Maximum

Forgive the break. Lots happening on the field and off, pushing this project back. The dog is doing much better, but the last week spent focused on it, Mark Prior, and Barry Bonds has slightly pushed me back. I’ve adjusted, not able to make time for the heavy weights, so picking up the frequency of the core work and watching the diet closely.

Alex, a great reader with a job nearly as cool as mine, had a great question. I’ll share as today’s post.

Alex asks — "I trust that everything is going well for you.  Between the Cubs  incident, the Barry Bonds scandal (can it be called a scandal at  this point?), and what I?m guessing is the busiest time of the year  for you, I hope you’re holding up okay.

"I’ve had a thought skirting around the back of my mind for awhile  now.  You’re doing an exercise/dieting/supplement regiment to make  huge fitness gains.  But isn?t it possible that the gains a world- class athlete (a Bonds, say) needs to become a better world-class  athlete is so difficult impossibly difficult to achieve that  chemical intervention is necessary for such improvement to take  place?  Or to put it another way, exercise/dieting/supplements have  a massive impact upon your fitness level, and can bring you from a  poor level of fitness to a superior level of fitness.  But can they  take you from a superior level of fitness to a superhuman level of  fitness?"

I’ve looked at your blog and haven’t really seen an answer, so I
thought I’d ask.  I’m sorry if this question’s been answered
elsewhere- like, say, in The Juice (which I’ll be picking up next
week). I don?t doubt that I?m wrong about this.  I’m just curious
about the reasons why I’m wrong.

Will: Great question! The answer is that  percentage gains are harder as someone nears a genetic maximum —  except no one’s ever hit that genetic maximum. Look at body  builders, or sprinters, people we would say are much closer to that  maximum than Bonds. He certainly didn’t look or perform like them; he  performed like a baseball player. Now, the flip side to percentage gains is that 1%  of Bonds is much larger than 1% of Armando Rios (who tested positive in 2003 and has been implicated in the ongoing BALCO saga), so he actually  doesn’t have to do as much to make those type of gains performance wise.

As Jay Jaffe showed in "The Juice" and Nate Silver showed in "Baseball Between The Numbers," there’s no statistical evidence that performance-enhancing drugs of any type show up in the numbers. I’m not saying there’s not an effect, just that people smarter than me can’t find it statistically. If Bonds and others risked their health and reputations for a gain that could be seen as statistical noise, that’s not an advantage, that’s stupidity.

Off to the World Baseball Classic. Save me a seat, Mr. DuPuy!

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