June 7, 2006

GREEN MOUNTAIN COFFEE (via James B. Morse, Jr.):

D-Backs Grimsley implicated in steroids probe (Craig Harris, Joseph A. Reaves and Nick Piecoro, Jun. 7, 2006, The Arizona Republic)

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Jason Grimsley admitted taking illegal performance-enhancing drugs and said that amphetamines were used "like aspirin" in major league clubhouses, according to an affidavit filed by the lead federal investigator in baseball's steroid investigation.

The affidavit, filed in U.S. District Court in Phoenix, said Grimsley agreed to cooperate with U.S. Internal Revenue Service agents after Grimsley received a package containing two kits of human growth hormone April 19 at his Scottsdale home. [...]

Grimsley provided "extensive statements regarding his receipt and use of anabolic steroids, amphetamines and human growth hormone over the last several years," the affidavit said.

Grimsley also provided "details about his knowledge of other Major League Baseball players" using illegal performance-enhancing drugs, including several close acquaintances. [...]

In a two-hour interview with federal investigators on April 19, Grimsley told investigators:

• Until last year, major league clubhouses had coffee pots labeled "leaded" and "unleaded" for the players, indicating coffee with amphetamines and without. He did not specify how many.

Wasn't it in George Plimpton's Out of My League (1961) that players taking greenies was first mentioned? Certainly Jim Bouton talked about it in Ball Four. Human Growth Hormone seems excessive though.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 7, 2006 8:42 AM

I'm sure I couldn't get a hit off of him but he's a career 4.77 pitcher with a losing record (42-58). All this with steroids.

Posted by: Bartman at June 7, 2006 9:01 AM

Grimsley was also the guy who admitted climbing through the ductwork at Jacobs Field to replace the corked bat the umpires had confiscated from Albert Belle with a clean one.

Posted by: wopchote at June 7, 2006 9:16 AM

Look for the usual suspects (Tom Glavine among the worst) to attack Grimsley for being a "rat" and "breaking the code" and other typical MLBPA nonsense.

Posted by: b at June 7, 2006 12:53 PM

Baseball players are notorious for adopting fads to keep their careers going. If a fat pitcher has a good year, a bunch of other pitchers make a point of putting on weight. Steroids should be banned but strength is a relatively minor part of a baseball player's skills.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 7, 2006 1:15 PM

David: I'm no expert, but the point of steroids isn't just to build up strength--they boost your stamina by increasing the ability of the muscles to recover after exertion. In a non-steroid world, Barry Bonds would have faded late in recent seasons as his aging body simply couldn't go all-out every day for several months without breaking down. Of course, he (and others, most notoriously McGwire & Giambi) decided to use so many steroids that he blew up like a balloon. But he could have used the way that Palmeiro did, and gotten significant stamina benefit with no obvious bulking-up.

Posted by: b at June 7, 2006 1:20 PM

b: I think that's right, but giving steroids to someone without the hand/eye coordination to hit a big league fast ball wouldn't make him a baseball player.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 7, 2006 3:43 PM

Yes, that is the standard line trotted out by those who insist that Steroids Are No Big Deal. Ignoring the fact that I've never heard anyone argue the opposite, it makes it rather curious that so many professional baseball players use steroids...

Posted by: b at June 7, 2006 4:29 PM

"I think that's right, but giving steroids to someone without the hand/eye coordination to hit a big league fast ball wouldn't make him a baseball player."

Recent descriptions of Barry Bonds' alleged pharmacological regimen suggest that certain drugs actually _did_ help his vision, and thus his coordination; at least, Bonds perceived things that way. In addition, hand-eye coordination only gets you so far - there's also bat speed, which steroids are likely to help a great deal. Finally, how many routine fly balls or lazy liners are turned into homers or doubles because of the extra zip steroid-padded muscle puts on the ball?

Strength may be a minor part of a baseball player's skill, but steroids help a great deal more than strength, as "b" has mentioned.

