Feb 26, 2013, 2:06 PM EDT
While most of you like to call me a steroids apologist, the fact of the matter is that I am not pro-steroids. I am anti-hysteria and distortion. I am also against a baseball writing community that overwhelmingly thinks that the most worrisome and therefore most newsworthy aspect of PEDs in baseball is what it means for the record books and the Hall of Fame when there are far more important implications of PED use.
If you don’t believe me, allow me to quote myself from April 2007 — the very month I began blogging about baseball on a regular basis. It was around that time — months before the Mitchell Report came out — that Kirk Radomski was making news and the names of some marginal players to whom he dealt were coming out. I opined then that, once we know more about PEDs in baseball, we’ll see that it’s likely a bigger problem among those marginal players — the guys trying to crack the bigs or hang on; the 26th man in the organization who feels he need that extra oomph — than it is among superstars:
I don’t say this in an effort to minimize the steroid problem. Indeed, minor leaguers and players who aren’t superstars constitute the vast majority of professional ballplayers. If my theory holds, the problem could be far greater than that which is portrayed by sportswriters who like to caricature only the most prolific sluggers as juicers. If I’m right, our concern over records and the Hall of Fame would seem pretty petty in comparison to the scores of regular Joes who are ruining their health as they walk the line between a lifetime of comfort and a job at a warehouse. Players that the steroid moralizers in the media almost uniformly ignore.
Now, I got a few things wrong back then, of course. I probably underestimated the number of superstars who used PEDs and I hilariously lumped Alex Rodriguez in with the non-users because that’s the best information anyone had back then. But I think the dynamic still holds: it’s a way, way bigger moral problem for a marginal player to feel like he has no choice but to take steroids than it is for an already great baseball player to feel like he should take steroids to break some records.
This doesn’t mean that the superstars aren’t cheaters if they take PEDs and it doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be held to account. What I’m getting at is that, in the great baseball conversation about PEDs, we should not care nearly as much as we do about records and legacies and we should care far more about what PEDs are doing down at the lower levels of baseball. We should spill way less ink about who we think “the real Home Run King” is — as if that matters — and think way harder about those frequent minor league suspensions and what they mean to the people who are faced with the choice to take dangerous drugs or wind up out of baseball.
Against that backdrop is this excellent column from Eric Knott. Knott pitched 11 years in the minors and 24 games in the majors. He is the quintessential borderline guy who, if he had an extra couple of miles per hour on his heater, may have stuck. But he didn’t get those miles per hour, and he didn’t try PEDs in an effort to do so.
Knott gives a fascinating, clear-eyed and detailed rundown of the environment in baseball during the height of the Steroid Era, as well as what factored into his decisions about whether to use.
It’s an absolute must-read. There’s more useful information in this piece than anything that can be found in the Mitchell Report or the latest bombastic anti-PEDs screen from Johnny Sportswriter.
May 24, 2013, 1:00 PM EDT
I was a big fan of Drew Sheppard’s Gif of Yu Darvish throwing five different pitches. As were some folks in Japan, who inexplicably made that post the most-read thing in the history of HardballTalk. By a wide margin. But I think I’m more impressed by Drew putting Miguel Cabrera‘s last six home runs into…
May 24, 2013, 12:30 PM EDT
Hey, Kay asked me buy or sell, I gave my answer.
