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What is and what is not reasonable to assume

Dec 15, 2011, 1:00 PM EDT

Jeff Bagwell AP

Over at The Platoon Advantage, The Common Man wonders what should be done about those of whom we are suspicious, but for whom we have no evidence about their possible misdeeds.  As a baseball writer, TCM has decided that he shall follow the example of his peers in the industry:

This led The Common Man to the realization that, if it was fair for writers were going to penalize Bagwell* because of their own suspicions that they were apparently too busy to investigate during Bagwell’s playing career, it was equally fair to suspect them of being plagiarists.** After all, sports reporters tend to write an awful lot, and so many of them seem to be writing about the same topics and coming to the exact same conclusions. Are we really so naïve as to think that they are doing this naturally?

He then lists the starting nine of his suspected plagiarists.

Yeah, he’s gonna get some emails about that one, I think.

  1. saints97 - Dec 15, 2011 at 1:15 PM


  2. dondada10 - Dec 15, 2011 at 1:17 PM

    I always wonder what’s gonna happen with Piazza. There is no evidence of his PED use, but I get a bad feeling he’s gonna get the Bagwell treatment.

    • sdelmonte - Dec 15, 2011 at 1:54 PM

      It’s that persistent anti-NYC bias I see all over the place. It’s why there is only one Met in the Hall of Fame.

      (Yes, I know about that other team. What can I say? I have my own anti-NYC bias.)

      • Kevin S. - Dec 15, 2011 at 3:24 PM

        Is Seaver really the only Met in the Hall?

      • mondogarage - Dec 15, 2011 at 3:31 PM

        I think most of that anti-Met bias you perceive, is more relateable to the Mets’ mostly anti-success over the franchise’s history. And Gooden and Strawberry bascially blew sure HOF chances up their noses.

  3. Gordon - Dec 15, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    That was an awesome column! Love it!

  4. Chipmaker - Dec 15, 2011 at 1:23 PM

    Also, they should be made permanently ineligible for the Spink Award, since anyone so asleep at the wheel during the peak steroids years clearly is incapable of producing excellence.

    • skids003 - Dec 15, 2011 at 1:32 PM

      I agree. Strip them of their Hall of Fame balloting rights. Especially if they are stupid enough to admit it, that they won’t vote for someone they ‘suspect.”

  5. deadeyedesign23 - Dec 15, 2011 at 1:28 PM

    That’s an asinine analogy to make.

    • The Common Man - Dec 15, 2011 at 1:29 PM

      Feel free to explain why. Show your work.

    • CJ - Dec 15, 2011 at 1:35 PM

      That’s an asinine comment to make.

      • deadeyedesign23 - Dec 15, 2011 at 4:27 PM

        It’s non sequitur. Even if everyone of those writers copied every article they ever wrote from someone else word for word, what does that have to do with steroids and Bagwell? Nothing.

        It’s just pandering.

      • The Common Man - Dec 15, 2011 at 6:57 PM

        No, it’s just logic. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, so if writers feel the need to suspect ballplayers of PED use without evidence and act on that suspicion, they should be prepared to undergo the same accusations. It’s a shame you have such little comprehension.

      • deadeyedesign23 - Dec 15, 2011 at 10:24 PM

        There’s no goose….there’s no gander. This isn’t a fight with 2 sides. It’s did he or did he not take steroids. That has nothing to with plagiarism and people have a right to assume he used if they want, the same you have a right to assume people plagiarize.

        An apt analogy would be steroid use in baseball as compared to other sports, specifically football. Especially given the people asking for a revote for the MVP (one Braun would lose) and the revote for the rookie of the year in the NFL last year where he kept the award.

    • paperlions - Dec 15, 2011 at 1:39 PM

      There is actually far more evidence of plagiarism (which includes imitation of thoughts or ideas of others that are presented as one’s own ) by baseball (sorry, base ball) writers than there is that Bagwell used steroids. Baseball writers constantly rip off the ideas of other writers rather than come up with their own ideas for columns or opinions….writing your own version of a column that says “yeah, what he/she said” is plagiaristic.

      • bozosforall - Dec 15, 2011 at 4:05 PM

        Those guys are constantly stealing ideas from the message boards and running with them. Myself and others have purposefully made up rumors to see if they would end up in the mainstream and more often than not, those rumors would show up within a day’s time. Try it yourselves sometime and watch the suckers take the bait. LMAO

  6. CJ - Dec 15, 2011 at 1:29 PM

    That was hilarious. I’d love to see TCM post the content of any responses he gets from those 9.

  7. cur68 - Dec 15, 2011 at 1:32 PM

    So, Common’s taking on the BWAA’s asinine stance on Bags, is he? I hope he eats their lunch while he’s at it.

