May 10 - Taking Stock of Bonds
Barry Bonds is not a cheater.
Repeat after me. Barry Bonds is not a cheater.
A jerk, sure. A criminal, maybe, depending on whether or not the grand
jury testimony actually did contain his admission of using steroids, which
He is not, however, a cheater. This is because of the downright
laughable MLBPA and their owners, who, in their infinite wisdom, decided
to create the most ridiculous drug policy in the recent history of sport.
Lamentably, Barry Bonds will be remembered as less of a cheater than Sammy Sosa – not so much
because of their alleged steroid use, but because Sosa used a doctored bat. Yes, folks, when your
sport cares more about a bat full of superballs than performance-enhancing substances, you have a
Sure, Bud Selig is doing and saying the right things, presenting just enough indignance in public to
make it look as though he cares. He’s even got George Mitchell on the case, and they can point to
numerous suspensions of faceless minor leaguers to prove that the system is working.
It is, of course, predictable that the media is hammering Bonds with steroid-related questions even
more as he approaches Babe Ruth’s 714 number (which, hey ESPN, is not the record, while
admirable), and he is, in turn, deflecting them in as much of an irascible and confrontational manner
I have heard the inevitable comparisons between what Bonds allegedly did and what Pete Rose did,
and I have also heard the asinine “no gambling is the one rule you first see when you enter a
clubhouse” argument. Those who do not want Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame for his
accomplishments as a player because of his lack of contrition seem to have the same myopia as
those who feel Bonds should not be in the Hall of Fame because he is such a jackass. If something
is done on the field of play that is worthy of recognition, recognize it. Stop making excuses, stop the
“but”s, stop the asterisks. It either happened or it did not happen. Period. If Bonds is in the Hall for
his accomplishments, so too should be every player who contributed things worthy on the field during
this era in question, and so too should be Pete Rose.
Comparing eras in the game is a fruitless pursuit. Sure, one can argue that Bonds’ numbers were
medically enhanced. Babe Ruth never had to face players of color. Many of the players during Roger
Maris’ era would be laughed off the field today due to lack of speed, skill or other concern. The game
changes, as should our view of those who play it. The problem is that we want those who hold
records in the game to be likable individuals, and as much as Hank Aaron was so, Bonds is equally
Here’s an unsolicited tip, Barry. Enjoy what you are about to accomplish. Honor those who came
before you as much as you seem to want to honor your father and Willie Mays. Bask in the glow of
baseball’s upper echelon.
Based on what I have seen of you off the field, it might be the last true happiness you ever know.