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Wednesday, June 17, 2009
The Sosa connection, or lack thereofWill Carroll said something really interesting about the Sosa stuff over at Prospectus last night:
I've always followed the steroid story as something of an epidemic. It often follows the same models, centering around hubs and nodes. The hubs are players like Jose Canseco or Bill Romanowski in the NFL who were evangelists for the substances, but the nodes are usually the drug distributors. The Bay Area had BALCO, Baltimore had their "star", and Dallas had their Hollywood connection, while the NFL had doctors in Pittsburgh and Charlotte, among others, who were willing to supply. Chicago, however, doesn't have this issue or at least hasn't. Looking at the Cubs roster in 2003 and a year previous, there's *no one* that tested positive or that has even had much speculation surrounding their production. It will be interesting to see if the 2003 list shows such a cluster existed or if Sosa was one of few singular users.
If I had to guess, I'd say that there is a Dominican Republic cluster, as by all accounts, steroids are far more readilly available down there than here. As you'll recall, almost all of the Mitchell report users were revealed via their American dealers. It's quite possible that there were and are many steroids users who obtained their PEDs from pharmacies in San Pedro de Macorís as opposed to the Kirk Radomski's of the world.
Which leads to another interesting thing: the perjury angle. As you'll recall, Sammy Sosa testified to Congress a few years ago. Today, many are wondering whether he will be subject to criminal scrutiny for saying, under oath, that he didn't do steroids.
Except he never said that. He said "To be clear, I have never taken illegal performance-enhancing drugs." He said "I have never injected myself or had anyone inject me with anything." He said "I have not broken the laws of the United States or the laws of the Dominican Republic. I have been tested as recently as 2004, and I am clean." All of those statements allow for the possibility that he used substances that were legal in the Dominican Republic that would have been illegal to use in the United States.
I've said in the past that, contrary to the naysayings of others, Sosa was well-advised to have used an interpreter during his Congressional testimony. In light of yesterday's news, this is even more true, because it now appears that he needed to thread a very tiny needle to keep himself out of legal jeopardy. From what I can see, he threaded it brilliantly, and as a fellow shyster, my hat is off to whoever advised Sammy back in 2005 for pulling off what I can only call a work of legal art.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 9:23am
Can you put your response to Jack’s comment in a separate post, so we don’t have to keep wading through the comments to see it? Thanks, and keep up the good work.
Posted 06/17 at 12:01 PM
Craig Calcaterra said...
Posted 06/17 at 12:04 PM
Tim Kelly said...
If I recall correctly, the 2003 survey testing was conducted for all players in MLB. The exercise was intended as a test to see if a 5% threshold had been met, thereby kicking in the mandatory testing that we see today. Back in that time (as a resident of Chicago) I seem to remember stories about the White Sox players hinting that they may decline to take the test as a way to ensure the 5% threshold was met and to ensure mandatory testing would commence.
Whether the White Sox players actually went through with this plan is not the point. The fact that a refusal to take the survey test in ‘03 would show up as a *positive* test result is important.
If some clean players in ‘03 decided to refuse the test as a way to inflate the results above the 5% threshold, then wouldn’t their names be on this list of 104 players? If the list is leaked, isn’t it possible that some players will be named in public for being a PED-user when they in fact were trying to take a (silent) moral stand?
What do you think?
(BTW, I don’t mean this comment as a defense of Sosa, I’m sure he’s not in this theoretical group)
Posted 06/17 at 12:28 PM
Craig Calcaterra said...
Tim—I don’t know for sure, but I presume that the namee (actually numbers, which correspond to names) are tied to specific test results, and that there would not be some coding for a non-test-taker. It would simply be a matter of figuring out the difference between eligible takers and actual takers, and then just tacking that sum onto the positive pile.
And for what it’s worth, I don’t think the White Sox or anyone else actually went through with the non-testing.
Posted 06/17 at 12:33 PM
The Common Man said...
So, Tim, according to your recollection, any player who didn’t take the test (for which they were assured that the results would be completely anonymous and discarded), would be automatically counted as a “positive.” Like if someone pulled over for DUI refuses to take a breathalizer. Therefore, it would make no real sense for users not to take the test, since their no-show would still be counted in the final tally, and perhaps their refusal to take the test would become public knowledge. So perhaps they were optional in a literal sense (as you always have a choice to act or not, regardless of what the outcome of that choice is), but practically meant nothing. Just spitballin’ here.
Posted 06/17 at 12:49 PM
“What I always found significant about the Sosa corked bat incident is that it was prima facie evidence that he would cheat…that is, break the Rules and use forbidden methods that other players were not in order to get a competitive edge, real or imagined. Despite the rampant MLB player profiling, character is a factor in all this, and not every player will chuck his principles for better stats. Sosa would, and we knew that before his test results came out.”
“Some people continue to be surprised that highly competitive young men fighting for fame, honor, and a cut of $6 billion would do everything they could to beat the guy next to them, which is a pretty good way to make the Olympic team in Naive”
Posted 06/17 at 02:33 PM
Jack Marshall said...
Jason: Not being surprised that people who can benefit from cheating will cheat, and assuming that all such people DO cheat and WILL cheat are two completely different things. One is reasonable, and the other isn’t. What I see is an awful lot of people who should know better leaping from one proposition to the other.
Posted 06/17 at 02:40 PM
Travis M. Nelson said...
To respond more to Will Carroll than to you, there certainly were some players on the 2002-03 Cubs whose performances raise some questions about PEDs.
Mario Encarnacion, who played sparingly for the Cubs in 2001 and 2002, was suspended for steroids while playing in China in 2005 and later died from a heart attach at the age of 30.
Todd Hundley was named as a Kirk Radomski customer in the Mitchell Report. He never hit more than 16 homers in a season at any level of his career before he hit 41 in 1996 with the Mets, and then 30 a year later, and then he too got hurt and disappeared.
Fred McGriff had what appeared to be a normal career decline in production (as measured by OPS+) from his late 20’s til his mid 30’s but then had a “spike” from ages 35-38, part of which was with the Cubs, and all of which occurred at the height of the “steroid era”.
Moises Alou showed huge fluctuations in his power numbers and batting average throughout his career, set a career high in homers at age 37 (Just like Raul Ibanez!), suffered from lots of nagging injuries, but was still hitting well into the .300’s when he was 40 years old. And look how he yelled at Steve Bartman! That’s ‘roid rage if I ever saw it!
Kyle Farnsworth has those huge shoulders, used to play football, and once beat the crap out of the opposing pitcher (Paul Wilson) after he had hit Wilson with a pitch. He also tackled Jeremy Affelt after an on-field brawl had apparently been stopped. There’s some ‘roid rage for ya!
Obviouslyu some of this is tongue in cheek, but really, there’s stuff to question there if you just look for it.
Posted 06/17 at 04:55 PM