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Speaking of Fake News, from the Washington Post:

NFL player’s house vandalized with ‘Go back to Africa,’ ‘KKK’ and a swastika written on walls

By Cindy Boren and Marissa Payne December 8

Nikita Whitlock called for an end to “oppression, violence, racism, hatred” the day after vandals scrawled racist messages on the walls of his Bergen County, N.J., apartment during a break-in.

Whitlock, a 25-year-old running back for the New York Giants, found “KKK,” “Go back to Africa,” “f—— n—–” and a swastika were left behind in his basement apartment while he, his wife and two young children were out Tuesday evening.

… He shared images of the break-in, the second at his home since Thanksgiving, on Instagram (they are disturbing and can be seen here) and wrote: “Racism is real and instead of close to home this time they came inside. My family is safe but we are saddened by the hate. Thanks to the Moonachie Police Department for all of your help! #Haters #Racism #AllLivesMatter #BlackLivesMatter #SidelineRacism.”

… The burglars took jewelry and video game systems while leaving behind other electronics. …

Police continue to investigate the incident as well as the other incident, which occurred over the Thanksgiving weekend. The Whitlocks say they have been planning to move even before the first break-in. This one raises the level of insecurity that a burglary leaves in victims to a new level, though.

“It’s about to be 2017,” Nikita Whitlock said. “Oppression, violence, racism, hatred, violence — there’s no need for that.”

Whitlock’s teammate Victor Cruz agreed when asked about the incident by reporters on Thursday, calling it “a direct reflection of how this country’s being run” and pointing to the election of Donald Trump as a possible catalyst.

“I think there’s a specific mindset that comes with supporting a guy like Donald Trump and supporting what he stands for, and there’s a certain type of person that comes with that,” Cruz said (via the New York Daily News). “I’m not sure that person is always a positive-minded person.”

Cruz added: “As a minority you have to be careful.” …

Trump has rejected claims that he doesn’t value all Americans while at times embracing wide support from the alt-right movement during his campaign.

Trump appeared to change his tune after the election, however, when he told the New York Times in an interview in late November that he “disavows the group,” which puts white nationalism and sexism at the core of its ideology.

“It’s not a group I want to energize, and if they are energized, I want to look into it and find out why,” he said, according Michael Grynbaum, one of the Times reporters in the room.

From New Jersey.com:

Racist graffiti at Giants player’s home investigated as hate crime
Andrew Wyrich , Staff Writer @AndrewWyrich 7:14 p.m. EST December 8,

“KKK,” “Trump,” and swastikas were drawn on walls in Whitlock’s home after the Tuesday night break-in.

Moonachie Police are investigating the incident

MOONACHIE — Shortly after Giants fullback Nikita Whitlock recounted to The Record the feelings of disappointment and confusion that have emerged since his home was broken into on Tuesday night and defaced with several racially charged epithets, local police announced they are investigating the incident as a hate crime.

Whitlock returned home with his family on Tuesday night and found “KKK,” three swastikas and other racist language scrawled onto the walls of home. The largest word, “Trump,” was also written in marker on the wall leading up his staircase.

Also from NewJersey.com:

Cruz links Giants teammate’s break-in to Trump election
Tara Sullivan , Sports Columnist, @Record_Tara 9:28 p.m. EST December 8, 2016

Nikita Whitlock hasn’t really been around the Giants much this NFL season, a foot injury putting him on injured reserve before games even got under way. But the vandalism, including racist graffiti, and burglary of Whitlock’s Moonachie home sent shock waves through the Giants’ locker room Thursday, with teammates expressing concern, support and anger over what happened.

No one was more vehement than veteran wide receiver Victor Cruz, the Paterson native who did not hold back about why he believes the perpetrator or perpetrators felt emboldened to do what they did, tying the mind-set directly to the election of Donald Trump as our next president.

“If you listen to anything that [Trump] says, if you listen to the comments that’s he’s made about women, or the comments he’s made about minorities or the comments he’s made about people that he feels are somewhat of lesser value, they haven’t been positive,” Cruz said after the Giants practiced Thursday.

“They haven’t been for us, haven’t been for minorities. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think I’ve heard anything he’s said that benefits us or that helps us. When you have someone that embodies those mind-sets and those opinions and someone else supports those opinions you can’t think of anything positive about that. You can’t think of anything that person that follows Donald Trump that they’re going to do something positive. And for someone to vandalize someone’s house and write Trump’s name or whatever they wrote on the walls is just proving that exact fact, that people that may follow him aren’t necessarily the most positive people in our communities.” …

Cruz expressed similar concern, but couldn’t hold back his anger.

“I think it’s definitely a direct reflection of how this country’s being run,” he said, “of how this country is reacting to some of the decisions and some of the ways that this country is being run, things that are being said at the helm of this country and at the helm of our day-to-day lives. Our day-to-day, from social media all the way up to the White House, these are things that are being spoken of and being talked about on a daily basis, the good and the bad. Moreso the bad at this point right now because that’s all we have to work with. It’s just an unfortunate situation we’re going through right now.

“I think there’s a specific mind-set that comes with supporting a guy like Donald Trump and supporting what he stands for,” he said. “There’s a certain type of person that comes with that. And I’m not sure that person is always a positive-minded person if you know what I mean.”

ESPN mentions that Whitlock claims that the Trumpite burglars stole his jewelry.

From the comments to the first article in NewJersey.com:

Jeffrey XXX

It’s very curious that Nikita Whitlock.. who has been cut from 2 different teams (CIN, DAL) practice squads.. who literally has 0 offensive statistics as a Giant, is currently suspended 10 games for PEDs and will likely be cut by the Giants in the offseason.. all of a sudden is the victim of a ‘hate crime’.. Seems awfully convenient. And I’m a life long Giants fan.

From New Jersey.com in September:

Injured Giants fullback Nikita Whitlock suspended 10 games for PED violation

Print Email James Kratch

on September 15, 2016 at 4:29 PM, updated September 15, 2016 at 4:51 PM

EAST RUTHERFORD — Giants fullback Nikita Whitlock has been suspended for 10 games after violating the NFL performance enhancing substance policy.

Whitlock is currently on injured reserve with a foot injury, but he will begin his suspension immediately.

While on suspension, Whitlock will not be compensated – players on IR still receive a salary – and will not be able to have contact with the Giants, or use team facilities and resources for rehabilitation. Players are allowed to have contact with their teams while on suspension in order to arrange off-site medical treatments, however, according to the league.

Suspensions are announced once a player accepts the league’s ruling, or exhausts all appeal options.

Whitlock’s 10-game suspension indicates this is his second PED violation. He was suspended for four games in 2014 when he was a free agent, but since he was not with a team, the league never announced the reason for his suspension.

According to NFL policy, Whitlock will be suspended [at] least two seasons if he violates the policy a third time, and his reinstatement after two years would be at the sole discretion of the commissioner’s office.

