October 30, 2012

NBA team accused of discriminating against black basketball players

The Minnesota Timberwolves go into the season with only five black players on their 15-man roster, and some people are calling it a conspiracy. 
From Jerry Zgoda and Dennis Brackin of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: 
"How did we get a roster that resembles the 1955 Lakers?" asked Tyrone Terrell, chairman of St. Paul's African American leadership council. "I think everything is a strategy. Nothing happens by happenstance." 
That strategy, Terrell and others in the black community believe, is to sell tickets to the Wolves' fan base, which is overwhelmingly white. 
Lou Amundson, JJ Barea, Chase Budinger, Andrei Kirilenko, Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic, Luke Ridnour, Ricky Rubio, Alexey Shved, and Greg Stiemsma make up 2/3 of the T-Wolves roster, and they are all white. 
Minnesota civil rights activist Ron Edwards thinks something is up too, and he told the paper, "It raises some real questions to me about what's really intended. I think, personally, that it was calculated. Is this an attempt to get fans back in the stands? Minnesota, after all, is a pretty white state.''

I don't see much evidence at all that white Americans like foreign whites more than African-Americans, but it might someday happen. More likely, a small market team management might try a strategy of building a whiter team in the hopes of getting better team play interaction effects.

So far, the Timberwolves' Achilles heel (or anterior cruciate ligament, in the case of Ricky Rubio) has been injuries. Rubio, the former Spanish child prodigy point guard, has been out since the middle of last season, and Love, the closest thing to a white American superstar the NBA has at present (at least as measured by his huge points/rebounds numbers -- the rest of his game ...), recently broke his hand. So, we won't see if this strategy, if it is a strategy and not just randomness, works or not until the second half of the season.

One interesting study that I haven't seen done is differences in injury rates between races. I wouldn't be surprised if the prejudice against, say, white running backs in big time football might be based on a greater likelihood of white runners to get too dinged up to be effective. 

Back in the 1980s, Bill James did a rare race study comparing white and black pairs of baseball players with similar rookie year number for speed-related stats such as triples, grounded into double plays, defensive range, and percent of time caught stealing. He found a strong tendency for black ballplayers to maintain their speed later into their careers than white players. I can't find James' essay online, but here is Jon Entine's summary of it.

Now, this analysis couldn't distinguish between the differential effects of injuries on speed and the differential effects of aging on speed, but it's still about the best starting point I've heard of.

For example, on paper, Oakland's Reggie Jackson and Bob Allison, a 1960s Minnesota Twin who was electrifying for a few years, looked equally fast as rookies, but Allison's speed fell off faster, while Reggie stayed fast enough to stay in the league long enough to put up Hall of Fame career numbers. James also cites Davey Lopes's then-amazing 1985 season with the Cubs as a 39 year old part-timer in which he stole 47 bases in 51 attempts.

You might think that somebody would have looked into this more over the quarter of a century since then, but sabermetrics appears pretty allergic to obvious racial analyses. With the gigantic obsession in 21st Century America with fantasy sports leagues, in which hobbyists draft lineups and compete with each other based on their players' subsequent stats, you would think this question would be a big one. Instead, though, stat analysts appear content to let racial stereotypes and hunches, rather than statistically informed analyses, drive fans' decision-making in this regard.

I wouldn't be surprised that black athletes have greater resilience to the wear-and-tear of injuries, but I can think of a couple of other explanations for James' results.

The first is that James' methodology of finding matching pairs might not be that good. Assume that the black bell curve of speed is shifted to the right of the white bell curve, but you have only crude measures of baseball speed. For example, Allison led the league in triples as rookie with 9, which is a good indicator of speed, but it's a small sample size. Some of the other stats, such as defensive range and caught stealing, are confounded by baseball savvy. Maybe white baseball players tend to be savvier as rookies, while blacks tended to be multi-sport athletes who only decided to concentrate upon baseball at a later age? (Certainly Reggie Jackson evolved into one of the more cunning ballplayers by late in his career, but he was a star football player in college.) 

So, maybe Bob Allison was never quite the spectacular athlete that Reggie Jackson was, he just happened to have somewhat similar numbers based on not totally reliable measures. For example, James makes a big deal out of both guys being good college football players, but Allison was a fullback while Reggie was a defensive back. Big difference in likely speed. Perhaps white players who appear to be as fast as their matched black counterparts aren't really as fast on average, they're just the best that James' system can come up with. For example, I presume he didn't find any white matches for, say, Ricky Henderson, Willie Wilson, or Vince Coleman.

