Links

— Are you having trouble following your favorite Braves blogs from day to day? Check out The Tomahawk. It contains snippets and links to blog posts and Braves news.

— If you are looking for an easy way to link to all of my commentary on the lacking effectiveness of human growth hormone, I have now created a separate category for these posts.

— Charles at Cosellout uses the Sports Illustrated archives to track the magazine’s coverage of performance-enhancing drugs going back to 1969.

In the months to come we will be cataloguing their articles according to special categories as part of an SI Vault Series. Given the current climate on the subject, performance enhancing drugs (PEDS) seemed like a wonderful place to start. As accountability is being requested from players to managers to owners, there is one contingent that has answered to no one: The MEDIA. It is important for the public to know the same question asked of everyone else: “what did they know”? Given SI’s historical reputation America’s #1 magazine, it goes without saying that if Sports Illustrated printed it, then the rest of the sports media knew about it.

Michael Shermer has an article in Scientific American that discusses the prisoner’s dilemma game that motivates steroid use in all sports (thanks to Freakonomics and The Sports Economist). Readers of The Baseball Economist (or bargain hardback) will recall the direct application of this game to baseball in Chapter 9 (The Steroids Game). To end doping in sports Shermer states that any solution must correct the incentives that lead players to use.

To end doping in sports, the doping game must be restructured so that competing clean is in a Nash equilibrium. That is, the governing bodies of each sport must change the payoff values of the expected outcomes identified in the game matrix. First, when other players are playing by the rules, the payoff for doing likewise must be greater than the payoff for cheating. Second, and perhaps more important, even when other players are cheating, the payoff for playing fair must be greater than the payoff for cheating. Players must not feel like suckers for following the rules.

I agree; and here is my solution for changing the payoffs in the New York Times.

In an effort to clean up the game, it is tempting to suggest the standard solutions that strengthen old rules and increase monitoring and punishments. The problem is that the scofflaws are always one step ahead of the police. We need a deterrence system that uses incentives to limit drug use.

Baseball should stop punishing steroid users with suspensions and small fines. Instead, the sport needs a system of significant fines and bonuses. The revenues generated by cheaters under the new fine-and-bonus system would be distributed to the players who passed their tests. In addition to punishing players who cheat, this system would have the advantages of rewarding players who stayed clean and of encouraging players to police each other. Players would continue to play while being punished, so that fans did not suffer for player sins.

More here. Steven Levitt favors a proposal that stores blood samples over a long period of time. I don’t think it is possible in baseball given the fear of tampering and alternate uses. The players will never allow this, and I don’t blame them for their opposition. In a world where I don’t blindly trust my mechanic, why would I trust a lab holding a blood sample that could ruin my livelihood?

3 Responses “Links”

  1. Greyson says:

    “The revenues generated by cheaters under the new fine-and-bonus system would be distributed to the players who passed their tests”

    -This assumes that everyone who passes their test isn’t cheating. Even if you don’t conclude that HGH is cheating, there are certainly other undetectable performance enhancers, and many more to come for that matter, not to mention the myriad of ways to cover-up use. Doesn’t this just punish the players who cheat poorly, and end up further rewarding the players who are good at cheating? Ultimately creating an incentive to perfect cheating practices, which of course just increases the profitability for drug-pushing chemists and trainers.

    There is no quick fix. I’d say the only real way to change this is, as fans, making our real feelings felt by totally rejecting the sort of behavior that we see unfit. Unfortunately, I don’t think an overwhelming majority of fans really care so deeply about the matter.

  2. Alex says:

    I’d be interested on your take on the whole Schafer fiasco.

  3. Kyle James says:

    JC, Thanks for the shoutout to The Tomahawk. Now that the season has started there is way to much Braves stuff getting posted it’s hard to keep up with. I hate the fact they are 0-5 in one run games!