Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Was Bonds Just Acting Rationally?

Thanks to The Sports Economist (see link at right) I became aware of this article in Scientific American. While focusing mainly on doping in cycling, it raises the specter of game theory in an athlete's decision to take performance enhancing drugs.

Game theory relates to making decisions that will be affected by the actions of others, without knowing what the others will do. It is relevant in business, treaty negotiations, poker.....just about anything in life.

Which brings me to Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens, who, if you believe the hysterical media, are responsible for ruining baseball forever. In fact, based on game theory, they were acting rationally. According to what's been written about Bonds, he didn't get on the juice until 1998, after becoming disgusted by the records that McGwire and Sosa were putting up, and knowing they were on steroids. So, considering the risks and costs (almost nil) versus the benefits (all time home run record, and big bucks) Bonds would have been a schmuck not to have taken the juice. If everyone else is on roids, and you aren't, and they are kicking your ass and paying no penalty ( no drug testing back then) you would be a moron not to stick that needle in your butt!

We need to get over this and accept that everyone was on the juice in the past 15 years, and just accept that baseball had it's "Roid Era", just as it has had many other eras. I hardly think players bettering the performance with drugs is anywhere near despicable as baseballs Racist Era, when only white guys could play. And no one, except me, thinks that records set during that era shouldn't count (tell me Dimaggio hits in 56 games if he had better black players in the field!).

And, definitely, all sports need to take measure to make sure that the likely cost of juicing from now on exceeds the benefits, which was not the case when these guys where using.

1 comment:

Budd Bailey said...

I prefer the phrase "hilarious media" to "hysterical media," speaking as a member of the media.

Interesting article.