November 15, 2007

Reflections on Bonds

I am saddened that the Department of Justice has chosen to indict, after a four year investigation and presentations before multiple grand juries, Barry Bonds not for any conduct of his prior to coming under investigation, but for how he responded to the investigation. The government, like the press and much of the public, doesn't care for Barry Bonds.

I confess I'm not a big Bonds fan myself--he doesn't play for the Phillies (if his record deserves an asterix, it may well be that unlike Ruth or Aaron, Bonds benefited from hitting against a decade's worth of mediocre Phillies pitching), and he broke in with our hated cross-state rivals. But like other Phillie killers over the years (including Joe Morgan, Tony Perez and Pete Rose--all of whom I had the chance to root for when they donned Phillies uniforms), I had to admire and fear Bonds' prowess at the plate. Incredible skills.

I didn't root for Bonds to break the preposterous Mark McGwire's home run record (where is the investigation of Mr. McGwire--why hasn't the government devoted four years and millions of dollars to investigating the former Cardinal slugger?), but I did follow him closely this year and enjoyed seeing him break the all time home run record.

Had Bonds gotten along better with reporters--had he been more of a McGwire or Sammy Sosa--chances are he too would be skating on steroids charges, and would not have had four years of government scrutiny. But because he turned a cold shoulder to sports reporters, he was portrayed as a monster. He's not.

He's an incredibly gifted, driven athlete. He may not be a very nice man (I don't know if he was). But he hasn't done anything to compare with Ty Cobb (a virulent racist who beat up a crippled fan in the stands). When baseball writers begin to lobby to have Cobb removed from the Hall of Fame, I'll take more seriously their condemnations of Bonds. And when the government devotes as much effort to the McGwires and other players who originally pumped themselves up with steroids, giving themselves and their teams an unfair advantage, rather than a single player who allegedly began taking them in order to keep up with them, then I might be inclined to regard this indictment as something other than a vendetta against a black athlete who didn't meet white baseball fans' expectations of a "good" black athlete.

oops -- corrected spelling of Mark McGwire's name...

Posted by Ideofact at November 15, 2007 11:35 PM