Lee Sinins has a new website called ATM Reports. Go there for all your league reports and Lee’s sabermetric information. Lee is the inventor of the Sabermetric Baseball Encyclopedia, which has been renamed the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia. Lee is one of the founding members of the baseball blogosphere, and as such, commands tremendous respect for his excellent work.
While responding to his email, he asked me to dig up some of my previous work on the subject of Bonds and steroids in general, and I directed him to two pieces, which I will post excerpts from here, with a link for some of my newer readers who may not be familiar with them.
…. Put into context, you see that Bonds has been among the league leaders in offense for virtually his entire career. As for his home run surge; starting in 1988, when he was 22 years old, he’s finished in the Top 9 in home runs every year but two, ’89 and ’99. Starting in 1996, home runs, batting average, slugging, runs scored; virtually all of offensive categories are at historic highs. Barry Bonds’ supposed late-career power surge coincides exactly with the league.
As he entered into his thirties, the entire league was entering into a huge upswing in offense. He’s led the NL in home runs twice, once with 46 (1993), once with 73 (2001). Almost exactly at the mid-point of his career, the league baseline for offense surged some 30%. You can look it up.
…. We live in society that has criminalized a number of personal actions (smoking marijuana, for instance), while allowing enormous profits to be generated on others that are just as bad or worse (say, smoking cigarettes). To say that it’s OK for athletes to undergo radical surgeries, take pain-killing injections; to describe as heroic the athlete that will “play in pain,” while portray as weak those that can’t or won’t; to suggest that one kind of performance enhancement (amphetamines or supplements or surgery) is acceptable while another (steroids or GHB) is not…. I’m sorry, I cannot go along. This is hypocrisy at its highest form, and I will continue to treat it as such.
Furthermore, it is hypocrisy to suggest that baseball’s hallowed records are tainted by the suggestion of steroid use. There can be no doubt that throughout baseball history, athletes looking to gain an edge have tried virtually anything they could find to gain it. Whether it was to drink some strange concoction brewed up by the team trainer, rubbing liniment on sore arms, popping greenies or reds, beer before the game, beer after the game, you name it. I’ve read (probably apocryphal) stories of ballplayers sticking their heads out of a train so the soot would make their eyes water; the better to clean them out, or so the thinking went.
Virtually any athlete in any sport will do just about anything to be the best of the best, and a manager or coach will push them to do so. Some athletes will push the envelope only so far, while others will throw it away, and risk their very lives, if they truly believed it would make a difference, the difference between winning and losing. We, as fans, not only ask this of them, we demand it. Their coaches demand it, their teammates demand it, the game demands it. Be the best, win at all costs, do whatever it takes; these are the credo of virtually every championship-caliber player, coach, or team.
And now, hysterical media-types are fanning the flames of controversy; “Oh no, it looks like so and so really did do whatever it takes. Shame on him!” Please. Don’t insult my inteligence. Of course he or she did, what did you expect? The only difference between what one athlete will risk as opposed to another is based on their own personal decision-making values. As for their choice, I’d ask you; is it appropriate for one person to decide what another should be willing to risk? Is it OK for you to tell me what I should be willing to do to improve my life, my career, my earning potential? Not in my book, it isn’t, not as long as my actions don’t harm anyone else, or take from anyone else.
Take the time to read the whole pieces if you can. They’re big pieces, and, in my opinion, represent some of my very best work.
UPDATE: Busy steroids day. Good thing I had to take a week off after losing a fight with a table saw.
Here’s Lupica, as wrong as he’s ever been in his entire, award-winning writer’s life:
…. I wish the union hadn’t fought drug testing for as long as it did. I wish this commissioner had taken on the union leaders on drugs sooner than he did, even if this is the same commissioner who has gone from no real drug testing at all to the plan baseball currently has in the space of four years. We were all slow coming to this moment. But people who think that somehow this absolves the bums who used this stuff sound like they just ran into an outfield wall.
Two questions, two sides of the issue:
1. Why doesn’t Lupica answer the question as to why he was so late, since, as he wants us to believe, it was so important -and obvious- to everyone for so long?
2. Isn’t it even the tiniest bit possible that you were late on the issue because it wasn’t Bonds, who has generated more anger and emnity than any sports figure since Ted Williams, or possibly even Ty Cobb?
I’d love to hear what the Lip has to say to those questions.