Monday, May 12, 2008

Separating the baseball cheats from the clean players

You can't think about ethics very long before you're faced with the issue of cheating. Do cheaters get ahead? Do they get caught? Do honest folks get tarred? And so on. The issue is huge for baseball fans. Baseball, more than any other sport, is a game of statistics. Babe Ruth 60, Ty Cobb .367, Hack Wilson 190, Cy Young 511, and most of all, Hank Aaron 755.

But then came the cheating. Barry Bonds 762. Roger Clemens 354. Obviously steroid-inflated, and therefore phony. But what about all the other marks? can we believe anything?

Thomas Boswell figured out part of the answer in his May 10 Washington Post piece, "A Three-Way Argument for Game's Integrity." He analyzed the records of Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, and John Smoltz, who formed the heart of the Atlanta Braves' pitching staff for eleven years, winning 862 games among them. He discovered that each of them had a decliniing performance starting in their mid-30s. By contrast, Bonds and Clemens got better--unlike ordinary humans not on steroids, whose performance declines as they age.

So Boswell pronounces the threesome clean, and we can admire their records without suspicion. Good for the ethical players!


David Krygier said...

Hurray for the clean players!

Congratulations on the blog and website.

Warm regards,

Anonymous said...

As for ballplayers, how can we put any faith in statistics until we know which batters and which pitchers were taking performance enhancing drugs? If Bonds faced pitchers who were also drugged up, didn't that even the playing field?