Whitlock starred on special teams last season for the Giants while playing sparingly at fullback. He also moonlighted as a defensive tackle. But his roster spot was very much in question this preseason before he suffered a season-ending foot injury and was waived/injured.

Whitlock cleared waivers and reverted to the Giants’ injured reserve. He is set to be a earnings restricted free agent after this season. His 2016 base salary is $525,000, according to NFLPA records.

I can kind of feel sorry for Whitlock: everything you read about him includes the word “undersized.” His natural position is defensive tackle, but in high school he was 5’9″ 175 pounds. Now he’s still only 5’10″. He’s pumped himself up 250 pounds to play some fullback, a little defensive line, and to hustle on special teams, but he keeps getting caught for the PEDs he uses to get massive enough to hang on, barely, in the NFL so that he can be called “undersized.”

The ongoing convergence of iSteve topics — such as PEDs and hate hoaxes — goes on …

 
• Tags: Fake News, Steroids 
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Track and Battlefield
Everybody knows that the “gender gap” between men and women runners in the Olympics is narrowing. Everybody is wrong.
by Steve Sailer and Dr. Stephen Seiler
Published in National Review, December 31, 1997
Everybody knows that the “gender gap” in physical performance between male and female athletes is rapidly narrowing. Moreover, in an opinion poll just before the 1996 Olympics, 66% claimed “the day is coming when top female athletes will beat top males at the highest competitive levels.” The most publicized scientific study supporting this belief appeared in Nature in 1992: “Will Women Soon Outrun Men?” Physiologists Susan Ward and Brian Whipp pointed out that since the Twenties women’s world records in running had been falling faster than men’s. Assuming these trends continued, men’s and women’s marathon records would equalize by 1998, and during the early 21st Century for the shorter races.
This is not sports trivia. Whether the gender gap in athletic performance stems from biological differences between men and women, or is simply a social construct imposed by the Male Power Structure, is highly relevant both to fundamental debates about the malleability of human nature, as well as to current political controversies such as the role of women in the military.
When everybody is so sure of something, it’s time to update the numbers. So, I began an in-depth study with my research partner, Dr. Stephen Seiler, an American sports physiologist teaching at Agder College in Norway. (Yes, we do have almost identical names, but don’t blame him for all the opinions in this article: of the two of us, I am the evil twin).
The conclusion: Although the 1998 outdoor running season isn’t even here yet, we can already discard Ward and Whipp’s forecast: women will not catch up to men in the marathon this year. The gender gap between the best marathon times remains the equivalent of the woman record holder losing by over 2.6 miles. In fact, we can now be certain that in fair competition the fastest women will never equal the fastest men at any standard length race. Why? Contrary to all expectations, the overall gender gap has been widening throughout the Nineties. While men’s times have continued to get faster, world class women are now running noticeably slower than in the Eighties. How come? It’s a fascinating tale of sex discrimination, ethnic superiority, hormones, and the fall of the Berlin Wall that reconfirms the unpopular fact that biological differences between the sexes and the races will continue to play a large, perhaps even a growing, role in human affairs.
First, though, why is running the best sport for carefully measuring changes in the gender gap? Obviously, there are different size gender gaps in different sports (and even within a sport: in basketball, for example, the gap in slam dunking is enormously greater than in free throw shooting). Indeed, women do sometimes “beat top males at the highest competitive levels” in equestrian, yachting, drag racing and a few other riding sports, as well as in some stationary events like shooting. One self-propelled sport where women arguably outperform men is ocean swimming, in which they’ve achieved amazing firsts like paddling from Alaska to Siberia. (This is a rare sport where a higher body fat percentage is a boon.) Two Olympic sports are open only to females: synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics. In America, however, both the male and the feminist sports establishments roundly ridicule these events (undeservedly in the case of rhythmic gymnastics, an enchanting exercise). Similarly, other demanding but female-dominated physical activities like dancing, aerobics, and cheerleading are seldom considered sports at all by Americans.
Thus, the current climate of opinion demands that we analyze a “major” (i.e., traditionally male) sport. In these games, however, women’s sports advocates insist on “separate but equal” competition. Separateness, however, badly hinders the equality of measurements. Since they play in what might as well be alternative universes, it’s difficult to confidently quantify, for example, precisely how much better the NBA’s Michael Jordan is than the WNBA’s Sheryl Swoopes.
Fortunately for our analytical purposes, men and women currently compete under identical conditions in ten Olympic running events, making their times directly comparable. In general, track is ideal for statistical study because it’s such a simple sport: all that matters are the times. Another advantage to focusing on running is that it’s probably the most universal sport. Track medalists in the 1996 Olympics included an Australian aborigine as well as runners from Burundi, Trinidad & Tobago, South Korea, Mozambique, Norway, and Namibia. Running is so fundamental to life and so cheap that most children on Earth compete at it enough to reveal whether they possess any talent for it.
So, Ward & Whipp were certainly correct to concentrate upon running. As they noted, the gender gap did narrow sharply up through the Eighties. Let’s focus upon those ten directly comparable races. Way back in 1970, women’s world record times averaged 21.3% higher (worse) than men’s. But during the Seventies women broke or equaled world records 79 times, compared to only 18 times by men, lowering the average gender gap in world records to 13.3%. In the Eighties, women set 47 records compared to only 23 by men, and the gender gap shrank to just 10.2%. Further narrowing seemed inevitable in the Nineties.
Yet, male runners are now pulling away from female runners. Women’s performances have collapsed, with only five record-setting efforts so far in this decade, compared to 30 by men. (The growth of the gender gap has even been accelerating. Men broke or tied records seven times in 1997, the most in any year since 1968.) The average gender gap for WR’s has increased from 10.2% to 11.0%. And since four of the five women’s “records” set in the Nineties occurred at extremely questionable Chinese meets (as we shall see later), it’s probably more accurate to say that for relatively legitimate records in the Nineties, men are ahead of women 30 to 1, and the average world record gender gap has grown from 10.2% to 11.5%.
Despite all the hype about 1996 being the “Women’s Olympics,” in the Atlanta Games’ central events — the footraces — female medalists performed worse relative to male medalists than in any Olympics since 1972. In the 1988 Games the gender gap for medalists was 10.9%, but it grew to 12.2% in 1996. Even stranger is the trend in absolute times. Track fans expect slow but steady progress; thus, nobody is surprised that male medalists became 0.5% faster from the 1988 to the 1996 Olympics. Remarkably, though, women medalists became 0.6% slower over the same period.
Why is the gender gap growing?
1. In the Longer Races. From 800m to the marathon, but especially in the 5,000m and 10,000m races, the main reason women are falling further behind men is discrimination, society forcing women to stay home and have six babies. Of course, I’m not talking about the industrialized world, but about a few polygamous, high-birth rate African nations. All 17 male distance record-settings in the Nineties belong to Kenyans (9), Ethi
opians (5), Algerians (2), or Moroccans (1). A culture can encourage all women to pursue glory in athletics or to have a half-dozen kids, but not both. Thus, Kenya’s high birth rate (not long ago it was more than five times West Germany’s) has contributed to an ever-swelling torrent of brilliant male runners, but has kept any Kenyan woman from winning Olympic gold.
Wilson Kipketer of Kenya
These facts, though, raise a disturbing question: Why is women’s distance running so debilitated by sexism in these obscure African countries? Because, as bankrobber Willie Sutton might say, that’s where the talent is. You can’t understand women’s running without comparing it to men’s running, and that has become incomprehensible unless you grasp how, as equality of opportunity has improved in men’s track, ethnic inequality of result has skyrocketed. The African tidal wave culminated on August 13, 1997 when Wilson Kipketer, a Kenyan running for Denmark, broke the great Sebastian Coe’s 800m mark, erasing the last major record held by any man not of African descent.