  8. Chipmaker - Dec 15, 2011 at 1:37 PM

    For that matter, why hasn’t Griffey ever been suspected? OK, he never looked Hulkish and he was popularly perceived as being a nice enough guy and one of those “no! he never would!” few… but he had his peak power seasons concurrent with McGwire and Sosa, and a few seasons later descended into being fragile and injury-prone, which are two signs we are told often indicate past steroid abuse. It’s naught but a profile, but it’s a profile that fits.

    • The Common Man - Dec 15, 2011 at 1:45 PM

      I’d be careful with this, Chip. My point was not to draw attention to other players who may or may not have used or to point out a double standard with some players. I have no interest in leaving Ken Griffey out to dry, even if you point has merit; that kind of speculation just leads us further down the rabbit hole. Better to simply try and turn us around so we can dig out of this mess.

      • Chipmaker - Dec 15, 2011 at 2:31 PM

        Yeah — it’s not a new thought, but I have no intention of ever going anywhere with it. I neither know nor care what Griffey may have done. It’s just that the performance profile is RIGHT THERE for anyone who wants to see it, but Junior is one of those rare teflon-coated players; no one wants to hear anything even slightly askew about him.

        Some day, though, some great player will scratch the teflon, or give his testimony of steroid use during his Hall acceptance speech, and heads will explode like never before. And maybe then we can hesitatingly but definitively move beyond this sort of “I can’t prove anything about Bagwell but LOOKIT THOSE FOREARMS!” petty nonsense. Dude always could hit, and strike zone discipline doesn’t come from a bottle.

    • nightman13 - Dec 15, 2011 at 1:55 PM

      Griffey’s peak seasons came at a typical athete’s athletic prime years, mid to late 20’s. His numbers weren’t ridiculously better than they were before those years and he had been in the majors since he was 19. That’s a lot of wear and tear on the body over time, which leads to a faster dropoff than somebody who came up in their mid 20’s. Just look at how quickly other pro athletes that went pro at a young age declined. Kobe and Kevin Garnett come to mind.

      I’m not saying Griffey’s clean or dirty, but there is a lot less that jumps out as suspicious than somebody’s peak years occurring in their mid 30’s, rapid weight gains, etc.

    • cur68 - Dec 15, 2011 at 2:00 PM

      Yeah…Jr…I always wondered about that, too. Here’s how I think it goes…Given his athletic but normal looking physique, genial disposition, and big smile Jr’s easy to believe the best of. The injuries then fit with the “clean” narrative, too: ‘roid users tend not to break down till after they stop using. They remain pretty good right into their later years (providing they don’t get tested/caught), unlike Jr who was pretty brittle after about age 33 or so (if not sooner). Thus we get the “Jr was a nice, normal sized athlete so he never used. Thus he was good till he got normally not-good due to age and injury” narrative. If Ryan Bruan turns out to be guilty of ‘roiding, then we can see THAT narrative take a hit.

      Baggy’s a different, cat though. He became as good as Jr but he worked out like a maniac and changed his physique till he was built like a cartoon superhero. He developed as a hitter because of weight training and hard work in the batting cage. If he’d left out the body building, he’s a genial enough guy to have the same mystique as Jr. But because he used to look like normal person then turned into a brick sh!t house the BWAA get all finger pointy with him. This, even though they could do a bit of looking into how he got all buff looking and see he’s pretty normal in that respect: he blew up in a normal fashion then broke down because of it. Annoys the crap out of me that they don’t see that. Smacks of ignorance.

    • jmd2220 - Dec 15, 2011 at 9:48 PM

      1. Griffey juicing? The Kid hit a 500 footer as a junior at Moeller High School. He hit 27 jacks in under 500 minor league at bats and sixteen as a nineteen year old rookie in 1989. Any person with playing experience knows Junior’s power came from his swing. Look at a rookie card and then YouTube his stroke. It’s beautiful. Griffey was born to play the game. While we are here, let’s note that Ryan Braun’s chest measurement rivals Griffey’s height in a mid-twenties comparison. I’m not saying Braun is guilty. I hope he isn’t. But surely this line isn’t true:

      “If Ryan Bruan turns out to be guilty of ‘roiding, then we can see THAT narrative take a hit.”

      2. “Baggy’s a different, cat though. He became as good as Jr but he worked out like a maniac and changed his physique till he was built like a cartoon superhero.”

      If this line came from Houston, I respect it. But Bags was never Junior. In 731 minor league at bats, Bags hit 6 home runs; then, he was promoted to the show. His next four years are as follows:

      ’91: 15 HR, .294 BA
      ’92: 18 HR, .273 BA
      ’93: 20 HR, .320 BA
      ’94: 39 HR, .368 BA

      The incremental difference is feasible, but unlikely. As for this line:

      “Dude always could hit, and strike zone discipline doesn’t come from a bottle.”