The second issue with the study is ... juicing. We don't know much about pre-Canseco experiments with steroids, but I'm developing some suspicions. 

I saw Reggie Jackson's titanic homer in the 1971 All-Star Game off the light stand on top of the third deck in right field of Tiger Stadium. It was almost unprecedented, but by 30 years later it wasn't so amazing. Barry Bonds hit two similar blasts in the 2002 World Series that the TV cameraman couldn't track.

As he got older, Reggie developed the top-heavy look of a serious lifter that became common in 1990s baseball. California muscle building culture was way ahead of the rest of the country in technical sophistication in the 1960s and 1970s.

Or consider James's example of Davey Lopes

I was a huge Los Angeles Dodgers fan during their strong 1970s, and I recall being at Dodger Stadium in the late 1970s when all the Dodger sluggers (the 1977 Dodgers was the first team with four 30-homer men) took a pregame jog through the outfield. They were men of average height, but extraordinarily wide.

Lopes was a leadoff man / second baseman whose career high in homeruns through age 31 was 10. Then he started developing more power and at age 34 in 1979 hit 28 homeruns, which seemed a bizarre total for a middle infielder at the time.

(Lopes' development, now that I think about it, had something to do with moving the outfield fences in at Dodger Stadium. In Sandy Koufax's 1960s, centerfield was 410 feet, then they brought it in to 400. The Dodgers had a lot of players who could hit minimal homers just over the outfielder's glove -- Ron Cey drove my Dodger-hating roommate crazy with a lot of cheap home runs that barely made it over the fence.) So, management then made the centerfield fence only 395'. Then MLB set a minimum of 400 in center, so they had to move it out again, but I don't remember the exact years.)

I'm just tossing some evidence out there, mind you, not drawing conclusions.

By the way, I only saw about a minute of the World Series, but I was happy to see that the Giants' young superstar catcher Buster Posey seemed to be built more like an old fashioned lithe athlete, in the mold of Roger Federer or Chris Paul, rather than a top-heavy 1990's slugger. Hope (and fandom) springs eternal ...

73 comments:

Anonymous said...

The 19-year old wunderkind for the Nationals, Bryce Harper, has looked like he's 30 since he was 16.

Anonymous said...

Steve, I get the feeling that you're going to eventually write a post claiming Babe Ruth was on the juice.

Beecher Asbury said...

From a similar article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune is this great passage:

Twin Cities black leaders have noticed, suggesting the franchise strategically has rolled back the calendar by decades in a league that long has been at the forefront of diversity among America's professional sports leagues.

Now read that closely. The NBA is approximately 78% black. If diversity is the goal, then a more diverse league would be made up of equal parts black, white and foreign born. Thus a reduction of blacks would increase diversity.

I suppose this is another example of where the true meaning of diversity comes out, namely, that diversity is the absence of whites.

Cail Corishev said...

The White Shadow had an episode about steroid use by high school basketball players (not exactly the main target demographic even today) in about 1979. They must have been in common usage long before the modern scandals.

Isn't Minnesota pretty much the most liberal (or at least Democrat) state in the Union? I seem to recall two elections that were landslides for the Republican except for Minnesota. So all those liberals up there are racists? Interesting.

Cail Corishev said...

I watched a college football game the other day, for the first time in several years. These were just ordinary universities, not Grambling versus Hofstra or something.

Both starting quarterbacks were white, and I think I saw a white offensive lineman or two. No others (although I didn't notice the kickers). Used to be, you'd see white fullbacks at least, maybe a receiver, and more white players on the offensive line. Guess teams are more diverse than ever!

Of course, that only emphasizes how the most important position on the field still tends to go to the white guy. Which I'm sure the usual suspects view as continuing racism, rather than what it might actually indicate.

E. Rekshun said...

When I see clips of 70s & 80s era MLB, the players all look almost like average-sized men, actually a little tall and lanky and slim. I wonder if that is actually true or an effect of the older video technology.

OTO, players from that time, like Andre Dawson, Daryl Strawberry were tall and lanky. A young Bonds and Canseco too.

