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Thread: The Omnibus Steroid/HGH Discussion Thread

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    The Omnibus Steroid/HGH Discussion Thread

    Ok, lot's of discussion about steroids/HGH in lots of threads, so I thought I would try to itemize all the issues of discussion into a single thread. This also makes it easier for those who want to avoid the continual steroid discussions, since they can just skip this thread. Here is what I think the issues in dispute are in no particular order:

    1) How much evidence is needed for a RedsZone poster to allege steroid use by a player? (This is a morality rather than rules or law based questions)

    2) How much evidence is needed before a player can be punished for steroid use? (This is a Ryan Braun type issue)

    3) What is the appropriate punishment by MLB for a steroid user?

    4) What is role of the fan concerning the whole steroid issue?

    5) How much of a threat was/are steroids to professional baseball? (This would include the discussion of the effect steroids had on game play)

    6) Should we look at the stats from the steroid era differently?

    7) Did any Reds ever take steroids?

    Can anyone think of any others I am missing?

    (I am now going to reply to this with my thoughts on some of these issues, but they should be separate from this intro thread)

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    Re: The Omnibus Steroid/HGH Discussion Thread

    1. Fans alleging usage is a pretty slippery slope. I guess common sense comes in to play here. I had a friend in the mid 90's who called Ron Gant "Ronnie Roids." Gant's physical explosion was probably enough to raise some red flags.

    2. I think circumstantial evidence is OK. It's not a court of law.

    3. 162 games first offense. Lifetime ban second offense.

    4. I think the role is pretty clear... Fans don't like it. The guilty have been permanently scarred and the innocent have been cast in a shadow of doubt. The fans fuel the intensity with which the users are persued.

    5. It's a threat. Not enough to totally take the game down like gambling would, but in a sport where records are revered it has really hurt. In 1998 I was glued to the HR chase... Now I don't care at all about HR numbers.

    6. You have to.

    7. Yes.

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    Re: The Omnibus Steroid/HGH Discussion Thread

    Issue 1: How much evidence is needed for a RedsZone poster to allege steroid use by a player? (This is a morality rather than rules or law based questions)


    This is the issue that has been getting the most play on Redszone lately so I guess that is why I want to talk about it first.

    First, full disclosure, I am a law professor/retired lawyer, so that is going to color my opinions.

    Second, I think the law gets misunderstood a lot. For example, the phrase "innocent until proven guilty" is often misapplied. This concept means that the government cannot punish an individual without first giving them the due process of law to determine their guilt. It has no application outside of the government. The Patriots are free to fire Hernandez even though he has yet to be found guilty by a court. You are free to stop sending your child to a day care after you hear only a rumor of child molestation.

    Third, as a I stated, this is not a legal but really a moral question. When is it shameful for us to accuse a player of steroids? This is a standard we ultimately all have to figure out for ourselves, I guess. Case in point: Is it shameful for a poster to ask the steroids question regarding Chris Davis?
    For me, although I do not think he used or is using, I think the question should absolutely be asked. As a fan I want to change the MLB culture. I want players to scorn players that use steroids. I want Chris Davis, if he is clean, to get angry at the allegations. However, I don't want his anger to be at the media or the fans, I want him to be angry at the players and culture that accepted steroid use to the point where he, an innocent, must pay for their offenses. I want to empower Chris Davis to take a stand in the locker room. If he sees a teammate using steroids, I want Chris Davis to get in that guys face and say "Cut that Sh** out, because what you are doing affects ME and my legacy." I want the players to hate steroids/HGH because of the public honor it costs them by association.

    As Bob Costas pointed out last night on the MLB broadcast, the culture is starting to change. I think continuing to ask the steroids question any time a player shows an unusual surge in power or muscle growth helps support that change... especially if that player is innocent.

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    Re: The Omnibus Steroid/HGH Discussion Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Brisco View Post
    Is it shameful for a poster to ask the steroids question regarding Chris Davis?
    For me, although I do not think he used or is using, I think the question should absolutely be asked. As a fan I want to change the MLB culture. [...]
    As Bob Costas pointed out last night on the MLB broadcast, the culture is starting to change. I think continuing to ask the steroids question any time a player shows an unusual surge in power or muscle growth helps support that change... especially if that player is innocent.
    Great thread, first of all. It is hard for these issues not to get all tangled up when we discuss them, so this adds a great deal of clarity to the debate.

    Most of my issue has to do with #1 (surprise, surprise).

    First, I think, after much back-and-forth with different posters on this site, that I do actually agree that the question can get asked -- and is actually pretty unavoidable.

