On Raffy and Consistency

December 4, 2015
 
(Note: we’re still accepting ballots for the 2016 BJOL HOF vote, so please feel free to cast your vote and check out the arguments here. And there’s a Gallery of Renown vote going on in the Reader Posts section, so check that out, too.)
 
Let’s talk about his career. What shows up on the back of his baseball card. The flashy columns of data on the Baseball-Reference page.
 
He was a compiler. That’s the first thing we can say about him. He played an astonishingly long time, and he was good for the entirety of that career. His career batting line is astonishing: the two most memorable benchmarks for a hitter’s greatness are 3000 hits and 500 homeruns. He cleared the bar on both counts. Lou Gehrig and Ted Williams and Babe Ruth and Jimmie Foxx and Mickey Mantle and Mel Ott can’t say that. He can. 
 
Neither of those benchmarks, in isolation, is convincing proof of a player’s greatness. It is possible for a player of average offensive skills to approach 3000 hits: Omar Vizquel collected 2877 hits, but he had a career OPS+ of just 84. By rate, Adam Dunn is the tenth most prolific homerun hitter in baseball history. Ryan Howard is 13th. Juan Gonzalez is 14th. None of these men are considered great players.

But in combination, the two benchmarks are a more telling accomplishment. To hit 500 homeruns and collect 3000 hits suggests a broader range of skills. He is not a pure singles hitter. Nor can he be judged as purely a power hitter.
 
We’ll throw in another detail: though he had a power-hitter’s tendency to strike out, he also walked a fair amount. He walked about as much as he struck out.
 
The compiled stats are impressive, but there’s more to the story.
 
He played a long time, but he was rarely the best at any facet of the game. He led the league in something just four times. Or three times, actually: one of his Black Inks is a tie.
 
He crossed 500 homeruns, but he never led his league in homeruns all by himself. He collected 3000 hits, but he never led the league in that category. He collected 1600+ runs scored and 1800+ RBI’s, monumental career totals for those categories, but he has just one tic in the Black Ink to show for that.
 
He was very, very good. But he wasn’t great. He never won an MVP Award, though he appeared on the ballots nine different years.
 
The newer metrics support this. We consider a season of 30+ Win Shares to be a very good year: he had three 30+ Win Share seasons: 33, 31, and 31. Per 162-games, he averaged 23.4 Win Shares.
 
Despite this, he amassed an impressive number of career Win Shares. We like to think of 300 Win Shares as one measure of greatness, but 300 ain’t nothing to our guy. He is credited with more than 400 Win Shares. 
 
How about WAR? His best season, according to Baseball-Reference’s WAR, clocks in at 7.1. His next-best year is 6.6. His best year after that is 5.6. Per 162 games, he averaged a WAR of 3.66. But his career WAR is solidly above the 60.0 tally that makes someone a reasonable candidate. 
 
He was a first baseman. You all know that. He didn’t add a tremendous amount of value with his glove, but he did win three Gold Gloves awards. He wasn’t an exceptional runner, but he wasn’t a plodder, either.
 
That’s what his career looks like. That’s what you’d glean by glancing at the back of his last Topps baseball card, if that card was lucky enough to include WAR and Win Shares on it. 
 
Now: who am I describing?
 
*             *             *
 
Before I continue, I want to talk about consistency.
 
I don’t want to talk about ‘consistency’ of baseball players in their careers…not Lou Gehrig or Hank Aaron. That is relevant to our discussion, but that’s not what I want to talk about here.
 
I want to talk about internal consistency. Consistency of thought.
 
I have two little kids, which means that I spend 97.3% of my day trying to figure out how to keep them alive and fed and in moderately clean clothes, and 2.7% of my day wondering how I’ll help guide them towards becoming the best versions of who they are.
 
One of the things I struggle with, within that 2.7% component of my parent-life, is maintaining some approximation of consistency with them. All of the manuals you get about kids, all the books and brochures that concerned relatives pass along, stress the importance of consistency: "If you want your child to go to Princeton, you should read bedtime stories in a consistent voice." Or: "When you find your child tossing lit matches at his younger brother, remember that consistent consequences should be doled out to insure that the behavior stops." Stuff like that.
 
I am terrible at this. For a thousand reasons that are tied directly to who I am, I find it extraordinarily difficult to be consistent. Sometimes, when my three-year old is trying to pull his socks on, I can manage to get myself into a state of Buddha-like patience with his struggle, gently encouraging him to pull the sock over his heel. Most times, after thirty seconds, I end up pulling them on myself. Let’s get out the door, kiddo.
 
I wish this wasn’t the case. I'm sure that my kids would be better off if I was steadier in my interactions with them. It is something I am working on. I understand deep breathing helps.
 
Okay. Back to baseball.
 
*             *             *
 
I was describing Rafael Palmeiro, of course. That’s what the headline suggested this article would be about, and that’s what it is about.
 
Running down the points:
 
Metric
Raffy
Games
2831
Hits
3020
Homers
569
RBI's
1835
Walks
1353
Strikeouts
1348
Black Ink
3
Black Ink Catag*
R, H, 2B
MVPs
0
MVP ballots
10
Career Win Shares
430
Top-3 Win Shares
31, 31, 30
WS/162 Games
22.6
Career WAR
71.6
Top-3 WAR
6.9, 6.2, 5.7
WAR/162 Games
4.1
Position
1B
Gold Gloves
3
Stolen Bases
97
 
A quick note about the asterisk next to ‘Black Ink’: I was only counting the categories that a fan would recognize as an important indicator. Raffy’s official Black Ink count is eight: Baseball-Reference credits him for leading in putouts (three times) and Total Zone Rating (twice). I didn’t count those. If you think I’m cheating Raffy by not counting those things, I’m not going to talk you off the ledge.
 
So I’ve described Rafael Palmeiro to you.
 
By both our website’s reckoning, and the reckoning of the BBWAA voters, this is the profile of a borderline Hall-of-Fame candidate. Raffy remains on our ballot, though he’s not getting a tremendous wellspring of support (19.1% during the last vote). He dropped off the BBWAA ballot last year, collecting just 4.4% of the writer’s vote.
 
A borderline candidate. That’s who we described.
 
*             *             *
 
Another consistency-of-thought example.
 
28 BBWAA voters cast votes for the AL MVP in 2012. Of those 28 voters, 27 of them voted Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout as the first- and second-best player in the league.
 
This struck me, and continues to strike me, as a demonstration of the inconsistency of our thinking.  
 
Let’s say you were one of the voters swayed by Miguel Cabrera’s impressive Triple Crown numbers. Let’s say that you put Miggy first because he posted a .330/.44/139 batting line. Hell, I’ll be generous: let’s say that you put Miggy first because he put up those impressive Triple Crown numbers on a playoff team.
 
Let’s say you voted for Miggy because a) the traditional stats matter, and b) the MVP should play for a winner. Let’s say that’s your reasoning for putting Cabrera first.
 
