Why Intra-division Trading Is a Bad Idea

On Twitter, Sky Kalkman of Beyond the Box Score and I have been going back and forth on the merits of trading within one’s own division. As the debate grew, Twitter’s 140-character limit became increasingly annoying, so I figured I’d write a short post explaining why I think intra-division trading is a bad idea.

Of course, the subject of the conversation was Roy Halladay, and Sky didn’t think the Toronto Blue Jays should be afraid of trading him within the division to the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox. They should be, however.

Between 2002-08, Roy Halladay has been worth over six wins above replacement per season. As of right now, the Yankees have accrued 19 WAR in 88 games and the Blue Jays have accrued 12.4 in 90 games, putting them on pace for 35 and 22 WAR, respectively. Prorating Halladay’s average production for the rest of the season, if the Jays traded him right now to the Yankees, they would be losing about 3.3 WAR and the Yankees would be gaining about 2.7 WAR. Overall, that’s a 6-WAR shift, or about 10.5% of the WAR the teams are on pace for. That’s without accounting for players the Blue Jays acquire and contribute during the season.

If the Jays simply traded Halladay out of the AL East, they would only have to worry about losing the 3.3 WAR as opposed to another team also picking up 2.7 WAR on them.

We could get down to the nuts and bolts of it and calculate specific WAR estimations that include various packages the Yankees could put together in a Halladay trade, but it’s not necessary because any package the Yankees can put together can be matched in some way, shape, or form by other teams.

The only reason a team should ever trade an impact player within the division is if intra-division teams are the only ones willing to offer players that satisfy specific needs, or if they’re the only ones willing to take on bad salaries (which is why, if I’m J.P. Ricciardi, I’m insisting the Yankees take on Vernon Wells with Halladay as well). The Jays can get a good return on Halladay from a number of teams; they need not look to the Yankees for this, nor should any other team look to a division rival when it comes to trading.

That’s my take on the matter. I invite Sky to respond to this post via comments here or even via a response blog post.

Be sure to check out Sky’s breakdown of the Roy Halladay trade scenarios at BTB.

UPDATE: Here’s Sky’s response to my argument.

He points out that the Jays trading Halladay does hamper their 2009-10 post-season hopes but enhances them in future seasons (and hampers the Yankees’). This is true, assuming the prospects all pan out as predicted, which doesn’t always happen. As Matt Swartz pointed out in one of his submissions for BP Idol:

In total, 51% of first and second rounds picks make the majors.

So, the Jays would essentially be flipping a coin as many as four or five times, depending on the amount of top prospects they get.

Matt further points out:

Of the 2052 players in the study, 1041 of them made the majors. Of those, only 109 players were traded and then debuted with a different team than the one that had drafted them. Of that group of 109, only 19 accumulated a WARP3 of 10.0 in their careers. As it turns out, for all the fans who scream at GMs for trading away the farm system, rarely do the GMs trade away impact prospects.

Historically, the Jays would be running against the numbers if they were to trade the Jays to a division rival for a wealth of prospects. Probabilistically, if they are going to trade within the division, they should demand Major League-ready talent or bust.

UPDATE #2: Sky responds.

Prospects are a gamble no matter whether you acquire them intra-divisinally or inter-divisionally. But they have the same expected value.

The difference is that when you trade an impact player like Halladay within the division, you can confidently write in permanent marker that he’s going to provide his new team with around 6 WAR. Sure, he could get injured but he’s been very durable since 2006. There are a lot of sticks that could get caught in the gears, so to speak.

With the prospects, as Sky points out, it is a gamble. Going back to the figures from Matt Swartz, cited above, we have the following probabilities with four first- and second-round prospects:

  • 12.5% chance of all making the Majors; 25% three of four make it; 50% two of four; and 75% one of four.
  • 17.4% chance the prospect will contribute a WARP-3 of at least 10.0 over their careers (even less if you assume that many of the prospects end up playing with different teams than the ones they were traded to).