African superiority is now so manifest that even Burundi, a small East African hell-hole, drubbed the U.S. in the men’s distance races at our own Atlanta Games.
Yet, there are striking systematic differences between even African ethnic groups. This can best be seen by graphing each population’s bell curve for running. The Olympic events from 100 meters to the marathon run along the horizontal axis, and the percentage of the 100 best times in history go along the vertical axis. For Kenyan men, for example, a lovely bell curve appears showing which distances they are best suited for. These East Africans are outclassed in the 100m and 200m, but become competitive in the 400m, then are outstanding from 800m to 10,000m, before tailing off slightly in the marathon (42,000m). Not surprisingly, the Kenyan’s peak is in the middle of their range — the 3,000m steeplechase — where Kenyans own the 53 fastest times ever.
In contrast, for the black men of the West African Diaspora (e.g., U.S., Nigeria, Cuba, Brazil, Canada, Britain, and France), only the right half of their bell curve is visible. They absolutely monopolize the 100m. Men of West African descent have broken the 10 second barrier 134 times; nobody else has ever done it. They remain almost as overwhelming in the 200m and 400m, then drop off to being merely quite competitive in the 800m. They are last sighted in the 1500m, and then are absolutely not a factor in the long distance events.
While there are the usual nature vs. nurture arguments over why African runners win so much, there is no possibility that culture alone can account for how much West African and East African runners differ in power vs. endurance. Track is ultracompetitive: Coaches test all their runners at different distances until they find their best lengths. Even in the unlikely event that Kenya’s coaches were too self-defeating to exploit their 100m talent, and Jamaica’s leadership was ignoring their 10,000m prodigies, American and European coaches and agents would swoop in and poach them. No, what’s infinitely more plausible is that both West Africans and East Africans are performing relatively close to their highly distinct biological limits.
None of this conforms to American obsessions about race. First, we dread empirical studies of human biodiversity, worrying that they will uncover the intolerable reality of racial supremacy. Is this fear realistic? Consider merely running: are West Africans generally better runners than whites? In sprints, absolutely. In distance races, absolutely not. Overall racial supremacy is nonsense; specific ethnic superiorities are a manifold reality.
Second, our crude racial categories blur over many fascinating genetic differences between, for example, groups as similar in color as West and East Africans. And even within the highlands of East Africa there are different track bell curves: Ethiopians, while almost as strong as Kenyans at 5,000m and longer, are not a factor below 3,000m. And the African dominance is not just a black thing. Moroccans and Algerians tend to be more white than black, yet they possess a bell curve similar to, if slightly less impressive than, Kenyans. Further research will uncover many more fascinating patterns: for example, Europeans appear to be consistently mediocre, achieving world class performances primarily at distances like 800m and the marathon that fall outside of the prime ranges for West Africans and Kenyans.
These ethnic patterns among male runners are crucial to understanding the causes of the growth in the gender gap, because it appears that women runners possess the same natural strengths and weaknesses as their menfolk. For example, the bell curves for men and women runners of West African descent are both equally sprint-focused. Therefore, if a nation’s women perform very differently than its men, something is peculiar. With high-birthrate African countries like Kenya and Morocco, it’s clear the social systems restrain marriage-aged women from competing. This offers hope that the distance gender gap will someday stop widening. Indeed, since the Kenyan birthrate began dropping a few years back, we have begun to see a few outstanding Kenyan women.
2. In the Shorter Races. The gender gap is widening not just because men (especially African distance runners) are running faster today, but also because women (especially East European sprinters) are now running slower.
From 1970-1989, white women from communist countries accounted for 71 of the 84 records set at 100m-1500m. In contrast, white men from communist countries accounted for exactly zero of the 23 male records. Those memorable East German frauleins alone set records 49 times in just the sprints and relays (100m-400m). This was especially bizarre because men of West African descent have utterly dominated white men in sprinting. Another oddity of that era is that communist women set only seven (and East Germans none) of the 48 female records in the 5k, 10k, and the marathon.
The crash of women’s running was br
ought about by two seemingly irrelevant events in the late Eighties: Ben Johnson got caught, and the Berlin Wall fell. At the 1988 Olympics, in the most anticipated 100m race of all time, Johnson, the surly Jamaican-Canadian sprinter who could benchpress 396 pounds, demolished Carl Lewis with a jaw-dropping world record of 9.79 seconds. Two days later Johnson was stripped of his medal and record because his urine contained steroids — muscle-building artificial male hormones. Embarrassed that it had let a man called “Benoid” by other runners (because his massively muscled body was so flooded with steroids that his eyeballs had turned yellow) become the biggest star in the sport, track officialdom finally got fairly serious about testing for steroids in 1989.
Then the Berlin Wall fell, and we learned exactly how East German coaches enabled white women to outsprint black women: by chemically masculinizing them. It turns out that masculinity — in its lowest common denominator definition of muscularity and aggressiveness — is not a social construct at all: East German biochemists simply mass-produced masculinity. Obviously, the communists weren’t the only dopers, but they were the best organized. Newsweek reported, “Under East Germany’s notorious State Plan 14.25, more than 1,000 scientists, trainers and physicians spent much of the 1980′s developing better ways to drug the nation’s athletes.” East German coaches are now finally going on trial for forcing enormous doses of steroids on uninformed teenagers. The Soviet Union, although less brilliant in the laboratory, also engaged in cheating on an impressively industrial scale.
Even today, this pattern of women’s records coming mostly from communist countries continues: four of this decade’s five female marks were set by teenagers at the Chinese National Games, where tough drug testing is politically impossible. (The 1997 Games in Shanghai were such a bacchanal of doping that all 24 women’s weightlifting records were broken, but weightlifting’s governing officials had the guts to refuse to ratify any of these absurd marks.) In contrast to the astounding accomplishments by China’s fuel-injected women, Chinese men’s performances remain mediocre. [Note: a few weeks after this was published, the Chinese Women's Swim team was disgraced at the World Championships in Australia, when a Chinese woman swimmer was caught trying to smuggle Human Growth Hormone into the country, and numerous teammates were caught by steroid testing.]
Exemplifying the differences in drug testing between the Eighties and Nineties are the contrasting fates of two Eastern European women: Jarmila Kratochvílová and Katrin Krabbe. The extremely muscular Miss Kraticholivova, described by Track & Field News as a “Mack truck,” won the 400m and the 800m at the 1983 World Championships, and her 800m record still stands. Runner Rosalyn Bryant commented, “I’m still not envious of the ‘Wonder Woman’ of Czechoslovakia. I could have chosen the same way, but I didn’t want to change my body, given to me by God, into a new shape. … Five years ago she was a normal woman. Now she is all muscles and runs World Records.” Her rival Gaby Bussmann called her, flatly, “a man.” Miss K. replied, “One day, if [Ms. Bussman] produces performances like mine, she will have to have sacrificed some of her good looks. In athletics, one has to decide how much to sacrifice. The women of the West don’t work as hard as we do.” Miss K. was never caught by the drug tests of her day.
In contrast, Katrin Krabbe, a product of the old East German training system, won the 100m and 200m at the 1991 World Championships to rave reviews. Track & Field News called her “beautiful” and “sleek,” and pointedly contrasted her to the “masculine” Miss Kraticholivova. Even before her victories, young Ms. Krabbe had signed a million dollars in modeling and product endorsement contracts. Although she couldn’t have been very heavily doped by Eighties’ standards, in 1992 she was disqualified because of tampering with her urine sample. Thus, East German women won eight medals at the 1988 Olympics, but during the 1992 and 1996 Games combined, reunited Germany’s women could garner only a single bronze.
Flo-Jo, Before (1984)
