White Paper- gymrat

1: Working Hypothesis 1

  • Major League Baseball players should be able to take performance-enhancing drugs with no consequence, as their enhanced performance has no correlation to teams winning the world series, division, or even making the playoffs.

1a: Working Hypothesis 2

  • If the MLB allows one player from each team to take PEDs will even the playing field when it comes to the use of banned substances, thus making the game solely about the skill and chemistry of the team.

2: Five Academic Sources

Did He Really Earn It? An Examination of Anabolic-Androgenic Steroid Use in Sports


Anabolic androgenic steroids(AAS) are one of baseball’s most rampantly used Performance Enhancing Drugs. Yet, Dexter McMillan states sports are considering allowing the use of steroids, as mentioned above. Anabolic steroids have many services in our society, but for baseball, it helps with throwing faster and hitting further, as McMillan puts it. The most commonly used form of AAS is synthetic testosterone which helps accelerate muscle growth and speed the body’s recovery.

Of course, side effects come along with it, and I quote “steroid abuse.” However, abuse is the key word here. Dexter McMillan cites studies that tease out low infertility rates, extreme acne, and the ever-so-common roid rage. These could potentially harm the user, but Dexter McMillian later quotes in Did He Really Earn It, “Many advocate for controlled use of this(human growth hormone) substance to speed up recovery from injury.” HGH in itself is an unfair advantage; if teams can use it to quicken the recovery from an injury, they should be allowed to enhance the performance of the individual.

There have been many doping scandals throughout the decades, but the MLB’s most significant was during the 1990s and 2000s. The Mitchell Report was a private investigation highlighting many players using PEDs in professional baseball. McMillian states, “This report drew considerable media attention to the problem of doping in baseball,” while continuing to explain, “this scandal tarnished the reputation of several legendary players such as Roger Clemens. Yet, it was never further explained why PEDs tarnished Clemens’ career. If it was for using a PED, I don’t quite see, but I could understand if it gave his team an unfair advantage at winning.

Let’s further examine this notion of cheating. As McMillian states, “Cheating is more accepted in baseball.” McMillian continues to quote studies that claim that athletes would take a substance to allow them to remain undefeated, even if it means that substance will kill them. There have been corked bats with George Brett, the Houston Astros stealing signs, or Gerrit Cole using pine tar to make his pitches have more movement. Yet, none of these studies quote or suggest that these players took PEDs in a controlled environment. There’s a difference between abusing heroin on the streets and receiving morphine in a hospital.

Arguments are made that anti-doping measures are a waste of millions of dollars. If it were legal to take PEDs, more athletes could safely take them under a doctor’s supervision, thus leveling the playing field. McMillian states, “it’s hard to imagine children growing up and idolizing an athlete for their athletic prowess knowing that they did not earn through hard work.” Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez are two more players who got their names “tarnished,” but who is to say they weren’t the hardest workers on their teams, even with them taking PEDs?

McMillian attempts to counter argue studies that state legalizing and monitoring athletes’ hormone levels would level the playing field. In this study, as long as the athlete didn’t go over a certain threshold, they were able to compete. Just as McMillian reiterates, they recommended HGH, not anabolic steroids. However, in recent years, it is more common to hear the abuse of HGH in baseball, not AAS. There’s no guarantee, especially in a sport that requires 150 milliseconds to decide to hit a baseball, that a player using PEDs will significantly impact their team’s performance.

Steroids In Baseball? Say it ain’t so, Bud

In July of 1995, Bob Nightengale posted an Article for The Sporting News where he was one of the earliest to report on the suspected use of steroids in major league baseball. In the 90s, when it first became public knowledge of steroid use in the MLB, it was already a secret society of sorts within the league. Many executives, players, and trainers knew there was prevalent use of PEDs, but everyone looked the other way.

One American League manager states within Nightengale’s Steroids in baseball, “I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s closer to 30 percent…We had one team in our league a few years ago that the entire lineup may have been on it.” Many players and managers believed it was easy to tell who was on PEDs due to their increased muscle mass. To some, they felt like the PEDs had such an effect on player performance that it took players past their prime and their skills to a new high they’ve never reached. 

The commissioner, Bud Selig, saw no empirical evidence at the time saying steroid use should be a concern. Bud Selig states, “If baseball has a problem, I must say candidly that we’re not aware of it.” It poses the question of whether or not steroids truly affected a team’s outcome of the season due to a singular player’s PED usage. 

