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Hot wiz with is what you want from Tony Luke's
I seem to remember a statistic floating around a few years ago concerning starting pitchers going on 3-days rest in the postseason, and it wasn't pretty. As is often the case, though, there wasn't much of a sample, but that didn't stop Tim McCarver from rambling on about how it isn't a good idea.
I think this is part of a bigger problem: the failure of teams to adequately measure strengths and weaknesses, and then make decisions that maximize the strengths while minimizing the weaknesses.
Take the Tigers. Justin Verlander is, without a doubt, one of the five or ten best starting pitchers in the majors. Rick Porcello is a solid youngster. From there, though, it gets ugly. Edwin Jackson had a good (and hit-lucky) first half, and now looks like the 4.50 ERA pitcher he used to be. I don't even know who the 4th starter would be. They're catching a break, in that the Yankees will certainly choose the extended LDS, allowing them to utilize a 3-man rotation.
But assume they win and make it to the ALCS: could they gamble and start Verlander 4 times, Porcello twice, and whomever else once? It seems that would give them their best chance at winning - I don't care what Jackson's SNWP is in '09, because it sticks out like a sore thumb compared to what he posted in '08, '07, and prior. Would throwing Verlander 4 times, on a loose-ish 100 pitch limit, within 10 or 11 days do irreperable damage to his arm? I don't know, I just wonder if there's ever a team smart enough to try something like that.
And you're right, in the sense that most businessmen, politicians, hell, most of us, adopt that attitude in life, that what matters is really whether you win or lose.
Why do we pretend to be surprised that baseball players share that attitude with us?
That's not what I'm saying at all. Cheating is not acceptable. What I'm criticizing is the hypocrisy in our perception of cheating.
We target people who do bad things that we're not guilty of, even though their sins are infrequent, and gloss over the things that we're all frequently guilty of.
Breaking a story about Sammy Sosa using steroids sells far newspapers than a similar story about FP Santangelo, or one about the rate at which average folks cheat on their taxes or their spouses. I would ask, though, which is a worse? This unbalanced media coverage creates the perception that some forms of cheating are worse (or better) than others. That isn't right.
I guess I sum up all of the steroid hysteria by saying this: most of the deeply held "morals" and "values" that we cite when condemning steroid use don't really stand up under scrutiny.
"It's cheating" - Yes, taking steroids is cheating. Players shouldn't cheat. But they do. They take steroids. They scuff baseballs. They use too much pine tar and cork their bats. Teams steal signs, and grounds crews probably elevate the pitcher's mound more to more than the legal height of ten inches. What's more, many of us cheat in real life, on our taxes, our spouses, or to get ahead at work, the consequences of which are far more severe than impacting a game.
"It sets a bad example for kids" - Yes, showing kids that they can get ahead by cheating isn't a good idea. However, kids still cheat on tests, buy term papers on the internet, and read cliff notes instead of the actual book. Furthemore, nearly every child probably has somebody amongst their parents group of family and friends who is a far worse role model, far closer to home, who has more of a potential impact on that child than some multi-millionare athlete does on TV.
"Taking drugs is bad" - Yes, abusing drugs is bad. It doesn't stop adults from drinking too much, smoking too much, abusing painkillers, to say nothing about illegal drug use. We also have mountains of legal drugs that create a culture of dependency - when you want something, take a drug for it!
"Steroids are bad for you" - Steroids do have negative health effects. So do the following: smoking, not exercising 30 minutes at least 5 times a week, a diet high in saturated fat, risky sexual behavior, never wearing a seatbelt. If I had to rank these things in order, based on their likelihood of threatening my child's health, steroids wouldn't be high on the list.
So enough already. Sosa shouldn't have taken steroids, but he did. Everyone else may have been doing it, but two wrongs don't make a right. Even still, it shouldn't surprise us very much that athletes who are in competition for literally tens of millions of dollars would do anything to gain a leg up on the competition. Some attorney with "knowledge of the list" has these 102 players ranked in terms of fame and notoriety. A-Rod was #1, Sosa was #2, it's an easy, soft news story for sportswriters to break.
I'm not sure there's a "correct" answer to that question, since any answer is going to be influenced heavily by one's point of view heading into the conversation.
I read a very good article, unfortunately I forget where, that cited several studies by physicists that suggest the strength or force needed to swing a bat or throw a baseball is actually derived from the lower half of one's body, and then countered that with medical evidence that suggests anabolic steroids overwhelmingly aid the upper half, but not the lower half, of one's body. This makes sense; when we say somebody's "bulked up", we're not looking at his legs.
So, a PED user may gain an extra MPH on his fastball, or a few extra feet of distance on a line drive, which does add up over the course of a season, but is nothing like the assumption we seem to subconsciously hold that steroids will turn a scrub into a bench player, a bench player into a good player, and a good player into an all-time great (statistically speaking, at least).
Obviously, if enough players play baseball for enough seasons, everything is bound to happen EVENTUALLY. There's always some fractional percentage, some statistical outlier, that suggests somebody will hit 62, 65, 73, or 78 home runs at some point in the future.
As for the home run barrage of the late '90s - early '00s, I blame (in order) - statistical peaking and trending (some eras favor offense, some favor pitching, for no especially good reason) - aggressive expansion within a short period of time (diluting the talent pool, temporarily, at least) - a concentration of very good hitters who coincidentally happen to be playing at the same time - and, perhaps, steroids.
In hindsight, I think the late '90s-early '00s was the perfect storm of statistical fluctation,
The real benefit of PEDs in baseball probably comes in the form of shortened recovery time needed for injuries, less fatigue, more of a "bounce-back" for day games following night games, and so on and so forth.