Murray Chass’ “I know Mike Piazza did steroids because he had back acne” crusade has its charms, but sadly, it does not have much medical science on its side.
We know this, because Howard Megdal did some shoe leather reporting on the matter and was told by multiple dermatologists that (a) back acne is common; (b) it’s even more common in athletes who wear equipment like catcher’s gear; (c) there are multiple skin issues that affect backs that a lay person may confuse for acne; and (d) as many as half of all steroids users don’t have back acne anyway, so the correlation Chass is so hot for doesn’t work even if Piazza took steroids seven days a week and twice on Sunday. Money quotes:
All the dermatologists agreed on one thing: a lay person viewing Piazza’s back in a clubhouse setting isn’t a reasonable standard for diagnosing back acne, let alone asserting a connection between that problem and steroid use.
“I would say that conclusion is not fair,” Dr. Schweiger said.
“I would say no,” Dr. Davis said.
And Dr. Goldwasser, after a long pause, described Chass’s conclusion as “presumptuous. That’s the word I would use.” When asked if that was a polite word for the word she would use, Goldwasser laughed and said, “You could say that.”
So even if Chass is right about Piazza taking steroids, he’s just guessing. But we knew that already, did we not?
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.
Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.
The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.