Archive for March, 2006
Lee Sinins has a new website called ATM Reports. Go there for all your league reports and Lee’s sabermetric information. Lee is the inventor of the Sabermetric Baseball Encyclopedia, which has been renamed the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia. Lee is one of the founding members of the baseball blogosphere, and as such, commands tremendous respect for his excellent work.
While responding to his email, he asked me to dig up some of my previous work on the subject of Bonds and steroids in general, and I directed him to two pieces, which I will post excerpts from here, with a link for some of my newer readers who may not be familiar with them.
…. Put into context, you see that Bonds has been among the league leaders in offense for virtually his entire career. As for his home run surge; starting in 1988, when he was 22 years old, he’s finished in the Top 9 in home runs every year but two, ’89 and ’99. Starting in 1996, home runs, batting average, slugging, runs scored; virtually all of offensive categories are at historic highs. Barry Bonds’ supposed late-career power surge coincides exactly with the league.
As he entered into his thirties, the entire league was entering into a huge upswing in offense. He’s led the NL in home runs twice, once with 46 (1993), once with 73 (2001). Almost exactly at the mid-point of his career, the league baseline for offense surged some 30%. You can look it up.
…. We live in society that has criminalized a number of personal actions (smoking marijuana, for instance), while allowing enormous profits to be generated on others that are just as bad or worse (say, smoking cigarettes). To say that it’s OK for athletes to undergo radical surgeries, take pain-killing injections; to describe as heroic the athlete that will “play in pain,” while portray as weak those that can’t or won’t; to suggest that one kind of performance enhancement (amphetamines or supplements or surgery) is acceptable while another (steroids or GHB) is not…. I’m sorry, I cannot go along. This is hypocrisy at its highest form, and I will continue to treat it as such.
Furthermore, it is hypocrisy to suggest that baseball’s hallowed records are tainted by the suggestion of steroid use. There can be no doubt that throughout baseball history, athletes looking to gain an edge have tried virtually anything they could find to gain it. Whether it was to drink some strange concoction brewed up by the team trainer, rubbing liniment on sore arms, popping greenies or reds, beer before the game, beer after the game, you name it. I’ve read (probably apocryphal) stories of ballplayers sticking their heads out of a train so the soot would make their eyes water; the better to clean them out, or so the thinking went.
Virtually any athlete in any sport will do just about anything to be the best of the best, and a manager or coach will push them to do so. Some athletes will push the envelope only so far, while others will throw it away, and risk their very lives, if they truly believed it would make a difference, the difference between winning and losing. We, as fans, not only ask this of them, we demand it. Their coaches demand it, their teammates demand it, the game demands it. Be the best, win at all costs, do whatever it takes; these are the credo of virtually every championship-caliber player, coach, or team.
And now, hysterical media-types are fanning the flames of controversy; “Oh no, it looks like so and so really did do whatever it takes. Shame on him!” Please. Don’t insult my inteligence. Of course he or she did, what did you expect? The only difference between what one athlete will risk as opposed to another is based on their own personal decision-making values. As for their choice, I’d ask you; is it appropriate for one person to decide what another should be willing to risk? Is it OK for you to tell me what I should be willing to do to improve my life, my career, my earning potential? Not in my book, it isn’t, not as long as my actions don’t harm anyone else, or take from anyone else.
Take the time to read the whole pieces if you can. They’re big pieces, and, in my opinion, represent some of my very best work.
UPDATE: Busy steroids day. Good thing I had to take a week off after losing a fight with a table saw.
Here’s Lupica, as wrong as he’s ever been in his entire, award-winning writer’s life:
…. I wish the union hadn’t fought drug testing for as long as it did. I wish this commissioner had taken on the union leaders on drugs sooner than he did, even if this is the same commissioner who has gone from no real drug testing at all to the plan baseball currently has in the space of four years. We were all slow coming to this moment. But people who think that somehow this absolves the bums who used this stuff sound like they just ran into an outfield wall.
Two questions, two sides of the issue:
1. Why doesn’t Lupica answer the question as to why he was so late, since, as he wants us to believe, it was so important -and obvious- to everyone for so long?
2. Isn’t it even the tiniest bit possible that you were late on the issue because it wasn’t Bonds, who has generated more anger and emnity than any sports figure since Ted Williams, or possibly even Ty Cobb?
I’d love to hear what the Lip has to say to those questions.
According to this, a secret Bonds’ investigation has been ongoing for a year.
