reporter should have asked Bautista at any point this season if he took PEDs? I see reporters get trashed all the time for supposedly ignoring the obvious PED use before testing, so it seems only fair to me that they should at least get to ask the question. Or was that simply a hyperbolic rant against the injustice of the universe? Because it really does suck that a story that would have been a great feel-good story 20 years ago feels somehow dirty today.

  11. Craig Calcaterra - Sep 24, 2010 at 12:48 PM

    The failure of journalists years ago was not to follow up on strong evidence of PED use by players: Andro laying out in plain sight, multiple reports of steroid use by Jose Canseco and others. It was not a failure to walk up to any baseball player who had a good year and say “are you on drugs?”
    If there is a legitimate suggestion of PEDs — a source dropping the dime or any other number of ways stories begin to take off — by all means, follow up on it. But to simply assume it because something unexpected happened is just lazy and chilling and wrong.

  12. DiamondDuq - Sep 24, 2010 at 1:00 PM

    Two words: Brady Anderson! Bautista leaves the country to play baseball, goes to the superior pitching league and is suddenly an offensive juggernaut? Just because baseball is supposedly in the post-PED era and has implemented drug testing, which any real drug testing agency would consider weak at best, doesn’t mean we should simply ignore all the red flags and give the guy a pass. Not asking questions and investigating those red flags is what got baseball into the PED mess in the first place.
    “I do not think it is fair to accuse Bautista of PED use or to even “ask the question,” about it”
    This is the exactly wrong attitude to have in this case. I hate the “guilty until proven innocent” atmosphere in baseball today but the players, admittedly only a fraction, made this that way and when something so far outside the realm of probability comes up the responsible thing to do is to ask all the right questions and to do your due diligence.

  13. mcsnide - Sep 24, 2010 at 1:02 PM

    Sorry, but that logic doesn’t make sense to me. If the mayor of a small town is making $80K and suddenly sells his $200K house and buys a $2 mil house, should the local paper ignore it unless they suddenly get “strong evidence” of corruption somewhere else? Now, it might be that his rich uncle died and there’s nothing wrong there. But it doesn’t mean the question shouldn’t be asked. With all the lecturing of journalists you do (95% of which I agree with), you now want them to ask fewer questions because it’s uncomfortable for the player?

  14. Chris Fiorentino - Sep 24, 2010 at 1:06 PM

    Like I said…if his body frame had changed, then MAYBE you can ask the question. If they guy looks the same now that he did 5 years ago, then exactly what basis did steroids help him? Steroids make you stronger. HGH helps you heal. If you want to say he took HGH, even though he hasn’t been injured, then by all means, knock yourself out. But you can’t seriously believe that a guy takes steroids and it gives him strength magically, do you? I took steroids last week for a throat infection I had…I didn’t all of a sudden go out and crack 4 home runs at my weekly softball game.

  15. Craig Calcaterra - Sep 24, 2010 at 1:14 PM

    I don’t want them to ask fewer questions. I simply want them to ask reasonable questions. Your mayor hypothetical presents a scenario which is virtually impossible absent wrongdoing. Bautista is not the first player to hit a lot of home runs after an otherwise pedestrian track record (Cecil Fielder? Davey Johnson? Even Roger Maris had an abnormal spike).
    But even in your mayor example, the first step is not to go ask the mayor if he’s a crook. It’s to examine public records and campaign finance reports to see if anything is amiss. To check out his taxes. To do the empirical legwork to see if the suspicion has anything to it at all before accusations (an arrest; an editorial in the newspaper calling the mayor a crook) are leveled.
    With Bautista you have PED tests before the season and possibly during. There will be more next year. Major League Baseball also has an investigations unit that takes calls and tips. I have no problem with a reporter doing some research to see if there’s anything there.
    But the bald, evidence free accusation? Please.

  16. Chris Fiorentino - Sep 24, 2010 at 1:28 PM

    Your example would be good IF Bautista had all of a sudden gained 30 pounds of muscle in the offseason…a la Lenny Dykstra. He didn’t. So explain how steroids helped Bautista if his body frame looks the same as it did last year?