Why did you pick Mike Trout second?
 
Adrian Beltre had more impressive Triple Crown numbers (.321/36/102) than Trout (.326/30/83), and Adrian Beltre’s team reached the playoffs. So did Josh Hamilton (.285/43/128). So did Robinson Cano (.313/33/94). All of those guys better traditional numbers than Trout, and they all played on better teams than Trout.
 
And if you were one of the more sabermetrically inclined voters…if you were convinced by Trout’s massive edge in WAR, how come you slotted Miguel Cabrera (7.2 WAR) ahead of Robinson Cane (8.4) and Justin Verlander (7.7)? If you were one of the voters who preferred Mike Trout’s all-round skills to Miguel Cabrera’s one-dimensional slugging, how come all of you guys listed Miggy over higher than Cano (a good second baseman) Adrian Beltre (a great 3B) or Adam Jones (a Gold Glove CF on a playoff team) over Miggy on your ballot?
 
Why did everyone decide it had to be some ordering of Miggy and Trout? Why didn’t any of the ballots cast reflect a clear line of thinking, one that extended beyond a coin-toss between two players?
 
The exact same thing happened in 2013: the guys who loved Chris Davis’s impressive power explosion didn’t love it enough to rate him ahead of Trout, and the guys who voted for Trout’s superior WAR still slotted Miguel Cabrera over the more all-round players Josh Donaldson and Robinson Cano.
 
I don’t mean to slam the voters: if I had a ballot in 2012 or 2013, I’d probably vote for Trout/Miggy, too. I’m only point this out to communicate how difficult it is to be consistent. All of those writers who argued for Trout over Cabrera were consistent, all the way to the second spot in their ballot. The same holds for everyone who supported Cabrera: they stayed true to their beliefs just long enough to write their guy in the #1 slot, and then they caved to the opinions of the WARriors. .
 
It’s hard to be consistent. Put your socks on, kid, and let’s go.
 
*             *             *
 
So here’s the twist with that description: I wasn’t really describing Raffy in that first section. I was describing Eddie Murray. It just happens that a description of Eddie Murray’s career happens to fit exactly with Rafael Palmeiro’s career:
                                          ​;                         ​;       
Metric
Raffy
Ed. Murray
Games
2831
3026
H
3020
3255
HR
569
504
RBI's
1835
1917
Walks
1353
1333
Strikeouts
1348
1516
Black Ink
3
4
Black Ink Catag*
R, H, 2B
HR, RBI, BB, OBP
MVPs
0
0
MVP ballots
10
9
Career Win Shares
430
437
Top-3 Win Shares
31, 31, 30
33, 31, 31
WS/162 Games
22.6
23.4
Career WAR
71.6
68.3
Top-3 WAR
6.9, 6.2, 5.7
7.1, 6.6, 5.6
WAR/162 Games
4.1
3.7
Position
1B
1B
Gold Gloves
3
3
Stolen Bases
97
110
 
 
There are a few small differences. Win Shares likes Eddie Murray a bit more, while WAR prefers Raffy. Eddie Murray tied for the AL lead in homers in the strike-shortened 1981 season (with BJOL write-in candidates Dwight Evans and Bobby Grich, and unlikely-to-ever-be-a-write-in-candidate Tony Armas). Raffy led in doubles. Eddie Murray didn’t win any MVP’s, but he came closer than Raffy did. On the other hand, Raffy showed up on one more MVP ballot than Eddie, 10 to 9.
 
But every statistical argument that people cite in not endorsing the candidacy of Rafael Palmeiro is absolutely applicable to Eddie Murray. Both players are compiler: both men amassed extremely impressive career counting stats, including 3000 hits and 500 homeruns, by posting reliably good production over staggeringly long careers. Both men were steady. Both men were steadily good.
 
*             *             *
 
Which gets us to the great elephant in the room. Late in his career, Rafael Palmeiro failed a steroids test. On the central issue of his era, Raffy was on the wrong side of the line. He took steroids. He cheated.
 
And Eddie Murray, at least by every account I can find, was on the right side of the central drug issue of his era. When the 1980’s drug scandals leaked, the Baltimore Orioles were one of the first teams to encourage testing. Murray, a star on the team, strongly supported testing, and used his position as a leader on the team to push it through.
 
That’s the difference between them. That is, I will grant, a big difference to some of us. Eddie Murray was good enough to be Eddie Murray. Rafael Palmeiro took performance-enhancing drugs that allowed him to become Eddie Murray.
 
We have no idea how much the drugs helped: we don’t know if a drug-free Raffy would have been 70% Eddie Murray, or 92% Eddie Murray, or 100% Eddie Murray. We don’t know if Palmeiro started taking drugs when his power spiked, or if he started taking them when his career was winding down, and he started missing fastballs. We’re speculating.
 
I think that’s fine. Really, I do. Speculate all you want.
 
But please be consistent with it. 
 
If you are one of the individuals who believes that performance-enhancing drugs made a good career look like a great one, please apply that universally. If you are going to hold off from supporting Rafael Palmeiro, hold off from supporting Tim Raines, who admitted to using cocaine during the games of his peak performance. We don’t know how much cocaine helped Raines, so we can’t really say that he would be a Hall-of-Fame caliber player without the drug. The same hold for Keith Hernandez: he is a borderline player who used a drug that potentially enhanced his performance. Don’t write-in him as a candidate if you’re going to hold your nose at Raffy. Don’t vote for Mark McGwire, either. There is no telling what his career numbers would have looked like with the substances he was buying in bulk at the GNC.
 
And if you are one of the moral absolutists….if you think any cheater, no matter how good they were, should be kept out, I encourage you to be consistent with that. If you aren’t supporting Barry Bonds or A-Rod or Clemens…well, you shouldn’t crow Willie Mays, either. Or Willie Stargell. Start a campaign to get their plaques off the wall in Cooperstown, because they used performance-enhancing drugs, too.
 
And if you are a moral absolutist, please don’t make apologies for poor Joe Jackson, who took dough to throw World Series games. And don’t weep for Pete Rose, who gambled on games as he made the calls in the Reds dugout.
 
Be consistent.
 
And if you are like me, if you believe that players have always sought competitive advantages, and if you think that the current the spiral of trying to figure out the cheaters from the cheated is useless and damaging, if you want to just vote for the best players and be done with it, then it’s time to acknowledge that Rafael Palmeiro…the man with no MVP’s and three ticks of Black Ink…the man with 3020 hits and 569 homeruns…Rafael Palmeiro the compiler...had a career worthy of the Hall of Fame.
 
David Fleming is a writer living in Wellington, New Zealand. He welcomes comments, questions, and suggestions here and at dfleming1986@yahoo.com. 
 
