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?
Even Drellich of The Athletic reports that the Boston Red Sox are cutting the pay of team employees. Those cuts, which began to be communicated last night, apply to all employees making $50,000 or more. They are tiered cuts, with people making $50-99,000 seeing salary cut by 20%, those making $100k-$499,000 seeing $25% cuts and those making $500,000 or more getting 30% cuts.
Drellich reported that a Red Sox employee told him that “people are livid” over the fact that those making $100K are being treated the same way as those making $500K. And, yes, that does seem to be a pretty wide spread for similar pay cuts. One would think that a team with as many analytically-oriented people on staff could perhaps break things down a bit more granularly.
Notable in all of this that the same folks who own the Red Sox — Fenway Sports Group — own Liverpool FC of the English Premier League, and that just last month Liverpool’s pay cut/employee furlough policies proved so unpopular that they led to a backlash and a subsequent reversal by the club. That came after intense criticism from Liverpool fan groups and local politicians. Sox owner John Henry must be confident that no such backlash will happen in Boston.
As we noted yesterday, The Kansas City Royals, who are not as financially successful as the Boston Red Sox, have not furloughed employees or cut pay as a result of baseball’s shutdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps someone in Boston could call the Royals and ask them how they managed that.