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Is Josh Hamilton losing weight a sign of … something?

Feb 14, 2013, 2:14 PM EDT

Josh Hamilton

I’ll preface all of this by saying that the author of the piece I am about to link, Jeff Pearlman, is fully aware that he’s throwing something of a bomb here.  That said, unlike some others people, I do not believe Pearlman is throwing a bomb for the sake of throwing a bomb. He’s not being cute or coy here and he fully acknowledges the limits of his knowledge. These are simply questions which genuinely occur to him and, whether you agree with him or not, he isn’t afraid to ask them.

He also knows fully well that I and a lot of other people are going to have a problem with this. Indeed, I talked to him online after I read it late this morning and he knows fully well that I’m gonna take issue with it. Indeed, I’ve taken enough issue with Pearlman over the years that he and have come to talk on occasion about these sorts of things, and while they haven’t done much to bridge the pretty large gap we have when it comes to PEDs in baseball, it is enough to give me comfort that he’s not just trolling and that when Pearlman does throw bombs it’s because he believes in what he’s saying, not because he simply wants to create chaos. You can decide for yourself if you think that’s worth anything, but it means at least a little something to me.

With all of that said, let’s get down to brass tacks: Pearlman looks at Josh Hamilton’s 20 pound weight loss this offseason with suspicion:

First, to be clear: I don’t know if Josh Hamilton used PEDs. I’d long assumed he hadn’t, because the idea of an ex-drug addict taking, well, drugs didn’t make much sense to me … And yet …in the modern era of baseball, with all we know and all we’ve seen and all the recent news concerning Alex Rodriguez and Gio Gonzalez and Ryan Braun and numerous others, well … I’m just not so sure we can continue to take reports like this at face value … I don’t know if Hamilton’s using. I really don’t. But one must be skeptical.

Pearlman offers examples of curious weight gain and weight loss — Pudge Rodriguez’s weight loss maybe being the most memorable example for all of us — and my inference from this anyway is that there is suspicion to be had about Josh Hamilton it’s that he lost a lot of weight just as scrutiny and testing is being ratcheted up again.

His ultimate end: for someone to ask Hamilton and others “the hard questions” about such things. I’m not sure what the hard question is. I’m not sure why weight loss is a sufficient predicate for a question and/or accusation of PED use. As we note with silliness all spring, lots of players yo-yo in weight. Are we supposed to ask them all these “hard questions?”

Heck, it’s not even about giving someone the benefit of the doubt. It’s about what in the hell is supposed to create doubt in the first place. In the past people have looked at all sorts of things to create that doubt, and half the time it’s silly. Home run totals, without reference to park size or expansion. Head size, as if we are able to measure such a thing. Back acne as if it can only be caused by steroids. Failure to prove negatives, which is something only baseball writers seem to think is an acceptable expectation. Acting out in anger as if all anger = ‘roid rage. With Pearlman, it’s weight fluctuation. That’s not enough to say anything with certainty, he says. But it’s enough to prompt more questions. We are required he says — we must! — be skeptical.

I simply can’t buy that. At some point you have to assume that the game has a strong testing program and, barring something actually indicative of PED use, take its negative results at face value. Weight loss isn’t doing it for me. I’m not sure who else besides Pearlman it should actually do it for.

  1. iamjimmyjack - Feb 14, 2013 at 3:58 PM

    This is so stupid. NBC is taking over ESPN as the king of sports drama. Ridiculous.

  2. iamjimmyjack - Feb 14, 2013 at 3:59 PM

    This is absolutely he last time I read an article by nbc writer Craig.

    • nategearhart - Feb 14, 2013 at 4:34 PM

  3. pbastille - Feb 14, 2013 at 4:17 PM

    Pearlman’s gonna look pretty foolish when Hamilton’s Jenny Craig ads start running…