Truth said...

". I wouldn't be surprised if the prejudice against, say, white running backs in big time football might be based on a greater likelihood of white runners to get too dinged up to be effective."

Steve, you're like Commissioner Gordon sending out the bat signal here; except there's not bat emblem on the light, just a "jody" with a lower case "j"!

Truth said...

You know why the paper wrote that article quoting some St. Paul dork in charge of African-American making an ass of himself?

Well obviously because they knew that you and 100 other conservative bloggers would re-post it. You're Pavlov's pooch and they just rang the bell, Steve-O.

Simon in London said...

What would be an appropriate, non-racist number of black players? Since 200% or so of the national per capita population ratio is apparently too little.

Anonymous said...

NBA players into the 80s were tall, skinny, and lanky. They weren't bulked up like they are now.

Greg said...

This is a ridiculous complaint by Terrell.

I do suspect that it is a combination of happenstance and a pursuit of undervalued players. Who in the NBA might be disproportionately white or European, since the stereotypical NBA star is a Black American.

That said, a few years ago the Atlanta Thrashers of the NHL acquired 7 black players (when the NHL average is about 1). Given the team's lack of ticket sales and the fact that it happened in *Atlanta*, most people jumped to the conclusion that the Thrashers were showing favoritism to blacks. I subscribe to that theory.

http://passittobulis.blogspot.ca/2010/09/why-are-atlanta-thrashers-actively.html

Nonetheless, I wonder if I'm being hypocritical in thinking that Minnesota's whiteness "just happened" while Atlanta's blackness was planned.



Truckee Man said...

As a big Giant's fan I love Posey. Doubtful he would juice. The '12 Giants IMO are a study in high character players winning a championship, Sandoval's 3 HR game not withstanding. Even Zito got married and had his best season in years. The lower character players mostly watched the playoffs from the bench or from home.

Anonymous said...

Now read that closely. The NBA is approximately 78% black. If diversity is the goal, then a more diverse league would be made up of equal parts black, white and foreign born. Thus a reduction of blacks would increase diversity.

I suppose this is another example of where the true meaning of diversity comes out, namely, that diversity is the absence of whites.


Math is hard. Yo.

Truth said...

"Nonetheless, I wonder if I'm being hypocritical in thinking that Minnesota's whiteness "just happened" while Atlanta's blackness was planned."

Well that's an impressive and honest moment of self-reflection, I would bet that you, and Mr. Terrell have more in common than you would care to admit.

Whiskey said...

I think the discussion is good and well taken, and the "civil rights activists" won't like the direction it takes. If Blacks on average are the most qualified and talented athletes, something I'm willing to grant ... then why are not Whites/Asians the most qualified and talented intellectually? After all, Black dominance and White retreat in sports after integration can be seen as merely the Black athletic superiority washing away athletes who on average just are not as good.

And in the same way, you can say that selecting the most qualified, the smartest, lawyers, doctors, teachers, accountants, and scientists, you'll get Whites and Asians 95%+ on average.

Whiskey said...

Let me add, its long been noted that Black men and women have a resiliency to injury and pain, and have survived physical abuse (such as on sugar plantations) that routinely killed Whites and Asians and Indians. There is ample historical evidence of this. West Africa is a very tough place to live, it has possibly the most diseases of any place, the most parasites, and the selection as Steve noted for physical robustness at the expense of intellect (which is not needed in a place like that) must have been intense.

And we ought to be honest about how evolution affected humanity, and the different races, and accept differences as being part of evolution, neither inferior or superior. Eventually the HBD component of sports will cause savvy managers/GMs to construct teams that dominate, because winning is everything. And the more advantage you have, the more you can dominate. Particularly if people don't want to notice.

Can a small market team go nearly all-White and use superior team play to match up against superior physicality? After all the best players go to the wealthiest teams, but those teams don't have much strategy. Its a dunking contest, straight up.

vandelay said...

I like the silent assumption of black genetic superiority in the game of basketball.
"If an NBA team roster consists of any less a majority number of black players, then the ONLY explanation is a racial conspiracy, because, well, you know..."

Anonymous said...

"I don't see much evidence at all that white Americans like foreign whites more than African-Americans..."

I like foreign whites more than African-Americans, especially cute female ones.

