Skills vs. tools in baseball vs. basketball

By Jason Wojciechowski on March 8, 2009 at 12:38 AM

FreeDarko claims "Plus, while stronger and faster is of immediate benefit in baseball and football, in basketball, skill is at more of a premium." I call bullshit. Have you seen Josh Smith? And have you seen some of the "athletes" that are excellent baseball players? (Adam Dunn, Prince Fielder, and CC Sabathia come to mind.) No, I think adding speed and quickness and explosiveness via PEDs (which is the topic of discussion) would probably be at least as useful in basketball as it would in baseball.

Actually, having read and digested the entire post now, I find the argument idiotic. The idea that basketball is somehow so much different from other sports that basketball players are less likely to use PEDs strikes me as absurd. Also, as to this: "The league tests like crazy for them, reporting any semblance of a positive result with glee ... ." Football supposedly tests like crazy too, but it's widely acknowledged that there's a lot of undiscovered use going on at all levels of football.

Then there's this: "what propels most players to to the top is some version of indvidiual arrogance or confidence, stemming from the fact that when they take the court, no one can fuck with them. From that age where everything becomes to jump off for them, who they are--a seamless combination of mind, body, learned tricks, and attitude--allows them to absolutely steamroll everyone they come into contact with." That's well and good, except that it's not untrue in baseball or football, either. Dominant high school and college football players are as all-consuming and unstoppable as dominant high school basketball players. It's not until they move up the ladder that they end up cogs in the system. Was Michael Vick a cog in high school and college? Reggie Bush? Jevon Kearse? And on the other end, was Bruce Bowen ever unstoppable? Was he ever a steamroller? Of course not.

Also, "as of yet, no one's suggested that PEDs improve court vision or shooting form." No, but if you're stronger and faster, your court vision doesn't have to be as good in order to carry through the actions that you have to in order to be a successful player. Your shooting form might not get better, but if you can get an extra two inches on your vertical, that makes the defense closing to your jump shot that much less bothersome. It makes it that much harder to knock you off your shot when you venture into the lane. It might even allow you to play two or three or four extra minutes a game, a valuable proposition if you're a star and your backup is not.

Finally, attempting to tear down the idea that LeBron might use PEDs: "why exactly would a player as at home on the court, as joyous in his identity as an athlete, suddenly decide he needed to conform to a non-existent standard? Who the fuck thinks "I'm the most unholy combination of speed and size the league has ever seen, but everyone knows I could be a little more that?" That's plainly stupid. Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds ought to suffice as counterexamples. These are top-ten players all time, in a sport with more players and more history than basketball, and yet they used.