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I got an article publshed on Bonds.

 
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retep
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2007 8:22 am    Post subject: I got an article publshed on Bonds. Reply with quote

So some of you know that I write for a political website. They did, however, let me publish an essay on some research i did on Bonds. I'd love to hear what you all have to say!

You can read it here http://www.beyondchron.org/news/index.php?itemid=4686 or below.


What the Media Won’t Tell You About Barry Bonds and the Home Run Record
by Peter Lauterborn‚ Jul. 05‚ 2007

I know you come to BeyondChron for your political fix, not for sports talk. However, Barry Bonds’ ongoing saga in the pursuit of the all-time Home Run Record is yet another story which has been mishandled by the mass media. The media’s coverage has created a lopsided debate by withholding dissenting view points in hopes of creating scandal, which is always good for ratings. The story, which has been controlled by the Chronicle, Disney (via ESPN), and Fox Sports, has been brought to us with the same lack of perspective and journalism that brought us everything from Paris Hilton’s jail term to the Iraq War.

The facts that the mass media has not explored do not prove Bonds innocence. Rather, they show that the issue is so complex that compactly disregarding Bonds’ achievements is an inadequate response. Fans have the right to choose to revere whichever home run idol they choose, be it Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, or Josh Gibson. However, Bonds’ record will stand right where it belongs: as a product of the era he played in.

First, I will explore statistics and research around the steroid issue, which will attempt to articulate the effect steroids have had. Secondly, I will delve into baseball’s history and dispel the myths of a forgone, “pure” era. But even before all of that, here is something to keep in mind: steroids were not banned by baseball when Bonds supposedly used them. How exactly do you prosecute someone who never broke a rule?

While critics are quick to credit steroids as the root of Bond’s successes, they fail to explain why no other player has approached Bond’s productivity regardless of steroid usage. Many players have been suspected or known to have used steroids, and yet Bonds has achieved more than anyone. Since MLB instituted steroids testing, 6 hitters have tested positive.

One superstar is amongst them: Rafael Palmeiro, who amassed 569 home runs over his long career. After Palmeiro, there is Matt Lawton, who hit a marginal 138 home runs over a 13-year career. The remaining four hitters who have tested positive—Alex Sanchez, Jorge Piedra, Jamal Strong, and Mike Morse—have hit a combined 20 home runs over their careers. While this does nothing to prove that players receive no benefit from steroids, the fact that steroids do not create homerun hitters is abundantly clear.

There is limited “before-and-after” data when it comes to the effect that steroids have on players. Sports writer Nate Silver, in his article What do Statistics Tell Us About Steroids crunched the numbers on to the 40 players (including minor leaguers) who have been found to have used steroids, and compared their pre-testing and post-testing statistics. The only difference he found barely passed for statistical significance. Players exhibited an increase of 14 points from On-Base-Percentage and 6 points of Slugging Percentage, both insignificant and, when applied to Bonds, still makes him far and away the best player in any league. In any event, hitting is only half of the story.

Since baseball has begun testing, more pitchers than hitters have tested positive for steroids, despite the obsessive focus on hitters. This provokes an interesting question: to what degree did steroids simply raise the athletic bar across the sport, rather than a benefit to a small number of players? Similar before-and-after comparisons were conduced with pitchers as the subjects. Like with hitters, the data hovered around the “statistically-significant” threshold. However, Silver concludes that the benefit of steroids for pitchers would not be in stats, but rather in quickening their recovery time between appearances. In other words, hitters were facing more rested pitchers, more often, which brings a greater challenge to hitters.

Many players have experienced unexpected increases in home run productivity, particularly late in their careers. Silver has pointed to many instances where players have preformed at abnormally high levels. In 1973, for example, Davey Johnson hit 43 home runs at the age of thirty, having never hit more than 18 before, and failed to pass 15 thereafter. Rodger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s single season record with 61 home runs in 1961—he only hit more than 26 twice and within four years was a marginal player.

Even Hank Aaron set a career high in home runs (47) at the age of 37 (one year older than Bonds was when he set the single-season record). Silver goes through an inordinate number of graphs and studies which lead up to his conclusion that, while Bonds may have well taken steroids, “we cannot reject the null hypothesis that the spectacular performances of players like Barry Bonds is the result of determination and hard work.”

Though I would much rather skip right ahead to historical contexts, some notes about the benefits of steroids should be made. For decades, the buildup of muscle mass has been discouraged by trainers and baseball players alike as bulging muscles have been a hindrance. Many believe that any gain in strength is at least somewhat countered in a reduction in response time, and if you ask any serious baseball player they will tell you that hitting is all about timing. This is how Ken Griffey Jr., Ted Williams, Mel Ott, and even Bonds in his youth were capable of amassing tremendous power records.

But does Bonds’ achievements legitimately stand along those who came before him, such as Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth? There is a myth that the players of yesteryear were pure, faced greater challenges and that their achievements stand as an unquestionable statement of their abilities. A far more adequate perspective is to see that each record, each achievement, is a product of its own era; nothing more, nothing less.

