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Baseball’s shame

By
August 7, 2007

My three sons very seldom agree on anything. In fact a get-together often resembles gorillas squabbling over who is the real Alpha Male with each using his own athletic prowess as proof and then asking their sister to referee.

But the two things on which they completely agree are that Barry Bonds is the product of “better things for better living through chemistry,” with a respectful nod to the longtime DuPont slogan, and that because of it, Major League Baseball is a fraud and the pandering sportswriters and broadcasters who wear shades to protect them from the glaring truth are every bit as guilty in bilking the public. They have covered Bonds’ quest for the record as though it were the second coming.

My sons’ educated assessments stem from years of high school and college football programs where success is frequently measured by size and strength, often artificially induced in those who come into the process lacking its natural requirements. Spotting the difference between what God has endowed and what laboratories have created is essentially second nature to these three big men whose gene pool provided for them without the need of an injection.

“If the hat size gets bigger along with the biceps, you can bet the farm it’s not because of the weight room,” the youngest said to me recently, noting the increase in the headgear Bonds requires since his normal albeit well developed physique suddenly developed at age 34 into world class musculature and is still a hitting machine at the advanced age of 43.

While that’s not the most scientific analysis of Bonds’ extraordinary abilities at such a late stage in his career, there certainly is enough other indication, including the continuing investigation into the San Francisco Bay area steroid scandal and the confession by other onetime MLB stars that they have been involved in chemical enhancement. There are those who would make the allegations into a racial attack. But those arguments are just silly given the fact that Henry Aaron, the man Bonds and his prodigious bat replaces in the record books, is also African American and a certified sports hero everywhere the game is played.

The anomaly here is that MLB and its owner/commissioner Bud Selig would not react to the throngs of dissenting fans who boo Bonds everywhere he plays outside his own stadium. Instead the dithering moguls who run the game, protected by an outrageous antitrust exemption dating to the 1920s, merely cluck their tongues and come up with lame anti-drug programs as appeasement while assiduously guarding the big time gates they believe are derived from all that home run hitting in smaller parks with juiced up balls as well as players.

If those who still run the game and promote the myth of “America’s pastime” had any integrity, they would set aside any Bonds record until the air is cleared. Perhaps Bonds to prove his own claimed innocence with record in hand should announce he is suspending playing until his name and reputation are restored. Neither of these will occur, of course. Bonds, who still faces possible perjury charges stemming from a grand jury investigation, will be dutifully installed in the holy book of records to which every player aspires — asterisk-free probably.

One can only wonder how all this would have been handled had the commissioner not been one of the owners or had Bart Giamatti, the former Yale University president who went after Pete Rose and vowed to clean up the game, not died early in his tenure as commissioner. Judging from Giamatti’s reactions, he would have had a different view toward those who gain their fame and fortune from the use of illegal substances. But then since 1919 gambling has been the only indiscretion with which baseball has been concerned and Rose still is paying for it, excluded from Valhalla at Cooperstown, N. Y.

Only MLB has dodged serious attention to what other professional sports from bicycle racing to football have taken as a threat to the integrity of their franchises. Instead greedy owners have helped create the robots they now install alongside Aaron, Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and others who made the game glorious. Next step for Bonds? Obviously the Hall of Fame or should that be “Shame.”

(Dan K. Thomasson is former editor of the Scripps Howard News Service.)

8 Responses to Baseball’s shame

  1. bryan mcclellan

    August 7, 2007 at 9:26 am

    Well said Sir : Our beloved pastime has turned into a rotting corpse.What once could be held up to our youth as an example for it’s purity and sense of fair play now reeks as badly as what emanates from Washington DC,the oval office in particular.Baseball has flat lined and it’s soul is forever darkened for our youth by the greedy enablers. I’m forced to look away lest my contempt overwhelm me. RIP MLB..

  2. Helen Rainier

    August 7, 2007 at 9:41 am

    Bryan,

    Just curious — what was the span of Aaron’s career during which he hit the 755.

    How does that compare to the length of Bonds’ career?

    Frankly, ever since the allegations of Bonds “medicinal” assistance in attaining his status, it seems to me his “record” shouldn’t be legitimate.

  3. neondog

    August 7, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    Racially motivated may seem silly, but you have to admit that Barry is the current whipping boy for steroid use in America. I don’t see or hear comments everytime Roger Clemons takes to the mound at age 45 and he has also been implicated in the steroid issue.

