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…. Liar liar

Bonds accused the media of lying during his press conference the other day, and some of them haven’t gotten over it. Gwen Knapp, who works for the SF Chronicle, wrote about it on Thursday:

…. Barry Bonds is right. I have lied. A lot of sportswriters lie. We cover for athletes all the time.

We did it when we followed Mark McGwire in 1998 and failed to ask the appropriate questions. I was especially guilty, because I believed back then what Jose Canseco is writing now: That McGwire didn’t hit 70 home runs on hard work alone. Yet, I said nothing. I thought my silence amounted to fairness, because I didn’t have proof.

…. I have lied about Bonds, too, but not in the way he meant when he went after the media at his spring-training debut on Tuesday. The first time I saw him in 2001, I said to myself: “He’s juiced.” I didn’t say it in this column because, again, I didn’t have proof. But I was sure of it.

…. I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that every time an athlete dies young, I wonder if steroids played a role. Or that every time a rich athlete commits an act of violence, I have the same concern.

…. We can argue whether hitting 53 more home runs, reaching No. 756, will make Bonds the undisputed king, regardless of how he got there. But suppressing the doubts, not wondering whether Aaron is about to be robbed? That would be the biggest lie of all.

I’m not gonna do a bullet point presentation here and dispute everything she said. What I am gonna do is send her an email. Here it is:

Gwen,

Before I get into my email, I’d like to say that I enjoy your work, and your writing style. I am a fan of yours, and have linked, plugged and quoted you quite a few times at OBM.

I just read your column on Bonds and lying. While I appreciate your candor, candor isn’t the issue here. And the lies aren’t the issue, either.

The issue is your job. You are a journalist. A reporter. If you thought or wondered whether McGwire was using steroids, you could’ve done the work and found out. Your choice wasn’t reckless speculation or nothing. Your choices regarding Bonds are equally diverse.

If you think Bonds is or has been on the juice, get out there with a couple of investigative interns and do some goddam research. Find out definitively. Your choice to once again offer little more than what a guy like me has to offer, an opinion, is pointless, speculative and insulting to the intelligence of the fans who follow your writing with the expectation that you ARE THERE, with the players, in the locker. I live in the mountains of Northern California, about five hours from PacBell, and I can write pretty much the same things you and so many other beat writers do.

You say that you covered his 700th home run and didn’t bring up the steroids issue. Why do you think the steroids issue should’ve been brought up then? Because some sportswriter has speculated that Bonds was juiced?

In case you didn’t know this: YOU ARE NOT AN EXPERT ON STEROID USE OR ITS SIDE EFFECTS. YOU, AND NOBODY ALIVE, CAN DETERMINE IF SOMEONE IS USING STEROIDS JUST BY LOOKING AT THEM.

By repeatedly inferring that you can, you enable thousands of baseball and sports fans to do the same thing, make up their minds about something they know absolutely nothing about. That is almost certainly a violation of the journalistic code of ethics that you are bound to.

I’ve written ad nauseum on the subject, but I’ll write it again.

How hard can it be to find a guy, one guy, with credibility, who saw or was with Bonds when he bought, used, or had in his gym bag, HGH, steroids, or whatever? HOW HARD CAN THAT BE?

Bonds isn’t Jason Bourne, able to cover every angle, kill anyone who could out his secret, maintain perfect management of his life for the last five or six years. If, as you and so many experts maintain, he has been or at least had been using for several years, THERE HAVE TO BE PEOPLE WHO KNOW THIS AS FACT!

You are a reporter, won’t the SF Chronicle spend some money to uncover the truth? After all, isn’t finding the truth part and parcel of what the newspapers are supposed to be about?

In the meantime, aren’t you tired of offering little more than barstool speculation to your readers?

If she answers, you’ll read it.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject, I saw Jose Canseco on Bill Maher’s HBO show last night. Funny, he looked great, just like Arnold Schwarzenegger looks great, or Lou Ferrigino, or Mark Mcgwire, or Bonds, or how about Lee Haney the man who supplanted Arnold as the king of bodybuilding. It’s interesting that nobody is noticing how great all these steroids users look, or seem. All we hear about is how bad it is for you. Everyone wants to talk about Caminitti or Giambi so that we know steroid users get sick. I can’t imagine somebody has ever used more steroids than Arnold, and he is the very picture of health.

Oh, but it’s long-tern health problems these experts are talking about. Yeah, well, Arnold used steroids like forty years ago. How long-term are you talking about? Are you worried about the effects of steroids on Arnold’s body when he’s in the ground?

Anyway, back to Canseco, who actually sounded informed. When he tried to tell Maher that steroid use could be good for you, Maher wouldn’t allow it, interrupting him and making sure Canseco knew that he was risking liver troubles and shrunken testicles. Of course, OBM readers know that these side effects are not proven, or based in science or clinical trials. They are urban legend, and Canseco knows it.

I am always amazed at how easy it is for people to accept the notion that a man will knowingly sacrifice his libido. A guy like Canseco is the perfect antidote for such a ridiculous assertion. Here’s a superstar athlete, good-looking guy, who, while using steroids, was perhaps the biggest party animal in all of sports. For crying out loud! The guys was hanging out with Madonna! And here’s Maher not even considering that Canseco would have had to give up perhaps the biggest perk all big-time athletes have access to; unlimited women. Would Canseco or any other superstar really give this up so readily? Maher never even thought it through to its illogical conclusion, even as Canseco was telling him that no such thing happened.

It just goes to show you how poorly read this country really is, when even Bill Maher, whose witty, knowledgable show I love, isn’t immune to the misinformation on the subject of steroids.


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All commentary is the opinion of John J Perricone unless otherwise noted.
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