      Barry Bonds had close to the natural talent of Griffey and a hell of a lot better plate discipline Bags. What’s your take there?

  9. Kyle - Dec 15, 2011 at 1:45 PM

    Slow clap. Bravo.

  10. drmonkeyarmy - Dec 15, 2011 at 1:48 PM

    I’m sure this will be unpopular but I don’t really care…..I hated the article. I get what he was going for but to me it completely lost the plot. Not voting for Bagwell for the Hall of Fame because of suspected PED use is fairly stupid, I agree. However, attacking his credibility now has no real adverse career consequence on Bagwell’s life. He is retired…MLB can do nothing to the man. However, attacking the journalistic integrity of current writers without evidence can have adverse effects on their careers. I get that it was meant to be tongue in cheek. However, it seems like irresponsible blogging to me. Making the point that what others are doing is wrong and stupid by doing the same wrong and stupid thing doesn’t jive with me.

    • Bill - Dec 15, 2011 at 1:58 PM

      Making the point that what others are doing is wrong and stupid by doing the same wrong and stupid thing doesn’t jive with me.

      That’s cool, as long as you recognize that what you’ve just described is the essence of satire, and that it’s not this post that “doesn’t jive with” you, it’s an entire form of communication that’s been vital to political and social commentary for the last 400 or so years. Just wanted to point that out.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Dec 15, 2011 at 2:03 PM

        I’m familiar with the concept of satire. I just thought it was poorly done, misplaced, and in poor taste.

      • Bill - Dec 15, 2011 at 2:06 PM

        That’s not what you said at all, though. You said “[the very definition of satire] doesn’t jive with me.”

        And if you think this is actually “attacking the journalistic integrity of current writers” — i.e. seriously accusing them of satire — then no, I’m pretty sure you’re not familiar with the concept of satire at all.

      • Bill - Dec 15, 2011 at 2:06 PM

        accusing them of satire. Yeesh. Edit function!
        *accusing them of PLAGIARISM, obviously…

      • drmonkeyarmy - Dec 15, 2011 at 2:12 PM

        Okay Bill, I’m not then. I don’t want to argue about this. I gave my opinion, you disagree. It is what it is.

      • bozosforall - Dec 15, 2011 at 2:47 PM

        Get a room, you two.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Dec 15, 2011 at 2:22 PM

      The idea of needing actual evidence to prove someone guilty of a deed in order to punish them is so antiquated. If one suspects another has any affiliation with forbidden activity, punish immediately and say it is in the name of the common good.


    • cur68 - Dec 15, 2011 at 2:29 PM

      I kind of see what you mean, doc. This might harm the reputations of working people. But, here’s why I think this takedown is actually warranted: these dudes are calling Bagwell’s life work into question. They are denigrating his hard work, sacrifice of his body, his time, and legitimate accomplishments. They do this without evidence or thought for what it might mean to have it done to them. Well, now they can answer some questions about cheating. At least its only satire they have to answer to and nothing will be denied them because of it. Bagwell deserves his induction as much as those who have similar numbers and were inducted. Until these guys have some proof, they should vote accordingly or entertain questions about why they don’t give up their memberships for vague suspicions (actually, this isn’t even that vague. By the definition of plagiarism, they’ve plagiarized aplenty). What’s more, if this is about not cheating and they don’t want suspicions of cheating attached to the HOF, they aughta do something about all those cheaters already in there. Its pretty chickensh!t to do what they are doing now.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Dec 15, 2011 at 2:34 PM

      However, attacking his credibility now has no real adverse career consequence on Bagwell’s life. He is retired…MLB can do nothing to the man

      Is this necessarily true though? What if Bagwell wants to get back into baseball, as a coach/manager? Plenty of sportswriters made a stink that McGwire should have to admit his steroid use before being allowed back into baseball. Also, what if Bagwell wants to use the HoF induction as a kickstart to a new career*. Denying him that honor, which he deserves, could affect his next career.

      *correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Pete Rose has been trying to claim this as well.

      • Bill - Dec 15, 2011 at 2:41 PM

        There are definitely huge financial benefits to getting into the Hall. Huge relative to what the old timers used to make, anyway…guess it depends on how well Bags managed his money.