 

COMMENTS (65 Comments, most recent shown first)

Rcrout
It just makes no sense to me to equate a drug addiction with a conscious, SOBER choice to use PED's. By definition, the addict has very limited choice in the matter, while the PED user does.
3:32 PM Dec 11th
 
MarisFan61
I think some of the posts are importantly missing the likely main reason for those guys to have been using the stuff, whether during the game or otherwise: being hooked on it. All the other possible reasons you're weighing are likely to be secondary.
12:13 AM Dec 10th
 
DaveFleming
To be clear: I'm not intending to suggest Raines is lying at any point, or revising his history. I believe he is speaking honestly and openly about his experience, and I think he should be commended for that. I don't need him to say more, or admit another level of guilt. He's said enough, and I respect him tremendously for his courage.

My only point is that it doesn't seem radical to hazard that a baseball player would be motivated to use cocaine - a drug that immediately escalates one's heart rate, increases mental alertness, and boosts one's energy - because they thought it would help them play baseball better.

I don't think it did help most players play better, and I absolutely support Tim Raines as a candidate for the Hall of Fame. Our only point of contention is that you hold that Raines's intentions in using cocaine had nothing do with baseball, while I think that he (and other users) were at least a little motivated by the idea that the drugs central characteristics might aid them to play baseball better.

I just don't see HOW a professional athlete who took cocaine wouldn't...at some point...make a leap from 'using cocaine to enjoy life' to 'using cocaine to play better baeball.' It's a false leap, of course, but the nature of the transgression doesn't seem drastically different than a player shooting up their first dose of steroids.
7:19 PM Dec 9th
 
tangotiger
sansho: only in MLB. NFL gets a pass for the most part.
9:30 AM Dec 9th
 
sansho1
Legality would be the common line to draw. In fact, until the records started falling left and right, I'd thought that was the chief complaint -- players were breaking the law of the land, by taking substances that were either illegal per se, or illegally obtained. As was mentioned below, it was only when the record book was warped (because steroids were so clearly SUPERIOR as a performance enhancer to coke or greenies or whatever) that a separate category was carved out. At least, that was the progression I believe I witnessed.
7:31 AM Dec 9th
 
tangotiger
One month after the episode and thirty years after the episode would both be considered "retrospective" technically.

However, I would think it's hardly fair to characterize them both the same. Raines' recollection was as contemporaneous as it could get, other than getting to him to admit to his habit in the middle of his habit.

Can we agree that Raines' admission even if it was technically "retrospective" is in fact the most contemporaneous account of all baseball players ever and therefore the least likely to have "revisionist history" behind his account?

As for your premise, you could then make the same analogy to smoking cigarettes between innings, and boozing between innings as "enhancing performance". When CC's Hall of Fame case comes up, are you going to say he enhanced his performance?
8:50 PM Dec 8th
 
DaveFleming
To be clear: I absolutely agree that cocaine didn't give Raines any competitive advantage.

I just think that one of Raines' motivations to use cocaine in the dugout had to be a belief that the drug would help his play better.
3:05 PM Dec 8th
 
DaveFleming
I did read the article, Tango.

Coming out of rehab is retrospective. Surely you can understand that. That is what rehab is about: getting sober enough to see that the drug you thought was doing one thing was doing something else. Coming out of rehab is retrospective...he has gained a distance from his addiction, and realizes the costs.

You say his intentions are 'pretty clear', and that 'they had nothing to do with baseball.'

I have a lot of close friends who were addicts. I've worked in drug and alcohol rehab facilities. I can tell you, absolutely and unequivolcably, that there is nothing 'clear' about anyone's intentions when it comes to drug abuse.

You seem to think that Tim Raines was using cocaine to enhance every aspect of his life except baseball. I don't think that's true, or even possible. A drug addict can't delininate their life like that: the addiction touches on everything.

Tim Raines admitted to doing cocaine in the dugout between innings....how can it be 'clear' that he wasn't at all motivated by a perception that cocaine might help him....I don't know....run fast?

I'm really not trying to stick to an original premise....I just don't understand how you think a person in a spiralling addiction to cocaine can have such clarity in his intentions.
2:54 PM Dec 8th
 
pbspelly
It is worth noting that Major League Baseball certainly does not view cocaine as a performance "enhancer." The drug rules set out three basic classifications: (a) Drugs of Abuse, including cocaine, (b) performance enhancing drugs, and (c) stimulants. Testing is only mandatory for all players for performance enhancing drugs and stimulants. And the first time you test positive for performance enhancing drugs or stimulants, you are suspended (80 and 25 games, respectively), whereas the first time you test positive for cocaine or other drugs of abuse, you are referred to a treatment board and you keep your salary.

Cocaine use by players is perceived as a negative in that it can [I]harm[I] the level of play, is illegal, and a sets a poor example for young fans. But it has never been viewed as a way of cheating and gaining an unfair advantage.
11:37 AM Dec 8th
 
tangotiger
"Just because Tim Raines retrospectively views the cocaine as a handicap doesn't mean that his intentions weren't to gain an advantage over other players. "

Dave, did you read the article I posted? "Retrospectively?" He said it right after rehab. The article was written Dec, 1982.

As for his intentions, it's pretty clear what his intentions were and it had nothing to do with his baseball performance.

You are basically ignoring all the evidence to stick to your original premise.


11:15 PM Dec 7th
 
OldBackstop
Well.....sansho, I agree that in some places, cocaine can be a performance enhancer. But if cocaine is in your life, you usually don't have it in a cage for long. If a cokehead is sleep deprived after a night of partying, he probably wasn't at a simple kegger the night before.
9:59 PM Dec 7th
 
sansho1
Just to cloud the issue further, I would suppose that there are many ballplayers who used cocaine as a performance enhancer only, or overwhelmingly primarily so, managed to stay on this side of the dragon, and nobody was the wiser. Guys like Rod Scurry got a lot of press, but for every Scurry there had to be several players who would use it to get ready for games on short rest, or after a night out. This is what I mean by "performance enhancer" -- not necessarily a regimen designed to reach previously unattainable heights, but a shock to the system to achieve an gametime alertness they might have otherwise struggled to achieve that particular day.
6:48 PM Dec 7th
 
OldBackstop
None of those three guys died of just a cocaine overdose, Dave. Hanson has yet to be determined, Caminiti did a speedball mixed with heroin (ala Belushi) and had serious heart condition, and Hanson died in a rehab after checking in claiming heroin, alcohol and cocaine use.

I say this not to excuse cocaine, but because accuracy is key in discussing any drug situation. Cocaine has ruined a lot of lives, families and relationships, but I don't think it straight up causes one agent OD deaths as much as is sometimes casually mentioned. If it didn't, if people were constantly stroking out from cocaine, it probably would be less of a problem.

Saying that steroids is a selfless team act is wacky to me. Guys take steroids for their own careers, and they steal other people's jobs, records, and contracts. And they have a direct link to many athlete's deaths....Caminiti's admitted steroid use possibly contributed to his enlarged heart, a side effect like large biceps. It surely was more responsible for his death than cocaine.

Steroids body count won't be known for years due to the time cancer may take to show itself. Lyle Alzado died of brain cancer, and a strangely large number of baseball players have died from the very rare brain cancer glioblastoma.