May 24, 2013, 11:51 AM EDT
Blue Jays left-hander Darren Oliver has been his usual effective self this season at age 42, posting a sub-3.25 ERA for the sixth straight season, but now he’s headed to the disabled list with a strained shoulder. To replace Oliver on the roster Toronto called up Double-A left-hander Sean Nolin, a 23-year-old who was their…
May 24, 2013, 11:37 AM EDT
Phillies great Richie Ashburn died in 1997. Until now he has been resting in peace. Some, as Victor Fiorillo of the Philly Post repots, are worried that won’t be the case for long: His family buried him in the cemetery outside of Gladwyne Methodist Church, where all was quiet until some developers announced plans to…
May 24, 2013, 11:19 AM EDT
After two injury wrecked seasons the Twins have been remarkably healthy so far, but their lone significant injury has provided a glimpse into the same question health marks that got the head trainer fired this offseason. Backup outfielder Darin Mastroianni injured his ankle late in spring training, but instead of simply placing him on the…
May 24, 2013, 11:02 AM EDT
Today is Bob Dylan’s 72nd birthday. Bob Dylan likes baseball a lot. He devoted a whole episode of his radio show to baseball songs a few years back and it was fantastic. He also wrote and recorded a song about Catfish Hunter for the “Desire” album in 1976 but he left it off. No reason…
May 24, 2013, 10:47 AM EDT
Mike Trout hit for the cycle Tuesday, notched two more hits Wednesday, and took Ervin Santana deep last night for the longest homer of his career. Trout watched Santana serve up a league-high 39 homers when they were teammates last season and the Angels homered off him four times last night, including this 463-foot monster…
May 24, 2013, 10:32 AM EDT
There’s a lot of projecting Miguel Cabrera‘s season forward going on today. Saw Buster Olney doing it on Twitter. They’re doing it at High Heat Stats today too. If you play the on-pace game, Cabrera could have, like, 200 RBI. Odds don’t favor that, of course. He’s likely to slump at some point. Well, maybe.…
May 24, 2013, 10:15 AM EDT
Dodgers prospect and 2009 first-round pick Aaron Miller is giving up on pitching and moving to the outfield. Miller fared well in the low minors, but the left-hander posted a 5.03 ERA with 101 walks in 168 innings at Double-A and also dealt with some injuries. He played some outfield in college at Baylor University,…
May 24, 2013, 9:25 AM EDT
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s baseball bonafides are beyond reproach. A big Yankees fan from youth. The judge who effectively ended the strike in 1995. She knows her stuff. So she was the perfect choice to sit in on a mock oral re-argument of the famous Curt Flood case, which sought to end the reserve…
May 24, 2013, 8:53 AM EDT
And it’s not just saying “robot umps now,” no matter how satisfying that is. Writing over at Murray Chass’s blog, the former Commissioner of Baseball Fay Vincent says that MLB needs to take total control of umpiring: MLB should buy the umpire schools and take over the training and development of all umpires in professional…
May 24, 2013, 8:23 AM EDT
Recently there has been some talk about the fans in Toronto getting too drunk and too rowdy for their own good. We saw a bit of it last night. Orioles outfielder Nate McLouth made a nice catch, falling into the stands. When he got back up and got on the field, a fan wasted a…
May 24, 2013, 6:59 AM EDT
Indians 12, Red Sox 3: The Tribe’s bats had a nice night with Yan Gomes, Mark Reynolds and Michael Bourn all racking up multiple RBI. Oh, and you may or may not have heard this, but Terry Francona, currently the Indians’ manager, used to be the Red Sox manager and this was his first time back in Boston since he…
May 23, 2013, 11:32 PM EDT
If you watch enough baseball games, you’ll see the occasional error with an in-game graphic. You know how it goes, perhaps a player’s name is misspelled or the wrong name is shown with a particular player. However, we hit the jackpot tonight. In the FOX Sports Kansas City broadcast of the Angels-Royals game, there was…
May 23, 2013, 10:12 PM EDT
Austin Jackson is eligible to return from the disabled list on Monday, but it’s unlikely he’ll be ready by then. According to Chris Iott of MLive.com, Tigers manager Jim Leyland said today that Jackson “really hasn’t done any physical activity” since he was placed on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring on May…
May 23, 2013, 9:05 PM EDT
When Dodgers manager Don Mattingly made some pointed comments about his team yesterday, many thought that it was the beginning of the end for him in Los Angeles. It still might be, but the Dodgers are sticking with him for now. After we learned last night that Mattingly will indeed be the manager for Friday’s…
May 23, 2013, 8:25 PM EDT
After Chase Utley was scratched from the lineup earlier this week due to a “burning sensation” in his rib cage, it appeared unlikely that he would be able to avoid an extended absence, so it comes as no surprise that the Phillies are placing him the 15-day disabled list. Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that…
May 23, 2013, 7:35 PM EDT
After testing his right wrist in simulated games this week, Mark Teixeira is almost ready to take the next step. According to Erik Boland of New York Daily News, Teixeira could begin a minor league rehab assignment next Tuesday with Double-A Trenton. The veteran first baseman said last week that he expected to be back…
May 23, 2013, 6:25 PM EDT
It’s been expected all along that the Mets would keep prospect right-hander Zack Wheeler in the minors until June, in part to delay his service time, but here we are. Mike Puma of the New York Post was told by a “high-ranking team official” that Wheeler is expected to make 2-3 starts with Triple-A Las…
May 23, 2013, 5:30 PM EDT
Rafael Perez, who was released by the Twins earlier this week, has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Red Sox. Not so long ago Perez was an underrated left-handed setup man for the Indians, posting a 3.64 ERA in 329 career innings, but he missed nearly all of last season with a shoulder injury…
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