The communists were almost completely stumped at producing male champions because the benefits of a given amount of steroids are much greater for women than men. Since men average 10 times more natural testosterone than women, they need dangerously large, Ben Johnson-sized doses to make huge improvements, while women can bulk-up significantly on smaller, less-easily detected amounts. The primitive testing at the 1988 Olympics did succeed in catching Benoid; yet the female star of those Games, America’s Florence Griffith-Joyner, passed every urinalysis she ever faced. The naturally lissome Flo-Jo may have been the world’s fastest clean 200 meter woman from 1984-1987, but she kept finishing second in big races to suspiciously brawny women.
Flo-Jo, After (1988)
She then asked Ben Johnson for training advice, and emerged from a winter in the weight room looking like a Saturday morning cartoon superheroine. She made a magnificent joke out of women’s track in 1988, setting records in the 100m and 200m that few had expected to see before the middle of the 21st Century. Then, she retired before random drug testing began in 1989, having passed every drug test she ever took.
Why didn’t the East German labs synthesize successful women distance runners? Although artificial male hormones are fairly useful to distance runners (in part because they increase the will to win), sprinters get the biggest bang for their steroid buck. The shorter the race, the more it demands anaerobic power (which steroids boost), while the longer the race, the more it test
s aerobic and heat dispersal capacities.
Doping has not disappeared from track, but runners have responded to better testing by using fewer steroids, and by trying less potent but harder to detect drugs like Human Growth Hormone. These new drugs affect both sexes much more equally than Old King Steroid. The decline in steroid use has allowed the natural order to reassert itself: before steroids overwhelmed women’s track in the Seventies, black women like Wilma Rudolph and Wyomia Tyus dominated sprinting. Today, lead by young Marian Jones, who is potentially the Carl Lewis of women’s track, black women rule once more. However, white women are still much more heavily represented among the top sprinters than are white men.
This could mean that the “ethnic gap” in natural talent between West Africans and Europeans is smaller among women than men. Or, more likely, doping continues to enhance women’s times more than men’s. Thus, if testing can continue to improve faster than doping, the gender gap would tend to grow even wider.*
In conclusion, studying sports’ gender gaps offers new perspectives on a host of contemporary issues seemingly far removed from athletics, such as women in the military. Ironically, feminists in sports have successfully campaigned for the funding of thousands of sexually segregated, female-only teams, while feminists in the media and Congress have compelled the Armed Forces (outside of the defiant Marines) to sexually integrate basic training and many operating units, even including some combat teams.
Who’s right? Female college coaches have some powerful reasons for believing that coed competition would badly damage their mission of turning girls into strong, take-charge women. For example, they fear that female athletes would inevitably be sexually harassed.
Even more distracting to their mission than the unwanted sexual advances from male teammates, however, would be the wanted ones. This opinion is based on more than just lesbian jealousy: research on single sex vs. coed schools shows that teenage girls are more likely to develop into leaders in all-female groups, whereas in coed settings young females tend to compete with each other in coyly deferring to good-looking guys. Any hard-headed female basketball coach could tell you that merging her team with the school’s men’s team would simply turn two dedicated squads now focused on beating their respective opponents into one all-consuming soap opera of lust, betrayal, jealousy, and revenge. (Does this remind you of the current state of any superpower’s military?) Yet, feminists utterly forget to apply their own hard-earned wisdom to the armed forces: on the whole, deploying young women in cramped quarters alongside young fighting men does not make the women into better warriors, it make them into moms. For example, the Washington Times reports that for every year a coed warship is at sea, the Navy has to airlift out 16% of the female sailors as their pregnancies become advanced.
Reorganizing the military along the lines of the sexually segregated teams characteristic of contemporary college sports will do much both to more fully use the potential of women in uniform and to quell the endless sexual brouhahas currently bedeviling our coed military. Yet, the crucial issue remains: Should women fight? The main justification feminists give for a coed-izing the military is that lack of combat experience unfairly hampers female officers’ chances for promotion.
We can again turn for guidance to female coaches. The main reason they favor sexual apartheid on the playing fields is that in open competition males would slaughter females. It seems reasonable to conclude the same would happen on the battlefields. This may sound alarmist. After all, running’s gender gap is a rather marginal-sounding 1/8th; surely, many women are faster than the average man, and, by the same logic, many would make better soldiers.
First, though, as economists have long pointed out, competition occurs at the margins: runners don’t race against the average Joe, but against other runners. And soldiers fight other soldiers. Second, while the moderate width of track’s gender gap is representative of many simple sports that test primarily a single physical skill (the main exceptions are tests of upper body strength like shotputting, where the top men are as much as twice as strong as the top women), in free-flowing multidimensional sports like basketball where many skills must be combined, overall gender gaps tend to be so imposing that after puberty females almost never compete with males. Consider what traits help just in enabling you to dunk a basketball: height, vertical leaping ability, footspeed (to generate horizontal momentum that can be diverted into vertical liftoff), and hand size and hand strength (to dunk one-handed).
Not one of these five individual gender gaps is enormous, but they combine to create a huge difference in results: almost everybody in the NBA can dunk compared to almost nobody in the WNBA. Basketball, however, is far more than slam and jam. Throw in the need for massiveness and upper body strength in rebounding and defense, wrist strength in jumpshooting, etc., and multiply all these male advantages together, and the resulting gender gap in basketball ability is so vast that despite the WNBA’s state of the art marketing, it’s actual product resembles an all white high school boys’ game from a few decades ago.
Although the unique ease of our Gulf War victory encouraged the fantasy that technology has made fighting almost effortless, the chaos of combat will continue to demand a wide diversity of both physical aptitudes (like being able to hump a load of depleted-uranium ammunition) and mental attitudes (like the urge to kill) that interact to create a huge gender gap in fighting ability.
While in theory it might be nice if we could accommodate ambitious female officers’ need for combat experience by negotiating during wars with our enemies to set up separate all-female battles between our Amazon units and their Amazon units, this is where the analogy with sports finally breaks down: opponents in war don’t have to play by the rules … causing our women to be defeated, captured, raped, and killed. Still, if (as, in effect, so many feminists insist) female officers’ right to equal promotion opportunities requires that they be furnished with female cannon fodder, there is one proven formula for narrowing the gender gap to give our enlisted women more of a fighting chance. Feminist logic implies that just as our military once imported ex-Nazi German rocket scientists, it should now import ex-Communist German steroid pushers.
Steve Sailer is a businessman and writer. Dr. Stephen Seiler is an American sports physiologist at Norway’s Agder College. Yes, they really are different people, and, No, they haven’t yet decided which one is the evil twin. Background statistics are posted at http://www.isteve.com/addtrack.htm . This is the final draft rather than the slightly shorter and slightly different one published in National Review. So blame us for anything you don’t like, not the magazine.
Updates as of 4/12/2014:
- I was trying to be optimistic about the future of women’s running in 1997, but my reference to Marion Jones, the American heroine of t
he 2000 Olympics, turned out unfortunate: she went to prison in 2005 in relation to her steroid use.
- I was naive about the explosion of new distance running records set by East Africans in the mid-1990s. In retrospect, it appears that the anti-anemia drug EPO arrived in East African distance running circles around 1995. Before then, EPO seems to have been largely restricted to some European runners.
- I updated my data analysis by nationality and race up through the 2008 Olympics here.
- Current best times in all track and field events are kept up to the moment by Peter Larsson here. Feel free to check out how much the big picture has changed statistically over the last 17 years since I wrote this article.
(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
 
