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Author Topic: Barry Bonds Big-headed?
IlGreven, Swan a-Swimmin'
Grandma Got Run Over by a Rain Check


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Here's a well-travelled rumor which, in the wake of the Balco indictments, I'd love to see proven or disproven.

I've seen it EVERYWHERE, but I haven't heard it straight from the horse's mouth* yet, so I'm skeptical.

Everyone in the sports-media business lampoons Barry Bonds as someone who's "obviously" on steroids. Supposedly one side effect of using steroids is increased head size. Everyone from ESPN to CNN/SI take it as fact that Barry Bonds' hat size has grown 2-3 sizes over the last few years. But the closest I've come to a confirmation is "a Major League executive," "a San Francisco newspaper", or "New Era, the official hat provider of MLB." Quite surprisingly [Roll Eyes] , I have not found any proof any execs, papers, or hat providers have reported such a thing. I've also heard "friend of a friend of a Giants' trainer" stories, without any info. Also somewhat intriguingly, most of the sources I hit are editorial pieces. Any hard news pieces never discuss Barry Bonds' hat size, only that some players take steroids.

So, the question is: Has Barry Bonds' hat size grown in the past few years?

*The horse's mouth isn't Bonds, in this case, because a person will always deny illegal activity that isn't tracked.

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Greg of Winter
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Yeah, I heard this one from an acquaintance who is friends with a national sportswriter, who supposedly learned this off-the-record from the SF Giants equipment manager (the guy who issues out the players' uniforms), who was forced to sign a draconian Non-Disclosure Agreement and can't officially go on the record stating this.

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PASnow
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I don't think Barry Bonds calls New Era Cap and orders a hat.. So I can't imagine how "New Era, the official hat provider of MLB" would know..
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Mr. Furious
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No, no, it's Ken Griffey, Jr. that had an enormous head after drinking too much nerve tonic.

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Bulldon
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when i look at bonds now, it seems like his head is too small for his body, not too big.

then again, im a dodgers fan, so my opinion may not be the best. [Razz]

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Rhiandmoi
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Bonds is listed at 6'2" 210, which is about right for someone in his profession.

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Mr. Furious
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Bonds is 6'2, 228 lbs.

But his current size, in and of itself, isn't the issue. It's that he's put on roughly 45 lbs. of solid muscle since he was a Pittsburgh rookie, the bulk (no pun intended) of that since he turned 35.

Is it possible that his newfound size is simply the result of incredibly hard work, perfect nutrition, and legal supplements. Sure it is. But the amount of size he packed on, and when he did it, has raised a lot of red flags. The BALCO scandal is just the latest one.

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brick
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Bonds also looked considerably smaller last year, after steroid testing began, than he did in his 70+ HR years.

Notice that no one hit more than 47 HRs last year? Hmmm...

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schemmy
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Well, let's see. Three people hit more than 47 HRs in 2002: Alex Rodriguez, Jim Thome, and Sammy Sosa. Sosa was hurt for a good bit of last year after being beaned in the head. Jim Thome switched leagues and went to a harder park to hit home runs in. Not to mention, both of those got a little older. A-Rod had an off year perfectly within means of random variation.

The HR leader in 2002 (Alex Rodriguez, 57) hit a HR every 12.5 PA. In 2003, Javy Lopez hit one every 11.5 PA. He only hit 43 because he did not play as often as most.

In 2002, 5059 HRs were hit. In 2003, 5207 HRs were hit.

An example of the volatility of the home run: from 1986 to 1987, HRs leaguewide increased 16%. The next year, they fell 29%.

quote:
Is it possible that his newfound size is simply the result of incredibly hard work, perfect nutrition, and legal supplements. Sure it is. But the amount of size he packed on, and when he did it, has raised a lot of red flags. The BALCO scandal is just the latest one.
Honestly, it doesn't matter to me at this point, considering he's been the best player in the league for over 10 years, even when he was small, he could still hit better than anyone.

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Chris J
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quote:
Originally posted by schemmy:

An example of the volatility of the home run: from 1986 to 1987, HRs leaguewide increased 16%. The next year, they fell 29%.

Well, 1987 was that year when the ball was widely considered juiced for at least the first half of the season... still relevant to discussions of HR fluctuations but probably not of random fluctuations.
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Four Kitties
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Anybody remember which year they moved the manufacturing from Haiti to the Dominican Republic?