Need an example? While Ruth had hit 29 homeruns in 1919 to establish a single-season record, the bulk of his career came once the “spitball” was banned after the 1920 season. “Spitball” was a generic term for any pitch with featured a doctored baseball—they were spit on, cut up, scraped, and covered in mud. The batter’s resulting challenge featured an ill-defined ball with could move with an unpredictably violent manner, which killed Cleveland’s Ray Chapman. As a result, the pitch was banned and pitchers were required to throw clean white baseballs, making life much easier for hitters. The rest is history.

There are many other factors that one could argue gave hitters of Ruth’s era distant advantages. No teams ever had to travel further west than St. Louis to play road games until 1958, making the long season significantly less arduous. There was also much less reliance on relief pitchers, which means that in the late innings, batters enjoyed facing fatigued pitchers on a regular basis.

While steroids are new, players have always enjoyed access to substances which could benefit their play. Throughout the century—including in Ruth’s era—cocaine was available as a stimulant. Speed came about later; Willie Mays always kept a bottle of “red juice,” a liquid amphetamine, and players in the 60s, 70s, and 80s used “greenies.” Diet pills, laxatives, and a plethora of tonics have all been used for decades. It seems that the search for an edge is as old as the game itself.

Beyond drugs, other types of cheating have not only been ignored, but often admired. Gaylord Perry resurrected a mediocre career when he stated throwing “spitballs” illegally and now sits in the Hall of Fame. Teams also read lips, steal signs, and even tarnish the field of play through groundskeepers to get an edge. “Cheating” is by no means a condition for dismissal and disrespect. This is just a game, anyway. Right?

Oh yeah. And then there is race.

The segregation of baseball vastly limited the overall skill of baseball through the first half of the century. In Ruth’s era, segregation limited the overall pool of talent (whites and light-skinned Cubans) to slightly over 100 million people. Since then, baseball has integrated and expanded internationally. The current population from which baseball players are drawn has exceeded 700 million people.

It is perfectly clear that Babe Ruth enjoyed a tremendous advantage at the hands of segregation, which is something that should make those who hold the “Ruth Did It on Beer and Hot Dogs” signs hang their heads. Ruth never had to face Bob Gibson, Satchel Paige or Rube Foster, just as Aaron never had to face Chen Ming Wang, Byun-Hyung Kim, or Hideo Nomo. The diversity, and thus overall talent of pitchers, has exploded, making the lives of first Aaron and then Bonds far more difficult.

There are other ways in which race has reared its ugly head throughout all of this, but space allows me to only mention this: one ESPN writer wrote that Bonds should hang. Jim Crow, anyone? Anyone who thinks that a white player (Rodger Clemens?) would garner such despite is gravely mistaken.

Again, I do not aim to excuse Bonds’ purported use of steroids, but rather to put it in context. The seething hatred Bonds has faced is a product of the scandal-hungry media. It is not based on fact, but rather upon emotion. The unpleasantness facing Bonds are just as much a stain on the game and its country as the scandal which produced it. But I am certain that this will all continue until the public has a full discussion, as hating Bonds is, as one jeering Houston fan admitted, “just the thing to do.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Beyond his political activism, Peter Lauterborn is a dedicated baseball fan and history major. Unlike the Giants Curmudgeon, he can be reached for comment at plauterborn@gmail.com
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tallguy
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2007 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very nice Peter, well done.
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mp1045
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2007 11:54 am    Post subject: Great job Peter + la times hating on Bonds. Reply with quote

Very well done Peter.
Here is an article from yesterday's la times written by an obvious Bonds hater, bill plaschke:
read all the way to page 3. It filled 1/2 of the 1st page of the sports section.
http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-plaschke10jul10,1,6991646.column?page=3&cset=true&ctrack=1
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AntMoOAK
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2007 12:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very nice article Peter... I wanted to hate but you made very valid points ... Bonds' is still an ass though.
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Southpaw Slim
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2007 1:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Man, that guy must be injecting steroids directly into his eyes. I mean, he's seeing everything."

-Scott Leathers, in regards to Bonds having more home runs than swing-and-misses at one point in a season.
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Blancito21
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2007 5:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Southpaw Slim wrote:
"Man, that guy must be injecting steroids directly into his eyes. I mean, he's seeing everything."

-Scott Leathers, in regards to Bonds having more home runs than swing-and-misses at one point in a season.


That may not be as far fetched as it sounds. While I'm sure he did not inject into his own eye a large percentage of the eye is muscle so steroids could have a positive effect on vision and thus improve it in direct correlation to baseball activities such as hitting. There is a reason Edgar Martinez did eye muscle exercises to help overcome his lazy eye's effect on his hitting.

Great stuff Pete. I have some things I'd like to counter but in general I agree that the man's superior skills are what make him a Hall Of Famer...a long time ago. HR King?? We might have to argue about that one.
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retep
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2007 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Blancito21 wrote:

Great stuff Pete. I have some things I'd like to counter


Bring it on!
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2007 9:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good research, well-written. I hope they copy-edited it before they published it... Smile I kid.