  4. jrobitaille23 - Feb 14, 2013 at 4:21 PM

    How much evidence is needed for people like Craig to finally believe that most ball players are using. Not just in baseball, but all athletes. The human body can only do so much naturally when it comes to strength, speed, etc. and yet we are to believe that these select few are world’s apart from us athletically? When they raised the mound hitting disappeared. When they juiced the ball even Wade Boggs hit 24 homers. When they all started juicing every home run record was broken multiple times. Now after testing for steroids low and behold many backed off and numbers came down. But not everyone stopped altogether as there is HGH. Now that that is going to be tested for more stringently people are once again coming down in weight and numbers will come down with it. All you need to do is use the eye test. Burying your face in the sand like Craig doesn’t change the fact that most athletes have used PED at some point. Humans are not built to be 6’2 250 pounds and run 4.5 nor throw over 100 mph or hit baseballs 450 ft. Not without help. The last era of true baseball was early 80s. Sure there were a couple of guys that were using then, let’s not kid ourselves. Ricky for sure, Dawson…a few others…but for the most part a good season was .300 20 homers 100 rbi. That is normal production from stars with some great seasons by HOF sprinkled in. That season was a joke up to this year. Mark my words. That is coming back. Maybe not all the way as players are still benefitting from working out, better diets, trainers etc. So .300 30 110 will be the new super year.

    • blingslade - Feb 14, 2013 at 4:52 PM

      I agree with everything jro says here. Just do the eyeball test. Actually, the best answer is to use Occam’s razor which means “the simplest answer is probably correct”. This incredible weight loss by Josh Hamilton is the same as Giambi a decade ago which is ALL PED related.

      It’s not as though a dumbass druggie jock named Josh Hamilton suddenly decided to go on the Acai berry diet lol!

      Congrats Josh, you just let the world know for sure you’re hitting prowness was greatly enhanced by PED’s. You’re Mr. Roidboy for 2013!!!

      • missingdiz - Feb 14, 2013 at 5:58 PM

        When a 6′ 4″, 240 lb. athelete loses 20 lb., it’s not “incredible.” The “simplest answer” is that he changed his eating habits. You can call him all the names you want, since you must be above reproach in all respects, but even a “dumbasss druggie jock” can go on a diet. Especially a downhome boy from North Carolina. I was living there when Charlie Daniels summarized the regional culinary philosophy: “I think everything tastes better fried.”

      • kevinbnyc - Feb 15, 2013 at 11:40 AM

        Over the holiday season last year, I gained about 10 lbs. Safe to assume I started doing steroids?

    • rcdck - Feb 14, 2013 at 5:00 PM

      I could somewhat see the reasoning until you threw in this: “The last era of true baseball was early [sic] 80s.”

      • jrobitaille23 - Feb 14, 2013 at 11:24 PM

        why is that?

    • badintent - Feb 14, 2013 at 5:55 PM

      you’re 100 % ! But don’t forget the Hollywood midget actors that get pumped for roles all the time. Hint: first names are Tom, Brad, Matt,and Matthew.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 14, 2013 at 8:54 PM

      @jrobitaille23
      There are at least three statements in your comment that are completely false and destroy your entire narrative. I’ll let you figure out which, as I’m getting sick of reposting the same stuff.

  5. crpls - Feb 14, 2013 at 4:22 PM

    Well, Bill Simmons is a joke if that’s what you mean.

  6. papacrick - Feb 14, 2013 at 4:27 PM

    These comments are so dumb. Does anybody actually work out or know anything about these supplements. Clearly not. The writer is pointing out that when you come off testosterone or HGH (not tested for, everyone uses it) that you will drop weight rapidly and it’s a fair question. A small guy like me will drop 20 lbs down to 135 within a couple weeks of coming off a cycle. Since HGH testing is coming into effect soon, it is quite likely that Hamilton is trying to clean up and rapid weight loss is part of the process

    • paperlions - Feb 14, 2013 at 6:44 PM

      You apparently don’t know anything about them either….because HGH does not help add muscle mass. If you take HGH and then stop taking it, you won’t notice any difference except for perhaps a slight increase in stamina when you stop taking it.

      • jrobitaille23 - Feb 14, 2013 at 8:22 PM

        you are the one clueless. you take Human Growth Hormone and it helps grow muscle tissue. Hence the name Growth Hormone. You get off it and your body reverts to its normal production sometimes less for a bit as your body gets used to it. You QUICKLY lose that mass if you stop using, increase cardio and diet. Don’t go spouting off about things you don’t know about. Seriously, your statement is as false as they come and idiots who don’t know better are giving you thumbs up. Man o man. Like I said earlier, if you just signed a huge contract, are known as a power hitter, you think the most logical thing to do is go on a diet and lose 20 pounds. He might hit 32 homers this year. Might!

