Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Yet Another Slugger Linked to PEDs...By Random Trolling Columnist With Zero Evidence

By The Common Man

In the wake of Jeff Miller’s reeking post about Jim Thome and his baseless accusation that Thome used steroids (TCM won’t link to the actual article, which is a classic attempt to troll the internet. Instead, read Matthew Pouliot’s takedown on HardballTalk), The Common Man wants to skip his usual rant about the dangers of idiots with media credentials, who seem to think that their journalism degree gives them license to essentially slander another person with the charge of PED use. And he’s skip the lecture about the hypocrisy of the mainstream sports media, who refuse to call out one of their own for such disgusting, unfounded allegations, despite the fact that the mainstream media would (rightfully) pillory an unaffiliated blogger who made similar claims. Instead, The Common Man wants to tell you a story.

That story is about a troubled kid from a broken home, who used his natural combativeness and competitiveness to become a champion…but at what cost? Beyond a doubt, he had to work hard to elevate himself above his hardscrabble upbringing, to mold himself into more than just a poor kid from the city. He would have done anything to escape the miserable poverty, the drunkenness, and the danger on the mean streets where he became a delinquent. So when he found baseball…found a way out…there’s nothing he wouldn’t do to hold on to that dream. No risk he wouldn’t take. No rule he wouldn’t break. And no shortcut that was too immoral. After all, kids from his neighborhood didn't care about morality or fairness or any of that.  Dammit, he was a ballplayer, and he was going to stay one.

With his drive, and the resources at his disposal, nothing was out of his reach. He jumped from 2 homeruns in a season to 11. Then to 29. And the following year to 54. His homerun percentageclimbed too, from 1.4% to 2.9%, to 5.4% until, finally, 8.8% of his at bats resulted in homeruns. Clearly, whatever he was doing to become more powerful was having a huge effect on him and his performance.

After a couple years on top of the world, he began a decline. Having reached the top of the world, he got lazy and stopped training. He allowed himself to get out of shape. And his power started to wane. By the time he was 30, the one-time phenom was hitting homers in just 5.9% of his at bats and just 25 over the course of the season.

Faced with the possibility that his career was drawing to a close, he resolved to recapture his former glory by any means necessary. Being an elite athlete with all the modern tricks at his disposal for dropping weight and adding muscle, he quickly rebounded and experienced a career renaissance. He hit 47 homers the next year, homering in 7.2% of his plate appearances. The next year was even better. He homered in 8.7% of his plate appearances on his way to a new single-season homerun record. He would last at this peak through his mid-30s before truly beginning to decline around age 36. And he was out of baseball at 40.

So we’ve identified two peeks of baseball hitting, one at the beginning of his career that saw a rapid power spike, which rose almost exponentially over a period of four seasons. And we have a second power spike later in his career after power had begun to dwindle. Using the patented Jeff Miller method of examining this player’s stats, in which we ignore context and other statistics that don't fit into our dastardly narrative, it seems likely that George Herman Ruth was under the influence of some kind of powerful performance enhancing drugs. Crucify the sunuvabitch.

11 comments:

William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

Hehehe! Good one. But of course, Ruth is just another player in the Hall of Fame despite the "Morals" clause being a total farce.

Anonymous said...

I always laugh at how "Steroid Speculation" only seems to come into play when the player isn't on one of "those teams".

Recall the hilarious discussion a a month or so back where two ESPN talking heads were called out for suspecting Thome (who had NO connections) but giving Jeter a freepass (despite playing on a team with CONSTANT connections).

It's never going to go away, and our best hope is that there's enough rational people in the world to outweigh the Skip Baylesseses.

The Common Man said...

@Anon

You're right that it's not likely to go away any time soon. As friend of the blog Sam Miller wrote on Twitter last night, "'Trolling' has become one of sports journalism's five tools." But, by calling it out and mocking it where we find it, we give it less legitimacy, and less power. Perhaps that can reduce the effects of such asshattery.

Lotaso said...