Carol said...

Alzado fessed up (and died) before Canseco, didn't he?

Average Joe said...

The Minnesota Timberwolves go into the season with only five black players on their 15-man roster, and some people are calling it a conspiracy.

Why? Are they saying that blacks are naturally superior to whites at this sport? If so, are there things in which whites are naturally superior to blacks? Or is it only possible for blacks to be naturally superior to whites at something but not the other way around?

DCThrowback said...

Basketball Prospectus has the TWolves finishing 5th in the West, with a projected record of 51-31.

http://trunc.it/mhb9c

Contrary to Truth's assertion that the piece was written to "troll" writers like Steve, I would argue that is merely is a reflection of the white (liberal) sportswriter to be the most progressive writer in the newsroom. Admittedly going to the Homer Simpson (local boob) angle for a quote was funny, though I believe completely unintentional move on the part of the reporters. Right wing sports writers are as about as rare as the Kevin Loves of the NBA IMHO. I could be wrong though, and perhaps Messrs Zgoda & Brackin are having a go at us.

Anonymous said...

I know in the 1920s and 1930s baseball players didn't seriously lift weights. Reason: They didn't want to become "muscle-bound". At some point weight lifting become part of pro Baseball - does anyone know when?

Anonymous said...

Are the Americans who are guards from areas that are overwhelmingly white?

American high school coaches in mixed schools will develop tall whites, but will they look at white guards?

goatweed

elvisd said...

Glad to know that as usual, black leaders are keeping the most important issues of the day front and center.

Unanimous said...

DCThrowback:

"I would argue that is merely is a reflection of the white (liberal) sportswriter to be the most progressive writer in the newsroom."

Winner, winner chicken dinner!

Hunsdon said...

Anonydroid at 6:01 pm asked: At some point weight lifting become part of pro Baseball - does anyone know when?

Hunsdon replied: I believe Nolan Ryan was an early adopter of year-round weight training.

Anonymous said...

NBA players into the 80s were tall, skinny, and lanky. They weren't bulked up like they are now.

Rules were different back then.

Which is to say: Back then, they actually enforced the rules in the rule book.

When you enforce the rules, tall lanky [often white] guys have a fighting chance to succeed at the game.

But when you let the thugs get away with hooking and elbowing and shoving and biting and "the crab walk" [or whatever the hell Lebron wants to call it], then it's not long before all the players start to look like middle linebackers.

Anonymous said...

Would you want to get your white son involved in AAU basketball. What a freakin nightmare. That's generally the route to big Tim college Bball and the NBA.

Would you want to be the only white dude on an NBA roster? - all that travel and close quarters with the brothers. Probably not a lot to talk about.

Reggie and Lopes definitely roided

Alzado died of a cancer not related to steroids iirc. Everybody wanted o tie it to steroids but no direct evidence.
He was a scary dude. I remember him claiming he could beat up anyone in the world. I believed him.

Dan in DC

Dutch Boy said...

The junior college football players I knew back in the late 1960s were using Dianabol, so juicing goes back a ways.

Steve Sailer said...

Honus Wagner lifted dumbbells during the offseason over 100 years ago. Babe Ruth hired a personal trainer and worked out with medicine balls and the like every winter after his disastrous 1925 season, extending his career for another decade.

But, just because it worked for Honus Wagner and Babe Ruth didn't mean many others tried it.

Anonymous said...

Steve, I get the feeling that you're going to eventually write a post claiming Babe Ruth was on the juice.

Ruth was African American.

john marzan said...

minnesota is not exactly a top destination for most african american players--because of the weather and because the place is so white (non-diverse).

teams like minny and the one in wisconsin have to overpay black players just to keep them from moving to atlanta or texas (no state taxes).

Anonymous said...

I like the silent assumption of black genetic superiority in the game of basketball.

Any assumption of black superiority there need not be genetic. It could be cultural, work-ethic (hours put in), etc.

Anonymous said...

@Steve:

One interesting study that I haven't seen done is differences in injury rates between races.

What about differential effects as between blacks and whites of steroids and human growth hormone?

DCThrowback said...