I think steroids are a far worse instance of cheating than "mood adjusters" like speed, alcohol, cocaine, or the other drugs baseball players have used over the years. Steroids changes the PRODUCT...makes you (I guess I have to still say allegedly?) make you bigger, faster and extends your career. While the anecdotes of shooting up in the clubhouse are of course with teammates, the larger connections were the classic drug dealer network. When Jose Canseco introduced fellow American League Alex Rodriquez to steroid connections, it wasn't because it would help the As win the pennant.

How can you say a baseball player has a moral upper hand by using an illegal recreational drug used by many millions of Americans rather than using a banned substance whose ONLY use is to gain a competitive edge, often following a complex cocktail or schedule designed to protect them from discovery. It isn't close, Dave.
6:12 PM Dec 7th
 
sansho1
Eric Show, Dave. :)
4:26 PM Dec 7th
 
DaveFleming
On a moralistic side, which is worse: taking cocaine or taking steroids?

I think it has to be cocaine. Cocaine addiction killed a LOT of people. It's killed a lot of players: Eric Snow, Caminiti, Tommy Hanson. There is no net positive about cocaine, no way to justify it. It doesn't make you a better athlete, it doesn't help the team. Using cocaine is a centrally selfish act.

Steroids aren't good, either, but they don't have the body count that cocaine can claim. And there is some positive for taking it: the drug does help you play baseball better. So the ends, at least, are not purely selfish: you can toss out the justification that you are 'doing it for the team.'

We forgive Tim Raines because we understand that drugs are addictive, and because there was a culture of tolerance....'everyone was doing it.'

Why isn't the same forgiveness granted steroid users. Steroids are addictive, and there was a clear culture of tolerance around steroids. So how come we aren't ready to forgive?

I think rtayatay actually hit the nail on the head: we don't forgive the steroid users because they ruined the record books. As small a point as that is, the steroid era collectively undermined the long arc of baseball's history.
2:06 PM Dec 7th
 
DaveFleming
Well...as a few people have pointed out....just because we KNOW that using cocaine isn't a good long-term way to be better at baseball doesn't mean that the players using cocaine weren't motivated, at least in part, by the possibility that it would improve their playing.

Just because Tim Raines retrospectively views the cocaine as a handicap doesn't mean that his intentions weren't to gain an advantage over other players.

Again, this is a debate of 'ends' versus 'means.' If you believe that the problem with steroid users is that they were trying to gain a competitive advantage, that's an issue of 'means.' The crime is the intention to gain an unfair competitive advantage.

If your issue is centrally about the ends...if you believe that the problem with steroids is that they worked, when stuff like cocaine or whiskey shots probably didn't work...then Tim Raines' coke habit isn't a fair comparable to the the steroid players.
1:56 PM Dec 7th
 
pbspelly
What seems more problematic to me, from a consistency standpoint, is why someone might vote against steroid users but is all in favor of someone like Gaylord Perry being in the Hall of Fame. Why are some forms of cheating deemed acceptable-if-you-can-get-away-with-it, while other forms, such as steroids, are unacceptable even if you never got caught (i.e players tarnished by mere suspicion, such as Piazza or, some would say, Clemens).
11:16 AM Dec 7th
 
pbspelly
Equating steroids with cocaine is really quite ridiculous, if you ask me. One is taken with the deliberate intent of illicitly gaining an on-field advantage. The other is a personal failing and addiction that, by nearly all accounts, makes it harder to succeed at sports. Tim Raines is actually quoted as saying he was "playing with a handicap" when he was on cocaine. Holding cocaine use against a ballplayer is more akin to holding alcoholism against them. We'd have to kick Paul Waner out of the Hall of Fame for sneaking shots of whiskey in the dugout. Maybe it calmed his nerves and helped him relax at the plate, but he wasn't doing it to gain an advantage over all the teetotalers.
11:04 AM Dec 7th
 
ventboys
Dave, what you are describing is not 'consistent' thinking, it's 'simplistic' thinking. Why don't we think simplistically? Well, hopefully the writers who vote for the MVP can use their brains to think critically on more than one level. I really hope you aren't actually complaining about this.... why in the world would anyone want the world to be judged by simpletons who can't think past simplistic, blanket characterizations?
12:45 PM Dec 6th
 
bearbyz
I couldn't be consistent punishing my daughter, because she started to weigh the punishment and think was it worth doing this and having this punishment. So my wife and I had to change the consequences of her actions depending on what she did.
11:53 AM Dec 6th
 
rtayatay
Well, edit that to include even more importantly Aaron's home run record. Remember the fun of watching that chase? Aaron became symbolic as someone who through quiet consistency beat Ruth. So, we have to replace Aaron with Bonds... no one liked that.
11:18 PM Dec 5th
 
rtayatay
From my perspective, steroids became bad mostly because Barry Bonds broke the new home run record, was messing up our nice neat stat books with his crazy numbers, and was viewed as a jerk.

I mean, if we're talking consistency, you should be equally ticked at Barry Bonds and Andy Pettite, right?

To me, steroids weren't hated because it was cheating - they were hated because they were messing up baseball's history.
10:57 PM Dec 5th
 
OldBackstop
Okay, I missed a lot, but the debate came back around to cocaine. Pass it here.

Cocaine is a helluva drug. There is no way that in at least some people, at some usage level, in some situations, the rush of confidence, euphoria and well-being does not improve athletic performance. In other people, at other usage levels, in other situations, it may not, particularly in that the effects may peak five minutes to 30 minutes after snorting and wear off in as undependable a fashion. This isn't made in a GMP Merck plant, what someone ingests might be cut with speed or many other powders. Milner tells stories of doing lines in clubhouse bathroom stalls in the middle of the game...it wasn't because it was making him see three balls and strike out absurdly. It was because it made him feel like Superman + Jesus + Mick Jagger. For a time, sometimes. And it was wearing off. Raines wasn't carrying the infamous vial and snorting during games because it made him steal the wrong base. He collected a bunch of All Star appearances and Black Inks during those years. Collected them, possibly, from someone.

Keith Hernandez, snitch, says he took cocaine from 1980-1982, but I did see references to him taking it during 1979. So what happened then? Hernandez bats .228 during the second half of '78, .255 on the year. At that point he was a known entity...five years in the majors, 2000 plate appearances. For his career he is slashing .274/.362/.419/.781. No all star appearances, no MVP votes. You guys know how that guy should perform the next year.

In 1979, he slashes .344/.417.513/.930 and wins the MVP, NL batting title, All Star, leads the league in doubles and runs scored,. The next year, when he says he used "massive amounts of cocaine", he slashes .321/.408/.494/.902, plus career highs (heh) in HRs and SBs. Hernandez has six Black Inks -- five from those two years. (Years later he led the league once in walks.)

Coke is like a beautiful woman with the clap, it wears you down. Hernandez reports wakening with "a bloody nose and the shakes." Yeah, like he didn't go do a bump that day to get to the game. Liar.