I don't think anyone denies that Bonds, Palmeiro or even McGuire weren't good or even great ballplayers before/without steroids. But they likely wouldn't have been _as_ good without them. The real question is whether we as baseball fans care about this. I haven't made up my mind, myself. It isn't a question of character - the comparisons in public surliness between Bonds and Ted Williams are probably apt, and I personally still remember Pete Rose's playing style with nothing but fondness.

But I find myself looking back on the past 10 years of baseball differently than on the 100 before them. Every era produces its share of "what ifs." What if the stars of the Negro Leagues had been able to play in the majors before the 1950s? Etc. etc. Now we have: what if the best players of the 1990s and early 2000s had been clean? A moral quagmire, but it'll keep the sabermetricians deep in publishing royalties for decades to come.

Posted by: M. Bulger at June 7, 2006 9:45 PM

Doggone it. That's "McGwire," not "McGuire." He's a baseball player, not an Air Force base, although in his steroid-pumped prime you might have mistaken him for at least a building.

Posted by: M. Bulger at June 7, 2006 9:48 PM

b: I'm not saying that steroids are no big deal. They clearly ought to be illegal. In fact, it makes for a nice distinction between economicly-informed conservatism and libertarianism. But I don't believe in asterisks and putting 716 balls out of the park is a great achievement.

M: Baseball players perceive that a whole bunch of things help them, almost all of which are superstitions, some more sophisticated than the rest. I'm sure that some doubles became home runs, but some became long outs. Hitting the ball solidly, meat of the bat on the center of the ball, is not a feat of strength.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 7, 2006 10:22 PM

" Baseball players perceive that a whole bunch of things help them, almost all of which are superstitions, some more sophisticated than the rest"

Like I said, meat for baseball debates for decades to come.

I find this "baseball exceptionalism" - that is, the idea that steroids are significant performance enhancers to athletes in all sports save one - to be just so much horse-crap. Of course Bonds and co. were good or great ballplayers; but steroids made them better. A case in point is Grimsley, a mediocre-to-bad pitcher made mediocre-to-good, and nowhere near great, by performance enhancers. Similarly, Bonds was headed for the top 20 or 30 career home run producers, but I doubt he could have managed 700 without steroids.

The effect of steroids on baseball is a bit more than a superstition. The "juiced" baseball of the homer-happy late 90's was a superstition. Steroids were the reality.

"Hitting the ball solidly, meat of the bat on the center of the ball, is not a feat of strength."

No, but how fast that ball comes off the meat of the bat _is_ a function of strength. Otherwise the best hitters in the recent history of the game - like Boggs and Gwynn - would have hit 60 in a season as well. You can't be built like a string bean and muscle one out of the park, no matter how well you can make contact.

Posted by: M. Bulger at June 8, 2006 8:37 AM

In fact, they're likely most helpful to baseball players, who have to play everyday, as they speed recovery tme from injury. It's certainly noteworthy how quickly guys who stopped using started missing time.

Posted by: oj at June 8, 2006 8:41 AM

oj: As I said to b, I do think that that is the great benefit to baseball players.

Football players are probably helped more by steroids. Strength counts for more and they get more battered. Baseball and basketball probably tie.

M: Giambi is a better player having gotten off steroids.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 8, 2006 11:49 AM

"M: Giambi is a better player having gotten off steroids."

How so? His BA is 40 to 70 points lower than in his steroid prime, while his power numbers (HR, slugging) are roughly the same or slightly lower. That's after his initial, post-steroid deflation. He's also a bit older, approaching his late thirties, so direct comparisons are difficult. His steroid prime coincided with what would have been his actual prime, so some dropoff is to be expected; the typical arc for a player like Giambi is to lose BA points and gain homers, so by adjustment his earlier BA looks only slightly inflated, his homers very much so. The truth is, we'll never know what his prime should have looked like, though.

Worth saying, as well, that with steroids - or, possibly, with whatever designer drugs are currently being plied to major leaguers that we don't even know about yet - Giambi could have pulled a Bonds and remained a power factory into his early 40's. Watch him fade, in the traditional way, without them.

Posted by: M. Bulger at June 8, 2006 12:53 PM

Hey man...sorry I missed the party. nokia6630

Posted by: marvel at July 1, 2006 10:48 PM