January 14, 2014

Looking at degrees of PEDing confessionals

A number of MLB players have made some sort of confession or semi-confession about using steroids, human growth hormone or other performance enhancing drugs. The degree of sincerity, and the degree of revelation, of said confessions led me to think about some sort of scoring system.

I was going to slice them into quarter-degrees, as in one-quarter, one-half, three-quarters, and fully confessional, taking into account both apparent sincerity and degree of revelation, but thought that was too tight.

Then, when I thought of one-third splits, I realized that nobody has fully spilled the beans on the "revelation" side, so I decided to go back to one-quarter splits.

Finally, I figured stars, like book ratings, would work, and thus devised a 0-5 star system.

That said, here we go:

The anti-confessional (negative stars): Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Who else? Well, add Alex Rodriguez and his mess. Being legally aggressive when past issues get you in trouble lands you here.

The non-confessional, hilarious division (zero stars): Viagra-touting (and why? other than a steroid side effect?) Rafael Palmeiro and English-ability losing Sammy Sosa land here, of course.

The non-confessional, play it straight division (one star): This is players, normally below the All-Star level, and certainly below the Hall of Fame level, who figure, "I got nabbed, I'm not that famous, the issue will go away soon enough." We've had a number of those, and will likely have more. Sadly, we can probably expect them to remain high among Latino players from the Caribbean.

The pseudo-confessional (two starts): Mark McGwire. Hey, I'm a Cards fan. But, I'm also skeptical enough, and sometimes cynical enough (both words in their sociological, not philosophical sense) to see crocodile tears. Given that he didn't talk about his A's years, and thus offered very little on the revelation side, he can't be higher than this. Once he gets honest about those Bash Bros. days (and his college ones, if anything goes back that far) he'll jump at least one star.

The heartfelt but limited confessional (three stars): Andy Pettitte. He seemed heartfelt, indeed. But, given that he's still not broken omerta to talk in detail about why he decided that HGH would help injury recovery, how much he had been tempted before, and other issues, we can't go more than this. You have to have the right personality to pull this off, of course.

The in-depth, but still somewhat lacking, confessional (four stars): Jose Canseco and Jason Giambi. The placing of Canseco here, or anywhere, amy infuriate some and cause head-scratching elsewhere, while Giambi may cause other head scratching since he didn't confess to anything specific.

Trust me. Or don't. What I have written, I have written.

On Canseco, his motivation was fame. He knew he hadn't done enough, even for the "I don't care about roiding" crowd of actual BBWAA voters, general big Hall fans, etc., to support him. So, fame and the opportunity to write cheap books for whatever money he could came to play. That said, because he hasn't given us more detail about his own roiding, and more importantly, about how players after his retirement (since his whole career was in the pre-testing era) beat baseball's steroid tests or tried to do so.

Giambi had less to reveal on the "connections" side, perhaps. But, given that the statue of limitations from the BALCO grand jury has surely expired, it would be nice to hear a bit more.

On the personal side, he sounded relieved that a nightmare was over. I have no doubt of his sincerity. In fact, even if he didn't talk about other potential users, just hearing him talk more about what drove him to use, and related issues, would get him an additional one-half star, at least.

And, per what I said especially under the four-star level, but somewhat in general, this is part of my stance on potential Hall of Famers who have used, or most likely have used.

As I've said before, in discussing what degree steroids contributed to the power surge, I want some sort of confession about doing it, plus some sort of description of HOW you did it, so we can tighten future testing. Yes, that's a partial will o' the wisp, but not totally so. If it were total, then why test at all? Or why ban at all? (I say this to commenters at places like Fangraphs, where I've gotten bashed before.)

Anyway, let's hope we have to have fewer confessions in the future. Let's hope some past confessors look at the A-Rod mess and decide to provide us some further information, so we have teeth to try to make those confessionals less common.

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