ETA: I mean the manufacturing of baseballs, of course, not steroids. [lol]

Four Five Kitties

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schemmy
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quote:
Originally posted by ChrisJ is left out:
quote:
Originally posted by schemmy:

An example of the volatility of the home run: from 1986 to 1987, HRs leaguewide increased 16%. The next year, they fell 29%.

Well, 1987 was that year when the ball was widely considered juiced for at least the first half of the season... still relevant to discussions of HR fluctuations but probably not of random fluctuations.
But, of course, there's no evidence of that (at least, none I've seen) - people explain things after the fact to satisfy themselves.

It happened in the 30s, too.

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Chris J
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quote:
Originally posted by schemmy:
But, of course, there's no evidence of that (at least, none I've seen) - people explain things after the fact to satisfy themselves.

It happened in the 30s, too.

It wasn't only noticed after the fact though - it was from very early on in the '87 season that MLB players, coaches and managers were commenting that the ball seemed different. It was already a big media story in April-May and everybody was sick of talking about it by the All-Star Game.
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Rhiandmoi
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Not to mention that in 2002 he was walked 198 times and the rest of the time he hardly saw a good pitch.

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Rhiandmoi
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Well, I don't know if anyone cares but me, but here is a site that shows the breakdown of Barry Bonds Batting stats. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/baseball/mlb/players/3918/season_by_all_batting_splits.html

I took some time to look at it this morning. Don't let SO know, he is obsessed with stats and if he finds out that I am even mildly interested he will not stop talking about them. I even made a spreadsheet so I could analyze the data.

ETD=Stats because SO explained something to me and now I have to redo my spread sheet but right now I have to do my real work.

Also, I never heard about the big head thing. Although Sammy Sosa does have a monstrously ogerish head. [Wink]

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What is .02 worth?

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schemmy
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ChrisJ: In that case, maybe 1987 wasn't the best example. However, it did happen as well in the 1930s - a HR spike - and last year, we even had more home runs hit, so I don't see how anyone can pull stats out of their ass and say "Look! They stopped hitting homeruns! STEROIDS~!"

It hangs my munchkin when people who don't know anything about stats at all try to prove a point with them.

rhiannon: Hate to tell you, but those batting splits don't really mean all too much.

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Rhiandmoi
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Well, I think that it is pretty interesting that 70% of the time he is going to get out when he is pitched to. And 8% of the time he is going to hit a homerun.
To me that shows that the odds are better if you pitch to him, than if you walk him. Since if you pitch there is a 70% chance of him getting out and if you walk him there is a 0% chance.
I have heard a lot of people in baseball saying that being strong helps you hit homeruns, but it doesn't help that much.
I will continue to say that I don't really understand the little bits of baseball and as SO said to me repeatedly yesterday that even if he has a 70% chance of getting out, the guy batting after him has a 75% chance, and that is even better odds. blah blah blah.
Isn't a better indication of steroid use recurrent injuries? I really never paid attention to this issue before, but Balco is right here and it is on the news every freaking day. Also track and field atheletes seem to be the main focus, are they talking track or field?

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I think that hyperbole is the single greatest factor contributing to the decline of society. - My friend Pat.

What is .02 worth?

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brick
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quote:
Originally posted by schemmy:
ChrisJ: In that case, maybe 1987 wasn't the best example. However, it did happen as well in the 1930s - a HR spike - and last year, we even had more home runs hit, so I don't see how anyone can pull stats out of their ass and say "Look! They stopped hitting homeruns! STEROIDS~!"

One year is not a significant sample set--it's merely an interesting observation that makes you wonder.

If five years from now, no one has hit more than 50 HR in a season post-steroid testing, I vote for putting Maris on the other side of an asterisk.

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schemmy
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rhiannon: Yes, it's actually pretty stupid to walk Bonds everytime. The percentages are a little off, though - the best way to tell a person's chance of getting on base his is... On base Percentage (aptly named), which is basically Times on Base / Times At Plate. Bonds' chance of making an out, without the intentional walks, is probably closer to 55%.

brick: That's the problem though, it's dangerous to even make observations and "wonder" over such a small sample size, especially when there's a hypothesis for which you're specifically noting evidence. That is, you note that nobody hit 50 this year, but don't note that more home runs were hit, or that a major slugger (Sosa) got drilled in the head, or that another one (Thome) switched leagues and went to more of a pitcher's park. Or that the biggest slugger had about 1/6 less of the playing time as the year before and hit only one less. Or that the highest HR/PA (Lopez) of 2003 was higher than the greaters HR/PA (Thome) of 2002.