…. the investigation actually began more than a year ago, as the Daily News then reported. Thomas F. Carlucci, one of the attorneys selected to join Mitchell in the probe, has been leading a secret inquiry into Barry Bonds’ activities out of his San Francisco law office. According to MLB sources, Carlucci’s assignment was more to “keep his ear to the ground” and monitor the perjury and tax-evasion investigations involving Bonds than to actively interview anyone, presumably through his contacts in government and law enforcement.
At the time, MLB officials denied the report, saying there was no investigation of Bonds. But sources said that Carlucci, a former assistant U.S. Attorney in San Francisco, has picked up information through his contacts that will be helpful in the broader investigation opened yesterday.
“There’s some decent stuff,” a source said, declining to elaborate.
So much for the question of whether it would be fair to only go after Bonds.
Meanwhile, the king of all investigators says Mitchell is a poor choice.
…. The former prosecutor who investigated gambling allegations against Pete Rose says former Maine senator George Mitchell is a terrible pick to lead MLB’s steroids investigation. “I don’t think it is a good choice,” attorney John Dowd told the Daily News yesterday. “I have absolutely no confidence in this or in Sen. Mitchell.”
Nothing like throwing out a sound bite that bites back. Murray Chass writes that he too, was quick to criticize the choice of Mitchell, but that perhaps the well-rounded ex-Senator may, in fact, do just fine.
…. The other day in this space, the assessment was offered that George J. Mitchell, the former Senate majority leader, was a diplomat but not an investigator. That’s what happens when a man does so many notable things later in life. They cloud the things he did earlier in his life.
Harold Pachios, a lawyer in Portland, Me., and friend of Mitchell’s, read what I had written and informed me, via an e-mail message, that Mitchell was “for a long time a federal prosecutor who investigated scores of criminal cases and tried those criminal cases.”
Before his work on the federal level, Pachios wrote, Mitchell was “a state prosecutor who prosecuted criminals for years.” He did all of that before he went into politics and became a United States senator from Maine.
Of course, getting players to speak on the record about steroids, now that everyone knows that it’ll all be made public, will be virtually impossible without the power to subpoena or call for a grand jury. Not to mention the difficulty it will be to use any of the information contained in Game of Shadows, since the two people who would have the most to say about Bonds and steroids, Victor Conte and Greg Anderson, continue to assert that they did not supply Bonds with steroids. Here’s Conte, coincidentally released from prison the same day Selig announces the probe:
…. Asked whether he gave Bonds steroids, Conte said, “No, I did not. I plan to provide evidence in the near future to prove that much of what is written in the book is untrue,” Conte said. He declined to list specific inaccuracies or what evidence he would provide, but said, “it’s about the character assassination of Barry Bonds and myself.”
If Conte and Anderson wouldn’t give up Bonds to avoid prison sentences, who is going to give up anybody for Mitchell? If the US Attorney’s office still can’t come up with a way to indict Bonds, after three years, what are we going to get out of baseball’s investigation? More angry ex-girlfriends? More “half the guys in the league are using” statements backed up by recollections of acne and bulked up skinny guys?
More commentary by Lupica and Verducci and who knows who else, telling us about how bad steroids have been for the game, how fans are dismayed and losing sleep and broken-hearted about this terrible scourge…. Here’s Fay Vincent:
This is an enormous scandal that’s affected baseball. I think it’s the worst since the Black Sox scandal and dwarfs Pete Rose by a large margin.
Enormous scandal. Biggest since the Black Sox.
All while baseball enjoys another record year of attendance, huge, multi-billion dollar TV contracts. Yeah, Bonds’ alleged steroid use has really impacted the Giants. Six years in a row of 3 million fans a year at home, number one road draw in the entire NL. Just like those other two Bay Area cheats, Canseco and McGwire, and the World Series trophy they brought to the A’s. I’m sure the A’s can’t wait to give that trophy back. I know all of the demoralized and distraught A’s fans are ready to give it up, right?
UPDATE: Sports Illustrated their very own Tom Verducci. Here’s a taste:
…. It has to be more than just a p.r. venture, because I can’t see someone like Sen. George Mitchell putting his reputation on the line for something like that. The findings are going to be made public. If this is a sham of an investigation, it’s not just Selig here who takes a hit, it’s George Mitchell.
Verducci says he wouldn’t expect any findings for a while, but what he doesn’t address is the possibility of constant leaks from Mitchell and his people. The Grand Jury inquiry into BALCO was filled with one leak after another, even though all of the leaks were completely illegal. I’d bet that we’re gonna be hearing one unamed source after another coming out with “some decent stuff.”
