Thursday, March 09, 2006

On Bonds
By Zach

Since everyone else seems to be weighing in, here's my two cents.

Things Barry Bonds is:

The greatest baseball player I've ever seen
A steroid user
Probably not a guy I'd like to hang around with

Things Barry Bonds is not:

The destroyer of an idyllic, pure game
The only steroid user
The only guy I'd not like to hang around with who happens to play sports

Let's get over the whole "using steroids" thing. Obviously, he used them. We don't know exactly how many other players did, but we know that Mark McGwire was using andro, which later got banned. Additionally, while Bonds was taking the steroids (at least as detailed in the book) it was not against baseball rules. Saying that his records from that time period shouldn't count is idiotic, it's as if saying that because spitballs were eventually outlawed, all the wins recorded by spitball pitchers in the early 1900s should be removed, or have an asterik by them, or some such nonsense.

Using steroids may have long term health detriments, it may have turned Bonds into a hulking, roid raging, sexually disfunctioning monster, but it didn't break the rules. That's the first, and most important, thing.

Some of the arguments for crucifying Bonds are as follows (it works best if you picture some sports columnist or ESPN talking head bleating these out in a high-pitched, whiny tone):

He Cheated!!!!!

See above.

He Destroyed the Sanctity of Baseball!!!

So Mark McGwire's steroid-fueled 70 home runs didn't? By the way, lumping Bonds and McGwire together is idiotic, McGwire's a borderline Hall of Famer (his numbers outside HRs suck), while Bonds is easily the best player since Willie Mays. If anything ruined the sanctity of baseball, it was a guy like Brady Anderson hitting 50 home runs (while on steroids, natch). Baseball, from 1995-2004, was absolutely full of guys using steroids. Bonds happened to be the best player before them, and after them as well. But he, and the other guys who have been accused, are just the tip of the iceberg. Ken Caminiti's claim of 50% seems utterly reasonable to me.

He's Risking His Health!!!!!!!!!

First of all, I thought Bonds was a jerk. Why should we care if he dies early? In addition, he doesn't risk his health any more than a football player, especially those who hang on to long, or a boxer who keeps fighting after plenty of knockdowns. Yet we glorify those guys for "gutting it out." Bonds is a grown up, and if he chooses to trade years of his life for home runs, well, am I supposed to say he shouldn't?

He's Causing Our Children To Use Steroids!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

See, I love this line of thinking. My kid uses steroids because he's a .220 hitter in high school. He's heard of Barry Bonds. Thus, Bonds must have forced him to use steroids. First of all, the culture of steroids around baseball (not just major league, but minor league and below) is rampant, and has nothing to do with Bonds. It has everything to do with the fact that Major League Baseball decided that what was needed post-strike was an offensive explosion, and one of the ways to accomplish that was to turn a blind eye toward steroid use. Of course, you reap what you sow, so MLB is now dealing with the public backlash when it becomes apparent how tainted the last ten years are...oh, except we've decided that the only person who used steroids was Bonds. The monster! I think he killed my cat!

He's A Criminal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, sure. But again, he's not in the minority here, and that's just talking about steroids. I'm sure numerous baseball players cheat on their taxes, or drive drunk, or use drugs, or whatever. The US Attorney's office hasn't turned any of this evidence into a criminal charge, so I don't really care.

I think that's what this all comes down to. For me to get outraged over Bonds, I'd have to care that he took steroids. But I don't. I care that half of the league was taking steroids, but it's hard for me to say that Bonds is any worse than the other guys, just because he was better. He understood that under the rules, and circumstances of the time, he had to take steroids if he wanted to remain one of the top players in the game. Sad? Sure. But I don't blame Bonds. I blame Major League Baseball, for allowing it to happen, and I blame us, the fans, for blindly gulping down home run chases without once wondering why it was that Mark McGwire was suddenly healthy, or how Sammy Sosa jumped 30 home runs and 57 points of batting average in one season. I know, it's because they were nice guys. Except McGwire was a lousy husband, and Sosa used a corked bat, forgot how to speak English when in front of Congress, and generally seems like almost as big a jerk as Bonds.

