It’s clear how we feel about sign stealing versus PED use. If it’s not, then we need to do a better job in writing more clearly. Perhaps it takes a first-person account from a major-league player to do our argument justice, and … BOOM, here it is.
Outfielder Doug Glanville never made an All-Star team, and overall, he had a relatively unremarkable nine-year career in the majors. He hit .277 overall, but Glanville never enough walks to maximize his stolen-base prowess (168 steals in 204 attempts). He appeared in the postseason just once, with the Chicago Cubs in October 2003.
He was a regular with the Cubs and the Philadelphia Phillies from 1997 to 2002 before age and injuries curtailed his scrappy career. Glanville is rated as the 231st-best centerfielder in MLB history by an accepted measurement system. His career was similar to those of Scott Podsednik, Jon Jay, and a handful of other non-famous ballplayers.
And this is what he has to say in a first-person piece published today on ESPN.com:
- “If you are clean, PEDs immediately put you on the downhill side of your career, and if you are already declining like I was in 2002, PEDs push you off a cliff. Sign stealing does none of that.”
- “Any time a player comes to the negotiating table, he is compared to other players based on three primary data points: productivity, service time, position. In the PED era, numbers got juiced, and when enough players juice up, it raises the bar at any given position.”
- “One ‘clairvoyant’ center fielder in Houston probably does not keep me out of the big leagues. Seventeen juiced outfielders does. And keep in mind, I also had to hit off of juiced pitchers.”
- “Illegal sign stealing doesn’t pit players against one another directly … With PEDs, it makes you paranoid that anyone could be the enemy of fair competition, even your own teammates. It isn’t a level playing field—you are playing on a completely different field altogether.”
- “My story is the story of many players. PEDs have the power to push you out of the game much more quickly and thoroughly than one team illegally stealing signs.”
You can read Glanville’s piece for yourself to flesh out the full explanations, and you will realize he’s absolutely correct. So why all the sudden outrage from players about sign stealing by Boston and Houston?
It’s easier to point a finger at others who are not doing what you’re also doing—or haven’t been caught doing yet: “Although I cannot claim to know the exact percentage of players who used PEDs during my playing days, there were more players juicing than a single team’s worth … If you just peel the numbers out of the Mitchell report (89 players listed), and consider this report only scratched the surface given the names implicated since, it is clear this was not just one rogue group of players at BALCO or Biogenesis.”
Too many people were (are still?) using PEDs for the majority, perhaps, to finger point. This is a different story—and a convenient way, perhaps, for individuals, organizations, and the sport as a whole to scapegoat one group of “cheaters” rather than admit to the whole world that the entire sport has been compromised for decades now.
Note: Glanville also went to the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League school, which explains why he could express this better than we could have ever done.