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With the World Series on, I’m reminded that baseball has some exciting young players like 20-year-old Mike Trout, who might win the A.L. MVP despite one of the various Cabreras winning the Triple Crown, and 19-year-old Bryce Harper. But are they too exciting? I mean, Harper has looked like he’s 30 years old since he was 16. 

Last year, Ryan Braun won the MVP in the N.L., only to immediately get caught for performance enhancing drugs (although he managed to lawyer his way out of the 50 game suspension). This season, the San Francisco Cabrera was leading the N.L. in batting average when he got caught. 

Judging by the depressed overall offensive totals, the game is cleaner than it was a 10-15 years ago. But does that just mean that whoever is racking up standout statistics this year is probably just one of the smaller number of juicers?

A vast amount of analytical talent is devoted to thinking about baseball (statistical talent that might more usefully be deployed upon more significant statistical issues, such as, say, figuring out the long-run impact of immigration policies, but never mind for now). But, the sabermetricians, led by the sainted Bill James, tended to be unenthusiastic in the 1990s and early 2000s about thinking about why exactly all the most famous slugging records were suddenly being broken. 

Have they caught up? Are there websites that, say, explore how much confidence you can have that if you invest some loyalty in rooting for Player X based upon his impressive numbers, you won’t suddenly find it’s all been a fraud?

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
 
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Here are the first and last pictures (plus captions) in a photo gallery entitled Wimbledon Arms Race in the Toronto Star in 2011:
Sure he may be the greatest player of all time. But Roger Federer is nowhere near the tops when it comes to arm muscles at Wimbledon this year. There are more impressive specimens to come….
But really, Serena Williams takes the cake. Her arms look more muscled than Roger Federer’s thighs. No wonder she has such a powerful serve.
And, again, here’s that article in the New York Times Magazine trying to figure out why tennis fans have never really taken to the Williams Sisters. Is it their race? 

Let me ramble a moment about Access Journalism. Anybody can put together snarky photo galleries like The Star did. But, there’s no prestige in that. The high end of journalism is doing interviews for profiles, especially with posed photos. People apparently like these beefcake glamour photos of celebrities that magazines put on their covers. But if the interviewer asks unwelcome questions, like, “Serena, why are your arms more muscular than the world’s greatest tennis player’s thighs?” not only will the interview be over, but, worse, the photo shoot will be off. 

Moreover, it often turns out that your access is terminated not only to Serena Williams, but to the 17 other clients of her offended PR manager. Your career could be over. So, don’t ask unwelcome questions. Instead, just go with the conventional wisdom about “Aren’t these strong women wonderful role models?”

You can tell that the guy writing the NYT Mag article about Serena thinks his assignment is kind of screwy, but he can’t come out and say that.

The other thing that I wanted to mention is the weird climate we are in where you aren’t really supposed to mention that it’s nice to see a champion athlete who looks like Federer — a grown man who, for once, doesn’t look like a cartoon character or a mutant. I guess that would be too offensive to all the science project athletes and their fans.

So, what other top athletes out there besides Federer are still built more like, say, Joe DiMaggio in 1941 than like Predator or Alien?

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
 
• Tags: Sports, Steroids 
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I’m reminded of something else I wanted to mention: how fans often don’t really notice when there’s something odd-looking about some star. Take the example of Dora Ratjen, who came in fourth in the women’s high jump in front of (I’m presuming) 80,000 fans in the Berlin Olympics. A couple of years later, a train conductor objected that that the women’s world record holder was just a young man in lady’s clothing, and so he decided to give up the charade and go by the name Heinrich Ratjen. But it’s not like he was hiding out until then.

Or extremely famous people can change their shape radically and it doesn’t really come up. For example, Tiger Woods became extremely muscular over a couple of years around age 30 because he was working out like crazy in case he decided to give up golf and enlist in the Navy Seals. Now, that’s pretty interesting, but it’s not at all clear how many golf fans consciously noticed that the most publicized golfer in history was changing shape from month to month in front of their eyes. When I wrote an article about it in 2009, I did a bunch of Googling and found a lot of pictures, but it just didn’t seem to be a topic of written interest to people interested in Tiger Woods.

Or people can be famous for their shapes and it never seems to come up that there’s anything doubtful about why they are shaped like that. The craziest example is that in the 2003 California gubernatorial election, the Democrats almost never got around to bringing up the fact that Republican candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger was the world’s most famous steroid user and that electing him governor of the largest state in the Union was the highest endorsement possible (Arnold being ineligible for the Presidency) to young people of society’s approval of building a career on steroids.

