The story freely admits that neither Conte or Rodriguez was interested in doing anything illegal. Still, every other sports page has now picked on the story and is playing it as more evidence that Rodriguez was trying to cheat, or trying to break the rules. He wasn't.
Last week, Major League Baseball suspended Rodriguez for 214 games for violating the MLB's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Rodriguez' name appeared on a list complied by the Biogenesis Lab of Miami. One or more former employees provided the list of names, which included Ryan Braun, to a local weekly paper, the Miami New Times. The Biogeneis Lab is now closed but billed itself as an anti-aging clinic. MLB says Rodriguez possessed and used banned drugs, but no evidence about that has leaked out to the press. Rodriguez appealed the suspension and is allowed to play until the appear is heard.
The second story comes from the Washington Post. The writer, David Epstein, pulls out the big guns for this one. Epstein brought in the work of a Yale economics professor to support his claims that what led Alex Rodriguez use steroids in the first place (Rodriguez did admit to using them for three years while he played with the Texas Rangers from 2001-2003) was his obsession with looking good, with vanity. Epstein says the reason Rodriguez got involved with the Biogenesis Lab was to add more years to his career. Rodriguez already has money. He signed a 10 year, $275 million contract with the New York Yankees in 2007.
Epstein and his Yale professor muse say hitters have a slide in production after the age of 29, but the article did not provide any numbers. Epstein said:
"But in his analysis, the economist Fair identified 18 hitters who, for a while anyway, kept Father Time at bay. From that group, all but one (Charlie Gehringer) retired after 1989 — in or near the steroid era. The list of age-defying outliers includes a notorious who’s who: Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Ken Caminiti, Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa. Clearly, some of the stars of the steroid era used drugs to compensate for, or protect, what Father Time was absconding with."
You can add Babe Ruth to the list, but before we do I think its worth noting that our Yale professor only found Gehringer to be exception even though he and Ruth played against each other for nine or ten years. The comparison between Gehringer and "the list of age-defying outliers," is an apples to oranges comparison. Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Ken Caminiti, Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa were all home run hitters. Gehringer only hit 184 in an 18 year career.
The professor says players begin to decline the age of 29. Well in 1924, at the age of 29 Babe Ruth had 200 hits, 46 HR's and lead the league with 142 walks. Ruth only played in 98 games the following year, but between 1926 when he was 31 and 1931 when he was 36, Ruth hit 302 of his 715 homers, he also led the league in walks in each of those years. And in 1932, Ruth hit 41 home runs. Two things: one it appears that the professor forgot to add Ruth to the short list which he says contains on Charlie Gehringer, and two its clear that Ruth had phenomenal years AFTER he was 29. In fact, he hit his record setting 60 homes in 1927. What's the reason?
How about Ruth's teammate, the luckiest man of the face of the earth, Lou Gehrig. From 1932, at the age of 29, until the age of 35 in 1938, Gehrig was unstoppable.
Hits Home Runs
1932 208 34
1933 198 32
1934 210 49
1935 176 30
1936 205 49
1937 200 37
1938 170 29
The only thing that stopped Gehrig was the disease he had that was so rare, they named it after him! In 1939, Gehrig played in only 8 games and was dead in two years.
I don't understand how Epstein or any other steroid fanatics, can dismiss the fact, that players now take better care of themselves so they could play long enough to earn the salaries he's talking about.
Maybe Mr. Epstein should call Yale back so they can provide him with a professor who can show us how using those drugs helps you hit a baseball when its coming at various speeds and on different planes. Maybe that professor call also enlighten us as to how these drugs help a player block out the mental pressure of having to deliver the big hit in a crucial spot, let alone in any spot. Maybe we can start with Ruth. If Ruth could have the best years of his career after the age of 29, why couldn't any of these guys. HGH, testosterone repair muscles, that's it. The player has to do the rest. There are tons of guys who we know used, but did do jack. Why did Mr. Epstein leave those names off his list? A-Rod may be a bad guy, but lets not assign to much credit to how much good steroids can do in baseball, and haven't we trashed him enough. A-Rod is less popular now than George Zimmerman.