During the 90s, it was prohibited to randomly drug test athletes if they were non-drug offenders. There was no policy to enforce drug testing or to restrict PED usage, but statements such as Worrel’s do nothing but insinuate abuse of PEDs. Former Dodgers closer Todd Worrel argued,” We’ve got guys out there willing to risk their lives just for a piece of glory.” It seems quick to assume that every player who takes steroids will shorten their life.

Baseball Without the Steroids

Mike Matheny, a former MLB catcher, was the type of player who never saw the spotlight. He rarely played during his time spent with the Toronto Blue Jays, but as Esquire’s Chris Jones states, “he was working hard all the same.” No matter how hard Matheny worked, his manager Jim Fregosi never looked his way. Mike Matheny may not have torn up the stat sheets offensively, but he quickly became one of the best defensive catchers. 

Names like Jose Canseco, Sammy Sosa, and Jason Giambi are all names thrown through the mud for testing positive for PED use. Through all the chaos that steroid testing brought about in the late 90s early 2000s, front office managers like the Giant’s Brian Sabean were trying to move past steroid testing to create a winning team. Even with one of the world’s greatest hitters, Barry Bonds (who was using PEDs), the Giants missed the playoffs in 2004. Giants struggled on defense, with Sabean saying, ” Fixing that was something I just had to do.” Enter Mike Matheny, who became a hot commodity for his impeccable skills behind the plate. Matheny signed a three-year $10.5 million contract with the Cardinals, where he won three Gold Glove awards.

During the steroid era, defense became a lost art in baseball. Defensive intangibles got lost in the background by a player’s capabilities to hit home runs. The better a player’s power numbers, the higher the paycheck. Giants manager Felipe Alou said, “Managers don’t have a grip on their players… those players have lost their grip on the ball.” This lost grip on defensive skills left many teams in shambles to put together great support behind their pitcher. With the new shift in focus Brian Sabean brought in 37-year-old Omar Vizquel and the slick catcher Mike Matheny. This change in focus from home run hitting to defensive prowess was the spark of hope San Fransisco sought.

Chris Jones believed that steroid testing would be the key that started the revolution back to the old way of playing baseball. 2005 was the would-be test for a defensive-minded team who wouldn’t have to focus on Barry Bond’s juiced-up power. Defense isn’t sexy, it doesn’t bring crowds to the ballpark as home runs do, but it is a hope that teams don’t need PEDs to be successful.

Contextualization of a Shifting Perspective Regarding the Steroid Era

Contextualization of a Shifting Perspective Regarding the Steroid Era sought to sift through the anecdotal signs that the interest in baseball is waning. “The steroid era is widely recognized as having sparked increasingly elevated levels of scrutiny of baseball.” Patrick Antinori and Rodney J. Blackman state that the best way to revive the game of baseball is for the MLB to tighten its policies. 

Primary sources for this study included judicial statements, medical accounts, and literature such as magazines and Youtube videos. The historical research only chose topics relevant to the steroid era, appeared in the public domain, was a credible source, and addressed the choices and consequences of the steroid era. Some of these criteria are subjective in what we think is credible and relative to the story. Yet, the overall goal remained to study the steroid era and the shift in perspective of those times. 

“The notion that this time period in baseball can be forgotten and erased from the minds of baseball enthusiasts is coming to a crumbling end.” The Sport Journal publication strides forward with the announcement of Bud Selig’s induction into the Hall of Fame. His induction corresponded to a new way of thinking from the general public; someone associated with the steroid era was finally in the Hall of Fame. 

Then came 2017, when two more players, Ivan Rodriguez and Jeff Bagwell, were inducted into the Hall of Fame. Even with baseball’s steroid scandals, the sport’s loved by people all over the world, but to keep phenoms from the Hall of Fame for “not well-enforced rules is a slight on the MLB itself, not the players.

Steroids weren’t the first time a drug scandal plagued the MLB. Tabloids rage all the time over the abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and cocaine in the league. Many players were looking for a way to calm the nerves of a 162-game season, and when then-commissioner Peter Ueberroth outlawed cocaine, the players turned back to amphetamines. Most players were taking legal forms of the stimulant, but it raises the question, how did players switch from amphetamines to steroids?