(Note: WARP-3 and WAR are not interchangeable. That may be obvious but I feel it’s worth pointing out.)

So, if the Jays trade Halladay to the Yankees, they are almost definitely going back 6 WAR in the division race (less MLB contributors they acquire) in at least the next two seasons. Halladay, at 32 years old, is going to start to decline at that point, so we can’t expect 6 WAR every season until he retires.

At any rate, the odds of the prospects providing an average of 3-5 WAR from 2011 until the end of Halladay’s career are not in favor of the Jays. To make an analogy to poker, the Jays making this trade to a division rival is like chasing an open-ended straight draw. If the Jays are going to gamble, they may as well gamble without spotting a division rival an average 6 WAR in 2009 (prorated) and ’10, and anywhere from 3-5 in ’11 and a couple years beyond.

Phillies/Marlins Series Preview III

Going into the second half, the first-place Phillies will match up with the second-place Florida Marlins who are four games behind. As they usually do, the Marlins have an above-average offense but a below-average pitching staff, which explains their near-.500 record. Since inter-league play ended, the Marlins have only been able to beat subpar teams, sweeping the Nationals and winning two of three against the Pirates while dropping two of three to the Giants and splitting a four-game set with the Diamondbacks.

When you think of the 2009 Marlins, you think of Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson, and rightly so. They are the only two standout players on the squad. Ramirez boasts a 158 OPS+ and Johnson a 153 ERA+. Both will be contenders at the end of the season for the National League MVP and Cy Young awards, respectively. Other than that, the Marlins are rather mediocre.

Likewise, the Phillies are enjoying MVP-caliber campaigns from Chase Utley and the recently-activated Raul Ibanez but otherwise have not had much to write home about. The starting rotation has been disappointing, especially Cole Hamels, who has only the third-best ERA+ among the Phillies’ current starters, and none have an above-average ERA+.

However, things have been shaping up lately after a slow couple months. Jimmy Rollins, still with a sub-.650 OPS, has caught fire. Since July 2, he has 17 hits in 42 at-bats, including six doubles and a home run. Additionally, he’s drawn ten walks and has been perfect in five stolen base attempts.

Since May 26, Joe Blanton has a 2.44 ERA in 59 innings in nine starts. In that span, opposing hitters have only gotten on base at a .290 clip. Even better, he’s gone at least seven innings in six of the starts, helping to keep the Phillies’ overworked bullpen fresh.

Aside from Cole Hamels, everyone in the starting rotation is pitching better as a matter of fact. In his eight starts since May 31, Jamie Moyer has five quality starts and J.A. Happ has been impeccable since earning his first 2009 start on May 23. With a 3.03 ERA in his ten starts, Happ is easily a Rookie of the Year candidate but I don’t believe he qualifies even though he is under the innings-pitched threshold due to the number of days he’s spent on the Phillies’ 25-man roster.

Now on to the incredibly amazing tables, which are new and improved. Instead of simply including the eight most frequently-used players, I’ve included each team’s bench players as well. If you’re getting too excited, go ahead and use that defibrillator I’ve conveniently added as well. The first column of numbers is the hitter’s OPS against the pitcher, and next to it is the amount of plate appearances in which the two have squared off.

Hitting

Philadelphia Phillies @ Florida Marlins, July 16-19

Philadelphia Phillies @ Florida Marlins, July 16-19

Pitching

Philadelphia Phillies @ Florida Marlins, July 16-19

Philadelphia Phillies @ Florida Marlins, July 16-19

Since it’s the second-half, so it’s officially okay to watch the scoreboard. Here are the match-ups for the Mets and Braves.

  • July 16: Oliver Perez @ Derek Lowe
  • July 17: Mike Pelfrey @ Jair Jurrjens
  • July 18: Johan Santana @ Kenshin Kawakami
  • July 19: Fernando Nieve @ Javier Vazquez

Since the Mets are a half-game behind the Braves, we should statistically hope that if the two teams don’t split the series, we want the Mets to take three of four.

