Bill James`s Guilty Conscience
September 14, 2010, 08:14 PM
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For a few years, I've been pointing out that baseball's most sainted statistical analyst, Bill James, was completely AWOL while obvious steroid-users were piling up statistically ridiculous numbers. He'd immediately change the subject from steroids to, say, Barry Bonds using a maple bat instead of an ash one.

Now that the evidence of steroid use by most of the setters of anomalous statistics is overwhelming, he's changed tunes and is praising the cheaters in a Slate article:

Life, Liberty, and Breaking the Rules In defense of Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, jaywalkers, and all the other scofflaws that make America great.
First of all, I have absolutely no doubt that, had steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs existed during Babe Ruth's career, Babe Ruth would not only have used them, he would have used more of them than Barry Bonds.
Let me propose a more relevant counterfactual. If Mr. James had been intellectually honest and had spoken out about steroids, as, say, Tom Boswell of the Washington Post did as early as 1988, then Mr. James would not have been hired as a senior executive of the Boston Red Sox in 2003 and capped his career by helping them win their first World Series since Babe Ruth's time in 2004. Why not? Because the Red Sox's two biggest hitters, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, were juicers.

Should intellectuals who are dishonest about the biggest issue of their time in their field because of obvious conflicts of interest be subjected to penalty of law?

No.

But they should be publicly shamed.