Puckett and Gaetti on steroids? Wh-Wh-What?

Apparently, senor statistician Bill James thinks that the 1984 Twins, specifically Gary Gaetti and Kirby Puckett, were on the juice the years after their unremarkable performances in the 1984 season, according to this well written piece from Bugs and Cranks (wonderful blog by the way), and my reaction is, “are you serious?” Steroids were not that prevalent even in the National Football League until the late 1980s, specifically 1988, where 6 percent of users tested positive for the stuff, and that is a small number of users, when, obviously, you have 94% of players testing clean, and even with fake testing procedures, that number is probably still really high, going with the assumption that more NFL players do steroids than MLB players.

To quote the blog article:

“Suggesting the possibility that the Twins’ two World Championships may have been aided by their team being among the first to discover…well, I’d better not go there. Nor will I point out that Gaetti was bald and had acne and Puckett died young.”

In 1984 or 1985, in the article on the ESPN mag a couple years ago, referring to well-known steroid user Jose Canseco after the loss to the fist-pumping Dodgers:

“Canseco was no steroids newbie. He’d begun to use in the mid-1980s, in Huntsville, Ala., while playing Double-A ball. To look at him was to know, or to choose not to see. The Washington Post’s Thomas Boswell caused a furor in September 1988 when he broke the silence. On a CBS News show, he said Canseco, headed for a 40/40 year and the MVP award, was “the most conspicuous example of a player who has made himself great with steroids.”

Here is ex-Cincinnati Reds trainer Larry Starr also, a couple years ago on the San Jose Mercury, about the steroid boom in 1988 (the link is to a Redszone forum post, because the article is gone and probably a pay article now):

Starr first became aware of a player using steroids in 1988. The player asked him about potentially harmful side effects after he reported to spring training 30 pounds heavier with nearly three percent less body fat.

“Starr warned the player about the possibility of liver problems and kidney damage. He said so little was known about the effects of steroid abuse that he couldn’t predict how the drug might impact the player in later years.

“The player used steroids despite Starr‘s warnings and had a productive season. The player used steroids to prolong his career, but a series of injuries, which may have been steroid-related, ended it.

“Starr said steroid use became commonplace within a few short years. There wasn’t a large percentage of players using, but Starr heard rumors about the Bash Brothers and Texas Rangers players getting their steroid supply in Mexico.

It could be possible to see Kirby and Gaetti with the steroids I guess, even if their performance after the 1984 World Series season supports that, but assuming that 1988 was the first season that steroid-trained players appeared in the Majors, I would not put anything against Kirby and Gaetti. There are too many articles supporting against it. The counter-argument is that James wrote that to make his readers mad. That may also be the case though, because Bill James is a hell of a writer and I could see him making flattery out of sensationalism, assumption and causation vs. correlation. If that’s the case, that is pretty funny right there, and this post would not exist.

What do Kirby Puckett’s 1985-1994 seasons have to do with the price of tea in China anyways? I’ll save that for the next article…

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One Comment on “Puckett and Gaetti on steroids? Wh-Wh-What?”

  1. Melissa Says:

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