Now somewhere below somebody says something to the effect that it wasn't cheating it was just...blah blah, something. What it was was STEALING. He stole records. An MVP. An All Star appearance from somebody. The credit for leading the league in those categories. A batting title from...gdamnit, Pete Rose, but you get my point. Those distinctions mean money, son. Maybe he stole a job...a no speed, no power first baseman has some serious career issues if he hits .228 as Hernandez did the second half of 1978.
8:00 PM Dec 5th
 
DaveFleming
Well...not to make this a Tim Raines/cocaine debate, but my thinking aligns with sansho1. Cocaine was used to enhance everything....to enhance what it was like to go to Studio 54, to enhance what it was like to listen to the Bee-Gees, to enhance what it was like to vote for Jimmy Carter....why is it so silly to assume that Raines used cocaine between innings with the idea that it would improve his performance on the field?

I don't think it helped, and I think Raines realized it wasn't helping and got help. But that doesn't mean his intention doesn't parallel the intentions of steroid users.

And if he WAS using cocaine recreationally....if he was just doing the stuff because he liked it, and it was the 70's, and damn-the-consequences...shouldn't we have a bigger issue with THAT than we do with players who used steroids to play baseball better?

At least the steroid users were trying to play better...if Raines was using illegal substances for entirely selfish reasons, isn't that a greater sin than the players who used illegal substances because they wanted to play better?

Which is more damaging to the 'integrity' of the game: using an illegal drug that limits performance because you just don't care, or using an illegal drug because you want to play the game better?
3:54 PM Dec 5th
 
MarisFan61
.....which, I ought to add, doesn't mean it isn't of interest and well said. :-)
Sure, that's the argument against the validity of the view. But what I noted doesn't depend on convincing any of you about it. Just realize that "cheating" and "morality" aren't the only reasons to keep one from regarding a record like Palmeiro's as particularly impressive.
11:43 AM Dec 5th
 
MarisFan61
Mbryan: Just wanted to make sure you realize that what you're saying has nothing to do with what I said. :-)

(It doesn't.)

You're trying to show or argue that my view isn't valid.
All I was saying was that the view EXISTS, and that your post (as well as others) didn't seem to realize it; you seemed to think that the concern about PED effects on performance was only from other directions.
10:48 AM Dec 5th
 
sansho1
Wait a minute...we're told all the time that elite athletes will do anything in their power to enhance their performance, but all of a sudden it's not a reasonable inference that they were using COCAINE as a performance-enhancer, because the '70s? As anybody who has been through the wringer will tell you, coke is very much a performance enhancer until it becomes a performance detractor, and heavy users all start out believing they'll know where to draw the line (pun). The one time in my life I used cocaine was as a performance enhancer, and let me tell you some furniture got moved that day. Performance enhancement is cocaine's allure, and its logic is that of an addict, not an analyst.
10:40 AM Dec 5th
 
mrbryan
MarisFan61:

The idea that there is some level of "real" performance which is obscured by PED use draws an arbitrary line, doesn't it? Is it "real" performance if the player is able to spend the off-season working out with a trainer instead of selling insurance or operating a bowling alley? Is it "real" performance if players work out with weights? How about if a pitcher has surgery that wasn't available in previous generations? Or if a player becomes ill and survives because of modern medicine - should we not count their achievements, because in "real" life they are dead?

The performance on the field is "real." It happened. The game of "what if" knows no limits. If you want to discount players based upon suspected PED use, why not discount them based on suspected scuffing of pitches, corked bats, stolen signs, amphetamines... How about the other side of it - if a great player has a career ruined by drugs or injuries, should we reduce the performance of their opponents, to account for the "real" skills of their opponent?
9:58 AM Dec 5th
 
evanecurb
I'm a longtime O's fan. Eddie Murray is probably my second favorite player of all time, behind only my boyhood idol, Frank Robinson. I didn't pick up on the comparison Dave was using between Steady Eddie and Raffy before he revealed it, but I think it makes a great point. Raffy was a very steady player, one of the best hitters in the AL for 15 years or so. Palmeiro and Alomar were the Orioles' two best position players during their 1996-97 run (along with Brady Anderson, at least in '96). That team had a legitimate shot to win it all. Lost to the Yankees in '96 and the Indians in '97. No shame in that.

The biggest difference between Murray and Raffy is that no one, during the time in which they played, ever said that Palmeiro was in the conversation of Best Player in Baseball, of Best Player in the AL. But Murray was in that conversation, from about 1979 till about 1986 or so. Schmidt, Parker, Henderson, Murray, Ripken, Sandberg, Murphy, Mattingly, Boggs and a few others. Murray wasn't ever THE number one guy, but he was often in the top five and occasionally the top ten. This is reflected in the difference between their number of all-star appearances: 8 for Eddie, 4 for Raffy.
9:10 AM Dec 5th
 
DaveFleming
First, I am grateful for any comparison to Ralph Waldo. He's the best.

Segundo: it's clear that Tim Raines isn't a useful example, and I think that might have derailed things more than is useful. I absolutely think he should be in the Hall, and I think he should be commended for the way that he tackled his addiction directly, and publically.

Third-a-rico: I'm intrigued by Matt Goodrich's question ("What defines a bad PED versus a good one?") I would layer it with another question, which is WHEN steroids became bad. Were they bad in 1986, when baseball didn't have them on the 'banned' list? Did they instantly become 'bad' when baseball added them in 1991 but didn't test, or did they become bad when the testing was implimented in 2003, when the players finally agreed that it WAS bad?

And: are steroids somehow worse than amphetamines, which HOF'ers Schmidt and Gossage have admitted to using, and Stargell and Mays are rumored to have used?
1:42 AM Dec 5th
 
rgregory1956

Matt, it is a muddy line between good and bad drugs. I think the FDA line is a reasonable one, but there are "buts" to that line as well. Sudafed for a cold? Good drug. Sudafed for meth? Bad drug. Ritalin for ADHD? Good drug. Ritalin so students can cram for finals? Bad drug. Andro pre-2000? Good drug. Andro post-2000? Bad drug. Occasional use of codeine-based pain medication for my cancer? Good drug. Abusive use of codeine-based pain medication for my occasional discomfort? Bad drug.

I'd assume for most people it's a legality issue, as opposed to a morality issue. But even that line is muddy, because some legal drugs are given a wink-and-a-nod to. Before my daughter turned 21, I didn't go all crazy when she'd have a cocktail. As long as she was responsable, having a drink or two in a safe environment and not getting behind the wheel of her car, I didn't say too much. Even tho she's now 25 and married, if I found out she got behind the wheel after a few drinks, I'd admonish her (understanding that it would have little impact). Same with baseball and PEDs for me. I'm somewhat "forgiving" of pre-2005 users, as it was in its wink-and-a-nod phase. Post-2005, I am much less forgiving. Since Dave brought up consistentcy in this article, perhaps I should admit that my opinion might not be particularly consistent by someone else's definition of consistent.
1:28 AM Dec 5th
 
rgregory1956


I forgot to say thanks, Dave, for the Gallery Of Renown plug. So......thanks. If any new to BJOL member has any interest, it's under a thread labeled "2016 gor". I am of course partial to the GOR, but I think it's an interesting way to look at the Hall. New members are encouraged to comment, discuss AND vote. Well, long-time members are also encouraged to do the same too.