      • paperlions - Feb 14, 2013 at 8:35 PM

        Actually, I am the one that is not clueless. Feel free to find a single study in which a healthy adult taking HGH alone leads to increased muscle mass or strength. There have been a lot of studies and they all find the same thing…in adults with normal HGH levels, there is no evidence that it builds muscles or increases strength. It is most fucking certainly not called HGH because it builds muscle tissue.

        HGH has no known positive effects on otherwise healthy adults with normal GH levels. At least educate yourself on the topic before spouting off.

        FWIW, a person also will NOT lose 20 lbs of muscle mass in only a couple of weeks unless they are horribly ill. It takes longer than that for benefits of a steroid cycle to wear off.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 14, 2013 at 8:55 PM

        @jrobitaille23

        PL has posted numerous links to scientific articles showing that HGH has zero benefit to normal adults. What evidence do you have that it has any benefit?

      • jrobitaille23 - Feb 14, 2013 at 11:22 PM

        http://www.livestrong.com/article/524925-what-does-hgh-do/

        all you need to know about HGH. Sadly the two yahoos below couldn’t be more clueless. I have trained with a strong man competitor who was on it. He got massive. Within a month of getting off he lost 20 pounds. With him most was muscle as he stopped lifting heavy. I am sure if he incorporated cardio he would have lost more. Having discussed this with him and seen the results I can first hand attest to what HGH does. I can also google ‘what does hgh do” and find several articles refuting what you are saying. Get a clue

      • jrobitaille23 - Feb 14, 2013 at 11:26 PM

        In 1990, an article in “The New England Journal of Medicine” reported that healthy people might benefit from receiving synthetic HGH. Researchers found that, in healthy adults, HGH injections increased muscle mass and reduced the amount of body fat.

        Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/524925-what-does-hgh-do/#ixzz2KwFrD394

  7. proudlycanadian - Feb 14, 2013 at 4:39 PM

    Mike Trout reported to the Angels at 210 pounds last spring. This spring he reported at 240 pounds. Obviously, he has been ingesting something other than milk into his body. The food that he has been eating should be tested for something. Not sure what will be found, but for some people, it sure seems suspicious.

    • echech88 - Feb 14, 2013 at 5:28 PM

      Agreed that it is hard to miss how bulky he has gotten. In the press conference today he said he gained an extra 10lbs coming into camp with the expectation that he’ll have dropped that by opening day.

      He seemed to have gotten bigger as last season went on though which is a little more understandable when you realize he lost like 20lbs from a viral infection during Spring Training last year.

    • vikesfansteve - Feb 14, 2013 at 7:22 PM

      You got it right on about the food. What about kids in the military going in at 160 and coming out of boot 12 weeks later 190 muscle bound and the fat guys suddenly chiseled. The military puts protien powder in the eggs and muscle enhancers in their food. It is making the soldiers more muscular sure, but is also clogging their arteries and making them hardened. 1 in 12 now have heart disease. 35 to 40 yr olds dying of heart attacks. Suffering from high blood pressure. There is a major downside to PED’s and its not just small nuts.

    • tonyc920 - Feb 16, 2013 at 10:43 PM

      Maybe he found a really good Pizza Joint ! lol

  8. jikkle49 - Feb 14, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    Maybe I missed it but does anyone know how rapid the weight loss was?

    He reported to camp 20lbs lighter than normal but that doesn’t mean he lost it all in a couple of weeks and it’s not an unreasonable weight to lose over the course of the offseason. Especially when Hamilton didn’t exactly have the body of an Adonis in the first place.

    I’m hesitant to say “weight loss = off PEDs” especially in baseball when most players aren’t in the best shape possible.

  9. echech88 - Feb 14, 2013 at 5:25 PM

    Hamilton has already said twice this week that he hasn’t lost any weight at all.

    He simply stayed at the same weight he finished last season whereas in seasons past he would bulk up to about 250 entering camp aware that he would drop about 20+ during the season playing in the Texas heat. Anaheim’s Summers are not the same type of dehydrating, all-over-you hot that Arlington’s are.

    Him reporting to camp 25lbs lighter than he did last year is not the same as him losing 25lbs since last season. He is what he was in September.

