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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Barry Bonds, Randy Johnson, Peyton Manning: what do they have in common?

Barry Bonds, Randy Johnson and Peyton Manning all set records at about the same advanced age.

birthdayfinal gameageHRSOTD
Barry Bonds7/24/196410/7/200137.231
Randy Johnson9/10/196310/2/200138.096
Peyton Manning3/24/197612/29/201337.794

Each added to the record in the final game of the season.  Johnson's was a rate: strike outs (SO) per 9 innings.  Bonds and Manning had totals: home runs (HR) and touchdown (TD) passes.

Originally I was going to ask this as one of those annoying trick questions: who set a power record at age 37 in 2001?  The obvious answer is Bonds, which, of course, you would dismiss and look for something more obscure.  Plus, it turns out that Johnson was actually older than Bonds.

But with this being Super Bowl Sunday I decided to include the comparably old Manning who reclaimed the TD record from Tom Brady.  Manning also set a new record for most passing yards.  Manning is by far the oldest among the top ten passers in both.

NFL Single-Season Passing Touchdowns Leaders:

NFL Single-Season Passing Yards Leaders:

Single-Season Leaders & Records for Home Runs:

Single-Season Leaders & Records for Strikeouts per 9 IP:

Randy Johnson 37, 36, 31, 33, 34, 35, 38
Pedro Martinez 27, 28
Kerry Wood 21
Yu Darvish 26
Nolan Ryan 40

Gee, anything jump out at you about the ages of two of the five pitchers?

Bonds is the oldest among the top 13 HR hitters.  But Johnson dominates with seven of the top twelve and all of Johnson's seasons are between ages 31 and 38.  Pretty old for an athlete to be at or near records.

So, how come only the HR hitting Bonds is assumed to have used performance enhancing drugs (PED) whether steroids, human growth hormones (HGH), etc.?  Part of it is that Bonds was indicted for perjury for his testimony to a grand jury about his use of PED.  Another part is that Bonds is a totally obnoxious jerk.  Manning is pretty likable but Johnson is not.

I think the real reason is that American sports fans have an obsession with the HR record.

A couple of years ago Manning had what seemed like career ending neck surgery, which contributed to his original team, the Indianapolis Colts, switching to the rookie Andrew Luck.  So what if Manning used PED to recover and play again.  Actually, Manning did not even need that benefit of the doubt.  We simply don't care if football players use PED.  We all assume that, with the possible exception of the kicking specialists, all football players use PED.

We don't seem to really care about baseball pitchers using PED either.  After all, they don't set records that are too obvious.  In recent seasons with more testing for PED, even though it had nothing to do with catching the dirty dozen suspended in 2013, HR hitting is down and SO are up.  Pitchers are becoming more dominant as the average speed of fastballs has increased each of the last five seasons to about 91.5 miles per hour (mph).  That's the average.

And while Manning may have gotten a pass on how he recovered from his neck surgery no such consideration was given to 38 year old Alex Rodriguez in 2013. who was returning from his second hip surgery.  Rodriguez is currently suspended for the entire 2014 season without a positive drug test.  Obviously, in recent years Rodriguez has not approached any season records as his performance has decreased.  Apparently Rodriguez used PED just to be able to play.  What the heck.  Let the guy play.

So far Randy Johnson has not been characterized as someone to be punished for suspected circumstantial use of PED.  He is eligible for the Hall of Fame in the next election.  It will be interesting to see if suspicion begins to form.  One can only wonder when the main stream media will begin to ask about Nolan Ryan.  By far the most viewed post on this blog:

Tuesday, August 31, 2010  Nolan Ryan: more on possible steroid use.

Ryan last had 10 SO per 9 innings in 1978 at age 31 in AL. Then at 40 in NL Ryan had his career high: 11.5! 270 SO in 211 innings. Second best in Ryan's career: 11.3 at age 42 with 301 SO ... in the AL with a DH!

Friday, January 31, 2014  Larry Walker: would he be more suspicious to steroid zealots if he had hit 62 homers in 1997?

Steroid zealots are concerned almost exclusively with the home record and even there only with a count, not an average per AB or some form of HR+ in which difficulty of era and park in HR hitting are considered.  Truth, justice and the American way (Superman) are used as excuses for their protecting a record that is ridiculous.

Home run records are ridiculous because they are a count of long hits over walls of different distances and different heights even in the same park.  It's completely ridiculous!  The non-uniform playing areas undermine the integrity of baseball much more than players using PED.  Non-uniform playing areas undermine and make ridiculous the most cherished record in American team sports, the home run.

Note the lack of concern about players who used performance decreasing drugs, legal and illegal.

In addition to setting records at age 37-38, what else do Barry Bonds, Randy Johnson and Peyton Manning have in common?

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