12:59 AM Dec 5th
 
MattGoodrich
What defines a bad PED versus a good one? Cortisone seems to be acceptable. What about Claritin? Caffeine? Alcohol? I believe Advil makes me a tiny bit better of a softball player (damn my creaky body). Does that make me a cheater? When does a drug become unacceptable?

12:39 AM Dec 5th
 
rgregory1956

Re: Kirby Puckett. My brother lived in Minneapolis in the 1980s and early 1990s. I'd visit him at least once or twice a year and we'd take in a game or two. After the release of stories about PEDs in the Olympics and tennis and other sports in the early '80s, John and I assumed that eventually they'd show up in baseball. The first player we suspected (and that's all it was: suspicion) was Kirby. We talked a lot about how his body "changed" from his rookie season to what it became. It was obvious to two aware fans, if not particularly knowledgeable about the subject fans.


11:30 PM Dec 4th
 
mauimike
Barry Bonds, named hitting coach for the Miami Marlins. Mark McGwire, named bench coach for the San Diego Padres. Baseball is forgetting....
11:28 PM Dec 4th
 
rgregory1956

Dave, you seem (by implication) to assume consistency is the same as rigidity in following one path, one set of criteria. As a long-time parent, I found every situation called for a different set of "rules". And so too it is with baseball. Case in point: the Cabrera-Trout MVP votes. You seem to think it's an either/or situation. It's gotta be either Traditional Stats OR Advanced Metrics. I think most of us here on BJOL see it as Traditional Stats AND Advanced Metrics (with other factors, like Team Success, added in as well) when we make out our mock MVP votes.
11:19 PM Dec 4th
 
mauimike
Does anyone remember reading that Bucky F**king Dent, did some cocaine, before that famous three run home run, in that 1978, 'play-in game' against the Red Sox. The famous 9 hole hitter, who 40 HR's in his 12 year career. Hits a 3 run bomb, during the biggest game of the year. He also won the MVP for the WS. Was he doing more than just playing between the 'white lines'?

Did Doc Ellis throw a no-hitter because he took LSD?

Are PED's good or bad. Do they help or hurt? We don't know and we'll never know, because we can't measure it. It's illegal or hidden. Why not bring it out into the open. Measure it. Test it. Long and short term. The players should be able to decide what they want to put into their bodies. And they will. And they do.

Everyone is guessing. No one knows. It shouldn't be a moral issue. It either works or it doesn't. Lets use science, not the Bible. Let it be the player's choice.


11:18 PM Dec 4th
 
MarisFan61
Evidence needs to be taken in the context in which it occurs, and in terms of its very nature.

Puckett's clear leap occurred at a time that we know (now, in retrospect) PED usage was beginning to occur in baseball, plus, it was an off-the-charts out-of-nowhere leap.

The Aaron example has none of that.
-- It was at a time that PED usage (such as what we're talking about here, which doesn't include amphetamines, although some people try to draw some equivalency) .....at a time that PED usage is not known to have been present in baseball (although I know that at least one guy, Tom House, has claimed it was). AND....
-- Aaron's late-career performance wasn't any kind of leap on the order of Puckett's, whatsoever -- especially if we take Aaron's reversed Park Factor into account, as Bill and many other have pointed out; plus, unlike Puckett's pattern, obviously it didn't come from nowhere. He was an established power hitter.
9:39 PM Dec 4th
 
MWeddell
MarisFan61, you asked about the Puckett example. My point with the examples were that one can't at the level of one player infer steroid use from the statistical record. If one thinks that sudden HR increases are strong evidence of steroid use, then one must believe that Phil Bradley and Kirby Puckett used steroids in the 1980s. If one believes that uncommon HR productivity late in one's career constitutes strong evidence of steroid use, then one must believe Henry Aaron used steroids circa 1970. One must end up concluding that a substantial number of players throughout baseball history used steroids if one thinks that steroid use can be inferred by unusual displays of home run power.
8:44 PM Dec 4th
 
MarisFan61
Mrbryan: "Cheating" isn't the only concern, and it's essentially no part of my concern.

You're far from the only one who casts it in that light. It seems that a lot of people just don't get (can't get?) that others might view PED-aided performance as simply not being real, in terms of what kind of player the guy 'really' was.

Sure, this could be criticized and mocked, from various directions, and it has been.
That doesn't take away from the legitimacy of seeing it that way. All it means is that you don't see it that way.
4:51 PM Dec 4th
 
evanecurb
"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."

---R.W. Emerson

"Being consistent is hard."

--D. Fleming

The point about child-rearing is a good one. There are contexts in which consistency is important. I question whether or not consistency of criteria is a prerequisite for selecting MVPs and Hall of Famers. These are awards with subjective criteria, and subjective criteria is something that I associate with inconsistent application.
4:40 PM Dec 4th
 
mrbryan
As always, the dismay which PEDs causes people baffles me. The notion that these players were "cheaters" and somehow should be dishonored is ridiculous to me. They came, they played, they departed. We are left with the record of what they did on the field. Everything else is beside the point. The conditions of the game when they played, as established by the owners of the teams, were such that the players were allowed to conduct the game in this manner. To complain about it, to call them bad actors, is like saying that Babe Ruth cheated because he started hitting home runs when that wasn't the point of the game, or that his home runs that bounced into the stands shouldn't count because they would be doubles today.

The games happened. The players played in conditions that allowed them to amass the numbers they amassed. It wasn't a moral failing that they did. It wasn't some sort of sin against the game itself. It's not like today we have a better class of citizens playing baseball than we did during the Steroid Era. To pretend that there was a generation of evil and dishonor is ridiculous and utterly lacking in context.
4:32 PM Dec 4th
 
Gfletch
Dave, it is unfortunate that the examples you used to explain your general point have become the focus of all these comments.

I like your main point - we should all try to be at least reasonably consistent. Good article.

ps, tangotiger is exactly right about Raines / cocaine / 1982.
4:25 PM Dec 4th
 
MarisFan61
P.S. If I could edit my below comment I would.
Dave, in fairness I see that you did indicate it with some doubt.
So, my apology.
2:56 PM Dec 4th
 
MarisFan61
Another thing you're putting a lot of stock in (WAY too much): The certainty of what you think you know about patterns in which steroids may work. You're assuming a certain limited spectrum of possibility -- and you're wrong. Even if you don't want to believe that, what can be said for sure is that you have no basis for the confidence in your belief that you seem to be indicating. At best, all you can say along those lines is "I think" and "maybe."
2:54 PM Dec 4th
 
tangotiger
"Tim Raines admitted to using cocaine during games....we can reasonably infer that he was doing to play better, even if it didn't really help. "

No, that's not a reasonable inference.