Reminds me that somewhere in one of the 10 million articles about 'roid superstars, it was hypothesized by a writer that if they'd been available Babe would have used them too.

Otherwise I am just sick of all this mud-slinging. Is it possible any of these guys did it? Sure, but until they have real proof outside of anecdotes and circumstantial coincidences, they need to keep the accusations to themselves.

thesportsminion said...

Agreed, TCM. Thome is and has always been a class act. Back in Peoria, IL he is of legends with a street and scoreboard named after him. Look for him to get moved to Detroit for postseason and than the Royals next season, so he can claim "King of AL Central"

Anonymous said...

"But, by calling it out and mocking it where we find it, we give it less legitimacy, and less power. Perhaps that can reduce the effects of such asshattery."

So, let's see here...you get your information exclusively from the internet, you do no actual reporting and you attack people anonymously. Not crafty enough myself to defend the mainstream media, but it's quite a stretch to think you're on higher ground.

Thank goodness we got guys like you, though, tough guys with 100-compression balls who aren't afraid to get angry at people they don't know while protected by anonymity.

The internet is in dire need of more of your ilk. Finally, one man with the courage to take it all on...Godspeed!

The Common Man said...

You're welcome to that opinion, @anon. But consider this: what would knowing The Common Man's name really add to what he is saying? Every bit of credibility that TCM has earned over lo these many years has been through that moniker. And if the name "The Common Man" loses credibility, then TCM himself loses it, given that that is how he's chosen to be identified. Given that TCM has worked hard to build up that credibility, he's not likely to be interested in jeopardizing it.

Does his criticism of Jeff Miller have more weight behind it if it's coming from Joe Smith, rather than TCM? Probably not. Would knowing TCM's name change your opinion of him? Probably not. A rose by any other name would be just as snarky. You can choose to believe that or not.

But if you have any substantive criticism of the content of TCM's post, please feel free to share it, rather than the familiar sturm and drang about pseudonyms.

Anonymous said...

Snarky...sort of a tired term for the whole internet smartass thing, don't you think? Got to stay edgy, boss, otherwise you're just another guy sitting in front of a keyboard.

Sturm and Drang? Not beating the drum that hard. Familiar or not, if I was in your position, I'd also want to move to another topic.

The Common Man said...

And were he in yours, perhaps The Common Man would find better uses of my time than commenting on blogs he doesn't care for with unsubstantive comments. Life's too short to be bitter and unhappy. If you don't like The Common Man's pseudonymity, feel free not to read his work. That should solve both our problems.

Professor Longnose said...

I think I agree with your position (mostly), but you had to seriously distort Babe Ruth's career to make your point, and I think it's a bad example. I've never read a bio of Ruth, and I don't know if breaking rules was on his mind or not as he learned to play baseball, but his increase in power from 11 to 29 to 54 wasn't caused by changes to his body, but by changes in his focus, from being a pitcher to an outfielder, and by changes in his view of the game, from one in which hitters tried to hit them where they ain't to one in which hitters tried to hit them over the fence.

And what you call his decline was only one year, one in which he was suspended and played less than a full season. His career arc is perfectly normal He got better better, peaked, and declined slowly.

He didn't set a level and then suddenly break past it power wise, and he didn't suddenly get a big burst of power at a relatively late age, which is what are claimed are the hallmarks of PED usage.

Your story doesn't work.

The Common Man said...

@Professor

The Common Man distorts and ignores details of the story of Babe Ruth no more than mainstream writers ignore the very real changes happening in the game of baseball regarding smaller parks, the rise of the take-and-rake approach, the thinning of pitching talent, and the mechanical changes made by players like Jim Thome, Jeff Bagwell, and Jose Bautista. What TCM did was take a narrative he came up with ahead of time (that Ruth was on PEDs) and apply it backwards to Babe's life, regardless of how ill-fitting it was. Seems to TCM that that's what Miller, and John Harper, and other mainstream writers have done over the last couple years.

Also, while some may argue that "late power" is the hallmark of PED users, players like Alex Rodriguez, Mark McGwire, and Jose Canseco would tend to disagree.