You won’t hear me complaining if the Mets get swept.

BDD: Jonathan Sanchez

At Baseball Daily Digest, I go through various reasons for being both optimistic and pessimistic about the Giants’ Jonathan Sanchez, he of the recent no-hitter.

There are rumors that the Giants are considering trading him, perhaps to help improve the offense. The Giants have the fifth-worst offense in the NL (4.18 runs per game) and they’re currently the favorites for the fourth and final NL playoff spot, so they certainly have incentive to move Sanchez if they should so choose. Add to that the huge boost in value to Sanchez’s name thanks to the no-hitter.

Any team that acquires Sanchez is getting a pitcher with a lot of upside.

Phillies Mid-season Pitch Values

With the All-Star break at hand, it’s as good a time as any to review how the Phillies fare with various pitches both hitting and pitching. The metric of choice is total runs above average. I imported the numbers from FanGraphs and created a bunch of charts. Ooooh, pretty lines. Click on the thumbnails to view a larger version.

Hitting

Fastball

Phillies' hitters vs. Fastball

Best

  • Chase Utley: 21.2

Worst

  • Jimmy Rollins: -8.4

Slider

Phillies' hitters vs. Slider

Best

  •  Ryan Howard: 8.7

Worst

  •  Carlos Ruiz: -3.2

Curveball

Phillies' hitters vs. Curveball

Best

  •  John Mayberry: 2.3

Worst

  •  Ryan Howard: -3.7

Change-up

Phillies' hitters vs. Change-ups

Best

  •  Raul Ibanez: 8.1

Worst

  •  Shane Victorino: -5.0

Pitching

Fastball

Phillies' pitchers using fastballs

Best

  • J.A. Happ: 7.7

Worst

  • Brad Lidge: -9.4

Slider

Phillies' pitchers using sliders

Best

  • Joe Blanton: 4.0

Worst

  • Brett Myers: -3.2

Curveball

Phillies' pitchers using curveballs

Best

  • Brett Myers: 3.1

Worst

  • Joe Blanton: -2.8

Change-up

Best

  • Ryan Madson: 6.1

Worst

  • Jamie Moyer: -10.6

Surprise: Despite MLB 2K9’s persistence, Cole Hamels does not, in fact, throw a slider. I know, earth-shattering. But on a more serious note, I was surprised at just how well Shane Victorino handles fastballs — nearly as well as Chase Utley. Unlike Utley, however, Shane does not hit change-ups well.

Cole Hamels’ change-up is exactly at average: 0.0. His fastball and curve are both in the negatives at -6.6 and -2.0, respectively. And yet he’s still been worth 1.7 wins above replacement according to FanGraphs.

I was personally surprised that Ryan Howard hits sliders well. Do right-handers throw him a lot of those? It seems like whenever I see RyHo against a lefty, he’s flailing at low-and-away sliders. He’s at a positive 8.7 RAA against sliders overall. Mind-boggling for me.

J.A. Happ and Rodrigo Lopez are the only starters with an above-average fastball. Roughly, the average Phillies fastball is about two runs below average.

Lastly, Jamie Moyer’s change-up is really bad. He only has about a 6 MPH differential between his fastball and change-up. That would rank among the worst among qualified starters, and as I found out back on June 10, the bigger the differential between FB and CH speeds, the more likely you are to deceive batters and induce swings-and-misses.

Addendum: Wanted to add in the Phillies team ranks

  • Fastball: 50.7 (4th in MLB, 1st in NL)
  • Slider: 11.8 (1st in MLB)
  • Curveball: -13.4 (28th in MLB, 15th in NL)
  • Change-up: 3.7 (8th in MLB, 5th in NL)

Home Run Derby Predictions

Everyone knows my predictions are worth less than a peso (though blind squirrels do find acorns from time to time), but I’m giving them away for free again anyway. Here are my predictions (pulled straight from my posterior) for tonight’s Home Run Derby. Feel free to criticize mine and leave your own.