In any case, Raines came out after the 1982 season (his worst season), and went into rehab himself. He says it was in 1982 only, and he's been clean since.

For those who don't know the story, here it is:
raines30.com/c48.shtml
2:54 PM Dec 4th
 
DaveFleming
Well...we know of many cases when a player took steroids and saw a sizeable jump in their statistical performance. Brady Anderson hitting 50 homers. Ken Caminiti's MVP season, etc. A lot of those guys couldn't maintain their level of ability: they peaked and crashed.

This fits with how steroids biologically work: they give you a short-term boost in performance by increasing testosterone, but you can't maintain that boost: you eventually crash. Either your body exhausts itself from an overreliance on higher-than-normal rates of testosterone, or something breaks and you hit the DL.

Raffy never crashed. He never went on the DL. He played almost every single game from 1988 until 2005. He missed NO time, ever. And his performance over that period was absolutely steady: he didn't ever show a noteable decline in performance.

It is possible, I suppose, that he got on an effective drug plan and stuck with it for sixteen seasons....it is possible that he avoided the tempatations to abuse that derailed the likes of Caminiti....but it seems more likely, at least to me, that he was just a good player who peaked a bit late, and used steroids near the end in a dumb attempt to chase 3000 hits/500 homers.

Phrased differently: I put a lot of stock in his jump in offense to a) context changes, and b) him being a late-power guy (like Evans and Bautista). Maybe steroids were a part of it, but unless someone can prove he was doping for most of sixteen consecutive seasons, I'll give him credit for the career he had.
2:44 PM Dec 4th
 
MarisFan61
+1 to the comment below.
I never before saw or heard of cocaine being used as a performance enhancer.
Bill, in one of the old annual Abstracts, did think out loud about the possibility that the drugs of that moment (he wasn't including amphetamines, and steroids weren't part of the discussion at that time although some people now say their use was well-known; they're wrong) ..... the possibility that the drugs of that moment might improve performance rather than impair it. It seemed to me he was referring mainly to coke, and that he wasn't hypothesizing that it did enhance performance, nor was he indicating that anyone said it did. He was just saying we can't assume that it doesn't.​
2:37 PM Dec 4th
 
mskarpelos
I don't believe any ballplayer snorted coke with the intention of improving his on-field performance. If you can reference an article where Raines said he did, I'd like to see it. Amphetamines are different, but as far as I know they were not banned at that time.

How old are you Dave? Are you old enough to remember the 1970s first hand. I remember the 1970s but without nostalgia. The 1970s had all the self-indulgence of the 1960s without any of the idealism. It was all about snorting coke, gratuitous sex, and partying all night at Studio 54. It was a time of decadence and nihilism and lots of people with fame and money--including ballplayers--got caught up in the prevailing ethos. Nobody was trying to improve their batting eye by snorting cocaine, I can assure you of that.

For the record, I don't think we should let PED use (suspected or proven) preclude anyone from getting into the HOF. There are proven or suspected PED users whom I would vote into the HOF before Palmeiro, but eventually he deserves to have his record evaluated on its merit alone. I believe that is what will happen in the long run. Will Clark will have to live with that.
2:32 PM Dec 4th
 
MarisFan61
Dave: That's not right about fitting or not fitting the pattern of long-term users. What you're saying is that it doesn't fit the pattern of certain known long-term users. But you have no basis for thinking that's the only way PED's could affect the arc of a career; in fact, it is often said that PED's could be a reason or the reason that some players of that era were able to sustain their effectiveness over such long periods.

This is another thing (yet another thing!) where the tendency to view something in just 1 manner, when in fact it's likely to be multi-modal, gets in the way of understanding what's going on. This applies to concepts of how PED's affect a career arc, it applies to MVP voting.....and potentially it applies to how we approach stuff with kids, on which I think you ought to give yourself more of a break and even a big pat on the back. Your behavior recognized that in order to be consistently good and appropriate, there are different ways at different times -- although intellectually you were afraid you weren't being consistent or good.
1:30 PM Dec 4th
 
MarisFan61
MWeddell: I'm surprised you used Puckett as any kind of example of what you were talking about. He's one of the very easiest players to look at his record and say when it looks like he started benefiting from PED's (which, granted, is a little different than how you put it, which was "started using" them, but which is what I think you meant).
1:24 PM Dec 4th
 
MarisFan61
OldBackstop: You should expand that thing about effects of cocaine on social effectiveness into a much larger piece. :-)

Mskarpelos: Just wanted to make sure you don't think (it seems maybe you do) that the least-favorable assessment of Palmeiro without PED's is that he would have been "no better than Will Clark." To me, it's close to certain that without PED's he would have been a far lesser player than Will Clark. (Unless of course Will Clark took and benefited significantly from PED's too; I'm talking about Palmeiro-minus-PED's vs. Clark as he was.)
1:22 PM Dec 4th
 
DaveFleming
Clarifying that a bit: whether or not the PED worked is besides the point if you are keeping players out for moral reasons. If, however, you're view is that Raffy's numbers are enhanced by using steroids, then it does matter whether or not steroids enhance performance. So Raines wouldn't be a fair comparable, but Mays and Stargell might be.

One potential defense is that Palmeiro seemed to 'last'. A lot of the known steroid guys had short or inconsistent careers: Caminiti, Canseco, even Mac, I suppose. Raffy had a staggeringly steady career....he was never injured, never missed time. That doesn't really fit with the career arcs of long-term users.
12:49 PM Dec 4th
 
MWeddell
At the level of the individual player, one can't conclude if or when a player began using steroids. It can't be done. Human variation in performance for other reasons is too great to assume that any of us can with confidence attribute changes in HR output to steroid use.

If you don't believe me, look at Kirby Puckett's or Phil Bradley's career records, paying attention to annual HR totals, and tell me when and if those guys used steroids. Look at Hank Aaron's career record (although there's a favorable ballpark change in there too) and tell me why his longevity differs from Palmeiro's.

