Monday, May 16, 2011

Bautista's Amazing Run

By any measure, Jose Bautista is on a monster run. In his last 162 games the Blue Jays basher has banged out 64 home runs. That's a historic number. It's exciting. It's thrilling. Well, it should be anyway.

But I have a hard time getting into it. And I know why: The steroid era hangs like a dark cloud over anything that smacks of amazing on the diamond. Bautista might be another victim of baseball's lazy approach to dealing with performance enhancing drugs. Maybe he's perfectly clean and just blossomed late. Later than anyone ever.

I'll admit I was transfixed by the Mark McGwire-Sammy Sosa duel to break Roger Maris' season home run mark. But the old saying goes "Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on you." And baseball managed to out one over on all of us. And they did it over and over.

I remember seeing Alex Rodriguez at his first spring training with the New York Yankees. I had seen him years earlier when he was a youngster with the Seattle Mariners. When I saw him in Tampa, I told my wife he looks like a cartoon character. I never believed he was clean again. And I think it would be absurd to believe that he and all the others caught using steroids and their cousins did it just "once" or a "few times."

I know baseball Commissioner Bud Selig tells us the game has never been more popular. And by the numbers he's probably right. But I can't help thinking something has been lost. Maybe for others baseball still evokes looks of wide-eyed wonder at long home runs and amazing seasons.

Yes, I still love the game. And I still cheer when Prince Fielder sends a missile 500 feet into the bleachers. But in the back of my mind I always wonder if what I am seeing is based on chemicals.

I hope someday baseball will regain my total trust. In a way it shocks me to see the media pump out Bautista stories just like they did about McGwire, Sosa and all the rest. And when someone dares mention the possibility of performance enhancing drugs, he is met with disdain of Internet readers.

I'm not sure what comes after "Shame me twice ..."


  1. Yes, Bautista has discovered a magical blend of steroids that makes him and ONLY him able to hit home runs at an almost unprecedented rate as the home run numbers drop around the league. The numerous articles and TV shows analyzing his altered swing are way off base... You sir, deserve a cookie!

  2. There are other players I am skeptical about. If it's so easy to alter a swing and go from journeyman to superstart why aren't others following suit?

  3. Because not everyone has the same innate talent and untapped potential?

    Your argument works just as well the other direction: If it's so easy to shoot up and transform into the greatest hitter on the planet, why aren't others following suit?

  4. Actually, not all, but many, many players did shoot up. Did you miss the news reports on the steroid era?

  5. Roger Meris, and babe Ruth must have been juicing too, because its impossible to hit 50+HR without doing it.

  6. This is a good article. I hope that the universe we live in is the one where a mediocre, undersized, middle-aged utility man can pull himself up by his own bootstraps and become one of the greatest power hitters in baseball history.

    There aren't a lot of stories like that. There are a lot of stories about people who figured out how to beat a drug test, though.

    Anyway, I hope he's for real.

  7. Thanks for the feedback. I agree. I hope he's clean, too.

  8. I stopped reading when you said he hit 64 homeruns. It was 54 homeruns, actually. Get your facts straight.

    If you can't get a simple number correct then everything else you say is worthless and a waste of time to read.

  9. Peter, Sorry if you misunderstood. Bautista had 164 HRs over his last 162 games as of the writing of the post. He did hit 54 last season.

  10. Bautista is 175 pounds soaking wet. Steroids? Really?

  11. Actually, he's listed at 195. And the key to steroids or many other PEDS is they allow you to work out more with less rest. It's not about weight gain, it's abut muscle.

  12. Please delete above, thanks.
    I read your article looking for something new, some new observation or logic that was missed by others and identified by yourself that lent credence to the tired argument that Bautista must be juicing.

    No such new element was supplied but the same tired conclusion was rolled out none the less. I am not sure if it is your logic skills or your writing skills which so obviously betrayed you in this instance but lets examine in more depth some of the elements you failed to consider or gave inadequate attention.