Opening Round

Ryan Howard: 8

Prince Fielder: 8

Albert Pujols: 6

Nelson Cruz: 5

Brandon Inge: 4

Adrian Gonzalez: 4

Carlos Pena: 4

Joe Mauer: 2

Semi-Final Round

Ryan Howard: 6 (Total: 14)

Albert Pujols: 7 (Total: 13)

Prince Fielder: 3 (Total: 11)

Nelson Cruz: 4 (Total: 9)

Championship Round

Albert Pujols: 6

Ryan Howard: 4

BONUS Predictions

Number of “Gold ball” home runs hit by all players in all rounds combined: 14

Number of “Hit it here” signs tagged: 1

Number of “the Derby ruined his swing” articles written about Derby contestants’ second-half struggles: 1,138

Spoils, Indeed

The All-Star Game means something this year! Get your game face on, we gotta win it!

Since 2003 (six seasons), when home field advantage was awarded to the league that won the All-Star Game, the A.L. has won every time and yet the last six World Series have been split between the two leagues three apiece. I can’t wait for the ASG to once again affect the outcome of the penultimate series in baseball!

Yes, the ASG is a traveshamockery. Investing any emotion into the outcome of the game is a mistake because it’s so poorly run. It’s cool to see baseball’s best players in one place competing against one another but really, you only see the players for an at-bat or two (or an inning or two) at maximum before they’re replaced. There are a ton of complaints to be made about the midsummer classic, such as the rosters being too large, that make it more aggravating than enjoyable.

That’s why when Charlie Manuel put Werth on the NL All-Star roster to replace Carlos Beltran — instead of some other fine candidates such as the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp — I couldn’t have cared less aside from happiness for Werth. Indeed, Kemp and the Giants’ Pablo Sandoval were popular and more deserving candidates statistically, but nowhere in the rules does it say that All-Stars are selected based solely on their production.

It’s yet another example of baseball ambiguity. The Hall of Fame? Well, you have to have been good at baseball in some way (sorry, David Eckstein), but they consider non-productive factors like character as well, especially now with all of the media-driven fervor over the performance-enhancing drugs “issue.” Awards — same deal. Nowhere is it written down that a Hall of Famer, an MVP, or an All-Star must be selected based only on his statistics, as much as that would make complete, logical sense.

Fans of so-called “snubbed” players shouldn’t be getting bad at Charlie Manuel; they should be upset at the flimsy guidelines baseball has everywhere you look. Without solid rules to govern which players should be All-Stars, how can you blame Manuel for taking his own players especially considering the type of person he is? He is the complete model for a player’s manager, so he probably wanted to make Werth (and Phillies fans) happy, or motivate him, or build up his confidence. Whether that actually works is another topic, but that’s likely the M.O. behind the Werth selection.

As Duk says at Big League Stew:

I can’t begrudge Cholly’s decision too much. To the victors go the spoils […]

When the Giants or Dodgers win the World Series, their managers can take pseudo-All-Stars to the game just like Manuel.

As Stuart Scott (or someone else equally as lame) would say, “Don’t hate the player; hate the game.” Let’s change the ASG to prevent future egregious errors from occurring, or at least develop a sense of apathy. Yelling at Charlie Manuel isn’t going to do anything.

Fans of “snubbed” players need to chill out and simply mindlessly watch the ASG in peace. Or not watch it at all. That’s how you deal with travashamockeries.

Holy Comeback Batman!

Pirates Phillies game chartWhat a night! After having my morning ruined, I was about to give up on my evening when the Phillies fell behind to the Pirates 7-3. Shut off the TV and went out to watch the UFC. It was around 10 PM and I was at a bar-restaurant getting ready to watch the fights when I hear loud, raucous cheering from the other side of the restaurant. Clueless as to what that was about, I turn my attention back to the big screen.