We've all read hundreds, probably over a thousand, of blog posts accusing players of steroid use based only statistics. I've yet to read one that is convincing. To me, it is likely (despite Raffy's denials) that he used steroids when he failed a drug test and we don't know when the steroid usage began.
12:46 PM Dec 4th
 
DaveFleming
Well....whether or not amphetamines or cocaine actually helped performance is besides the point. Players took amphetamines thinking it would improve their performance. Tim Raines admitted to using cocaine during games....we can reasonably infer that he was doing to play better, even if it didn't really help. The sin is in the act, not the result.
12:43 PM Dec 4th
 
mskarpelos
You didn't mention Will Clark as a comp for Palmeiro in the article, but I've read other articles--maybe written by Bill, I can't remember--which effectively (in my view) argue that Palmeiro without steroids is no better than Will Clark. Clark was a fine ball player, but he played in pitchers parks for much of his career, and he didn't enjoy the late career surge that steroids likely gave to Palmeiro, so his raw stats are significantly behind Palmeiro's, but with reasonable adjustments, the argument has merits. As for Raines and Hernandez use of cocaine, I'm not convinced that it gave them any kind of performance advantage. I haven't heard anyone claim that cocaine had any kind of health/performance benefits, at least not since the 1970s when a lot of people who should have known better were proponents of cocaine use. If you've seen peer-reviewed medical studies to the contrary, I'd be astonished, although I would certainly read them.
11:17 AM Dec 4th
 
Jack
Prompted by mradican, I took a look at Palmeiro's homerun rates throughout his career, which can be broken up into four distinct periods:

1. 1986-90, age 21-25: 47 HR in 2234 PA, one homerun per 47.5 PA

2. 1991-92, age 26-27: 48 HR in 1415 PA, one homerun per 29.5 PA

3. 1993-2003, age 28-38: 433 HR in 7324 PA, one homerun per 16.9 PA

4. 2004-05, age 39-40: 41 HR in 1073 PA, one homerun per 26.2 PA

(I also looked at Palmeiro's teams' home ballpark homerun factors:
www.fangraphs.com/guts.aspx?type=pf&season=1989&teamid=0
Palmeiro never played for a team with a homerun factor that was not greater than league average: Wrigley 1986-88, 111 to 120; Texas 1989-93, 102-104; Camden Yards 1994-98, 101-104; Texas 1999-2003, 103-107; Camden Yards 2004-05, 103. Definitely boosted his career homerun totals.

In period 1, as a young player in an extremely homerun-friendly park, Palmeiro put up middling power numbers. In period 2, approaching his prime, his homerun rate jumps, though not outrageously, in my view -- a number of left-handed hitters have had similar spikes in their homerun rates after age 25. Palmeiro might have been juicing by this time, but just as plausibly may have been clean.

In period 3, however, his homerun rate goes through the roof, and remains there through to his late 30s. No question in my mind that he was juicing throughout this period. As Bill has documented, the advantage gained by steroid use is, in effect, to tap into a fountain of youth and extend the athlete's prime. That's exactly what Palmeiro did.
10:31 AM Dec 4th
 
OldBackstop
On cocaine enhancing baseball performance...I would say the debate would be: Is baseball performance akin to the skill it takes in getting women back to your house (hugely beneficial) or more akin to then delivering a bowl of dick (not so much).
9:56 AM Dec 4th
 
OldBackstop
It is important to remember David Wells defense of his teammate:

[b]"Anybody who criticizes Rafael Palmiero can eat a bowl of dick."[;b]
9:47 AM Dec 4th
 
mradican
I seriously doubt that any physician would consider cocaine & amphetamine performance-enhancing drugs for a baseball player. Just a ludicrous statement.

I have been a Cubs fans since my family got cable TV back in the early/mid 80s. I remember they had Palmeiro playing the outfield (mostly LF cause he wasn't fast enough for CF and didn't have a particularly good arm for RF). They finally got rid of him by trading him (and Drew Hall and Jamie Moyer) to the Texas Rangers for Luis Benitez, Pablo Delgado, Paul Kilgus, Curt Wilkerson, Mitch Williams and Steve Wilson.
The reason was, as I remember it, that the Cubs already had Mark Grace at 1B. They didn't think Palmeiro hit enough to play a corner outfield position in Wrigley. It's pretty obvious IMO that he began taking steroids sometime in the period of 1990-1992.
9:20 AM Dec 4th
 
MWeddell
According to Jonah Keri's book Up, Up and Away, Raines quit cocaine after the 1982 season and it was affecting his play during 1982. Looking at his career record, it did seem to hurt his play.

It seems to me that cocaine might help some people, so I'm not sure that I'd always want to generalize that it is performance-detracting instead of performance-enhancing.
8:54 AM Dec 4th
 
TKissane
If you're measuring in units larger than hours -- years seems right for historical judgments -- isn't is pretty clear that cocaine is a performance-detracting drug?
7:19 AM Dec 4th
 
MWeddell
Rafael Palmeiro is the only serious Hall of Fame candidate (until Manny Ramirez becomes eligible) who was found to have used steroids after MLB made it clear that is was cheating. Speaking for myself, I don't believe I've been inconsistent in voting on this website for guys like Mark McGuire but not Palmeiro, especially given that I tend to vote for 10 other players.
7:12 AM Dec 4th
 
MarisFan61
.....I did look further, to see what you do go on to make of Palmeiro, rather enjoyed the personal part, then got to your complaint about the MVP voting.

I think you might understand and accept the seeming inconsistency of that MVP voting if you'd take a more open and forgiving look at the personal part above it, and think of the MVP voting in light of it!

You're "inconsistent" with the kids because different situations call for different things, different ways of looking at something. There's consistency within it: you're trying to do the best thing in each situation. I don't think it's inconsistent at all.

Why is it so hard to fathom that most MVP voters and most Hall of Fame voters, maybe unlike some or many of our members, co-existingly possess different ways of looking at different players? And what in the world would make you think that the only things working in their minds in favor of Miguel Cabrera are the things you're looking at on those other players? Why would you say it shows "inconsistency" if the order of their voting doesn't follow any single rigid dimension?

It doesn't.
All it shows is a flexibility in how they judge given players. Unlike some (many?) of the sabermetrically oriented, they simply don't look at the question in any standardized or single way, or on any single scale. That's not inconsistency. It's looking differently at apples and oranges.
4:33 AM Dec 4th
 
MarisFan61
I imagine that you guys must not particularly like it when I point out something at the top of the article that might bring readers to a halt. Nevertheless.... :-)

I think you've got a big little problem up there, when you're laying your foundation, that will indeed stop a lot of people in their tracks, make them wonder 'what's the thought process here," and do I want to go along with it further:

"By rate, Adam Dunn is the tenth most prolific homerun hitter in baseball history. Ryan Howard is 13th. Juan Gonzalez is 14th. None of these men are considered great players."
(bold emphasis added)

Juan Gonzalez is probably regarded by more people as a "great player" than is Palmeiro, and the main thing keeping even more from regarding him as a great player is exactly the same thing that keeps more from regarding Palmeiro as a great player and from getting excited over those numbers of his. If we were to gloss over that factor, as we pretty much have to if we're going to start looking with much interest at Palmeiro in terms of any possible greatness (and as you do seem to be doing, despite your mentioning it), then very many of us would probably regard Gonzalez as a great player. He won 2 MVP's, he won HR crowns in 2 other seasons (i.e. other than the MVP years), he had a superb post-season record.....

Maybe there aren't many other people who just lose interest in going along further when they see something like that right in the intro. But at the least, I'd bet that a goodly portion of readers will wonder about the thought process that's going on here.
4:12 AM Dec 4th
 
 
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