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Defending Bonds
Posted by Peter Schoenke at 4/28/2006 1:38:00 PM
View more posts by this author

 

Our friend Joe Sheehan at Baseball Prospectus continues to defend Barry Bonds and wonders why there isn't more animosity toward players such as Derrick Turbow who have also failed drug tests .

Here is my open letter response to him:

Joe,

In your last column, you wrote:

"The situations aren't entirely parallel, but I again argue that if we, as a society and as baseball fans, think steroid use is so evil as to make Barry Bonds a pariah, then where is the opprobrium for the players who have tested positive?"

I think you are missing a big part of the reason Bonds has become such a big media and public pariah: The cover-up is worse than the crime.

A big part of why Bonds is so reviled is that he's not admitting that he's broken the rules.

Turnbow is a good example here. Is he maintaining his innocence? I'm not familar with all his comments, but my guess is that he's probably served his time, admitted his mistake (at least implicity if not publicly) and moved on. So have the fans. Where is the outcry against Jason Giambi this summer? Funny what a little contrition will do there.

But Bonds has maintained, and continues to maintain, his innocence despite reportedly testifying in court that he took steroids and despite the volume of evidence against him in the book "The Game of Shadows").

If Bonds admitted that he took steriods and argued that 1) they were not banned by MLB when he was using them 2) steriods have only a very small enhancement on performance 3) he should decide what he does with his body, then the debate would be very different. I would have strong disagreements with all the above, but it would be a different debate.

But by lying about his steriod use, he's admitting that he's cheating [breaking either actual rules/laws or generally-accepted sports ethics] and has no consience about it. No matter what you think of steriods, that kind of behavior shows no respect for the game or the fans. For that, combined with his accomplishments in the game, I think his pariah status is well deserved.


Comments....

Your counter-arguments to Joe stand up well if society needs a pariah. Who gets to decide these things? Peter, are you the official pariah-maker? If not, who is? And what about the last 5 years of our national politics? It is now considered a virtue to always deny wrongdoing and never admit to any mistakes at all. So you're holding Barry to a standard higher than our national leaders? hmmmm
Posted by Itchy&Scratchy at 4/29/2006 12:07:00 AM
 
who brought politics into this? take it to another site that cares.

Pete's counter-arguments only hold up if society needs a pariah? So if society doesn't need something then it cannot exist? If society doesn't need a bad guy (or a good guy), then there shouldn't be any? That's complete nonsense.

Bonds rubs a lot of people the wrong way. He appears to be a liar, a cheater, and has shown no remorse about it. On top of that he's good to the point of being one of the all-time best, which many people will find threatening.

Bonds isn't the only one to be treated like this. Ask Rafeal Palmeiro how well he was treated after his apparent lies in front of congress.




Posted by herbilk at 4/29/2006 8:26:00 AM
 
I think Herb hits on a good point -- Bonds is one of the all-time bests. Few care that Ryan Franklin juiced or that he never admitted to it because Ryan Franklin is, well, Ryan Franklin. His cheating, while possibly injuring the game's short-term, doesn't threaten the history of baseball. So, it's easier to condemn it and move on. Bonds' juicing lifted him from Hall of Famer to arguably the all-time greatest. He's put the entire baseball world in a no-win position. If baseball applauds his accomplishments, it's tantamount to dismissing his illegalities. At the same time, however, baseball can't ignore all those home runs. Bonds has really really screwed with the game and it will be felt for a long time. If he's a pariah, he's earned it.
Posted by Jason Thornbury at 4/29/2006 11:05:00 AM
 
There's another reason Bonds is a pariah - he's reportedly a serious ***hole - not just to the media - no one cares about that, but to the fans, his teammates, the equipment manager. I think one of the equipment managers for the Pirates was quoted as saying he hopes Bonds drops dead. Something like that. The guy treated people like garbage, so aside from his steroid use, his lying, and his damage to baseball, he's got a horrendous personality. But really, Bonds is only part of baseball's problem. I think Bud Selig is more responsible for the tainted records issue - he turned a blind eye to McGwire-Sosa because of the revenue it was creating, and Bonds just followed suit.
Posted by cliss at 4/29/2006 2:08:00 PM
 
Bonds is going to go down as one of the greatest of all time. Asterisk or no asterisk, steroids or whatever. Steroids do not give you hand-eye coordination, I refuse to believe that.

HOWEVER, it is his dishonesty and arrogance that is his true short-coming. If this was a humble man, nobody would hate him so. Giambi was at least enough of a man to say "Hey, I used steroids. It was wrong. I'm sorry." On the other hand, Bonds makes comments on how he's better than Ruth.

I think Barry deserves most of the hatred towards him.
Posted by jmk1976 at 5/4/2006 6:02:00 PM
 

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