  4. bryan mcclellan

    August 7, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    Hi Helen : Hank played 23 yrs. and to date Bonds is in his 21st. Hank accumulated 3,771 hits over 3,298 games Bonds numbers are 2,912 hits over 2,957 games.Thats a fairly even comparison until you look at the numbers over the last eight yrs. of Bonds career .At what is considered to be the twilight years(after 35) Bonds has hit for high average (.370),(73 homers one year) and before 1998 he was a lifetime .290 hitter, and his home run production doubled.Now for the real deal, steroids do not make a good ball player a great one,what the number one benefit they have is quicker recovery time from injury and strength through muscle mass.If you compare photos of Bonds, Sosa,Magwire,Palmiero,and Canseco early on they were not hulking figures with forearms the size of a normal mans thighs and heads two hat sizes over normal,they were lithe and athletic, not Charles Atlas clones.We will never know for certain how many pitchers and players were juicing because baseball as a whole turned their heads to this practice.Winning is all there is to those in control.Bonds admitted to using the cream and the clear for which there is no test to detect yet developed.This self admission is his own indictment, but he claims he did not know it was steroids so thus justifies it’s use in his own mind and we are supposed to take it on faith. I’m not buying it.He would better the sport to leave now and not dirty it further and take the commissioner Bud Selig with him.I would hope also that the one man virtually forgotten in this whole Balco(steroids) mess will be able to reclaim his rightful place as the single season home run king when and if the real truth comes out, Mr Roger Maris…You can find their biographies at ESPN.com or on most search engines.

  5. bryan mcclellan

    August 7, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    Nothing racial here Sir,Baseball has to clean house because the spirit of the game is in jeopardy, it matters not ethnicity, the game is meant to transcend our differences,and to be played with dignity and fairness.I hope we don’t have to listen to Sharpton and Jackson among others try to make the situation what it is not,and that is a lecture about prejudice.

  6. Stoney13

    August 7, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    Sorry folks! I just can’t see this as being a huge issue! Baseball made it’s own monster here, and so did all other professional sports, along with it!

    Oh how many times I’ve heard it! “Winning isn’t everything! IT’S THE ONLY THING!!!”. Well guess what!! Barry Bonds was listening!! “Win at all costs” was a mantra he heard! Did he sing it? NO! It was sung to him, just as it’s being sung to thousands of school kids every day around the nation!

    Trot down to GNC and look at all the high-priced cans of “supliments” that are being eagerly snapped up and consumed by the next generation of “Barry Bonds” out there! Looking for the “winning edge” over the competition!

    Scores of “Barry Bonds” will be our sad legacy, as long as the values of this nation are such that men and women are paid obscene amounts of money to play a child’s game! And all the while, the people who teach our children, and guide the future of this country, have to moonlight a McDonald’s to make their car payments, and are demonized in the press for asking for a living wage!

    Stoney Browning

  7. bryan mcclellan

    August 7, 2007 at 7:17 pm

    I bow to the logic of your last paragraph Stoney,however I see no harm in healthy supplements that are sold over the counter. It’s the kind that are cooked up and given in secrecy without proper testing that cause harm such as violent mood swings,ego binges,and vital organ damage especially in younger users that give me pause.We know that big pharma has a proven track record of using human subjects for testing.Even the commonly used roids such as cortizone exhibit these symptoms when abused,or over prescribed,and that is what makes it an issue to me. Get these people out in the open and educate our youth to the consequences of steroid use so we can avoid another generation of pimpled up,big headed,mentally off kilter egoists.

  8. Ardie

    August 7, 2007 at 7:42 pm

    I first encountered steroid use in bodybuilding in the early 70s (I knew Mr. California). All those big muscles your see on these Adonises didn’t come from lifting heavy weights–they came from steroid use which, in turn, allowed these freaks of nature to lift heavy weights.

    Most people who lift weights just injure their tendons (hence, the soreness). They really never work their muscles. In order to work the muscles, the weight has to be lifted extremely slow, at a snail’s pace (there is a physiological reason for this). Not too many guys I know want to stand around for a minute or two doing one lift with a weight which is light (because you can’t lift 200 lb. in 40 sec. at a snail’s pace–you have to drop the weight). So steroids are the drug of choice.