  13. cont..
    More strange than one person successfully escaping detection and juicing without change to his physique in the way that characterized so many other juicers that you refer to (Arod the cartoon, Bonds, etc) is the fact that Bautista with the limited resources available to a journey man player (Arod has 100s of millions and Pujol at least 10s of millions while Bautista's lifetime earning before this year was likely less than 10 million total) is that after almost 2 years of supposedly surreptitiously juicing, those providing the means and those with the means to afford it would have somehow found each other and others (see arod for example) would have joined Bautista in dramtically increasing their home runs. Capitalism, greed and human nature would dictate that Bautista could not monopolize this "surept juice" in the face of the potential billion dollar market desiring it. The value of the surept juice is even greater in the context of the pitcher's new found dominance over the hitter in the last season or two. How much do you think Manny would have paid for the surept juice when his resources dwarf any Bautista could bring to bear, either to pay for it or to prevent its wider distribution?

  14. cont..
    Also when you observe Bautista's batting from September 09 to date a steady progression is observable instead of a massive increase and plateau. He started off just hitting home runs, 10 in sept 09., then walks and home runs in the 2010 season, and finally walks, batting avg, and homeruns in 2011. Can juicing increase patience at the plate and batting eye on breaking balls out of the zone? Unless the surept juice mimics, Steve Austin's bionic man (see 70s tv series called the six million dollar man for reference) his only enhanced attribute from the juice should be power, not batting eye, power, and hand coordination.

    When you combine the fact that Bautista is a superb defensive player and a skilled base runner with his elevated approach at the plate it is clear that he is currently the best player in baseball.

    I, like you, was made skeptical of unprecedented power surges in baseball by what has gone before in baseball's checkered history. However, skeptical and cynical are two completely different things. I feel sorry for you that you can't focus your skepticism and use it to either confirm (logically and not through blanket condemnation) or deny your cynicism about Bautista because you are missing something that is truly special. And as a self proclaimed lifelong baseball fan the loss is yours and it is a terrible price to pay. I have a quote I developed at a young age. Cynicism is its own reward. Doesn't a true baseball fan deserve more than that?

    I look forward to your response.

  15. I agree it is a terrible price to pay. And I hope he is clean. But I do find it hard to believe. The "proof" that he's clean are the same arguments used to defend Barry Bonds: He's so patient at the plate (drugs don't make you hit the ball), his eye-hand coordination is the best. I am skeptical (I don't think cynical). I do think the people who make PEDs are adept at staying ahead of the testers. I enjoy watching the games, discussing the strategy and rooting for my team. I think it's an unfair reading of my post to call it a blanket condemnation. I do not condemn Jose Bautista, but I do not jump on the bandwagon anymore for him or any other player.I do appreciate your comments and hope you will continue to visit the website and comment on my ideas.

  16. I do acknowledge that many of the same theories to support Bautista's success were used for Bonds. However the whole league used peds back then to lift offensive production across the board as peds filtered across the league. Because bonds starting point was so high talent wise one may argue that that was the reason he rose above others with there help.

    However, in the case of Bautista, you have a man, who previous to 09, demonstrated no super human abilities which peds could augment to his current video game like performance. Moreover, as pitchers dominate everywhere save his at bats it makes his stand out performances even more remarkable. Consequently, I believe that given the ubiquitous existence of capitalism, greed and human nature that, if special peds were responsible, they would be more widely circulated than solely with a journey man, utility infielder/outfielder of the Toronto Blue Jays.

    It took a long time and alot of analysis and watching of games for me to believe but now I do. While the steroid era did serious harm to that wonder which believes I am glad, even if I am later proven mistaken, that I do.

    I believe it is better to believe and be proven incorrect than never to believe at all. Don't let them take that from you.

    Thanks for taking the time to politely respond to my comments. You have a good looking site and I will return. I hope oneday the wonder returns and you find a way to believe again, even if it isn't for Jose.


  17. Actually, I believe the quote is "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

  18. Yes, you are right. That was a typo. Thanks.

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