Several moments pass. “Nah, they couldn’t have possibly came back in that game,” I thought as I pulled out my iPod to check the scores. “No way.”

Sure enough, 7-7 thanks to a Matt Stairs solo homer and a Ryan Howard three-run shot. And a walk-off hit from… Paul Bako? Your cardiac Phillies, ladies and gentlemen. Heading into the ninth inning, the Phillies had a 4.4% chance to win the game according to FanGraphs. Even after Matt Stairs homered and Rollins walked and stole second, that percentage only went to 5.3%.

When I shut the game off and left, I said about tomorrow’s starter J.A. Happ, “Let’s hope J.A. Happ can lock down a series win tomorrow.”

How about a sweep?

Interesting tidbit from a poster at Back She Goes: the last Phillies ninth-inning comeback of four or more runs came on June 16, 1998. Check out the similarities:

  • It was against the Pirates
  • The score was also 8-7
  • The walk-off hit came courtesy the catcher
  • The home plate umpire was Greg Gibson

By the way, if you didn’t get to catch UFC 100, you missed a great card. Dan Henderson did to Michael Bisping what the Phillies did to the Pirates. Georges St. Pierre continued his dominance and Brock Lesnar pounded the snot out of Frank Mir. If you get a chance, check out what Lesnar said after his victory. I’ll post a link if and when I find it. (Click here)

Who Is This Guy?

Cole Hamels is getting lit up by the Pittsburgh Pirates. 5-0 at the moment thanks to three home runs from Garret Jones, Delwyn Young, and Andrew McCutchen. Hamels has allowed 5 or more ER in four of his 16 starts (25%). He’s usually solid early in the game, which makes his start tonight even more baffling.

The Pirates are not just abusing one of Cole’s pitches; they’re hitting both his fastball and his change-up.

  • Garrett Jones home run: Fastball
  • Ryan Doumit double: Change-up
  • Delwyn Young home run: Change-up
  • Andy LaRoche double: Fastball
  • Andrew McCutchen home run: Fastball
  • Ryan Doumit double: Change-up

Let’s hope J.A. Happ can lock down a series win tomorrow.

Self-Righteous Writers Must Go

Good morning, boys and girls — it’s a wonderful Saturday morning. The sun is shining, birds are chirping, and the Phillies are on a roll. It’s going to be a wonderful day. Why, the only thing that would ruin it would be a self-righteous writer writing the one millionth anti-steroid, pro-HoF-banning article. Luckily, the writers have taken the hint from their readership and have given up the crusade against performance-enhancing drugs.

Maybe not. Thanks for ruining a perfectly good Saturday, John Kunich.

All right, let’s FJM it.

It’s time for the death penalty for baseball’s steroid users. Not literally, but the baseball equivalent—a lifetime ban and permanent ineligibility for the Hall of Fame. The death penalty is for murder, and cheaters are murdering the sport that makes them rich.

Excellent writing tip #1: To make it seem like an issue is super important, compare it to something extreme, like death. Then take it back, but not really, but kind of.

Rhetorical questioning: How, pray tell, did Mike Morse and Alex Sanchez “murder the sport that makes them rich”? Was it the three home runs Morse has hit in his 337 career plate appearances? Sanchez’s 6 long balls in 1,651 career PA?

This crime wave’s raged for years as steroid abusers ravaged baseball’s fundamental integrity.

Writers always presume baseball has ever had integrity. It has never, ever had integrity. Ever. The Black Sox, Gaylord Perry, Mike Schmidt using ampetamines, etc. Bending and outright breaking the rules has been a part of baseball for as long as the sport has involved hitting a ball with a bat and running around a diamond.

Aging, injured pitchers found miracle cures.

Like surgery and Cortisone shots, right? Oh, steroids — the arbitrarily-outlawed substance.

Good hitters, even late in their careers, artificially reinvented themselves into Babe Ruths.

Name one. Name one player that “reinvented” himself and put up Ruthian numbers that has been proven to have taken steroids. Bonds never “reinvented” himself, by the way.

