by request: jackie brown (quentin tarantino, 1997)
music friday: pussy riot

melky cabrera

I feel obliged to say something, and that right there is reason enough to be pissed off.

This is a personal reaction. I do not give two shits about the use of so-called performance “enhancing” drugs in baseball. I’m not pissed because Melky used testosterone, I’m pissed because he got caught. Cheating happens in baseball, and I’m not one to try very hard to extract moral lessons from the sport. What matters more than anything to me is that the Giants will have to play the rest of the season without Cabrera, not that Cabrera cheated.

My opinion about the efficacy of PEDs, specifically in the case of Melky Cabrera, is largely in agreement with Jack Dickey in this article (the full article details Dickey’s analysis, and I’ll leave it for you to click on the link so I don’t have to cut-and-paste everything Dickey wrote … I’ll just give the conclusions):

[A] closer examination of Cabrera's numbers suggests an alternate possibility: Performance-enhancing drugs haven't done much at all for his offense. …

This year's version of Melky is more or less last year's version of Melky, only with a different approach at the plate: more ground balls. And last year's Melky was more or less the same old Melky he had always been, just a little lighter on his feet. That transformation isn't outlandish for a player entering his prime, and it sure as hell isn't indicative of a player receiving a significant chemical boost.

One can question Dickey’s methods, and some commenters offer useful critiques. But you can also find in the comments a type of “analysis” that is meat-headed. A couple of examples: “Of course these things worked. Why else would so many players constantly keep taking them and risk everything.” And: “Players simply wouldn't take the risk if they didn't see a tangible benefit to what they're doing. What the hell would the point be?” My take on such arguments is much like another commenter who noted that “They believe there are benefits and there may be. But, how many athletes go around with those stupid ‘magic bracelets’ and other stupid hokum?”

Meanwhile, to my mind, Cabrera’s biggest offense is being stupid. Victor Conte, founder of BALCO and someone who knows a thing or two about PEDs, thinks “maybe as much as half of baseball” is using PEDs, adding “The only people that get caught are the dumb, and the dumber.”

This isn’t an attempt to excuse Cabrera because everyone else does it. Like I say, I don’t care who does it. I’m selfish … I only care about how it affects me, and that lies solely in Melky’s future absence from the Giants’ lineup.

What I tire of … and it goes without saying that a fan of the Giants and of Barry Bonds has had extensive opportunities to be tired … what I tire of is the endless attempt to turn this shit into an excuse for moralizing. Gaylord Perry goes to the Hall of Fame on a road greased with Vaseline and spit, and everyone thinks it’s cute. Players switch from glasses to contacts to laser surgery, and everyone congratulates them for taking advantage of advances in science. But drugs are treated as a moral issue. And I don’t care if you smoke weed, I don’t care if you’re a junkie, I don’t care if you are a drunk, unless you crash into my car driving while drunk or rob my house because you need money for a fix. And I don’t care if a baseball player does something outside of the rules to improve his performance. I think the player is stupid, I don’t think his performance is being improved as much as he believes, I don’t like it when a guy on my favorite team gets caught. But I don’t worry about the broken-hearted little kid who thought Melky Cabrera was a role model, I don’t worry about what Melky Cabrera says about American morality, I don’t care about anything except that the Giants are worse now than they were yesterday, and that I’ll have to listen to a bunch of pseudo-moralists whine about the decline of western civilization. I’ve been there before, and it was just as boring to me then as it will be now.