    Second, the main pivot point in your write-up is the word "should." When should the steroid question get asked?

    It's a slippery slope, IMO. Physical or anecdotal evidence is one thing. If a guy fails a test, or if another player or a trainer says he saw him shoot up, or if needles or "The Cream" are found in his gym locker (or whatever) then I would say the guy's probably fair game for all sorts of speculation -- like it or lump it.

    My problem comes when people start getting into statistical analysis as a way to try to ferret out the "users" from "non-users." Of course, not all of this speculation is created equal. The Chris Davis thread is at this point far more specific and detail-oriented than the Yadier Molina one -- which basically just flew out of control very quickly based on Cardinal hate and sketchy-at-best information. But to me, in general, questioning whether or not players used on an internet message board doesn't serve much purpose other than grinding the gossip mill, in most cases unnecessarily, and in some cases objectionably.

    I would be interested in what your thoughts are on this.
    Last edited by RedEye; 07-17-2013 at 04:07 PM.

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    Re: The Omnibus Steroid/HGH Discussion Thread

    Issues 3 & 6:

    3) What is the appropriate punishment by MLB for a steroid user?

    6) Should we look at the stats from the steroid era differently?


    I combined these two issues because I believe that we often discuss the proper length of suspensions but I do not think any length is sufficient to stop a player on the tail end of his career. If a player sees his skills declining and knows he is facing a roster cut next year if not this year, does a suspension (or even a ban) really act as a deterrent?

    Let's use Scott Rolen and this last offseason. Would a suspension or ban really be a deterrent to a player that knew the end was near? Isn't the possibility of a Bonds like second youth worth the risk of possibly losing what you have already lost?

    No, if anything stopped Scott Rolen it was his personal honor or legacy.

    Given that, I think we need to threaten legacies first and foremost. I think that if a player is actually caught using a banned substance enhancement then ALL of their career stats should appear in italics or similar manner. The legend would then say that this player was caught cheating so all his stats are suspect.

    I would also mandate that any player caught using a banned substance is also forever banned from the HoF and possibly even a given team's HoF.

    I would listen to an argument to expand this to batters caught with corked bats or any other form of persistent cheating that could not be caught by the most eagle-eyed of fans.

    You take away a player's legacy you create a very powerful deterrent.

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    Re: The Omnibus Steroid/HGH Discussion Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by RedEye View Post
    Great thread, first of all. It is hard for these issues not to get all tangled up when we discuss them, so this adds a great deal of clarity to the discussion.

    Most of my issue has to do with #1 (surprise, surprise).

    First, I think, after much debate with different posters on this site, that I do actually agree that the question can get asked -- and is actually pretty unavoidable.

    The main pivot point in your write-up is the word "should." When should the steroid question get asked?

    It's a slippery slope, IMO. Physical or anecdotal evidence is one thing. If a guy fails a test, or if another player or a trainer says he saw him shoot up, or if needles or "The Cream" are found in his gym locker (or whatever) then I would say the guy's probably fair game for all sorts of speculation -- like it or lump it.

    My problem comes when people start getting into statistical analysis as a way to try to ferret out the "users" from "non-users." Of course, not all of this speculation is created equal. The Chris Davis thread is at this point far more specific and detail-oriented than the Yadier Molina one -- which basically just flew out of control very quickly based on Cardinal hate and sketchy-at-best information. But to me, in general, questioning whether or not players used on an internet message board doesn't serve much purpose other than grinding the gossip mill, in most cases unnecessarily, and in some cases objectionably.

    I would be interested in what your thoughts are on this.
    I guess I would say that asking the question/making the allegation crosses the line into shameful once it is primarily motivated by anything other than your suspicion of the player.

    In your Molina example, if the allegations are primarily motivated by animosity either personal or team based, then they are probably inappropriate.

    I think the test would be, if you had the exact same evidence on your favorite player, would you be as quick to make the allegation/ask the question? If the answer is yes, then in the current environment I do not think you asking the question is shameful, even if I disagree on the sufficiency of your evidence.

    Said another way... if a poster is convinced the use of illegal enhancements is so prevalent that he suspects every player in baseball, I may disagree with him, I may think he is making a very broad generalization,...but I cannot call his suspicion shameful.

    Then again... if he only suspects the opponents? Yeah, I can see some shame in that.

    It all comes down to motive I guess.

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    Re: The Omnibus Steroid/HGH Discussion Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Brisco View Post
    I guess I would say that asking the question/making the allegation crosses the line into shameful once it is primarily motivated by anything other than your suspicion of the player.

    In your Molina example, if the allegations are primarily motivated by animosity either personal or team based, then they are probably inappropriate.

