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Great Moments in Warped Public Perception

Jan 30, 2013, 11:33 AM EDT

I realize ESPN reader polls aren’t scientific, but check this one out:


Baseball’s confrontation with PEDs has been long and loud and public. It’s the sport where people get hung up on the integrity of the record book way more than any other and where people get hung up on their relationship with the sport as a child more than any other, looking for heroes and purity and wallowing in more nostalgia.  Most importantly, in recent years, baseball has also had the most rigorous testing and enforcement program of all the major sports, leading to more positives, more discipline and more news stories. In light of that I understand how one might be tricked into thinking that baseball has the most widespread drug use.

That said: for people to actually think that that baseball has a bigger PED problem than football, and by such margins, is flippin’ crazypants.

This is the hidden data problem, or some variation of it, in action. We see things when they happen. We don’t see things when they don’t happen. We don’t see NFL players get busted for PEDs, so they must not be taking them, the thinking goes.

  1. crispybasil - Jan 30, 2013 at 11:39 AM

    Good for Alaska. Imagine what Roger Goodell’s legacy would look like if the NFL started taking its steroid problem seriously.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jan 30, 2013 at 11:50 AM

      Or if Congress got involved. Nah, they would never waste time dragging in a bunch of athletes for some dog and pony show. That would be irresponsible.

      • crispybasil - Jan 30, 2013 at 11:53 AM

        Good point.

      • umrguy42 - Jan 30, 2013 at 10:09 PM

        It would be irresponsible, and unethical, and they would never, ever do it… more… than… once.

    • RickyB - Jan 30, 2013 at 12:13 PM

      Don’t forget Rhode Island! It’s in green, too. At least I’m pretty sure it is …

      • gloccamorra - Jan 30, 2013 at 1:11 PM

        Good eye! Rhode Island should be easier to see, it’s almost four times the size of New York City. If it had the same population density, it would have 25 million people, THEN people would notice.

  2. flosox - Jan 30, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    Apparently the lower 48 has their head in the sand…or Alaska is just so far from our world they have no idea what Baseball is!

    • jwbiii - Jan 30, 2013 at 11:48 AM

      This implies that the former is true

      Notable alumni include Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, and Mark McGwire.

    • DelawarePhilliesFan - Jan 30, 2013 at 11:57 AM

      Only 21 people voted in Alaska (so far), and the vote was 13-8 NFL over MLB

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Jan 30, 2013 at 11:59 AM

        P.S. Delaware only has 38 votes, and it is 21-17 at this point for NFL. Maybe I will get on the horn and get our state flipped.

        Nah….why ruin Craigs day

      • Utley's Hair - Jan 30, 2013 at 12:58 PM

        Wait…Delaware has residents? Oh…people just voted from work.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Jan 30, 2013 at 1:53 PM

        Don’t make open a can of whoop ass, boy!

        Current VP is too obvious (though I just said it anyway), but you have to give props to Dallas Green and Dave Raymond (original Phanatic) and the Carpenter family (as in Ruly, et al, not Karen)

      • Utley's Hair - Jan 30, 2013 at 2:01 PM

        Hey, Delaware makes me pay for I-95!!! But it’s all good, since I get my booze and beer down there…not that I drive down there for that or anything…oh, crap….

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Jan 30, 2013 at 2:06 PM

        I’ll let you in on a secret – I-95 to 896 North, left on Route 4, left on Route 2, then pick up I-95 in MD. 8 minutes from exit to exit, and you are 4 miles further down the highway with no toll

      • Utley's Hair - Jan 30, 2013 at 2:04 PM

        But at least I didn’t say people just voted on their way through to somewhere else. 😛

      • Utley's Hair - Jan 30, 2013 at 2:17 PM

        Okay, this tip, along with the fact that non-witch wasn’t elected has made me think about the First State and its place. Thanks, man.

  3. tfbuckfutter - Jan 30, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    Only 3 people form Alaska voted though.

    It’s the same way Sarah Palin somehow became governor.

    • number42is1 - Jan 30, 2013 at 11:48 AM

      but she can see russia….

    • thomas844 - Jan 30, 2013 at 11:55 AM

      Wow, a Sarah Palin joke. I’m blown away by your originality. I didn’t realize we were in the year 2008.

      • number42is1 - Jan 30, 2013 at 12:04 PM

        Take it easy there Trig.. we weren’t really make fun of your mom…

      • thomas844 - Jan 30, 2013 at 12:21 PM


      • tfbuckfutter - Jan 30, 2013 at 12:43 PM

        Go to CNN and search Sarah Palin.

        You will find numerous NEWS articles about her from as recent as 2 days ago.

      • Utley's Hair - Jan 30, 2013 at 12:57 PM

        It was a joke at the expense of Alaskans. Palindrone was just collateral damage.