Even if it's just an observation, it's at best a misleading one that means nothing.

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Aureal
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quote:
Well, I think that it is pretty interesting that 70% of the time he is going to get out when he is pitched to.
It's not really very interesting at all to someone who knows about baseball. Of course the odds are that he'll make an out. NOBODY even comes close to evening the odds that he'll make an out or not. If Bonds makes an out 70% of the time, he'll have a batting average of roughly .300, which is significatly better than average.

The point, which your husband has apparently already tried to explain to you, is not that Bonds reaches base safely more often than not, but that he does so more often than most other players. And he's especially dangerous, because of his great chance of hitting a home run. 8% may not seem like a lot to you, but it is. Think about it. 8% means that statistically, he'll hit a home run every 12.5 at bats. A typical series is three games, and a player will usually get 4 or 5 at bats in a game. So he's probably getting 12-15 at bats each series, so each series you play his team, he's almost certain to hit a home run against you (statistically speaking, of course). Now, if he hits a home run every three games, then in a 162-game season, he'll hit 54. Not too shabby, eh?

Just how much do you know about baseball, anyway? Perhaps the value of walking Bonds rather than risking a home run isn't readily apparent. You see, when you walk a person, he only goes to first base. No damage has been done. However, if you pitch to him and he hits a home run, he just scored at least one run.

Think about it this way- if you think that the fact that a player is considerably more likely to get out than not, wouldn't you rather face a player with a greater chance of getting out and a lower chance of hitting a home run? That's what walking Bonds does. Putting him at first base takes away his home run threat, and most likely will not hurt you. If he had hit a home run, then he and everyone else on base in front of him would score. However, putting him on base makes the other team have to do more work to get him to score, and remember, you were just saying how much more likely it is to make an out than not.

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Rhiandmoi
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I think that it makes it less of a game of who is better and more of a game of who is worse.

Yes, I understand perfectly that every single other player in baseball is more likely to get out than he is.

The reason that I only considered AB instead of PA is that while I think that Barry Bonds does have excellent discipline, anectodotally, from what I have see, even when he is not intentionally walked, he is intentionally pitched around.
I personally disagree with this kind of game strategy. I personally think that it lowers the game. I personally think that it communicates to your team that you don't have confidence in them. I think it takes away from the purity of pitcher vs. batter.
Anyway, this thread is about whether or not he has used steroids. Not about game strategy.

I personally don't think he has used steroids. Not just because I think he is a cool guy. But because I think he wouldn't take the physical risk because by 1999 the risks were well documented and also his family health history, and also I don't think that he would take the social risk of shaming one of the great baseball families. But if there is some test to find out, like hair follicles or retesting old samples, I think everyone in baseball should be tested. And also all living retired players.

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I think that hyperbole is the single greatest factor contributing to the decline of society. - My friend Pat.

What is .02 worth?

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Johnny Slick
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At this point, I am leaning towards the conclusion that Bonds used steroids. Consider:

- He gained 35 pounds of muscle in one off-season, which is pretty darn hard to do when you are already in peak physical condition.

- That year, he circumvented what looked like a slow but steady late-career decline with the incredible 73-homer season. For those who don't already know this, most players have the best years of their careers between the ages of 26 and 29. Bonds' 2 best seasons came right then, when he was 36 and 37 (his previous 2 best seasons came at ages 27 and 28). It is, of course, unprecedented to hit 73 homers in one season; it's not a completely unknown thing for a player to have a career year at 36, though it is rather rare.

- The year he experienced the weight gain, his trainer began using Balco, a Bay Area company that is currently being looked at by the Feds for having supplied steroids to professional athletes. A fairly long list of people have admitted to having received steroids from this company, most notably former Raiders linebacker Bill Romanowski.

- His trainer has apparently confessed to supplying at least one athlete that he works with with Balco's steroids, which by the way were designed to circumvent normal testing methods. It's true that he does have more clients than Bonds, but it's also true that said clients only came to this guy after Bonds recommended him.