As I listed at the start: Barry Bonds used steroids, and probably is a jerk. But neither of things matter much to me, and they shouldn't matter to you. Unless you work in the sports media, in which case you've got ads to sell. So please, keep shrieking.


Anonymous Kendall said...

Your post is very well put. I agree. Bonds didn't break the rules. He broke the law and is an absolute insecure maniac... But he didn't break and of MLBs rules. Therefore, his records can't be taken away. A discussion of whether or not those things should have been banned or when or anything else pertaining to that are irrelevant. I agree with your point that baseball (owners and the league) are to blame. I just can't believe that no one knows about this behaviour, be it with Barry Bonds or Alex Sanchez.

1:53 PM  
Anonymous larry said...

Fine points, Zachary. All of them. But you're not going to hear the end of it. Ever. Starting with his arrogance, and followed by his pattern of pathological lying, he has managed to make himself the most villified player since Cobb. Now it looks like he not only has consistently denied "ever" using steroids, he probably committed perjury. That, unfortunately, makes him a criminal.

2:46 PM  
Blogger Zachary Geballe said...

Well, I'm not going to call him a criminal until he's convicted of a crime. That's the way our legal system works.

And much of the villification comes from a sports media that can't believe that a guy would be rude to them. The sense of entitlement that surrounds most sports journalists is as sickening as that which surrounds most athletes.

As for Bonds lying, did a lot of other guys. Does it make it right? Of course not, but I'm upset that instead of investigating all the guys who took steroids, the media only seems interested in villifying Bonds.

3:16 PM  
Anonymous Fred said...

it's not just the media who hates him, genius. using the "media is against me" argument only goes so far. he's a jackass.

4:30 PM  
Blogger Ben Valentine said...

Bonds is a jackass, but the argument the media tends to jump on players is valid. A-Rod for example goes out of his way to not piss people off, and that in turn pisses people off. Now any time the guy does anything he gets bashed for it.

The media has tried to villify Bonds specifically and that is unjustified. He lied? Yeah probably. But what about all the guys last season who failed the steroid test and then STILL denied doing it?! How come nobody is on Juan Rincon or Alex Sanchez for lying? There is actually proof. The only guy I remember admitting he used after flunking the test was Matt Lawton. (And maybe Mike Morse, but I'm not certain)

BTW, one of the top headlines today on Sportsline: Bonds strikes out in first spring AB. On a day with the NHL trading deadline, that's the freaking top headline after Syracuse' win over UConn? No wonder Bonds resents the press.

4:40 PM  
Anonymous Funstick said...

Poor, poor Barry. I feel so sorry for him. I hope he gets run out of the game. It couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

4:47 PM  
Anonymous Wigan Out said...

Have you ever heard how Brits use the word "cunt"? That's what Bonds is. A cunt.

4:53 PM  
Anonymous DFLNJ said...

I think you're totally missing the point when you say Bonds didn't break any baseball rules by taking steroids. He is pretty clearly guilty of breaking U.S. drug laws. Does major league baseball need to spell out every single possible action that they do not condone? Isn't it pretty obvious that if it's against the law in the country in which a league plays, then it's against that league's rules?

For instance, I'm pretty sure that baseball's rules do not say that "you may not murder another team's star pitcher." Seeing that murder is against the law, were Barry Bonds to strangle Jake Peavy the next time they roll through San Diego, would you defend him by saying, well he didn't break any baseball rules.

9:04 AM  
Blogger Zachary Geballe said...

As I mentioned before...if Bonds broke the law, the US Attorney's office has chosen not to pursue a criminal case (since they released all this info to the book's authors).

And actually, baseball shouldn't care if a guy broke the law. There are a number of guys in the Hall of Fame who have...Mike Schmidt did cocaine (clearly illegal), yet he's in. Baseball suspends guys/bars them from the Hall of Fame for harming the game. If they're gonna do that with Bonds, then they have to do it with McGwire, Sosa, Palmeiro, and a host of other guys from this era. If they do that, I can't really argue. But if they single out Bonds, I'll continue to say that what they're doing is hypocritical.

10:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Sir,

I dont know you but a quick read of your post had me interested. I however did a 5 second research and found this which explains your current post more. You sir are a homer and your players cannot do any wrong. People outside the SF area know what Bonds truely is. A cheater, sure lots of other players were cheating too but his cheating raised to whole new levels. His cheating is destroying what all pure baseball fans hold most dear and thats records.

Bonds should retire effective today. If not baseball should remove all years of his statistics that can be proven he took steriods for the good of the game and to send a message.

11:50 AM  
Anonymous JeffW said...

Not all of McGwire's numbers outside of HR suck; he posted a truly excellent career .394 OBP. He's easily more than a borderline HOFer, depending on where you come down on whether or not players strongly suspected of using steroids should be eligible for the HOF (and I think they should).

That's more than a little off topic. I more or less agree with a lot of the points you made, outside of thw whole "not caring" whether he used steroids thing. It was fans (and owners, managers, et al.) not caring that allowed this steroid scandal to grow into such a problem in the first place. At any rate, while his reputation has been irreparably tarnished, I still think he's the greatest player of his era.... which is now coming to be known as the steroids era. Personally I hope he'll retire very soon just so we don't have to think about his pathetic a** any more, and to save future generations from endless debates about who baseball's real homerun champion is.

1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bonds did break the rules, actually:

2:14 PM  
Blogger Zachary Geballe said...

Anonymouses (anonymii?). First, there are several people who write for Sportszilla. David is a Giants fan. I'm a Mariners fan. Thus, me defending Bonds has nothing to do with being a homer. Do a better job on your research.

Jeffw: I meant that outside of McGwire's power numbers, he wasn't nearly as good a player as most people think. The 583 HRs are nice, and the OBP/SLG numbers are also very good. But a .263 lifetime batting average, 1626 hits, and some terrible defense don't make him an all-time great. When I say borderline HoFer, I guess I mean guys who were one-dimensional players. McGwire is like the home-run equivilant to Ozzie Smith. Great at one thing.

3:00 PM  
Blogger Ben Valentine said...

It's ironic someone would accuse us of being Giants fans when all of us never really attempt to hide what team we root for.

In anycase, one of my biggest peeves is double standards and hypocrisy. We hear loads of "Bonds should be kicked out, he should retire" etc. etc. Who was the American League comeback player of the year in 2005?

Jason Giambi.

Now while all the circumstantial evidence is there with Bonds, there is indisputable proof Giambi cheated; he admitted it. Now for the million dollar question, why should we believe Giambi is clean and Bonds isn't, when they both supposedly used the same undetectable substance? Why aren't there calls this season for Giambi to walk away? Or Gary Sheffield, who trained with Bonds while he was doing all that stuff? Forget the McGwires and the Sosas for a moment, these guys are still playing and could easily be using. Where are the calls for their heads?

Bonds attackers, you have every right to not like the guy. But please explain why he should walk away from the game and Giambi should be honored for a heroic comeback from something he inflicted on himself (and still could be doing)?

4:16 PM  
Blogger Dweeze said...

Wonderful post. I couldn't agree more with everything you say. (And for the record, I am not a Giants fan, not a Bonds fan, and live in the midwest.) I would add a couple of things. First, regarding the legal/illegal issue. There are clearly things that are illegal outside of the realm of sports that are okay within the realm of sports. If I hit a guy hogging the color printer here at work with a 90-mph fastball (if I could throw a 90-mph fastball, that is), I could probably expect a visit from the police. If a pitcher does it in a game, he's a tough old-time style ballplayer.

Second, several retired players have said that steroid abuse might have started as far back as the 70s (which, considering that is felt by many to be the golden age of steroid abuse in the NFL, makes a lot of sense). If so, where do you begin to say records are suspect?

5:10 PM  
Blogger David Arnott said...

