Monday, January 21, 2013

Champions, PEDs and the Hall of Fame (A-Rod edit: 2/5/2013)

There are a lot of sports that have a Hall of Fame. I don't know if Cycling does but recently something big happened. Baseball will not be inducting anyone this year. No one could get enough votes. That's because most Steroid Era stars were up. Everyone has an opinion about if a Performance Enhancing Drug (PED) user should be inducted. Here is the link about the voting results.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/09/baseball-hall-of-fame-voting-results-2013-bbwaa_n_2441400.html

It's interesting that it's called the "Hall of Fame". That implies it's for the most popular super stars. What it was intended to be for are those who have impressive stats in their field. It's about the "WOW" factor. Most people who have these amazing stats are super stars. It doesn't matter the sport. Not everyone in the "Halls" are super stars outside of their towns. Not every super star gets in.

I know I was thrilled to hear that Michael Strahan of the NY Giants has made the final round of voting for this year's Football Hall. He has earned it and I was thrilled for him to be able to retire a Champion. That's why I have been cheering for the Ravens. Ray Lewis has had an awesome career and has earned retiring a champion. He announced his retirement at the end of this seasons a few weeks ago. He will be a strong candidate for the Football Hall of Fame. Both of these players are super stars with the impressive stats. They are also likable. I don't doubt they will both make it.

Finalist Article:
http://www.giants.com/news-and-blogs/article-1/Michael-Strahan-Bill-Parcells-HOF-finalists/e5f82c92-0d2e-493e-9660-4009362efafd

Ray Lewis:
http://www.nfl.com/player/raylewis/2501750/profile

Michael Strahan
http://www.nfl.com/player/michaelstrahan/2503172/profile

Why does likability matter? Because the media is part of the voting. Each league does things their own way but important media members are included in all of them. It involves a lot of votes and a lot of opinions. The hardest one being "do you induct those that used PEDs?"

For me, each situation has to be looked at individually now keeping in mind it will be the guidelines for the future. The truth is, we have no idea if past idols like Babe Ruth had help of not. It wasn't as easy to find out and in most cases back then image was everything so it wasn't reported if discovered. That was easier to do back then. It's possible we have already inducted users and don't know it.

For me, the best way to figure out how much "help" they got should be based on their pre-use numbers and post-use numbers. Those who read this post previously noted I used A-Rod as a great example for comparing post and during use numbers. With the recent news about him possibly still taking it, I edit that part. If it's possible to know for sure when someone used, then my theory makes sense but as we know now, we can't know when a player has and hasn't. Do I think A-Rod continued to use past the three years he admitted to in 2009? Yes but not continuous. I think he stopped but with his recent injuries felt he needed the edge. There is a lot of pressure on him and players like him. Fans are vocal for even small mistakes. Is he worthy personally? Yes but to be made a lesson out of.

2/5/2013 edit: so today I read an article that the years in question for the newest PED scandal are 2009 - 2011. I looked at his runs for the years between his last admitted use (2001 - 2003) and the current one (2009 - 2011) and saw something interesting.

"Clean Years"
Runs 2004 - 2008: 112, 124, 113, 143,  104
Hits 2004 - 2008: 172, 194, 166, 183, 154

Runs 2001 - 2003: 133, 125. 124
Hits 2001 - 2003: 201, 187, 181

Runs 2009 - 2011: 78, 64, 67 (out a lot for injuires from previous use)
Hits 2009 - 2011: 127, 141, 103 (again, out a lot from injuries)

The highest runs from his PED time (133) is only 29 more then the lowest (104) from his clean time. As for hits? Highest of all (201) is only 47 more then the lowest (154) clean time. Keep in mind injuries played a roll in his opportunities in any given year but that isn't mentioned in stats.

So do I think the PEDs made a difference? Not really. He would still be a Hall of Fame quality player and shouldn't be excluded because of that. But those stats need to be stressed. The fact that the PED use didn't really make much of a diffference. That's what I said before, it needs to be stressed that PEDs aren't that effective. He had a lot of injury issues in 2009 - 2011 so one could use an educated guess that if he did use in those years it was for healing purposes and not performance enhancement. Yankee fans can attest that those have been disappointing A-Rod years.

A-Rod's Stats:
http://newyork.yankees.mlb.com/team/player.jsp?player_id=121347#gameType='R'&sectionType=career&statType=1&season=2012&level='ALL'

But the Halls are also about the history of the sport. What sports need is a section for known users where the lessons of that time, including the higher rate of injury, are emphasized so inspiring pro-athletes learn these lessons and are less likely to use themselves. These players would have an asterisk next to their names. Ignoring steroid and PED use encourages it to happen more. Make it embarrassing for those who used while respecting that it's not like the PEDs did all the work to achieve those numbers. If the numbers for other known users are like A-Rods, the PEDs didn't help that much so the players with the truly impressive stats are probably still fantastic athletes when not using. They shouldn't be completely left out.

Actually, that would benefit. Less people would be tempted to use if it was so well known how little of an advantage you get from them and how injury prone you become. That's one of the reasons voting is so gray about this. It's unknown how much help is really provided. In the next year what all sports need to do it invest in a large study on that to answer these questions. We might know more about who used but we haven't done a comprehensive study, with a huge number of participants, on it's complete stat effects and injury history. It is a Hall of Fame and these players are super stars. Famous people influenced by a famous time in the sport.

Note that A-Rod didn't win a Championship until 2009. It was his first year back to using PEDs but he was recovering from surgery that year. There is a lesson in that too. How many champions are using when they win any why? I know that some are, I won't pretend that doesn't happen, but there are clean players paying the price for the Steroid Era because their talent is doubted. Derek Jeter is not a user and never has been. His stats and unchanging body size back that up. But because he played during that time he'll always be questioned. Remember that age and injuries effect these numbers too. But Jeter has only recently been injured more and that's attributed to that he's playing a position usually for much younger players and won the last two gold gloves.

Derek Jeter:
http://mlb.mlb.com/team/player.jsp?player_id=116539&c_id=nyy&player_name=Derek-Jeter#gameType='R'&sectionType=career&statType=1&season=2012&level='ALL'

How do I feel about Lance Armstrong? I hate all the wanna be Armstrong cyclists, dressed in the gear, that ride in the middle of busy roads making them impossible to pass and causing traffic jams large and small. There will be less of that this Spring. It's his Tiger Woods moment. He became a hero through Championships and cancer but he's at his moment where suddenly he's human. Would he have won without the PEDs? I read an article about a year ago from a Cyclist that said almost all Cyclists use. To me, it sounds like the problem is the culture of the sport, not the person. It became the only way to have a shot at winning. He gave a lot of cancer patients hope. They need that hope.

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