Any one of these points by itself would be cause to raise an eyebrow or two, but taken together, one has to admit that either Bonds took steroids prior to the 2001 season or else there were a great deal of bizarre coincidences that happened around him.

John Craven

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schemmy
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Aureal: OBP is a much better gauge of value than batting average. When he walks, he doesn't make an out. It's not like all of those walks are intentional, you know.

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Mr. Furious
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quote:
Originally posted by JohnnySlick:
- He gained 35 pounds of muscle in one off-season, which is pretty darn hard to do when you are already in peak physical condition.

It's also not something that usually happens to people that age, even top-flight athletes. That's what initially made me suspicious of him.

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Mouse
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I miss Babe Ruth. He only needed beer, cigars, and women to hit homers.

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Bulldon
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quote:
Originally posted by schemmy:
Aureal: OBP is a much better gauge of value than batting average. When he walks, he doesn't make an out. It's not like all of those walks are intentional, you know.

actually OPS seems to be the best gauge, its slugging% + OBP. and bonds does put up some unreal numbers. historically, babe ruth and ted williams seem to be the best(ruth has like 4 out of 5 spots)
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Mr. Furious
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quote:
Originally posted by Bulldon:
actually OPS seems to be the best gauge, its slugging% + OBP. and bonds does put up some unreal numbers. historically, babe ruth and ted williams seem to be the best(ruth has like 4 out of 5 spots)

Career OPS Leaders:

1. Babe Ruth - 1.1636
2. Ted Williams - 1.1155
3. Lou Gehrig - 1.0798
4. Todd Helton - 1.0414
5. Jimmie Foxx - 1.0376
6. Barry Bonds - 1.0352
7. Hank Greenberg - 1.0169
8. Rogers Hornsby - 1.0103
9. Manny Ramirez - 1.0102
10. Frank Thomas - .9960

Helton, Bonds, Ramirez, and Thomas are still active.

Single-Season OPS Leaders:

1. Barry Bonds - 1.3807 (2002)
2. Babe Ruth - 1.3791 (1920)
3. Barry Bonds - 1.3785 (2001)
4. Babe Ruth - 1.3586 (1921)
5. Babe Ruth - 1.3089 (1923)
6. Ted Williams - 1.2874 (1941)
7. Barry Bonds - 1.2778 (2003)
8. Babe Ruth - 1.2582 (1927)
9. Ted Williams - 1.2566 (1957)
10. Babe Ruth - 1.2530 (1926)

Source

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Johnny Slick
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OPS+ is even better. It's basically OPS divided by league OPS, multiplied by 100 and adjusted for home ball park. That way, you can make some comparison between a guy who played in the Baker Bowl in 1930 and a guy who played in Dodger Stadium in 1968.

1. Barry Bonds 275 2002 L
2. Barry Bonds 262 2001 L
3. Babe Ruth+ 255 1920 L
4. Fred Dunlap 250 1884 R
5. Babe Ruth+ 239 1921 L
Babe Ruth+ 239 1923 L
7. Ted Williams+ 235 1941 L
8. Ted Williams+ 233 1957 L
9. Ross Barnes 231 1876 R
Barry Bonds 231 2003 L

If you don't like the 19th century guys being included, Babe Ruth holds the next 2 slots on the list as well.

John Craven

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brick
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quote:
Originally posted by schemmy:
brick: That's the problem though, it's dangerous to even make observations and "wonder" over such a small sample size, especially when there's a hypothesis for which you're specifically noting evidence. [snip]

Even if it's just an observation, it's at best a misleading one that means nothing.

Evidence consistent with my hunch is presented.
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Johnny Slick
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Jesus. At this point, I think the tinfoil hats go to the people who DON'T think that Bonds had the 'roid rage.

One thing amused me:
quote:
The Chronicle reported that two of Bonds' former teammates — Marvin Benard of the Chicago White Sox (news) and Kansas City catcher Benito Santiago — and former Oakland infielder Randy Velarde also received performance-enhancing drugs, as did Oakland Raiders (news) linebacker Bill Romanowski.
If that's the way Marvin Benard plays when he's ON steroids... [lol]

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snopes
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Bonds debunks cap size rumor

Giants slugger Barry Bonds told a pair of reporters in the clubhouse at Scottsdale Stadium that any rumors about a change in his cap size are just that — rumors.

http://mlb.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/news/article.jsp?ymd=20050304&content_id=957134&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp

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