Anonymous, you invoked the Homer Card, and you didn't even do a good job of it. A)Zach already explained that he didn't write, record, or post the Giants song. I did. B)In addition to the song, I also wrote this column that, I think, describes my conflicting feelings about baseball, Bonds, and fans right now. C)The song only mentions Bonds once, and I intentionally loaded up his name with dissonant voices so that if you weren't paying attention, you might not even know it was his name. Formal symbolism is fun. Finally, D)The level of denial among Giants fans is astounding. I live in the Bay Area and listen to a lot of talk radio, and it's fascinating what logical lengths people are reaching for in trying to defend Bonds. Please do not disparage fans for instinctively trying to protect their cherished memories. If someone told you one of the icons in your life was a total fraud and pretty much proved it, wouldn't your immediate reaction be to challenge that assertion? All of you non-Giants fans outside the Bay Area can't really understand, because Bonds isn't Your Guy, and you mostly get info about him through your media and the national media, the members of which invariably despise him because he's inaccessible and arrogant, and reporters view that as blocking them from doing their job. Here, his being a jerk is simply a fact of life and not central to what he does. Here, he's the ballplayer of a generation, who happens to be a jerk, whereas elsewhere, I get the feeling he's a jerk who happens to be a tremendous ballplayer.

7:55 PM  
Blogger Ramblingman said...

Just to comment on some of your thoughts.

Most people I've heard have described steroids, and not Barroid, as harming baseball. Not exactly "The destroyer of an idyllic, pure game" but hyperbole does help ones side.

"The only steroid user" - I don't recall anyone anywhere saying he was.

"Obviously, he used them." Absolutely, and a lot of people do not believe he should be recognized as a record holder when he 'obviously' used assistance in reaching them.

"He Cheated!!!!!" Umm, yes, he did.

"So Mark McGwire's steroid-fueled 70 home runs didn't?" No, actually steroid use itself is harmful to baseball. Most people who believe Barroid to be guilty also believe in the guilt of McGwire, Brady Anderson, Sosa, Bret Boone, and a host of others. It's rather obvious why Barroid gets most of the attention currently. Those who accuse critics of focusing on Barroid should realize they themselves are focusing on Barroid when defending.

"He's Risking His Health!!!!!!!!!" Not a big concern of mine, or of a lot of other people I have heard discuss it. Again, overusing exclamation points for hyperbole does not exactly strengthen ones case.

"He's Causing Our Children To Use Steroids!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Finger get stuck on the ! key? Seriously, do you think Barroid does not influence kids? If they see MLB turning a blind eye to the travesty known as Barroid, what message does that send? BTW, saying "forced" in bold is not quite the same as influencing.

"He's A Criminal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" darn ! key - still sticking. Other than that, no need to discuss this, as you agree he actually did break laws, except to say, "everybody else did it" stops being a valid excuse after 3rd grade.

I also blame MLB. And McGwire, Sosa, Boone. And Barroid. The fact that blame is plentiful does not excuse him.

Even though I don't "shriek" about this, we do agree on a couple of items. Barroid is a criminal who abused steroids in the pursuit of MLB records, MLB did not do enough to stem his criminal activity, and he is most definitely a jerk.

"Well, I'm not going to call him a criminal until he's convicted of a crime. That's the way our legal system works." Actually, innocent until proven guilty only applies in a court of law. It means the government cannot imprison someone until they are convicted. It has no bearing in the court of public opinion. And actually, you did call him a criminal.

I was against McGwire when he was a Bash Brother. He and Canseco both exhibited signs of steroid use back then. I refused to watch McGwire and Sosa's steroid-induced chase. This is not a Barroid only thing, and I am not a Johnny come lately.

"And actually, baseball shouldn't care if a guy broke the law." Yes they should, if it affects the game. Snorting cocaine hardly compares to taking performance enhancing drugs designed for injecting cattle.

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


4:41 PM  
Blogger obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

There's a whole lot of problems I see with both books currently, maybe they'll be answered when they come out, but I'm guessing not.

