Wednesday, November 28, 2007

25 on 25

Yeah, this is my 25th post here at RMC. And, the 800-lb gorilla is back, #25 himself, BLB. I can't seem to separate sports (baseball, that is) from reality. I wish I could. Really. I just like watching baseball and arguing about it. You know, 'who's the best player?' or 'would you bunt here?' or 'do bullpen coaches actually work?' and stuff like that. Damn, that's fun! Speculating on trades, pining away for some superstar to join your team, that is part and parcel of fandom. But goddamn real-life keeps butting in. Speaking of real life, did you know that Joe DiMaggio worked for the Mob? Yeah. Kind of puts the steroid "scandal" into perspective, eh? Speaking of that, here's another great bit of reporting on steroids, sports and culture. Peripherally, it is about Bonds, because he is the Poster Boy for the 'New Era.' But it is really about life and the times. Y'know, we live in a pharmacological wonderland--better living through biochemistry! At least we hope so.

The homepage for Tom Dispatch is here.
Robert Lipsyte can be found here.
The article is called Shooting Up on Jock Culture and is from 2006, so it doesn't discuss the home run record or the indictment. Warning: definitely NOT a reality-free zone. Next post, I promise, will be back to baseball La-La Land, where we talk about the Giants getting out of last place.


nancyo said...

I am just reading the past few days & spendig more time than I thought I had with D.K. Wilson and Robert Lipsyte -- and feeling really sad about the whole thing, including the 'mob' sacrificing of Barry Bond's entire life. I have wondered, on occasion, how many significant black sports writers there are working out there. Lipsyte's writing about the early & pervasive & well-known use of steroids et al & the duplicity of nearly everyone in and out of sports is really sad and true. I spent some years in Texas, where high-school football was given to Texas by God, and no means were too outside to win the Friday night game. And don't we want all of this knowledge to just go away and spring training (which always feels innocent)to start....

Zo said...

Here is part of Bruce Jenkins' 3 Dot Lounge column in the 12/1 Chron Sporting Green. I expected a little better from Bruce. Not much, but a little.

"If Beane wants to destroy team chemistry, the clubhouse mood and any semblance of sanity by signing Barry Bonds, hey, maybe he doesn't have that much to lose. Remember this, though: Over the past two seasons, Bonds hurt the Giants more from a baseball standpoint than any steroid-related issues. Without Bonds - even if they don't make a single deal - the Giants will improve at least five games in the standings, simply because they can call themselves a team."

When I read this, I think "What the f@%# is he talking about?" Then I remembered all the ex-teammates who have talked about what a divisive force Barry was in the clubhouse, and THEN, I remembered that I can't recall any of them. I was just about to look up a few stats to back these up, but I found that the tremendous Mr. Tremendous had beat met to it. See for today's post.

But here is a little more. There is a stat called BatWins - the number of wins created by a batter over that of an average batter. Bonds is a 4.3 for 2006, the last year stats are available on So another way to state the conclusions of Mr. Jenkins' careful research is that an average player would have a BatWins stat of about 9. Except that there are none of those. The last person to score that high was, um, excuse me, Barry Bonds, back in 2004. The only guy that are still active that could get you close to that is Sammy Sosa (8.5), except that was back in 2001 (the "innocent" steroid era).

Here is another stat to illustrate Bruce's point: Win Shares, developed by Bill James, which gives a statistically derived value for the number of wins a player is responsible for, and a derivation, WSAB, or win shares above bench, the number of win shares greater than an average replacement player, which is what Bruce is saying about Bonds (his presence deducted 5 wins compared to just any old schmo). Win shares are multiplied by 3 and decimals eliminated, so the actual number of wins can be expected to be 1/3 of the Win shares value. In 2007, Bonds' WSAB was 12, meaning he created 4 wins more than an average replacement. So to get 5 more wins, a player would have have a WSAB value of 27. Except in 2007, no one did that, either, although ARod came close. Carlos Beltran had a 2006 WSAB of 27, but no other player (2004 forward) except Barry Bonds' 2004 WSAB value of 41. (Ed note: Yow!) I never realized that being such a good batter could be so hard on team chemistry, and I'm betting we read a lot about team chemistry on the Giants next year.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Jenkins is a clown.