During all the seasons before 1995, players hit 50 or more homers only 18 times, but from 1995 on, it’s happened 23 more—a tsunami of inflated slugging!

Can we prove that’s directly related to steroid use? It couldn’t be due to expansion, better scouting (thanks to technology), better healthcare (thanks to technology), smaller ballparks, an allegedly-juiced baseball?

It’s amazing that so many writers create this false dichotomy where it’s either due to steroid use or it’s not. There are a lot more factors that go into hitting a home run than just brute strength. Steroids do very little in the way of helping you mechanically, or making you more intelligent, or recognizing pitch types and speeds.

Baseball’s most treasured hitting records have fallen, and fallen under a cloud of suspicion.

I wonder what these guys are going to write about in 15 years when Albert Pujols hits his 764th career home run.

As long-established standards for single-season and career homers dissolved in a flood of juice, the entire sport has broken loose from its historical moorings. Baseball has been corrupted by rampant violation of both the criminal law and its internal rules.

I wonder if John actually perceives steroid users to be criminals on the same level as athletes like Michael Vick (dogfighting), Brett Myers (domestic abuse), and Rae Carruth (murder).

As for “historical moorings”, let me reiterate: baseball has never had integrity. Here are some links for both readers of this blog and, hopefully, Kunich:

You get the point.

Why do successful standouts, even superstars, become sellouts that cheat to gain added advantage? Call it pride, vanity, or greed, it all spells selfishness. Seductive me-centered impulses tempt people to trample rules and violate the law. Competition is vicious, and some sink to crime for an edge.

That using steroids is a crime really bothers me. It insinuates that it is on the same level as other more vicious offenses such as those listed above (dogfighting, domestic abuse, murder, etc.). A steroid user harms no one but himself. That he breaks the rules certainly is wrong in that breaking the rules is wrong (not that taking steroids is inherently and morally wrong). Stop putting docile drug users in the same boat as violent criminals — it’s extremely disingenuous.

Games are won that should have been lost, homers are hit that should have been fly outs, and records shattered that should have endured.

You can say this about just about anything. Had Barry Bonds not had his body armor, he never would have been able to attack outside pitches like he did. Had Rickey Henderson not had top-of-the-line cleats (which Lou Brock never had), he never would have stolen so many bases.

Playing Monday morning quarterback can be fun and empowering, I’m sure, but it’s actually quite a grueling process if you’re going to do it fairly and accurately.

Ruined health and early death are the terrible price many abusers—and their imitators, including kids, pay for these “easy” pickings, alongside their honor.

WON’T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?! OH GOD, PLEASE — THE CHILDREN!

Oh, they have parents or legal guardians? Ah, yeah, that’s right.

Heed Sir Charles.

Baseball needs the strongest possible medicine to eradicate this plague.

Eliminate this “plague”, in comes another. The media will be there to cook up more controversy to sell more newspapers and magazines, drum up viewer- and listenership ratings, and to rack up hits on websites. It’s a neverending process.

The media, truthfully, does not want the performance-enhancing drug issue to end because it would mean there would be a grace period between controversies where they have nothing to act self-righteous about. The media needs the PED issue like the Bush administration needed conflict in the Middle East.

So far, nothing has halted the relentless spread of steroid-fueled travesties.

MLB steroid suspensions by year:

  • 2005: 12
  • 2006: 3
  • 2007: 7
  • 2008: 0
  • 2009: 4

But let’s not let facts get in the way of a good talking point.

It’s proved ineffective to levy fines against corrupt multimillionaire players.

What happened to Rafael Palmeiro when he was caught? Barry Bonds? Their careers were shut down, just about on the spot.

Based on the numbers above, MLB’s tougher drug policies have worked to prevent players from using steroids, but apparently that isn’t good enough for Mr. Kunich here.

Suspensions that vanish within weeks haven’t deterred cheaters from resorting to career-making, legend-manufacturing, record-blasting enhancers.