But first, to the posts regarding rules, including the article, according to this link to a link - - plus other references I have found elsewhere, Fay Vincent did sent out a memo in 1991 stating that steroids were against the rules.

But it is kind of like how it happens when someone buys a house or car from someone else: the old owners forget to pass all the important papers and memos to the new owners. Why is this pertinent? The Giants current owners bought in 1992-3, a year or two after the memo Fay sent. Ignorance of the rules existing is not kosher, yes, but since no other document states this "rule" and the current rulebooks do not exempt it explicitly, it would be hard to hold all new owners after 1991 to a memo they never saw. If it was important enough to be a "real" rule, they would have put it in. But I admit that I don't know how this "rule book" is updated, maybe memos are considered addendums, but just wanted to present both sides.

Now to the books. The BALCO illegal released documents one tries to use the documents as the truth structure of the book, but, from what I can tell, it's main support beam is constructed from the statements that Bonds' former mistress provided (not sure if to them or via the illegally released Grand Jury documents).

And did I mention that they were illegally released? Why no one isn't concerned by this breach of the justice system or that it could set a bad precedence for the future of the grand jury system or that no one is pursuing for prosecution who is obviously the releaser of the information, obsessed IRS agent Novitzky, I don't know. Seems to me that the justice system is a bit more important than who has the most homers in MLB baseball history.

Well, back to the mistress. The former mistress tried to sue Bonds for $100K but lost. And that don't make sense to me. If she really had something on Bonds regarding steroids, Bonds' lawyer would have caved immediately for the $100K and a confidentiality agreement, right? All she has is a she said/he said situation, where no one can prove she is lying because how can Bonds prove a negative? How do you prove you never took a PED?

Then if so, this would mean she lied to the Grand Jury, why would she do that? Well, she's a woman scorned, publicly humiliated, left in a home she didn't want and didn't want to move to, but did so at Bonds request, allegedly, and left with $100K in debt that she needs to pay off (which I don't understand at all, the house couldn't have LOST value over the years, could it? Plus it don't make sense, he's only in AZ during spring training and on road trips there, spending a lot more time in SF area, and yet she - allegedly - gives up an $80K job in the Bay Area to move to AZ where there are no such jobs, just so she is available to Bonds for 1.5 months of the year plus flights out?) She could lie on the stand and could never be proven to have lied. So how do we know for certain that she is telling the truth?

Plus look at the stuff she said on the stand. All that stuff is public information anybody with computer skills can dig up off the internet, just plug "steroids" and "signs of usage/evidence of use" (or whatever variant you want) into Google and you will get a mountain of information about steroids. Then plug in "Barry Bonds" and steroids and you will get all these blogs and articles on how Bonds is using. Also, I think at least one major sports magazine had published the suspicions about Bonds, showing a year by year look and the various signs. She testified in 2005 and she is a computer graphics designer so you can see that she is computer savvy.

About the other book, first, the writer is from SI, home to the Barry Bonds he-man-haters club. They lost objectivity on this matter years ago. Second, only a short excerpt has been released and already the two main damning pieces of evidence has been refuted by the two people involved. Griffey Jr. says Bonds has never talked to him about steroids. Now he could be biased, they have been friends since childhood and frequently get together several time each year, so maybe he is protecting him. He also said, pointedly, that he did not think Bonds ever used.

However, Jay Canizaro, who is a huge part of the excerpt, disavows the statements attributed to him, according to the headline on the audio posted on ESPN (didn't have subscription so wasn't able to listen to it for all the details on what was disavowed or not, the headline read something like he didn't say what was attributed to him in the book. I hope the author has a tape to prove what he claims.

4:56 PM  
Blogger obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

Clarification: when I said "how do you prove a negative", then followed up with a question, I meant how does Bonds prove that he never said the words she claims he did? It was a private conversation, it is a he said/she said situation that cannot be proven by anyone.

If she didn't have a book coming out on Bonds, then I would believe that she had no motivation other than justice, but she has about a few million rea$on$ to make her book a little juicer than a tell-all mistress book.

5:00 PM  

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