The proof will be in the pudding for the TWolves. The Thrashers made the playoffs once in eleven seasons in Atlanta (and got swept in the first round in that lone appearance). Both sports rely on local revenues (hockey even moreso!) to make teams profitable - so on a superficial level, "coloring" the roster may make sense. But the bottom line is winning is the strongest correlated factor to attendance (# of fighting majors is 2nd, actually, in the NHL) - not the color of the players on the roster. This is why the piece is mostly laughable and why I disagree with the Bulis link as well. Both sports use salary caps to keep bigger spending teams in line, so management deserves to bear the brunt of the blame, especially in Atlanta.

This iteration of TWolves is believed to have a bright future - we shall see.

Anonymous said...

The prejudice gainst white running backs is because white running backs are as slow as molasses.

sunbeam said...

This kind of surprises me, the injury claim that is.

Fred Reed once wrote something about statistics showing that blacks were injured less frequently in basic training.

But thinking back to high school football, the black players always seemed more injury prone, with a particular tendency to cramp.

I can also tell you that black Americans can't cope with heat stress too well.

I know it is counter to intuition, and American blacks are from a limited portion of Africa, but that is my experience.

If statistics show blacks are less injury prone, I guess it's true, but not inline with my experience.

TontoBubbaGoldstein said...

Wait! What?
*They* are alleging that Timberwolve's management is making personnel decisions with regard to the goal of increasing ticket sales?


The horror. The horror.

Anonymous said...

"Well obviously because they knew that you and 100 other conservative bloggers would re-post it. You're Pavlov's pooch and they just rang the bell, Steve-O."

Not very convincing...

Anonymous said...

Hank Aaron had his best power year at age 39. I'd say he juiced.

Eric said...

Alzado fessed up (and died) before Canseco, didn't he?

Alzado (publicly) blamed his brain tumor on the HGH he was taking for his comeback football bid. Then shortly before his death in '92 he admitted he'd been taking steroids nonstop since 1969.

Truth said...

"I can also tell you that black Americans can't cope with heat stress too well."

Yes, having lineage from Denmark, Moscow, and the Swizz Alps, must lead to a huge advantage there.

TGGP said...

Minnesota is a blue state, but definitely not the bluest. That would be Massachusetts. Minnesota is where two of the GOP presidential primary rivals come from. Gallup had it as the 21st bluest state in terms of party membership in 2008 (though more heavily Dem West Virginia still went for McCain).

james wilson said...

I saw Jackson play in 1969 in his second full season, aged 23. He had his best year, and his highest HR and RBI totals. Pitchers were waiting for him the next year, and he sucked all season. No steroids yet. Natural sluggers have their greatest bat speed when they are young, which is not the same as pure strength. When he hit that bomb in Detroit he was still young, and he was getting challenged by a NL pitcher in an exhibition game with a pitch that he wasn't going to see all year in the AL.

Willie Mays was a freak. 5'10", 180, best modern stats you will see. Way pre-roids.

Just a guess, but I think white players get more benefit from PED's than others, for the same reason that it could be said blacks would stand to hold more precious an additional standard deviation upward in cognitive abilities than whites would.

DaveinHackensack said...

"He found a strong tendency for black ballplayers to maintain their speed later into their careers than white players."

Exhibit A, football version: Darrell Green.

Anonymous said...

There is some truth to the common observation that American blacks "don't like to share" with whites (see: history of rock & roll). But honestly, without putting in the mix the professional incentives of white-collar media analysts and news scribblers--who I'm sure all played street hockey in the Twin Cities area, right after their pressure-cooker Ivy-feeding prep academy let out classes for the day--this "controversy" wouldn't exist.

Anonymous said...

TGGP: their Dems are not so deracinated as Maryland/NY metro/Hawaii's, all of which are markedly more leftist in local culture than even the eastern half of the Bay State. Vermont would rank higher if not for extremely liberal local GOP & the gun control divide.

Mr Lomez said...

The conventional wisdom is that better all-around athletes age better than guys with freakish proportions or specialized skills. Also, smaller, leaner, more agile athletes tend to maintain better than their hulkier counterparts (the obvious theory being, their joints just don't break down as fast).

