Saturday, May 13, 2006

Bonds: Steroids, Records and the Hall of Fame

I don't think there is a sports fan or casual observer out there who thinks it is okay for a player to take steroids. While I would agree, I would also argue that it is not fair to single out Bonds. First of all, let's look at the argument that after taking steroids in 1998, his stats took off. To start, we will look at the average stats before 1998 and compare them to rest of his career.

Prior to 1998 14550610414631910.2880.406
1998 on139432118140471070.3250.500

Just looking at these stats, it is easy to say that the steroids were the cause for the improved numbers. Bonds had fewer at bats, a higher batting average and more home runs from 1998 on than he did previously, but is that really what the numbers are telling us? Let's break the numbers down a little further.

1986 - 19901435209413823670.2630.356
1990 - 1995142484106150351050.3090.436
1996 - 2000144487117144401080.2940.434
2001 - 20051173379911743900.3370.527

To be sure, there is a jump in HR, AVE, and RBI from 1995 to 2000, but is it more significant than the jump from the first 5 years of his career to his second? His HR average improved by 50% in his second 5 years when he was not on steroids and only 15% during the 1996 - 2000 time period when he was supposed to be on steroids. Are these increases due to steroids or to Bonds just getting better?

It's tough to know, but the introduction of Jason Grimsley helps support the next argument; should we put an asterisk next to Bonds records? The obvious answer is no. To imagine that Bonds was the only one using steroids, or to think it was only limited to a select few individuals is naive. Grimsley proves that pitchers use performance enhancers as much as hitters, so why is it unfair that Bonds use steroids?

Here are the questions we need to ask ourselves. More players used or are using performance-enhancing drugs than we initially thought, so is it fair to single out one player? How can we tag one player with an asterisk, when we do not know how many others were using?

Unfortunately, we will never know how many of Bond's opponents were using steroids. If we did, perhaps we could feel comfortable giving him credit for the HRs he had off of those pitchers, but of course we will never know. The government is on a witch-hunt, and they are making Bonds the poster boy, but let the man have his stats. It is folly to think this type of behavior is going to stop. HGH is the next challenge, and who knows what will be created next in the labs of chemists and other scientist? Cloned body parts from former great players? Re-grown parts previously worn out by wear and tear? Who knows, but putting an asterisk next to Bond’s stats will do nothing to solve the problem.

1 comment:

Billy said...

Most ballplayers today are taking homeopathic growth hormone oral spray because it's safe, undetectable, and legal for over the counter sales. As time goes on it seems it might be considered as benign a performance enhancer as coffee, aspirin, red bull, chewing tobacco, and bubble gum.