      • heyblueyoustink - Jan 30, 2013 at 1:06 PM

        buckfutter: If you actually went back and did that, we need to get you a hobby. Like participate in the NFL’s excercise program for kids, with out the deer antler spray.

    • kirkvanhouten - Jan 30, 2013 at 12:03 PM

      Since only 7 people live in Alaska, that makes up a pretty good sample of the population.

      Alaska is a strange land. You can’t get to 90% of it by roads, they made Senators out of both Ted Stephens and Mike Gravel who ideologies are about as far apart as you can get, they have cable that only gets 10 channels, there are far more men who live there than women, and for such a conservative state, they have more federal parkland of anywhere on earth.

      • number42is1 - Jan 30, 2013 at 12:05 PM

        im driving there from NY this summer…

      • indaburg - Jan 30, 2013 at 1:33 PM

        I’ve been to Alaska, and I agree–it is an odd state. Beautiful land, but its residents are on the eccentric side. When Alaska is the voice of reason, the world has definitely gone mad.

      • kirkvanhouten - Jan 30, 2013 at 1:34 PM

        Holy. God.

        Don’t get me wrong, it’s an awesome place to visit. Probably my 2nd favorite vacation ever..

        …but I though *flying* there from New York was an awful, endless experience.

        God Speed Sir.

      • number42is1 - Jan 30, 2013 at 3:05 PM

        it’s a 3 week drive (fly back). care to see the route?

  4. csndrew - Jan 30, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    Alex Rodriguez and Ray Lewis voted for the NHL.

  5. cur68 - Jan 30, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    This poll likes credence. Canada wasn’t asked. We’d tell you that the sport with the most PEDs is dog sled racing.

    • Francisco (FC) - Jan 30, 2013 at 12:15 PM

      Performance Enhancing Dogs?

    • indaburg - Jan 30, 2013 at 1:41 PM

      How do you know what this poll likes? Maybe this poll likes pie. Or bread pudding.

      I’m really buying into the A-rod is part German Shepherd theory. Shepherds are famous for their hip dysplasia, and he needs the PEDs to pull sleds during the off-season for the Iditarod. It all makes sense now…

      • cur68 - Jan 30, 2013 at 2:12 PM

        Great moments in typos, eh?

        ARod a German Shepard? Sure that’s not a Roidweiler?

      • Utley's Hair - Jan 30, 2013 at 2:18 PM

        Maybe he’s a malamute?

      • cur68 - Jan 30, 2013 at 3:07 PM


      • indaburg - Jan 30, 2013 at 5:13 PM

        Siberoidian husky.

  6. brazcubas - Jan 30, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    I’d like to think that if this poll had been taken Monday, another state or two might have gone green, and the solid blue wall of the contiguous 48 is a result of the freshness of the latest allegations.

    In all fairness, I can understand how watching the 300 lbs. of pure muscle that is C.C. Sabathia take the mound for the Yankees, folks might get the wrong impression. After all, there aren’t that many ridiculously large players in football.

  7. paperlions - Jan 30, 2013 at 11:57 AM

    13 NFL players were suspended for failed drug tests in 2012. 32 teams * 53 man rosters = at least 1696 players, with 0.76% being suspended in 2012

    7 MLB players were suspended for failed drug tests in 2012. 30 teams * 40 man rosters = about 1200 players, with 0.58% being suspended in 2012

    • cur68 - Jan 30, 2013 at 11:59 AM

      Hey! Don’t citer numbers! You’ll frighten people.

      • paperlions - Jan 30, 2013 at 12:00 PM

        Well…..maybe they should be scared.

      • cur68 - Jan 30, 2013 at 2:12 PM

        They should be afraid. They should be very afraid

    • raysfan1 - Jan 30, 2013 at 12:33 PM

      Of course with baseball even the minor leaguers who get busted make national news, and they get lumped in with the major leaguers in the public perception. The suspension rate would no doubt be about the same, but the perception/narrative is based off anecdote and individual occurrence and not rates.

      • paperlions - Jan 30, 2013 at 12:40 PM

        No one talks about minor leaguers that are suspended, and casual fans likely have no idea they happen unless they notice a blurb in their local paper. MLB also usually releases those at times when they will get the least play (e.g. 5:00 pm friday). In short, MiLB suspensions aren’t part of the general perception because people have no idea how often they happen.

        I only provided the information in response to Craig stating that baseball’s program leading to more positive tests than for other sports, which is not true. Baseball may catch a higher percentage of users, but since we don’t know those numbers, it isn’t possible to say which sport has a bigger PED problem. In short, assuming football has a bigger problem because football players are bigger people is just as big of a perception problem as assuming that baseball has a bigger problem because there are more and louder news stories.