Gonna make it back to a game anytime soon?
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2007 9:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slug=callingoutthecreaturesth&prov=tsn&type=lgns

BTW, people hate Bonds because he's a pompous asshole. His park, his city, his year, his record, his owner begs him (the same owner who is the only reason he is back with the Giants) but he does not participate in the HR Derby? The script couldn't be written any better for one of the most memorable and enjoyable moments in baseball history and he says no because its too long and he gets tired. Uhhh...that party with Jay-Z until 4 am was rejuvenating and refreshing?
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2007 10:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not that this is Bond's fault but some perspective on how this is bigger than just records:

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slug=trueheroesdontinspiretra&prov=tsn&type=lgns
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 26, 2007 2:22 pm    Post subject: Good article from Bruce Jenkins Reply with quote

Bruce Jenkins is no Bonds apologist (he can't stand him) This is a great article IMO.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/07/25/SPGOUR6GQ01.DTL&hw=jenkins&sn=003&sc=742

All bow to the new ABnoK King: Blancito Rivers:idea:
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2007 1:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great follow-up, Mike.

Congratulations, Dan. I wish I could have read your articles, too, but the links don't work anymore.
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retep
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2007 9:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Blancito21 wrote:
http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slug=callingoutthecreaturesth&prov=tsn&type=lgns

BTW, people hate Bonds because he's a pompous asshole. His park, his city, his year, his record, his owner begs him (the same owner who is the only reason he is back with the Giants) but he does not participate in the HR Derby?


yes, but his fans also, for the most part, understood. Besides, its kinda annoying that the national media hates bonds for the home runs, and then he says he won't hit some and the media gets mad. Come on!

I was disappointed, but I'd rather he kept his strength and i was more mad that they couldn't find more lefties overall.

But here is the thing--who cares if he is a jerk? Ty Cobb stabbed black people, but who considers that?

Does anyone else think that Bond's record will be more respected down the line, just as Marris' and Aaron's records have grown in respect over time?
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Blancito21
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2007 9:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

retep wrote:
Blancito21 wrote:
http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slug=callingoutthecreaturesth&prov=tsn&type=lgns

BTW, people hate Bonds because he's a pompous asshole. His park, his city, his year, his record, his owner begs him (the same owner who is the only reason he is back with the Giants) but he does not participate in the HR Derby?


yes, but his fans also, for the most part, understood. Besides, its kinda annoying that the national media hates bonds for the home runs, and then he says he won't hit some and the media gets mad. Come on!

I was disappointed, but I'd rather he kept his strength and i was more mad that they couldn't find more lefties overall.

But here is the thing--who cares if he is a jerk? Ty Cobb stabbed black people, but who considers that?

Does anyone else think that Bond's record will be more respected down the line, just as Marris' and Aaron's records have grown in respect over time?


I don't think you can state with much certainty, what his fans understood. You can probably speak for yourself and your circle of baseball aficionados. Just a guess.

Also, like Bonds, I think Giants fans are starting to revel in their role as victims. The national media doesn't hate Bonds. That's like saying the national media hates the Yankees. ESPN, FOX, and major newspapers seem to purposely split their opinions down the middle in order to reach more customers. In the end it is all Bonds all the time and for the national media...that's money and work.

I was disappointed that the lefties they had sucked. Fielder and Howard left much to be desired. I actually read an article that praised Bonds for making the splash HR's look so easy when others couldn't do it with BP pitching.

Now, I agree, who cares if he's a prick? I don't, but I guess the answer would be those that care.

He will be idolized more and more as time passes...until A-Rod smashes his record. Then he'll be respected for his combination of unparalled skills.

Why Aaron's needed time to gain respect is beyond me...well not really...I know why...but it's ridiculous.
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retep
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2007 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Blancito21 wrote:

I don't think you can state with much certainty, what his fans understood. You can probably speak for yourself and your circle of baseball aficionados. Just a guess.


I was listening to lots of sports talk on KNBR over those couple weeks.

Blancito21 wrote:
Also, like Bonds, I think Giants fans are starting to revel in their role as victims. The national media doesn't hate Bonds. That's like saying the national media hates the Yankees. ESPN, FOX, and major newspapers seem to purposely split their opinions down the middle in order to reach more customers. In the end it is all Bonds all the time and for the national media...that's money and work.


Well, I feel that the media can't mention Bonds once without saying "and by the way, Bonds is surrounded by controversy." I think they always remind fans of the 'roids because it helps them in drama and ratings. They do provoke fans. However, it has been better recently.

Blancito21 wrote:
I was disappointed that the lefties they had sucked. Fielder and Howard left much to be desired. I actually read an article that praised Bonds for making the splash HR's look so easy when others couldn't do it with BP pitching.


[/quote]Now, I agree, who cares if he's a prick? I don't, but I guess the answer would be those that care.

He will be idolized more and more as time passes...until A-Rod smashes his record. Then he'll be respected for his combination of unparalled skills.

Why Aaron's needed time to gain respect is beyond me...well not really...I know why...but it's ridiculous.[/quote]

Race + people alwasy love the "yonder years" + the idea it was harder for Ruth + expansion + Aaron had more games to play.


Thanks for the comments!
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