Steroids do not help hitters hit home runs
Now that I have your attention, I would like to point out two pieces that, if you do not read them and at least attempt to engage with their analysis, will cause reasonable people to henceforth dismiss you when you make blanket claims about the ethics and the efficacy of steroid use in baseball:
- Eric Walker’s comprehensive analysis of the ethics, health risks and, most importantly, performance effects of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs, with copious references to the relevant scientific literature on the subject; and
OK, I’ll cut you slack if you don’t read the entirety of Walker’s piece. It’s long, it’s difficult, the page design kind of sucks and it’s not exactly as engaging as detective novel. But at the very least read Posnanski’s overview and then at least explore Walker’s piece here and there to test some of the assertions.
For those of you who don’t plan on doing either, at least take away this much: essentially none of the claims people make about what is so “obvious” about PED use are, in fact, obvious. Yes, there are still ethical hazards -- and, of course, rule breaking -- associated with PED use by ballplayers, but such things (a) are not as hazardous as we are led to believe; and (b) PED use does not logically and inevitably lead to the conclusions you so often hear about home runs and other hitting records being fraudulent.
Posnanski in particular makes some excellent points about the history of baseball juicing -- as opposed to baseball player juicing -- that seem like a far more obvious source of the new home run marks. And as I and so many others have said so many times, the fact that the home run boom came around the same time as large-scale expansion and a spate of cozy, home run-friendly ballparks coming online is criminally underplayed when the subject of home runs and baseball comes up.
I know that many of you don’t care what anyone says about these subjects and that you’ll continue to call all of the home run marks of the past 15 years fraudulent or worse. Just know that if you do, such arguments will be (a) counter to the empirical evidence; and (b) a function of your willful ignorance on the matter.
I do my best to limit the discussion of religion and politics on this blog. If you ignore the relevant data on PEDs and baseball and still spout off about it, however, you’re essentially arguing religion and politics.