      • raysfan1 - Jan 30, 2013 at 4:39 PM

        I agree about the perception issue overall; however, I disagree that minor leaguers testing positive does not affect casual fans’ perceptions. Those tests are reported on ESPN, especially when they can tag on some like “that’s x players in teamy’s system,” or if there is a close enough temporal association to a higher profile player to be able to spin up the scandal again.

    • indaburg - Jan 30, 2013 at 2:02 PM

      Numbers, shmumbers. I simply use the BBWAA’s patented and accurate Eye Ball Test. The football players are bigger, angrier, and pimplier.

    • DelawarePhilliesFan - Jan 30, 2013 at 3:17 PM

      Does the NFL test it’s practice squad? That would be the true apples to apples if you count the 40 man squad for baseball (I realize the whole 40 man squad is all tested).

      Don’t get me wrong though – roids are more prevalent in the NFL

    • kellyb9 - Jan 30, 2013 at 4:20 PM

      I know I’ll get downvoted into oblivion, but it just seems, at least superficially, that most of the players caught in football – are caught via drug testing. Baseball players seem to get caught through large-scale federal investigations and indepedent reports. Also, football appears, again… superficially, to have a more rigorous drug testing program. All of this likely adds to the public’s perception that baseball has a PED problem when in fact, it actually has a PR problem.

      • umrguy42 - Jan 30, 2013 at 10:18 PM

        The NFL and NFLPA can’t even agree on an HGH-testing regime. Both sides said that what MLB / MBLPA did is great, and yet they’re still sitting in their trenches over it, rather than moving forward. So, technically, HGH (and IGF-1, the thing Ray Lewis is accused of getting) *are* banned – but the NFL has no way to actually test whether the players are using it. They could *only* rely on evidence like the stuff against A-Rod, levy suspensions, and probably have those suspensions overturned for lack of real evidence, and if not, *certainly* have them challenged in court, dragging it out to the point where even if the suspensions are upheld, half the players won’t serve them because they’ve retired in the meantime…

  8. thomas844 - Jan 30, 2013 at 12:14 PM

    If anything it shows the MLB is doing something right unlike all other sports. They are nipping this problem in the bud and actually catching the players who are cheating. I’m sure it is around the same percentage if not more using PEDs in other sports, the MLB is just smart and efficient enough to catch them.

  9. schlom - Jan 30, 2013 at 12:33 PM

    I wonder if this means that football fans think that NFL players aren’t using steroids or that they simply just don’t care?

  10. Stiller43 - Jan 30, 2013 at 1:01 PM

    So with no tangible evidence besides one psychological effect, you’re saying everyones wrong?

    Got it.

  11. cosanostra71 - Jan 30, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    They both have problems.

  12. zipsports - Jan 30, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    Reblogged this on zipsports and commented:
    The results of this poll is shocking. While I wouldn’t call MLB’s drug testing rigorous, it has helped to clean up the sport from the days where many (85% according to Jose Canseco) were using PED’s. Having the system in place has helped cut the number of PED’s significantly. I think that people may have voted that baseball has the worst problem because it’s the sport you hear most about in connection with PED’s because players keep getting caught. In my opinion Football probably has the worst problem for PED’s of the sports listed in this poll. You don’t hear about PED’s as much in the NFL because there aren’t as many people that get caught.

  13. macjacmccoy - Jan 30, 2013 at 8:20 PM

    Everyone keeps talking about football having a lot weaker testing program then baseball. Ok maybe but does that mean more people are using in the NFL then MLB? No. These 2 big scandals in baseball havent been from testing they have been from outside sources, Balco and now Florida. Im about 99.9% sure that these labs and doctors dont say hey we are only gonna help baseball players cheat. No they would help other athletes cheat if they wanted the help. And I also doubt the DEA would hide the names of football players and only release the names of baseball players. So if there are so many more football players using PED’s like everyone on this post is saying then why are their names found a lot less in these investigations then baseball players?

    You guys want me to believe that their are tons of football players on PEDs but they dont go to the same doctors mlb players use even though these are great places to get the drugs? And that the doctors they do go to are smarter then the ones mlb players use and thats why they never get busted? Or that the DEA doesnt want to arrest the doctors breaking the law for NFL players and only want to arrest the ones doing it for MLB players? That or they are covering up for NFL players?

    Im not saying NFL players dont use steroids, they do. But to act like its absurd to believe that MLB has the biggest problem with steroids is dismissive and bias. Only people who favor baseball over football would by into the belief that their is a conspiracy in the government against PED use in baseball and thats why the DEA finds more baseball players names in association with these doctor and labs that are busted peddling the stuff.

  14. chacochicken - Jan 31, 2013 at 12:00 AM

    Earl, maybe you need to ask yourself if you have a gambling problem.
    Earl: Hmm, no, I don’t have a gambling problem, I’m winning, and winning is not a problem. That’s like saying Michael Jordan has a basketball problem, or Def Leppard has an awesomeness problem. So why don’t y’all pour some sugar on that?

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