An interesting angle coming out of the Palmeiro case is the question of the internal politics at work. The AP’s Tim Dahlberg writes,
You have to be slightly suspicious that both [Selig & Fehr] might have been involved in the interesting timing surrounding the announcement Monday that Palmeiro tested positive for steroids.
Given the way baseball’s ponderous grievance process works, there’s no doubt those in the know have known for weeks, if not months, about the positive test. The only question is whether it goes all the way back to spring training, when tests were going on about the same time Congress was holding hearings.
If such strategizing took place, it may have worked. MLB did get a slight nod from Congressmen for its “handling” of the case. On the other hand, if Palmeiro opens up to Congress, it may open up a whole can of worms for MLB.
Another question related to the internal politics comes courtesy of one my colleagues here Reed Vesey. Where is the voice of the clean guys? There are to answers that come to mind:
1) Few players take steroids but the Player’s Association machinery keeps a tight rein on “narcs” to hold down the possible negative reaction. Tom Glavine’s response to Turk Wendell’s refreshing honesty last season had the marks of a “Goodfella” stamping out rats in the network. One would have thought poor Turk to have been the culprit rather than a good guy.
2) The clean guys represent a minority view. In thinking about the evidence, I’m more convinced that this is closer to the truth. Canseco guessed that 80 percent of MLB use performance enhancers. Caminiti guessed 50 percent. The fact that the 8 players caught by the feeble MLB testing policy come from all over the positional map is another bit of evidence. Plus, hardly any players in MLB resemble their 1980s counterparts, who look like high schoolers running around with their skinny bodies. In this view, guys like Glavine are doing the same job, but it is not so much the tail wagging the dog as the dog wagging the tail.
Dahlberg’s title and main theme, Who You Gonna Believe? Players or the results? poses a second observation about the whole mess. Liars may use statistics, but statistics expose liars. Even without the Palmeiro developments, we all have a pretty good idea what is going on as Dalhlberg notes. Aaron, Mays, and Killibrew all found their power stroke very early in their careers. Not only did the recent crop of home run kings find theirs all around 1993-1995, but they found it well into their careers. Moreover, they also found the fountain of youth with the likes of Palmeiro, Sosa, and Bonds hitting a lot more homers after 35 than in their mid and late 20s. The numbers cause me to wonder about a certain pitcher whose exploits have flown under the radar of suspicion but whose numbers only seem to be improving with advanced playing age. Nolan Ryan may have kept going a long time, but his numbers did not match (or exceed) those of his earlier years.