The Great Home Run Chase of 1998 changed the tide of baseball and the usage of steroids in baseball forever; after the league-wide strike in 1994, attendance for most teams was down. So the league expanded in 1998; it introduced the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays. By the end of the year, Mark McGwire blasted his way to 62 home runs on the season. The ridiculous power numbers kept replicating year after year, and writers and authorities searched for answers to why and thus came the realization that PEDs and steroids became rampant throughout the league.

Steroids have been around since the early 1900s, yet it was the first time the MLB had to face the anabolic drug. In 1990 anabolic steroids were placed in the same category as ketamine and cocaine, and Congress swiftly made it an illegal drug across the country. The use of steroids was rising due to lucrative contracts; the MLB shifted its focus from testing for cocaine to steroids. No one knows how many people took steroids during the coined era, but it electrified attendance in baseball during a struggling time. Owners and players were getting paid, and writers received electrifying stories, all because any person could hit a home run at any moment.

Although the steroid era may only be a small mistake within baseball’s long history, it casts a shadow of doubt on many players’ records and accomplishments during that time. In 2004 26 more substances were banned by George W. Bush. Three years later, the infamous Mitchell Report was published, indicting seven Most Valuable Player winners and 31 all-stars of steroid use. The government tried to convict most of these high-profile players but failed. Yet, it led to a new drug testing policy in 2005.

After the steroid era, many questions arose. Rules changed, punishments became harsher, but money flowed into the pockets of owners, players, and lawyers—anyone who knowingly or unknowingly had their hand in the steroid game. People looked to baseball as an example of what not to do in the face of rampant steroid use. Many believe society should tarnish PED players’ names forever, but some still get elected into the Hall of Fame, one of the game’s most prestigious honors. Ultimately, Antinori and Blackman said it best; “As the developing shift in sentiment regarding the steroid era takes hold… this can be done by clearly posting the relevant statistics that got a particular player elected into the Hall of Fame.” From there, let the visiting fans form their opinion on whether that player deserves to be there.


‘The Natural’ ? The Effect of Steroids on Offensive Performance in Baseball

Many athletes in today’s world are superhuman. Yet, the speculation that many professional baseball players have used illegal PEDs has left a sour taste in many fans’ mouths. In “The Natural,” authors Brian Schmotzer, Patrick D. Kilgo, and Jeff Switchenko examine the use of steroids in the MLB and its effect on individual performance. It’s not clear the impact steroids have on a player’s performance at first. Enhanced strength can lead to more power from a hitter, but the batter still must make contact with the ball. 

On December 13, 2007, the “Mitchell Report” was released, summing a private investigation on performance-enhancing drugs and their effects on baseball. The report included evidence against 89 players of PED use with the specific season and the type of PED used. “The Natural” then created a database with alleged players, the season in which the players abused the drugs, the kind of PED, and the source of the allegations. 

Ten days after the Mitchell Report was released, J.R. Cole and Stephen Stigler completed a non-peer-reviewed study of 48 hitters and 23 pitchers; they concluded that steroid use had no impact on the performance of either position. The Chance publication continued by stating that accused players used studies like the above to try to clear themselves of abuse. “On January,28,2008, Roger Clemens… released a 45-page report… that concluded his sustained performance into the latter years of his career was not aberrant,” which brought out counterclaims refuting the scientific prowess of the study. This study from Schmotzer, Kilgo, and Switchenko did what most studies of their era did not; they had a proper control group to make appropriate comparisons. 

The study included all offensive seasons from 1995 to 2007 in which a hitter had at least 50 plate appearances(PA). This era of time was the steroid era, and the study only focused on steroid use in hitters. To assess the players’ performance, the authors measured their success by the stat runs created per 27 out(RC27). This stat measures the mean number of runs the team would be expected to score if the batter exclusively batted for his team. RC27 was the main statistics “The Natural” focused on, but the authors considered others such as home runs and on-base percentage. 

Age can determine a player’s performance, so to avoid that being a confounding variable, the study made age adjustments for all players represented. This age effect had outliers such as Barry Bonds, who produced unfathomable numbers in his late 30s. Yet, even with the selection bias of teams hiring only the best older players, the truth of how age affects players must be quantifiable. “The Natural” decided on the “paired seasons” approach, which allowed them to calculate the RC27 adjustment needed for a player’s age. “For example, the average RC27 at age 24 was 4.49, the overall average was 4.87, so the age adjustment for 24-year-old players was 0.38.” This age adjustment meant that and season by a 24-year-old would be increased by 0.38, allowing them to figure out the methodology to age adjust the other statistics as well.

