Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Oh Noes? What if the steroid narrative is bunk?

Was MLB's Juiced Era Actually A Juiced-Ball Era?:

'via Blog this'
What will lazy sportwriters do now?  Although the evidence is not definitive, it does appear MLB was complicit in trying to"juice" the game via modification to the ball itself.

Check this quote:
The 49.1-foot discrepancy in flight for two balls at the extremes of tolerance is roughly three times the distance produced by a three percent increase in batted ball speed. That's according to the rule of thumb cited by Nathan in his evaluation of data on home run distances, whereby each additional mile per hour of batted ball speed increases the fly ball distance by 5.5 feet. That's a lot of extra homers added to the ledger without anyone violating the rules.

If you have ever wondered why some pitchers can be picky about the ball, the specs for MLB baseballs is a 1/4" in diameter and 1/4 oz in weight.  I couldn't tell the difference but I would be willing to bet someone who played the game would.

Interestingly, they even note that gameballs for minor leagues flew on average 8 feet less than MLB game balls.  Sort of explains how a guy can go from minor league double machine to home run derby guy without juicing doesn't it?

The larger point I'm making is: we've slipped into a convenient narrative for the late 90s early 2000s regarding the "steroids" era.  Oh records from that time are suspect, everyone was juicing and the game was just out of control.  Well, we still don't know how many were doing it  (and we never will) and we don't know if it helped or hurt.  (BTW -- why isn't it ever discussed that pitchers juiced too. Doesn't that even things out?)  This narrative while easy is not complete nor correct.  The so-called "steroid" era is not different than any other era and attempts to portray it as such as just ill informed.

Personally, I don't give a crap about steroids.  But I'm stuck living in this world where sportswriters love the stuff and infect historical discussions with it every chance they get.  Oh the lamentations I will have to ignore come the 2013 HoF ballot.  I know its too much to ask to say just let it lie.  but can we please have some perspective.

Also, I AM NOT IN PANIC MODE YET.  Losing streaks are inevitable and after such a great run to be expected.  We're just one quality start away from putting all this behind us so cheer up.

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