It was hardly a secret — Arnold admitted to steroid use in his autobiography — and it wasn’t some mistake of his foolish past — he had just been paid $30 million to star in Terminator 3, which was released just days before he started his campaign. Heck, Arnold did a nude scene in Terminator 3 to show off his regained massiveness. I wrote an article a few months before the election pointing all this out. But the Democratic operatives instead mostly went with the sex scandal stuff that they thought would be electoral dynamite: Hollywood star likes the ladies!

This is not to say that the steroid stuff would have hurt Arnold’s run for governor, either. No doubt it wouldn’t have. Democratic operative Gary South had brought it up the year before. I don’t know why so little attention was drawn to it in 2003, when he was obviously back on the juice for Terminator 3: perhaps it didn’t poll well. Or it didn’t get much traction in 2002 when South faxed around a scandal sheet of sex and steroid stuff.

What’s the explanation for this weird phenomenon? I’m reminded of the scene at the end of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas when Hunter S. Thompson goes to Circus Circus to buy an ape:

I found Bruce at the bar, but there was no sign of the ape. “Where is it?” I demanded. “I’m ready to write a check. I want to take the bastard back home on the plane with me. I’ve already reserved two first-class seats — R. Duke and Son.”  

“Take him on the plane?”  

“Hell yes,” I said. “You think they’d say anything? Call attention to my son’s infirmities?” 

Still, I don’t think politeness is the full explanation. Maybe if somebody is presented in a socially approving way, like on TV or in Hitler’s Olympic Stadium, people naturally just say to themselves, “Well, of course, that’s what people who work out look like. I could probably look like that myself with some exercise.”

Also, Hunter S. Thompson was probably onto something with booking first-class seats. He and his pet ape would no doubt get thrown out of coach, but they had a shot in first-class.

Another aspect is access journalism. If you want Tiger Woods on the cover of your magazine ever again, you don’t ask him questions about him lifting weights every day … unless you have a picture of him with a waitress in a parking lot.

Finally, let me come back to my recurrent theme of the inadequacy of tacit understandings. I am constantly being informed that we don’t need horrible persons like me pointing out in writing things that we all understand perfectly well on an unspoken level. But it constantly turns out that we don’t understand implicit knowledge when framed in a slightly different way. The Obama staffers who can judge what’s a safe enough street in gentrifying Washington within a half block just by watching pedestrians stroll by will go back to the office and sue school districts for racial disparities in suspension rates.

The reason I have a relatively good understanding of the impact of PEDs on sports and movies is because in 1996-97 I spent a huge amount of time constructing and analyzing a database of Olympic running results by sex. By the time I was done, this vague hunch I had had that the narrowing of the gender gap after some point in the 1970s was largely due to artificial male hormones having a bigger impact on women was seared into me. I think the media as a whole is slowly catching on to that, finally, but without spelling it out over and over, people don’t learn lessons well enough to apply them in slightly novel settings.

Finally, what people do notice are hair cuts. You don’t even have to change hair styles, just get a haircut and other people will notice. You can grow a beard for a year, shave it off one evening, then go into work the next day and maybe one person will mention it. But, get your routine haircut, and five people will mention it the next day, even though there’s not a lot to be said about it: “Yeah, I uh hadn’t gotten a haircut for six or seven weeks, so I uh got one.”

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
 
• Tags: Movies, Sports, Steroids 
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I’ve decorously avoided all mention of Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), but a few commenters have been suggesting that steroids might have played a role in his self-inflicted travails. Here’s a PG-rated picture of his shaven chest the skinny 46-year-old Congressman took of himself in the mirror for his Internet admirers. 
The impact of steroids on behavior has a fair degree of randomness in it, but it does seem to increase the seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time factor. In general, when ambitious men take male hormones, it makes them more ambitious but also increases the odds that they’ll feel powerful urges to do things that might undermine their ambitions. In particular, muscle-building drugs seem to increase feelings of vanity and invulnerability.
The impact of steroids on political figures has been curiously underexamined in the press. At least two governors, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura, were professional musclemen before entering politics. Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s running amok that led to a big scandal during the Bush Administration obviously had something to do with performance-enhancing drug use (President Bush greeted him, “Hey, Buff Guy, what are you benching?”), but as far as I can tell, I’m just about the only one who ever mentioned it in public. Andrew Sullivan wrote at vast length in the New York Times in 2000 about the fluctuating impact of his prescription testosterone cycle on his judgment, but practically nobody seems to have noticed.

I’ll leave it to others to look for a picture of Dominique Strauss-Kahn with his shirt off to see if we can create a General Theory of Self-Destructing 2011 Politicians. But I wouldn’t be too surprised. Run for President of France? Of course! Rape the maid? What could possibly go wrong?

By the way, here’s a perfectly reasonable letter Weiner sent to the FBI in 2008 suggesting that investigating pitching ace Roger Clemens for perjury over steroids should not be a high priority. So, steroids were at least on his radar.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
 
• Tags: Politicians, Steroids 
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Back in 1993, a friend from high school who had become a baseball player’s agent told me that Jose Canseco was the Typhoid Mary of steroids: you could see the effect of Canseco’s proselytizing steroids on his teammates in Oakland and then in Texas (co-managing director: George W. Bush. Here’s my 2004 American Conservative article on Canseco, the Bush dynasty, Andrew Sullivan, and steroids, which came out the year before Canseco’s tell-all autobiography). 
Ray Fisman in Slate points to a 2007 study by two labor economists confirming Canseco’s role spreading steroids around those two teams, plus his later clubs.
Learning Unethical Practices from a Co-worker: The Peer Effect of Jose Canseco
Eric D. Gould and Todd R. Kaplan
This paper examines the issue of whether workers learn productive skills from their co-workers, even if those skills are unethical. Specifically, we estimate whether Jose Canseco, one of the best baseball players in the last few decades, affected the performance of his teammates. In his autobiography, Canseco claims that he improved the productivity of his teammates by introducing them to steroids. Using panel data on baseball players, we show that a player’s performance increases significantly after they played with Jose Canseco. After checking 30 comparable players from the same era, we find that no other baseball player produced a similar effect. Clearly, Jose Canseco had an unusual influence on the productivity of his peers. These results are consistent with Canseco’s controversial claims, and suggest that workers not only learn productive skills from their co-workers, but sometimes those skills may derive from unethical practices. These findings may be relevant to many workplaces where competitive pressures create incentives to adopt unethical means to boost productivity and profits.
Canseco’s outgoing personality contrasted with the more furtive and even anti-social personality of later steroid users, such as Barry Bonds, who introduced Gary Sheffield to his training methods, but who basically didn’t like his teammates. 
A couple of years ago I wrote, “You’ll notice that the topic of art forgery is more interesting to philosophers than to art historians, who would prefer not to think about it. Philosophers like to ask questions like, ‘If this small sketch was so beautiful it was worth a million dollars when it was a Raphael, why isn’t it worth anything now that it’s a Hebborn?’”
The basic motivation of art historians and of baseball historians, such as Bill James, is hero worship. Thus, art historians don’t like to think about how many famous paintings are, in whole or in part, forgeries, while Bill James did everything he could to avoid thinking about the impact of steroids on his beloved baseball statistics.