The authors chose a linear mixed effects mode to estimate the effects steroids had on performance. Their simplest model denoted zero as non-steroid seasons and one as steroid seasons. This model allowed them to analyze data where one subject contributes more than one observation to their data. Their resulting equation was RC27= 4.62+0.83, which accounted for the 4.62 average RC27 of non-steroid seasons and the 5.45 steroid average calculated using their associated steroid predictor slope.

The study results are five graphs labeled 2-6. Figure 2 focuses on the effect of steroids on RC27. It states that the estimated impact ranges from 4% to 18%, leading to four extra wins in a season on average. These findings led to a deep dive into stats such as Home runs, Isolated Power, Stolen Bases, and RC27(HGH based.) Simply put, the findings for home runs proved similar to RC27 but had more variables impacting the results. Isolated power and stolen bases saw a 10% increase and a 20% decrease, respectively. Lastly, RC27 examined under the scope of HGH users’ saw “no evidence that HGH is associated with an increase in offensive performance.” I want to state that during the presentation of these results, our three authors use vernacular such as likely, probaly, and it appears to describe their findings for using steroid statistics. However, they confidently state that HGH does not affect increased offensive output without a shadow of a doubt.

The Natural” states that the “Mitchell Report” was not intended for statistical analysis. This created possibilities for false negatives and false positives for a season that was incorrectly a steroid or non-steroid season. Other limitations include knowledge of how much steroids went into each player’s body, if any, and whether or not a player used a Ped for quicker rehab of an injury, which led to their enhanced performance. So even though their studies have shown the authors positive correlations between anabolic steroid use on offensive production, no definitive statements proved a player’s enhanced performance led their team to the playoffs.

3: Topics For Smaller Papers

  1. Defining key terms
    • I would explain the differences between the drugs used by MLB players, and the potential effects they could have, and teach the benefits of some of these drugs.
  2. Analytical Report
    • I could use this time to take a deep dive into a sample size group of statistics and compare steroid era years to no steroid years, and explore the differences in their statistics.
  3. Analytical Rebuttal
    • I would use this time to provide statistics to disprove the counter-argument that PEDs gave a team an unfair advantage.

4: Current State of My Research

I have found a PDF copy of the Mitchell Report. This was a 409-page journal to the commissioner of baseball published after a private investigation was done on PEDs in baseball and other sports. I will read through this and add it to my academic sources; it’s just a hefty bit of information.

Works Cited

Schmotzer, B., Kilgo, P. D., & Switchenko, J. (2009). ‘The natural’? the effect of steroids on offensive performance in baseball. Chance, 22(2), 21-32. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s00144-009-0016-z

Patrick Antinori, & Rodney J Blackman. (2017). Contextualization of a Shifting Perspective Regarding the Steroid Era. The Sport Journal.

Nightengale. (1995). Steroids in baseball? Say it ain’t so, Bud. (Bud Selig). The Sporting News, 219(30), 16–.

Jones. (2005). Baseball Without the Steroids. Esquire (1979), 143(6), 66–.

McMillan, D. (2012, May 1). Did he Really Earn it? An Examination of Anabolic-Androgenic Steroid Use in Sports. University of British Columbia’s Undergraduate Journal of Psychology, 1. https://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/ubcujp/article/view/2509

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3 Responses to White Paper- gymrat

  1. gymrat230 says:

    Professor Hodges. I feel as if my summaries could’ve been wordy, so I would like some feedback on possibly simplifying my ideas.

  2. davidbdale says:

    Your summaries can be as wordy as you want them to be, Gymrat. Their purpose is to communicate to you.

    However, they can serve the added benefit of being good practice for explaining your material to others, translating and revising the original material into your own clear claims. Reading through what you’ve recorded so far, I find it difficult in most cases to discern your own “take” on the material. Perhaps you’re still deciding what you believe. But once you start to draw conclusions, you should start drafting Practice Openings or other Practice paragraphs to frame your ideas clearly.

    • gymrat230 says:

      This is helpful. I do feel as if I used the summaries more as communication to myself. I need to spend more time discerning the information into my own claims.

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