The best thing about thedrama is the sheer level of shell-shock it seems to introduce to the sports media. Now will they finally accept that drug testing is a joke? Guess what – Lance Armstrong juices. About the only guy who might not is Michael Phelps, and the holy rollers seem to object to his getting stoned, which is only performance enhancing insofar as it calms a man enough to spend six hours a day chasing a painted line across the bottom of a pool in hope of glory every four years.
Some stats the Major League players‘ association doesn’t want people to figure out.
By the way … I haven’t really seen this addressed, but I’m really confused by some steroid math.
It seems to be common knowledge that 104 players tested positive for steroid use in 2003. Right?
OK, to backtrack, it was said that more than 5 percent of players tested positive in 2003 — that’s why mandatory drug testing kicked in. It was reported then, and many times since, that between 5 and 7 percent of players tested positive. Those are the numbers you see again and again: 5-7 percent. I recall numerous stories at the time spinning the number, pointing out that “ONLY” 5 to 7 percent tested positive, and this proved that drug use was probably not nearly as common as people had assumed.
OK, to the point:
If 104 people tested positive, and it was 5% — that means they tested 2,080 baseball players.
If 104 people tested positive, and it was 6% — that means they tested 1,733 baseball players.
If 104 people tested positive, and it was 7% — that means they tested 1,485 baseball players.
OK, in 2003 there were 1,300 baseball players who got at least 1 at-bat in the big leagues or pitched 1/3 of an inning.
There were fewer than 1,000 baseball players who got at last 50 at-bats or pitched 25 innings.
There were roughly 432 players who qualified for the batting title, the ERA title or pitched 50 innings of relief.
In other words … I don’t get the 5-7 pwercent thing. I guess they might have tested a whole bunch of minor leaguers and minor players. I guess that 103 of the 104 positive tests might point to insignificant players just trying to bust through. But it sure seems like 104 failed tests is A LOT, and it’s also A LOT MORE THAN THEY LED US TO BELIEVE. Maybe 104 is legitimately 5-7 percent of the tests, but depending on who those 104 are, it might have represented a monstrous problem. Once you take everything into account (the difficulty of tracking designer drugs; the potential complicity of the union; the incentives to not get caught) the 104 might represent something closer to ‘s famous “50 percent” statement in the 1990s.
And an interesting anecdote that is on my mind, from the same column:
I remember years ago being in a high school accounting class, and we had this teacher who let anyone cheat (and by cheat I mean you could walk up to the front and copy right out of the teacher’s book — nothing subtle here). I never knew for sure if she let people cheat because she was semi-senile or if she was simply so tired of teaching high school accounting, so beaten down, she didn’t want to mess with grading. Pretty much everybody got a good grade in that class (which may have led to my own delusions of becoming an accountant). And the others just didn’t show up.
Here’s what I remember: It was so clear that she WANTED us to cheat — or at the very least she did not care — that it didn’t even feel like cheating. Guys were shouting out the answers. It frankly felt STUPID to do the work, especially with graduation day so close and the sun out. Still, I remember one guy who simply refused to cheat. I mean, he would not even listen to the answers when they were shouted out. This guy wasn’t brilliant, and as I recall he wasn’t holier than thou or anything like that. A-Rod — well, whether he’s innocent or guilty, lots of us have at least a little A-Rod in us. The whole sad story is probably not much more complicated than that. Human nature. But I used to watch this guy sometimes, the guy who didn’t cheat, and I’d wonder what was going on in his head. I never quite figured it out.