Of course, there’s also the crass financial conflict of interest: James finally got himself a nice job with the Boston Red Sox, whose two best hitters, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, were juicers. If he’d been sounding the alarm about steroids for years, would he have gotten that job? The same questions can be asked about museum curators.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
 
• Tags: Sports, Steroids 
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Here’s my column, “Tiger Juice,” from Taki’s Magazine last May speculating about whether Tiger Woods might have started using steroids during this decade. I didn’t find any proof, but I found more evidence than I had expected.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
 
• Tags: Golf, Sports, Steroids 
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With baseball’s All-Star game coming up and Dominican star Manny Ramirez back from his 50 game suspension for steroids, here’s the full-length version of my review from The American Conservative of the film “Sugar:”

“Sugar” is a critically acclaimed indie film about a 20-year-old Dominican pitcher’s minor league baseball season in Iowa. “Half Nelson,” the last collaboration of its married auteurs, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, brought Ryan Gosling a Best Actor nomination as a caring white liberal teacher in a Brooklyn slum school attended by African-Americans and Dominicans. Because numerous Dominican immigrants in New York City are failed minor leaguers, “Sugar” was a logical next film for the pair.

This movie is about a black Dominican, but it was very much made for white Americans. Indeed, “Sugar” exemplifies Sundance movies. It’s so sensitive, subtle, soft-spoken, averse to crowd-pleasing gimmicks, and generally beholden to the Stuff White People Like rulebook that few ballplayers of any nationality would pay to see it. Dodger slugger Manny Ramirez would snore so loudly through it that the audience couldn’t hear the soundtrack’s climactic song: Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah sung in Spanish.

Boden and Fleck wanted not a tale of triumph, but a statistically representative illustration of the typical Dominican athlete’s brief career. We see the young pitcher Sugar (portrayed by Algenis Perez Soto, an amateur second baseman who visibly can’t throw his character’s supposed 95 mph fastball) at the Kansas City organization’s training academy in the baseball-mad small city of San Pedro de Macorís (birthplace of 73 major league players, including Sammy Sosa). We follow him to spring training in Phoenix, then to Single A ball in Iowa. There, he’s lonely because there are no Spanish-speaking girls to chat up. After an injury, he’s demoted to the bullpen. His pride too wounded to return home, he quits the team and hops a bus to the South Bronx, where he pursues a career in illegal immigration.

Although most Dominicans (such as the American-born Alex Rodriguez) are some shade of beige, San Pedro ballplayers tend to be descended from black Jamaicans brought in to chop sugar cane. Last year, the 88 Dominicans made up almost 12 percent of major league rosters, despite the Dominican Republic having only three percent of America’s population. The average major league salary is approaching $3 million, so Dominican big leaguers earn around a quarter of a billion dollars annually.

The young ballplayer claims he’s nicknamed “Sugar” because he’s “so sweet with the ladies,” but Boden and Fleck want their film’s title to convey that by signing so many Dominican teens, baseball teams are, like sugar companies, neocolonialist exploiters. To the filmmakers, American ballclubs are to blame both for exploiting Dominicans and for not exploiting African Americans. Fleck complains that the black American share “has gone down to somewhere around 8 or 9 percent now, while the Dominican population in baseball has risen dramatically. Major League Baseball has taken money out of the inner cities … and flipped it into the Dominican Republic, where they can sign players much cheaper.” In the Sundance worldview, whatever happens is white people’s fault; blacks can’t make choices for themselves.

In reality, while MLB teams would love to employ verbally charismatic African Americans instead of tongue-tied Spanish speakers, black American kids these days mostly consider baseball boring. The Dominican Republic represents one of the few sizable concentrations of fast and strong youths of West African descent who find baseball more fascinating than basketball, soccer, or cricket. (Also, steroids can be bought legally without a prescription in Dominican pharmacies.)

The real scandal is that big league baseball has facilitated the illegal immigration of tens of thousands of washed-up uneducated jocks. MLB privatizes profits and socializes costs.

The irony in this trend of dramas striving to be “more documentary-like” is that the best documentaries are far more satisfyingly dramatic than “Sugar.” For example, Werner Herzog’s popular documentary “Grizzly Man” culminates with the annoying protagonist being devoured by a bear. Documentaries that follow somebody as ho-hum as Sugar are unlikely to get widely distributed or even finished.

Boden and Fleck are garnering critical kudos for refusing to create an intriguing plot. Yet, they didn’t have to redo “Rocky” They could have, say, made the kid not a 20-year-old prospect but an 18-year-old prodigy. Once the audience is rooting for him, they could then have yanked the rug out by revealing that the phenom’s agent, like previous Dominican talent hustlers (such as, ironically enough, their own technical advisor, ex-Cincinnati Red Jose Rijo), had defrauded the Americans: the sensation’s not 18, he’s really 22, with just a journeyman’s natural talent. Now, that would be a story.

Rated R for language, some sexuality, and brief drug use.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
 
• Tags: Sports, Steroids 
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With the San Francisco Giants slugger now only two homers away from Hank Aaron’s career record of 755, much to the embarrassment of Major League Baseball, it’s worth reviewing a few points:

- Bonds didn’t start baseball’s steroid problem. We now know from inside sources that Bonds did not use steroids for his first 13 years in the league, 1986 through 1998.

- Bonds was clearly the greatest player of the 1990s, despite being clean for all but 1999. From 1990 through 1998, he led the National League in park-adjusted OPS+ four times, was second three times, and third twice. That’s slightly better than his godfather Willie Mays’ best nine year stretch.

- Bonds started taking steroids in 1999 because he was jealous of the credulous admiration paid to Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa for hitting all those homers in 1998. You kept hearing silly stuff like “McGwire and Sosa have returned the innocence to the game!” McGwire was caught with a steroid precursor in his locker in late 1998 and it still didn’t instill many doubts. This drove Bonds crazy.

- Once Bonds got good at cheating with drugs in 2001, hitting a record 73 homers in 2001, he put up three seasons better than Babe Ruth’s best (as measured by park-adjusted OPS+) at the ridiculously old ages of 36, 37, and 39.

- The reason Bonds was so much better than the other cheaters was because he’d been the best player in the game when he was clean. Bonds’ normal talent + steroids = ludicrous ability.

- It was obvious that Bonds was cheating from 2001-2004. Nobody puts up those kinds of numbers at those ages. From 1986-1998, his career followed a normal arc (just at a much higher level than normal), with a peak at 27-28.

- Baseball stat guru Bill James was shamefully quiet during the many years while the steroid scourge distorted individual statistics, and he’s not doing his reputation any favors by digging himself a deeper hole by still talking about Bonds’ new wonder bat and other rationalizations.

