In a story today the Cincinnati Enquirer is looking at the power numbers in MLB...conclusion, without the juice power is down. Story here.
It's because players can't use steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs as cavalierly as they once did.
It's because amphetamines have been banned, making those 4 a.m. hotel check-ins harder to deal with the next day.
It's because teams now guard the doors to the clubhouse, banning the personal trainers and other opportunists who once had ready access to the players.
Interesting observation, however do the numbers back up the Enquirer's assertions? We include charts from Zubin Jelveh's blog looking at numbers (through May) -- SLG upper left, stole bases lower right.
The Enquirer feels MLB testing deters players from drug-cheating to a degree; Pitcher Mike Mussina agrees:
Baseball's drug-testing program isn't foolproof. But compared to the look-the-other-way mentality that existed only a few years ago, it's rigorous. The Mitchell Report, while fundamentally flawed and incomplete, scared many players straight.
No player wants to be live on ESPN apologizing for using drugs as Andy Pettitte had to in March. Or having the personal details of his life revealed, which has been the fate of Roger Clemens. Each chapter has been more embarrassing than the last for Clemens, leaving a legendary player little more than a talk-show laughingstock.
''The last few years have been different," said New York Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina, a veteran of 18 seasons. ''I think players have a sense that if they try something, there's a decent chance they'll be caught and there will be consequences. If it can happen to Roger, who can't it happen to?"
Small ball- single, hit and run, and stolen bases appears to be back (see graphic). Younger players -- with higher natural testosterone -- are back in fashion:
The end of the steroids era is changing baseball in ways both subtle and conspicuous.
Young players - the kind who don't need a prescription to have energy - are quickly becoming the biggest factors in the game. General managers once could take on the contract of a veteran player knowing that their friendly neighborhood Kirk Radomski or Brian McNamee could help keep him on the field. Who's that guy? Oh, he's a personal trainer.
Now, as Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa sit in unwanted retirement, players like Jay Bruce, Evan Longoria, Edinson Volquez, David Murphy and Jacoby Ellsbury have taken their place.
Managers are adapting by playing more small ball. The Yankees, as an example, are far more willing to bunt earlier in the game than they have been in years.
''I think it's good baseball," manager Joe Girardi said. ''That has always been the case. But the game also is changing, and you have to change with it. You can't wait around for a home run, because you might not get one."
Amphetamines, too are banned now:
Much of the national discourse on drugs in sports has centered on steroids.
But the amphetamine ban could be having an even bigger impact in baseball, a sport with few days off and extensive travel. Trainers once dispensed ''greenies" with impunity, and veterans tell stories about drug-laced coffee that was available in every clubhouse. Now, using banned stimulants leads to suspension.
Many teams stay at the Renaissance Hotel in Baltimore. A coffee shop across the street hung a sign saying, ''Legal stimulants available inside."
Mussina's final statement on the issue and on the level playing field sounds good to us:
''It's hard for me to say, 'Home runs are down, it must be because of drug testing,' '' Mussina said. ''That's a hard thing to prove. But the game is changing, and it's probably for the better. People have said they want a level playing field. Maybe this is it."