who’s next

Hi Bill,
You have helped us in the past regarding our essays entitled: Chasing Nolan Ryan, where we posed the question:
“If a player in the Hall of Fame is revealed to have use steroids, should the player remain in the Hall of Fame.”
The concensus has been an overwhelming: “Yes, said player should remain in the Hall of Fame.”
You suggested, based on statistics alone:
“I don’t see any reason to believe that Ryan used steroids, and I think it’s an improper line of journalistic enquiry … and I think it is not right to target a person for investigation and innuendo without evidence.”
With your guidance, we abandoned our Chasing Nolan Ryan project and started to research the larger issue of steroids in baseball, only to come across an exerpt from your The Bill James Gold Mine 2008:

“And finally, item 12, which concludes the essay about Atypical Seasons: “Two of the greatest home run under-producers of all time were teammates: Kirby Puckett and Gary Gaetti in 1984. Puckett hit no home runs (-16), Gaetti hit only 5 (-19). 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.”

Bill, we’re not trying to bust balls, but you made us feel, sort of, like bottom feeders suggesting that Nolan Ryan deserves another look.

There are many reasons we feel this way including: in 1987, at the age of 40, he posted the highest strikeout per 9 innings pitched ratio of his career (against competition now known to have been using performance enhancing drugs). Also because of his association with known steroid person(s), and because of his passive stance(s) on present users & their Hall of Fame qualification/disqualifications.

Our intent has never been to “out” Nolan Ryan, instead it has been to shed light on an era of baseball and, perhaps, end this modern day witch hunt.

Thanks for your time.

With respect,
Max Steingrout

—– Original Message —–

From: Bill James
To: Max AKA The Chickenhawk

I’m sure your point is a good one, and I didn’t mean to make you feel bad for suggesting that Nolan Ryan used steroids.   Part of the problem is, I’m fairly confident that. .. .a player of relevance to this discussion. . ..DIDN’T use steroids.   What he did is, he scuffed the baseball–or actually, he had Alan Ashby scuff it for him.   Mike Scott through 1985 had a career high in strikeouts of 135.  In 1986 he struck out 306.    I’m just observing.
I’m not going to write about this and I’d prefer not to be quoted about it, but other people have written about it; if your research is good enough, you can find it.   I’m quite certain that you’re going in the wrong direction in suggesting that Nolan Ryan used steroids.    I don’t think he did.   Something happened there, but it wasn’t steroids.   I was trying to save you from making a mistake, without immersing myself deeply in the complicated and emotionally super-charged issue of players doing things not exactly within the rules in order to be more successful.
– Bill

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