    • cur68 - Feb 14, 2013 at 8:14 PM

      Easy man. Those are facts. Most of the histrionic shouting about PEDs use here aren’t interested in facts. The like a good narrative.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 14, 2013 at 10:05 PM

        I think we could make a lot of money selling Texans on the HGH Diet. With me?

  10. offseasonblues - Feb 14, 2013 at 5:27 PM

    “At some point you have to assume that the game has a strong testing program and, barring something actually indicative of PED use, take its negative results at face value.”

    Why? I’m pretty sure the profit motive guarantees that the ped creator chemists will always be a step ahead of the tester chemists. I think the testing program has made a positive difference, but it doesn’t lead me to assume any given player is or isn’t using.

    Unfortunately I think every player is suspect, and the wealthier and / or smarter players probably won’t be caught. I don’t like that non-users are as suspect as users, or that suspicion is based on things that can have innocent causes, but sweeping suspicion aside isn’t the answer.

  11. halohonk - Feb 14, 2013 at 7:32 PM

    Trout at 240 ? gimmie a break. Is that weight or hits! Here is honks prediction for your 2013 MVP…….. 210 hits 310 avg. 40 hrs 120 rbi 140 runs 50 steals and a gold glove to boot. 21 yrs old amazing. Hes the Lebron James of MLB! All with NO peds.

  12. btwicey - Feb 14, 2013 at 8:15 PM

    What a crock of crap.

  13. ncm42 - Feb 14, 2013 at 8:56 PM

    For anyone who thinks there is no reason to still be suspicious about PEDs in baseball “because they’re testing now,” I have a rich uncle who is a prince in Nigeria. If you send me your bank account number, I will see to it that he sends you part of his inheritance…

  14. dirtydrew - Feb 14, 2013 at 9:56 PM

    The next Barry Zito contract. The Angel’s will be crushed by a non roided’ Josh Hamelton and an older than we know Albert Pujols.

  15. brianabbe - Feb 14, 2013 at 10:16 PM

    Did it ever occur to anyone that 20 pounds in four months is not a stretch? A lot of people can lost that amount of weight in 8-10 weeks. I’ve done it myself. That’s easily achieved with a healthier eating regimen and specific training. I think given Hamilton’s injury history, he might have felt that he might age better without as much weight on his hips, knees, ankles, etc as well. It’s too easy to proclaim he was juicing.

  16. yousuxxors - Feb 14, 2013 at 10:26 PM

    he went on a crack binge

  17. stercuilus65 - Feb 14, 2013 at 11:14 PM

    “Head size, as if we are able to measure such a thing.”

    Are fking serious? Two words..Barry Bonds.

  18. tjg25 - Feb 14, 2013 at 11:57 PM

    The “hard questions”? Hilarious. Certainly he’d answer honestly. Lol.

  19. makeham98 - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    I have to get my wife off of the PEDs. That must be it.

  20. jkaflagg - Feb 15, 2013 at 5:58 PM

    In the immortal words of Veep’s Selina Meyer: ” Shut your pie hole ! Get up off your deadwood and put down the corn dog…..”

  21. dawglb - Feb 17, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    I’ll bet it’s a sign of him not weighing as much as he used to. I’m not a doctor, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

  22. mazblast - Feb 17, 2013 at 10:54 PM

    If a writer is one-dimensional, delusional, or obsessive enough, he/she/it will find any variation in any aspect of an athlete’s physique to be PED-based. Up, down, vertical, horizontal, diagonal, four-dimensional, circular, doesn’t matter–“I think he’s on PEDs therefore he’s on PEDs.”

    Here’s a suggestion, Pearlman–ask the man. He’ll deny using PEDs. Then get some, oh, what do you call it, oh yeah, Craig may remember this term from his lawyer days (a career for which he was far too intelligent)–PROOF.

  23. hooockey - Feb 18, 2013 at 9:22 AM

    How is it some miracle for a 240 pound man to lose 20 pounds? Losing weight is not difficult. Change diet, alter exercise routine.

    I recently lost 15 pounds in 1 month. I had the flu, followed by food poisoning.

    I did not just stop taking steroids.

  24. txnative61 - Feb 20, 2013 at 1:45 AM

    I think it is a sign that Pearlman is desperate for something to write about, an affliction that Calcaterra shares. There is job security in raising arguments impossible to resolve.

  25. badintent - Feb 14, 2013 at 5:57 PM

    Chow-chow with some Great Dane

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