  11. awriterorsomething - Dec 15, 2011 at 2:26 PM

    Dear hypocritical sportswriters,

    You knew. You had to know. You were in the clubhouse; you were up close and personal. You saw the players go from lean and hard to Michelin Man in one year. You saw the acne on their backs; I suspect you saw the needle marks on their butts.
    You knew or at least you had very strong suspicions. When a player went from 55 home runs over 4300 plate appearances to 50 homeruns over the next 685 you had to ask. You had to wonder what caused the sudden explosion in muscle growth that ran throughout the league.
    You saw the lean ones working out, lifting weights and staying lean. You saw the lean ones working out, lifting weights, and turning in to the Texas version of East German weightlifters. You had to suspect.
    You knew there were pitchers that suddenly found the fountain of youth, the extra three to four miles per hour on their fastball. You had to suspect.
    However, you said nothing. You kept the secrets of the clubhouse just as the generations before you covered up the amphetamines, the drunkenness, the womanizing, and the little brushes with the law that the teams were able to smooth over.
    You said nothing because you did not want to be a beat writer with nothing to write once the players ostracized you. You knew the players would suddenly clam-up around you if you let the cat out of the bag and a writer is nothing if he cannot get quotes.
    Now you pound the pulpit in righteous indignation. You will thump the Sportswriters bible and cry out about “Fair Play”, “Honesty”, “Tainted Records” and “suspicions”.
    You withhold your Hall of Fame votes because you want to punish the players for embarrassing you. Because even the casual fan whispered about steroids in 1998 when the muscle twins of McGwire and Sosa had their own little Home Run Derby. Even the casual fan whispered about steroids when Brady Andersons suddenly developed 50-homerun power. Because even the casual fan doubted it was because of smaller ballparks and livelier baseballs.
    Yet you sports writers said NOTHING. You whispered nothing. You shouted nothing. You got your quotes and talked about lively baseballs, better conditioning, smaller ballparks, thinner pitching.
    You knew. You had to know. You protected your quotes, kept the code of the clubhouse and you said nothing.

    • bozosforall - Dec 15, 2011 at 2:50 PM

      Most importantly, they saw MLB turn a blind eye to this. And said nothing.

    • thefalcon123 - Dec 15, 2011 at 2:54 PM

      “Even the casual fan whispered about steroids when Brady Andersons suddenly developed 50-homerun power.”

      I agree with most of your rant…but the Brandy Anderson did steroids thing based on his 50 home run season annoys me to no end.

      Let’s ignore Brady’s 1996 season for a moment. Here are his HR per 670 PAs in the four years preceeding 1996 and after.
      1992-1995: 16
      1997-2000: 20

      Not a whole lot of difference there. As players get older, their walks, home runs and strikeouts tend to increase a little bit and their average and speed drops. That seems pretty much the case with Anderson. The only thing not normal was 1996. His 50 home runs came out of nowhere. Suddenly, in 1996, Anderson went from basically an average player to one of the elites in the league, an all-star, a top 10 MVP finisher *and then his numbers went right back to normal a year before free agency*. If his 1996 numbers were steroid fueled, why did they not help him any other season? Did he stop taking them? IF so…why? He was suddenly an elite player and still had another year from free agency and a potential huge payday…why stop taking them?

      I’m not saying Anderson didn’t do steroids, but that accusation has been thrown out and accepted many times under some pretty false logic. Outlier seasons happen (see Johnson, Davey), it doesn’t defiantly mean the guy did ‘roids. That accusation without any proof is just as bad as the Bagwell accusation.

      • thefalcon123 - Dec 15, 2011 at 3:00 PM

        …and, in keeping with the theme of the story, I appear to have unintentionally plagarized the work of Jeremy Greenhouse over at the Hardball Times from Feb of 2010.

        The best section:

        “Do fans actually believe that you can determine if a player took steroids by simply studying the number of home runs he hit? And why should one outlier season increase the probability that he took steroids? Because he only used PEDs for that one year? Do you think steroids can actually add that much power to a player’s bat? Do you have any idea how steroids work? 34 homers? Are you kidding? And then what? So here’s what you’re telling me:

        It’s fall of 1996, and Anderson, having realized the magic of performance enhancing drugs, is coming off a 50-homer year. He’s heading into his final year with the Orioles before he hits free agency. But he comes to the decision that he doesn’t want to be remembered as a cheat, so he dramatically throws all his pills and vials into the trash, possibly with the help of an intervention from Zack Morris. So Brady hits 18 homers in 1997, but he does it clean.”

  12. badmamainphilliesjamas - Dec 15, 2011 at 2:36 PM


    And let’s not forget about that other team of writers, the Lazy & Sensationalistic.

  13. genericcommenter - Dec 15, 2011 at 8:16 PM

    Generally I agree about making assumptions, but based on that picture I find it hard to believe Eliott Yamin wasn’t using PEDs of some sort.

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