    I think the test would be, if you had the exact same evidence on your favorite player, would you be as quick to make the allegation/ask the question? If the answer is yes, then in the current environment I do not think you asking the question is shameful, even if I disagree on the sufficiency of your evidence.

    Said another way... if a poster is convinced the use of illegal enhancements is so prevalent that he suspects every player in baseball, I may disagree with him, I may think he is making a very broad generalization,...but I cannot call his suspicion shameful.

    Then again... if he only suspects the opponents? Yeah, I can see some shame in that.

    It all comes down to motive I guess.
    Leaving aside the adjective "shameful" for a moment though, isn't there a basic logical problem with claiming that x (statistical pattern of some sort) = y (PED use)? It seems to me to be extremely difficult to develop a statistical litmus test that is reliable enough to warrant suspicion any more than the basic maxims we already knew before trying -- that we are "living in the steroid era" and hence "no one is beyond suspicion." In other words, a lot of noise signifying nothing...
    Last edited by RedEye; 07-17-2013 at 04:46 PM.
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    Re: The Omnibus Steroid/HGH Discussion Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by RedEye View Post
    Leaving aside the adjective "shameful" for a moment though, isn't there a basic logical problem with claiming that x (statistical pattern of some sort) = y (PED use)?
    My only objection to the whole thing. Speculate and cast stones all you want, see what I care. Just don't kid yourself into thinking there's something scientific about any of this. PED = mx + b is the sabermetric age stretched to comically unrealistic, self-serving lengths.

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    Re: The Omnibus Steroid/HGH Discussion Thread

    7. Yes the East Germans in particular were known for their steroid program.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/26/sp...ted=all&src=pm
    One case was so bad the woman ultimately got a sex change operation
    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2...e=joyce/080822

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    Re: The Omnibus Steroid/HGH Discussion Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by RedEye View Post
    Leaving aside the adjective "shameful" for a moment though, isn't there a basic logical problem with claiming that x (statistical pattern of some sort) = y (PED use)? It seems to me to be extremely difficult to develop a statistical litmus test that is reliable enough to warrant suspicion.
    They say the two greatest liars are statisticians and lawyers. : )

    Jaded folks are much more likely to jump to conclusions. If you think their jadedness is justified, then you have to have to be a little more accepting of the consequences.

    (Warning... off topic meandering starts here)

    Folks are pretty jaded concerning baseball players and steroid use at this point. Too many folks that made very public and adamant denials have been caught. Now that I type that, I think this is what makes it much more of an issue. I think we are jaded because we realize that we cannot trust any of them to tell the truth any longer. The only ones talking have turned out to be liars. Even after they cheated and then publicly lied about it, the baseball world welcomed them back. The culture became: if you aren't cheating you aren't trying, and deny, deny, deny, if you are caught.

    So far, those with some level of honor have kept their mouth shut and looked away. They are not sufficiently empowered to stand up. They are like the good cop in a corrupt precinct. If they stand up they are a "rat" and ostracized.

    (We now return you to your regular programming)

    Then again, this could be just another motive argument... Perhaps in this case their motive is not that they dislike the player or team, but rather, being called on their (lack of) evidence, they are now picking and finding stats to justify their original position.

    Side note: Baseball is so like law because there is almost always evidence and precedent to support both sides of any argument.

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    Re: The Omnibus Steroid/HGH Discussion Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by klw View Post
    7. Yes the East Germans in particular were known for their steroid program.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/26/sp...ted=all&src=pm
    One case was so bad the woman ultimately got a sex change operation
    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2...e=joyce/080822
    Don't you realize that Communist's find the term "Red" to be derogatory and offensive? They now prefer to be called "Liberty-Challenged"


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    Re: The Omnibus Steroid/HGH Discussion Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Superdude View Post
    My only objection to the whole thing. Speculate and cast stones all you want, see what I care. Just don't kid yourself into thinking there's something scientific about any of this. PED = mx + b is the sabermetric age stretched to comically unrealistic, self-serving lengths.

    I see what you did there. Nice.
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    Re: The Omnibus Steroid/HGH Discussion Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Brisco View Post
    Don't you realize that Communist's find the term "Red" to be derogatory and offensive? They now prefer to be called "Liberty-Challenged"

    Not "publicly funded"?
    "Iíll kind of have a foot on the back of my own butt. Thatís just how I do things.Ē -- Bryan Price, 10/22/2013

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    Re: The Omnibus Steroid/HGH Discussion Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by texasdave View Post
    I see what you did there. Nice.
    Just in case anyone was skeptical about whether or not I passed eighth grade. Doubt no more.


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