February 27, 2004

Babe Ruth used steriods?: Houston Astros second baseman Jeff Kent said the steroids controversy is an embarrassment to baseball and that the public needs to rethink whether sports heroes of yore abstained from illegal performance-enhancing drugs. Kent told the Houston Chronicle in Friday's editions that he believes all players are at least tempted to use the drugs. He also said there's no way to know Roger Maris, Babe Ruth or any other great sluggers of the past weren't on drugs.

My Take:
Unless Jeff Kent is using steriods as a euphamism for a lot of hot dogs and beer, then he's way, way off base--maybe more so than Turk Wendell-pwilly

posted by pwilly to baseball at 01:05 PM - 12 comments

But did the Babe wash his truck carelessly or own a motorcycle? These are the real questions.

posted by jeffmshaw at 01:07 PM on February 27

If by steroids he means "lots of whiskey and steak" then yeah, Babe was on the juice.

posted by mr_crash_davis at 01:12 PM on February 27

you wouldn't happen to be listening to WEEI, pwilly?

posted by jerseygirl at 01:48 PM on February 27

JG, the photo in your profile will haunt my dreams tonight. I'm sending you the bill for my therapist.

posted by jeffmshaw at 01:58 PM on February 27

Wish I could claim responsibility for creating it.

posted by jerseygirl at 02:01 PM on February 27

Hmm. Last I checked, athletes only started using steroids for performance enhancement in the 1950s, and even then only in niche sports (bodybuilding, weight lifting); I'm not much up on the history of baseball, but wouldn't that have made it kind of awkward for Ruth to be a user? What with being retired and all?

posted by rodgerd at 01:43 PM on February 28

ruth died in 1948, so yeah, it would be rather awkward.

posted by goddam at 01:55 PM on February 28

Damn those steroids!!! Here is a short off-the-cuff list of Babe Ruth's "performance enhancers":

  • Lack of black players allowed in the sport meant that all the best players just in the USA were not allowed on the field
  • Lack of any international scouting: current sources of Int'l players, mostly from North America only
    • Latin American players = 28% of MLB Players
    • Dominican Republic: 79
    • Puerto Rico: 38
    • Venezuela: 37
    • Mexico: 17
    • Japan: 11
    • Canada: 10
    • Cuba: 10
  • Early years of MLB = at the time of Ruth, there was lack of strong integration into the cultulre and lives of youth, such that all available youngsters had exposure and encouragement to play the game (see "Baseball, Mom, Apple Pie, as American as")
  • Less developed farm system to capture and refine talent before it reaches the Bigs- resulting in a percentage of Ruth at-bats against players that today wouldn't be in the majors, or would have polished their skills first in AAA before being fodder for Ruth and other established hitters
  • Lack of good scouting and analysis ensured that the talent level was sporadic and low, with far too many undeveloped youngsters or over-the-hill hangers on, allowing outliers like Ruth to shine at greater levels than they could against consistent & polished talent (see "That one kid who has a growth spurt at 13 just before the other kids and dominates the little leagues, until the rest of the kids catch up")
  • Lack of good bullpen usage and strategies ensured that in the neighborhood of 1 in 5 or 6 at-bats (16%!) would be against tired starting pitchers, or pitchers who work in the bullpen not as a young fresh-armed specialist but rather as the last-gasp career of an older starting pitcher
Hm- those are just some I can think of right now. But yeah, I'm sure today's players are just soooo much worse than the players of yesteryear...

posted by hincandenza at 07:01 PM on February 28

Hal: Rob Neyer touched on that last week and his guess was that last year's Devil Rays would sweep the '27 Yankees in four games with lopsided scores.

posted by tieguy at 08:50 AM on February 29

Hal: I agree for the most part - but I still think that the reverese is also true - modern players have the advantage of video sessions, training technology and the like to give them a few 'boosts' as well.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 01:23 PM on February 29

Weedy: Yup. People tend to forget that if you took a classic player and provided the kind of training regime modern players enjoy, they'd be able to perform to a much higher level, in all likelihood.

posted by rodgerd at 01:37 PM on March 01

Hadn't stimulants been popular in baseball long before the advent of steroid usage? It is a slow game after all. Kidding aside, I would consider stimulants to be of great advantage in terms of a baseball game and the day to day grind of the season. That little bit of focus and intensity could really aid a player at the plate or fielding.

posted by garfield at 02:14 PM on March 01

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