  17. Bull Durham - Sep 24, 2010 at 1:37 PM

    The issue here is not directly asking the player if he’s taking steroids. What’s the point of that? The issue is whether it violates journalistic ethics to publish a column speculating about the player’s sudden increase in production. For my two cents, after what the baseball fan has experienced in the last two decades, I can’t for one second understand the reasons NOT to write that column. We’ve seen players balloon into supermen over the course of one off-season and set historic records at ages that every ballplayer who came before them was on the decline. It’s simply a fact of modern baseball that a surge like Batista’s at his age is, to say the least, extraordinary. Maybe that’s all it is. But how can we not speculate given everything we’ve just been through? Fairness to the player is irrelevant. There are no perfect solutions and I find myself once again mourning the (naive?) memory of the game I have loved so much.

  18. Larry@IIATMS - Sep 24, 2010 at 2:12 PM

    Chris, I’m the Larry over at IIATMS. You’ve reached the right conclusion, that if one is looking for evidence of PED use, then there’s nothing to see here. But for the record, an athlete might take anabolic steroids for reasons other than increasing body mass. Keep in mind that cyclists have been known to take anabolic steroids, and the last thing those guys want is another 30 pounds of muscle to drag up an Alpine climb.
    More than this is hard to say. Why would a cyclist use anabolic steroids? The anecdotal evidence (and I’ve never seen a scientific study to back up this evidence) is that anabolic steroids promote muscle recovery after a difficult day of racing (or training). If a baseball player used anabolic steroids like a cyclist, and did not change the apparent look or size of his body frame, might that increase the player’s ability to hit home runs? I don’t know. A-Rod’s use of anabolic steroids did not change his appearance in any way that anyone seemed to notice, but then again it’s not clear whether A-Rod’s use of anabolic steroids affected his ability to hit home runs. There’s lots we don’t know.

  19. Glenn - Sep 24, 2010 at 3:47 PM

    Sounds like you don’t know the difference between anabolic steroids and other medical steroids.

  20. Batista30 - Sep 25, 2010 at 3:07 AM

    Chris, there are a couple of points I’d like to make about this sensitive topic in baseball.
    1. Ever since baseball was hit with the steroid plague, players should be looked at with scrutiny because they have earned it. Name one major baseball player that voluntarily came forward and admitted his use. Even Arod consistantly denied ever taking steroids until they had proof. Baseball players will lie for their own convenience and continue to line their pockets until they get caught. And, if that is their attitude and then mine is to continually be skeptical of their statistics.
    2. If Bautista didn’t take illegal peds or steroids, then please explain how he jumped from 15 or 16 homers to NOW 52 homeruns. Absolutely no one in any sport has made the statistical jump as Bautista naturally. NO running back goes from 500 yards one year to 2000 yards the next, no basketball player goes from scoring 8-10 points a game to over 30, it just doesn’t happen NATURALLY. Please do not use the reasoning of “he works hard in the gym, eats well, first one on the field, last one off excuse”
    3. Questions should always be asked in a logical way without blatant disregard for the subject. No test is fool proof as there are probable ways of cycling off chemical enhancements.

  21. Batista30 - Sep 25, 2010 at 3:09 AM

    Chris, there are a couple of points I’d like to make about this sensitive topic in baseball.
    1. Ever since baseball was hit with the steroid plague, players should be looked at with scrutiny because they have earned it. Name one major baseball player that voluntarily came forward and admitted his use. Even Arod consistantly denied ever taking steroids until they had proof. Baseball players will lie for their own convenience and continue to line their pockets until they get caught. And, if that is their attitude and then mine is to continually be skeptical of their statistics.
    2. If Bautista didn’t take illegal peds or steroids, then please explain how he jumped from 15 or 16 homers to NOW 52 homeruns. Absolutely no one in any sport has made the statistical jump as Bautista naturally. NO running back goes from 500 yards one year to 2000 yards the next, no basketball player goes from scoring 8-10 points a game to over 30, it just doesn’t happen NATURALLY. Please do not use the reasoning of “he works hard in the gym, eats well, first one on the field, last one off excuse”
    3. Questions should always be asked in a logical way without blatant disregard for the subject. No test is fool proof as there are probable ways of cycling off chemical enhancements.
    Until then, IMO, the baseball players proven to be not trustworthy and this is coming from a Yankees fan. Honor before False Victory.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

Bo Porter just first casualty around MLB
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. J. Soler (3416)
  2. R. Castillo (2909)
  3. A. Dunn (2708)
  4. M. Cabrera (2684)
  5. Y. Molina (2665)
  1. A. Rizzo (2624)
  2. B. Posey (2336)
  3. J. Ellsbury (2335)
  4. D. Pedroia (2204)
  5. M. Wacha (2143)