- Bonds’ late father Bobby was an extraordinary athlete who put up numbers that deserve Hall of Fame consideration, but teams had a hard time figuring out what to with him. And he smoked and drank heavily, which shortened his career to 15 years. Barry carefully avoided every mistake his father made.

- Barry was a nasty piece of work before he started on steroids, and they didn’t improve his disposition.

- One reason steroid users tend to self-righteously deny accusations of steroid use is because they feel justified in their advantages because of all the weightlifting work they did. Steroids help your body recover from weightlifting faster, so users can work out a lot more.

- Steroid use in football appears to go back to the 1960s (quarterback John Hadl says his San Diego Charger teammates were popping steroids in 1966), but we don’t have much evidence of it in baseball (a more lackadaisical game) before Jose Canseco arrived in 1986. (Here’s my AmCon article on the history of steroids in baseball.)

- President Bush says he signed off on all Texas Rangers trades, which means he approved the 1992 trade that brought from the Oakland As to the Rangers Canseco, who had been accused of steroid use by Tom Boswell in the Washington Post back in 1988. Canseco’s major accomplishment as a Ranger was having a fly ball bounce off his increasingly block-like head and over the fence for a homer.

- In general, I believe, California, perhaps because of the local Muscle Beach weightlifting culture, tended to be where steroids first had an impact on the various big-time sports.

- The popular governor of Bonds’ state of California is muscle man Arnold Schwarzenegger, who began using steroids in Austria at around age 17 in 1964. I would imagine that Schwarzenegger used muscle-building drugs to get in shape for his comeback role in Terminator 3 in 2003, which helped launch his gubernatorial campaign.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
 
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The day after I accused sainted baseball statistics maven Bill James of intentionally ignoring the steroids outbreak of the 1990s in his 1,000 page 2001 book The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, the WSJ interviews James in his Fenway Park office (he’s been a paid insider since 2002):

His theory on baseball and steroids may or may not be odd, but it is certainly not in vogue. “I don’t know,” he says, when asked if steroids account for the surge in home runs in the late 1990s. “Speaking globally . . . the reality is that there are many changes in the game which could cause batting numbers to jump. And no one really knows to what extent the increase is a consequence of steroids. I strongly suspect that the influence of steroids on hitting numbers is greatly overstated by the public.” Other factors include ballpark dimensions and bat design. “I’ve never understood why nobody writes about it, but the bats are very different now than they were 20 years ago,” Mr. James says, with different woods and finishes. “[Barry] Bonds’s bats are still different from everybody else’s,” he notes.

He’s being disingenuous. Of course lots of factors contributed to the home run surge, including all the recent retro-design parks that are built like old hitters parks such as Ebbetts Field. And everybody took up weightlifting, which is perfectly admirable as long as they don’t use performance-enhancing drugs. (Honus Wagner was the greatest player of the first decade of the 20th Century because he was just about the only player of his era to lift weights.)

But we now know that many of the historic seasons of the the last two decades were drug-tainted, starting with Jose Canseco’s 1988, when he became the first player to hit 40 homers and steal 40 bases, and including the late Ken Caminiti’s MVP surge in the second half of 1996, McGwire’s (and likely Sosa’s) famous 1998 homer binge, Jason Giambi’s monster MVP season in 2000, and Barry Bonds’ surrealistic seasons in this decade. (Here’s my 2004 American Conservative article on steroids.)

This wasn’t a surprise. Thomas Boswell accused Canseco in a Washington Post column in October 1988 of taking steroids. A baseball agent told me in the early 1990s that Canseco was the “Typhoid Mary of steroids.”

How can we be sure if any recent MVPs and Cy Young award winners were clean? Okay, skinny guys like Ichiro Suzuki and Jack McDowell, sure, and unimposing guys like Greg Maddux, and guys who didn’t lift weights, like Ken Griffey Jr.. But for lots of the other guys, who knows?

James had to know that, say, Barry Bonds suddenly having in 2001 the greatest season (according to James’ own Win Shares metric) since Babe Ruth his .393 in 1923 was ridiculous, new bat or not. But, making a stink about steroids wouldn’t have done James’ chances of getting hired by a big league team like the Red Sox much good.

I suspect that James was able to kid himself that using steroids was just like pitchers (such as Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry) throwing the spitball (which had been outlawed in 1920, a couple of decades before Perry’s birth). Everybody knew Perry was throwing the spitter, but the baseball ethos is the opposite of golf, where players call penalties on themselves. In baseball, it’s the umpires’ job, not yours, to catch you cheating.

But steroids aren’t spitballs. They have serious side effects on the players’ health, and on their mood, which affects people around them. When, say, the Canseco twins beat up people in a nightclub in the throes of ‘roid rage, that’s not at all like the spitter.

By the way, I discovered in James’ Historical Abstract a new explanation for Stephen Jay Gould’s famous observation that in the early decades of baseball there was more disparity between the best players and the average player (although there have been a lot of super-spectacular seasons since 1993). Gould, being an intellectual, attributed it to intellectual disparities — Wagner, Cobb, Ruth, etc. knew how to do things that other players didn’t yet know how to do.

There’s some truth to that. Ruth, for example, taught himself how to take a huge uppercut swing to hit home runs, which gave him a big lead over the rest of the league. Cobb pointed out that Ruth was allowed to get away with this because he was a pitcher — if he’d been a hitter, his manager would have forced him to swing level to hit line drives like everybody else. But nobody cared what a pitcher did when fooling around in batting practice.

A few years earlier during the heart of the dead ball era, right-handed slugger Gavvy Cravath figured out how to hit opposite field home runs over the short right field fence in Philadelphia, hitting a record 62 in three seasons. Almost everybody knows how to hit opposite field homers today, but Cravath’s breakthrough wasn’t followed up on for decades.

Another reason for the disparity is that until Branch Rickey built the farm system, the proportion of the top players in the major leagues wasn’t as high so the quality of the average player was lower. Cravath spent two of his peak years in the minors. Lefty Grove, maybe the greatest pitcher ever, spent five years playing for an independent minor league team in Baltimore. West Coast athletes often spent years in the Pacific Coast League — for example, Joe DiMaggio spent three seasons from age 19-21 with his hometown San Francisco Seals when he was no doubt perfectly ready for the majors, as Ken Griffey Jr. was at the same age. But the Seals were an independent team, not a farm team, and thus didn’t sell DiMaggio until they got a fair price.

But, a new reason I hadn’t thought about before was that in the old days only superstars could afford to devote their offseasons to staying in shape (or just relaxing and getting recharged for the coming season). The average player had to get a job. When Ruth had a lousy 1925 season at age 30 due to hedonism, many observers assumed he was washed up. Instead, he hired a personal trainer and spent his winters tossing medicine balls around in a gym (or whatever it was they did back then for exercise). He came back to enjoy nine more spectacular seasons, including hitting 60 homers in 1927. If you spent October through February working in a mill or lifting crates on a loading dock, it was hard to compete in the summer with a superstar.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
 
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Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, VDARE.com columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.


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