Joe Sheehan has a Barry Bonds column up at Baseball Prospectus, and it is just flat-out awesome. It is a Premium content piece, so I asked for, and received his permission to put up some excerpts here:
…. That Bonds is the face of the baseball’n'BALCO situation is fortunate for the media, which can get away with a lot more rolled eyes and lowered standards than it might otherwise. Bonds’ relationship with the media is a huge part of this story, and it makes it hard to take the coverage without a whole quarry of salt, because there’s not even a pretense of objectivity any longer. The two parties dislike each other, and that impacts the coverage. Bonds won’t provide information, so the media substitutes his disdain for it and hand-waves the rest.
…. I wrote this in December, but it’s worth mentioning again: Bonds is facing these questions in part because he was betrayed by the system. His grand-jury testimony, and that of others, was leaked to the media. That is the biggest crime in this situation to date, and almost no one has addressed it with the same gusto as they have the connections between Bonds and his personal trainer. Where are the investigation and the indictments for that crime?
As far as that testimony is concerned, I don’t think you can have it both ways. I don’t think it’s fair to treat it as Grand Jury Testimony where the stories are good, but then decide that where the story isn’t as good, the person is lying. That’s what Bonds is facing here: not only was his testimony leaked, but people have effectively been accusing him of perjury for two months since then. His explanations for his use of the clear and the cream have been dismissed, his performance record seen as tainted.
…. I refuse to jump on the bandwagon. My position on steroids in baseball is the same as it’s been all along: we don’t have enough information, and the hysteria over the issue is a media creation.
…. At the end of today’s interview on WHTK in Rochester, the host–who I should mention was very good about allowing me to make my case despite his disagreeing with it–said that he believed that Barry Bonds had been on steroids for some time, and that many other people do as well. He’s right about that, as far as it goes: many people believe that Bonds used steroids.
The issue is that it’s just a belief. If we’re going to have these conversations, we need more than that. We should expect a higher standard than, “Well, he’s a jerk, and he got bigger, and he hit a bunch of home runs, so he did it.” Until we have more information, all the information, and can analyze this issue with the same rigor that we do this trade or that free-agent signing, it’s incumbent upon us to make that most dissatisfying of statements:
I don’t know.
Thanks to Joe and the boys at BP for letting me cut and paste some of their excellent work. And of course, I couldn’t agree more.