Yes they have, actually. See above figures.

The cancer remains, and grows, because our half-hearted attempts to remove it were only cosmetic surgery. We’ve ignored the malignancy and had liposuction.

Comparing steroid use in baseball… to cancer. I realize it’s a euphemism, but if you have to use this much hyperbole to make an issue seem so much more important than it really is… where are you, really?

The All-Star Game is supposed to feature great players with sound character, but in today’s steroid-infested swamp everyone is presumed guilty.

When a paid member of the mainstream media says this: That’s totally cool. (I realize that Kunich did not get paid for this article, but he is peddling a book about the Cubs.)

When a blogger says this: OMGWTFBBQ

With monitoring and enforcement so lax

Yeah, lax. That’s the word. There have only been two Congressional hearings, the extremely public roastings of Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, and year-round drug testing. I wonder if Kunich would sign up for that type of anti-drug surveillance at his place of employment. I think not.

Is an amazing power display the result of talent and hard work alone, or a freak-show juiced by lawless abuse?

Kunich, who I presume has only heard of steroids as a result of Major League Baseball, does not understand what goes in to making steroid use create the desired results. Steroid users actually have to work harder. I’ve said this a million times and I’ll say it again: steroids are not like Popeye’s spinach; you cannot use it and sit on the couch and expect to turn into Arnold the next day.

Secondly, the success achieved by those who do use steroids succeed not only due to steroids but also due to the aforementioned “talent and hard work.” For example, I have little to no baseball talent. When I go to the batting cages, I hit a bunch of weak dribblers or I make no contact at all. If I were to start using anabolic steroids the 100% correct way under the care of a professional, I would not stop hitting weak dribblers and swinging and missing because I have very little talent.

Honest superstars are under the same suspicion as long, ever-growing lists of known cheaters.

I hate to harp on this, but this is exactly what Jerod Morris said in his article about Raul Ibanez. I just hate double standards.

Without decisive change, fans will soon stop caring, and ballparks will be filled only with ghosts, until baseball becomes a ghost itself.

Which is why MLB has been setting attendance records year after year, and the very slight decline in attendance this year can be blamed on the economy. Right? Right, John? Say it with me: wrong. Wrong.

We’ve been here before. In 1920, as the Black Sox scandal erupted, baseball’s greatest showcase—the World Series—was badly tainted.

Oh, he does know that there have been previous scandals. So what about that integrity?

Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis saw the magnitude of the threat and resolutely wiped it out. In the process, he wiped out the careers and Hall of Fame chances of famous favorites such as Shoeless Joe Jackson, Buck Weaver and Eddie Cicotte—but he saved baseball.

There’s a difference between intentionally throwing a game — which 100% absolutely has an effect on the outcomes of games — and using a substance that may or may not help you hit a fly ball 10 feet further or recover one day faster from an injury. It’s like saying, “This group of highly-organized federal bank thieves was sentenced to life in prison” and asking that the same punishment be levied to a high school kid who shoplifted a bag of Skittles.

Some may be unjustly punished, or punished disproportionate to their crime.

This is outright ignorance. Think Kunich would repeat this statement after he’s sentenced to 15 years in jail for forgetting to carry the one on his tax return? 10 years of probation for forgetting to pay a parking ticket?

But nothing else has worked.

Actually, what has been done by Selig has worked just fine for curbing the so-called PED issue.

An automatic lifetime ban and Hall of Fame ineligibility for steroid use, established to the commissioner’s satisfaction, will detoxify and rehabilitate baseball.

No it won’t. Essentially, all the bannings are worth is image points to the public. It won’t change anything.

And if you’re going to ban steroid users, then you have to ban users of amphetamines (Mike Schmidt and Mike Cameron, for example), Gaylord Perry (vaseline ball), all the bat-corkers and ball-scuffers, and on down the line. What you’re going to be left with is a very dull, uninteresting Hall of Fame.

Kind of like the way it is now. But I digress.