On the question of speed decline, I think you're drawing dead if you focus squarely on baseball. Speed in baseball has diminishing returns, and once a baseball player (say in his age 28 season) no longer has the raw speed to steal bases efficiently, he will sacrifice speed to increase his power. This happens all the time. From A-Rod on down to Hanley Ramirez, there are dozens of examples of once elite base-stealers who (through steroids or otherwise) CHOSE a more powerful body over a faster one. I'll wager that the same transformation will happen shortly with Matt Kemp. The point here is that the particular skill-sets valued by modern baseball will lead to an artificial deceleration of an athlete's speed as he ages. As a consequence, any conclusions drawn from baseball will be too muddy to be meaningful.

In football, on the other hand, apart from QB and O-Line, footspeed is always at a premium. Unfortunately no study like James' exists for football that I know of, and any such study will suffer from sample size problems. There just aren't enough white skill players to compare to black ones.

Basketball also suffers from the sample size problem, but it's pretty clear that body type is the overriding issue re: longevity. Bigger and taller breaks down faster than shorter and leaner.

Conatus said...

Whiskey said, "Let me add, its long been noted that Black men and women have a resiliency to injury and pain, and have survived physical abuse (such as on sugar plantations) that routinely killed Whites and Asians and Indians."

I dunno, based only on the rigorous scientific method of watching the TV show 'Survivor,' I have been surprised at how often heavily muscled mesomorphic blacks have come up short in the endurance and strength departments. Something, based on just their appearance, I would have thought they would overwhelmingly win.

Londoner said...

How scandalous that there should be so much as a single basketball team where blacks are overrepresented only by 100% and not by 200%, 300% or 400%. Why are the race hustlers never asked what the minimum acceptable factor of black overrepresentation is?

JI said...

I didn't read the whole article, but this is whack. First in importance, fans want to win. They don't much care what the players look like as long as their team wins. And secondly, fans like it when the players stick around for awhile and become part of the local family. And again, it doesn't matter their color or anything else as long as they have a good attitude and give 100% to the team.

Bill Veeck said...

One of the most suspicious pre-Canseco players was Brian Downing, who went from being a pudgy, weak hitting catcher to being a muscular, slugging outfielder after the White Sox traded him to the Angels in 1978 for Bobby Bonds, of all people!

pat said...

Usually I read all the comments to avoid repeating the same observation. But this time I'm pretty sure that no one else will make this particular observation.

I think you're right about the greater athletic longevity of blacks. I remember Allison very well. I'm a little surprised that you didn't mention that Jackson is also the all time strike out leader. His bargain with life seemed to have been a home run or a strike out. That's not the strategy of a man who is fast on the bases. It's more like that of an old designated hitter hitter whose legs have gone. I'd always assumed that Jackson was slow.

But I digress.

In opera it has always seemed to me that black singers lose their voices earlier than whites. This would be the opposite of what you posit in baseball.

The vocal apparatus is proximal while your base ball speed is distal. Ontogenetically we tend to grow from the head down and we also tend to age from the feet up. Maybe that means something in regards to the races.

I heard Leontyne Price late in her career and also Renata Tebaldi. Price, Reri Grist, and Simon Estes all had relatively short careers. Vinson Cole and George Shirley also lost their voices relatively early.

I correspond with a white baritone in South Africa who teaches young black singers and one of my closest friends in an active opera director here. I have mentioned the shorter active span of black singers to them. They don't deny it.

I'm not sure I'm right about this. Maybe I should do some systematic measurements.

Albertosaurus

pat said...

Steroids are a part of life. Old folks like you and me can remember when that wasn't so, but looking forward I see nothing but juiced athletes everywhere forever.

How can you tell is an athlete is juicing? Look to the winner's stand.

Your continuing distress over steroids is like the Women's Temperance Union's distress over the end of Prohibition.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

Juicing in the NBA and the NFL? Absolutely

helene edwards said...

Hank Aaron had his best power year at age 39.

No, he didn't. For power, 1973 was his 8th best season.

C. Van Carter said...

It's not "happenstance" Tyrone Terrell is more concerned about how white the Timberwolves are than he is about how fucked up his "community" is.

josh said...

Do blacks juice more than Y-T?

Truth said...

"Hank Aaron had his best power year at age 39."

Hank Aaron was 165 lbs. when he began, and 180 when he retired.

Mr Lomez said...

Also of note: Incidentally the fastest player in MLB right now is a white outfielder for the Cubs named Tony Campana. Unfortunately, he has no power whatsoever and doesn't get on base enough to be anything more than a fourth OF.

And for those of you really interested in baseball speed, next year the Reds will be calling up a shortstop (now CF) named Billy Hamilton who stole 155 bases in 132 games last year in the minors. It's been a long time since anyone challenged Rickey Henderson's single season record of 130, but this kid will surely have a chance given sufficient playing time.

Anonymous said...

Hank Aaron had his best power year at age 39.

No, he didn't. For power, 1973 was his 8th best season.
------

You're right. He was 37 in his best power year. Ether way, non roided players don't maintain their prime through their late 30s.

Anonymous said...

Uhh, you mis-spelled "f*cked up" - there's an asterisk between the "f" and the "c".

Anonymous said...

Aaron HR's over 35 are skewed by the fact that he moved from Milwaukee ( a bad HR park) to Atlanta (a bandbox by comparison). He also benefited from the '69 expansion and by concentrating on HR's as opposed to overall slugging/batting average.

Anonymous said...

Hank Aaron was 6'0" and 180 lbs. Those dimensions don't really suggest steroid use.

Truth said...

"It's not "happenstance" Tyrone Terrell is more concerned about how white the Timberwolves are than he is about how fucked up his "community" is."

No, it's stupidity.

Anonymous said...

Do blacks juice more than Y-T?

No, but the effects are greater for them.

Anonymous said...

Lol. It's like the lance Armstrong true believers haves moved on to defending Aaron.

http://detroit.cbslocal.com/2012/08/29/does-this-prove-that-hank-aaron-was-juicing/

Everybody always says Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens played their best baseball towards the end of their careers and that must be proof they were cheating. Well, the same can be said for Hammerin’ Hank. Aaron’s HR percentage started to increase the older he got. Home run percentage is defined as being the number of home runs per 100 at bats and Aaron saw his highest percentage at age 39 where he hit 40 home runs in 1973. In fact Aaron led the National League in home run percentage in three consecutive years late in his career at ages 37, 38 and 39.

Read the exact break down HERE.

Again, if you don’t want to read it, all you really need to know is that Aaron was not the only player on the Braves in ’73 that saw crazy home run percentages. Former Tiger Darrell Evans and Davey Johnson did as well only to see those numbers return to normal the following year, a year after a Congressional Committee issued its final report stating that anabolic steroids were rampant in baseball. Johnson later went on to manage the 1996 Orioles, a team that set, at the time the record for long balls in a season. That year Brady Anderson hit 50 homers, a campaign for the centerfielder that was viewed as very suspicious.

Anonymous said...

Are Rangers, Marine Special Ops, Seals, Special Forces, and Rangers our best and most resilient athletes?

goatweed

Anonymous said...

It should be noted that Hank Aaron only led the NL In HRs 4 times and was never thought of as a dominating hitter in the class of Ruth or Ted William (or Bonds when he was on 'roids). His HR stats for his first 10 years are pretty similar to his teammate Eddie Matthews - who everyone has pretty much forgot. Aaron got to 714 because unlike Mantle and Mays he stayed healthy and kept plugging away - at a fairly high level -year after year.

Anonymous said...

And I agree that 6" 180 lbs doesn't suggest Steroid use. Maybe if Mantle had taken care of himself and hadn't spent too many nights partying he would've hit 714 HR's.

ben tillman said...

No, he didn't. For power, 1973 was his 8th best season.

Speaking of the '73 Braves, how in the hell did Davey Johnson hit 43 homers?

Sword said...

There are better data sets for raw speed - look at 100 m dash times. That sport does not have the speed/power transition that was alluded to before, and since it is a single-trait sport, the data will not be muddled by specialists that are really good at one thing, so that they can get by without speed.

Anyway, the sprinter that has showed the best longevity is Merlene Ottey, who at age 52 still competes in her new national team, Slovenia. She holds world records in many age categories above senior.

Anonymous said...

"Hank Aaron was 6'0" and 180 lbs. Those dimensions don't really suggest steroid use. "

1)how accurate? Many sprinters didn't disclose their true weights.
2)steroids don't turn you into 250lb beasts overnight, nor is it a necessity to take steroids to the level of bodybuilders.

In the steroid article mentioned above a commenter notes:

"Aaron never got big, Bonds started at about 175 as a rookie and 260 in his peak years"

it's easier to do so when nobody notices nuthin'.