According to Murray Chass of the NY Times, Bud Selig is set to begin an investigation into the steroids use of major league baseball players. Selig is said to be leaning towards asking George Mitchell, the former Senate majority leader from Maine to head up the investigation. Chass at least has the decency and awareness to understand that a witch hunt after just Bonds would be, at best, unseemly:
Selig is on the verge of announcing a steroid investigation, perhaps in the next 24 to 48 hours, though not just of Bonds, because singling out one player would be problematic considering the issue has become a morass for Major League Baseball. The investigation will probably be more widespread, though what it will entail is not clear.
Investigating an entire league’s worth of players lives and their actions over the course of four or five years will be a monumental task, and to what end? What does Selig (or any of my estimable readers) think we’re going to learn? What will come of this?
…. Before the new season starts, before Bonds adds to a legend that has grown the way the rest of him has, Selig must announce, once and for all, the sport’s investigation of this home run era in baseball in general, Bonds in particular. If Bonds doesn’t like being called out this way by baseball after being called out by this book, if his union — which fought drug testing for years – doesn’t like it, then let them all do what nobody has yet done:
Stand up and say that Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams are the ones lying here.
But it no longer matters whether they were lying or not. If Bonds had told the truth, what then? Giambi did. Did it matter for him? Telling the truth isn’t enough, apologizing isn’t enough, test results aren’t, stringent drug testing isn’t, more stringent testing isn’t. Nothing will be enough in a witch hunt. We’re gonna drown you, and if you live, that means you’re a witch.
So let’s drown Bonds, and if he lives, we’ll know he’s a liar, a cheater, a terrible person, a bad man.
Pandora’s box, that’s what this is for Selig. What if the investigator finds that one of Selig’s owner friends knew all about a star player’s use? What if he finds out that someone like, say, Cal Ripken, used steroids? What if he finds out that Selig knew and did nothing? To what end do you go dig up this information?
I’m all in favor of knowing what happened. I’m 100% into the history of baseball, and history in general. I’ve read Bill James’ Historical Abstract about fifty times. An investigation like this one will be far from that kind of historical perspective. It will be a vendetta. It’s relationship to the truth, to what actually happened, will be strained at best. You wanna know what went down? Wait a couple of years, let the dust settle, let the players who used get out of the game, and then start asking questions. Rushing to investigate, in an effort to rush to judgement; that’s what most people call poor planning.
UPDATE: ESPN is essentially confirming the NY Times piece. (Thanks to Eddie for the heads up) We all knew this was inevitable, and now we’ll get to see how screwed up witch hunts like this can be in the 21st century.
Hmmm….. Let’s see, the investigator compiles a report citing witnesses and all kinds of big, important facts and dates and such, and baseball players burned alive in it’s pages will have no ability to cross examine or rebut any of the bullshit anybody wants to say or write down, and more of my friends and family will yell at me about how wrong I was, see, the investigation proves it. Can’t wait.
The 16th comment in my last post was written by someone who called themselves “You’re fooling no one.” I understand that many people read headlines and little else most of the time, but, come on. I am not fooling myself or trying to fool anyone else.
I am not saying that I believe Bonds didn’t use steroids.
I am not apologizing for him, or rationalizing for him.
I am not suggesting that it’s no problem that he did or didn’t use steroids.
What I am trying to say is that I simply will not sit here and capitulate to the mob. Bonds is not evil, nor is he a saint. His actions stretched the boundaries of fair play and certainly were filled with risk and reward, risks he willing took, rewards he gladly received.
Efforts to demonize the man, to oversimplify the situation, to equate anti-Bonds sentiment with a committment to truth and honesty and above all, intelligence; aggravate and inflame my own belief in the complexity of life in this day and age.
Things are never as simple as we are asked to believe. It is an important issue, this use of PED’s. It is also a complicated one, and one that is here to stay. Simply making it against the rules of baseball, (or any other sport, for that matter), will hardly change the allure, the effectiveness, or the demand for their use. Legislating against drugs has never worked, and never will.
Declaring that Bonds should be suspended or banned from baseball is absurd. Even if you accept at face value the proposition that using steroids is cheating, Bonds was hardly alone in doing so. Again, these contant attacks against him appear to me to be singling out a man who is known to be one of the legendary assholes in the history of sport, a sort of Uber-Ted Williams. Were Bonds a lovable, Kirby Puckett-type of player, I hardly imagine he would be the subject of such vitriol.
Be that as it may, he is nonetheless a lightning rod for the issue, he built this house, now he has to live in it.
But the great outpouring of anger at Bonds is poorly thought out…. if you’re really offended by the use of PED’s, it’s the last forty years of baseball that deserve your scrutiny and rage, as we all know by now, amphetamine use has been rampant in the game since the sixties, (so don’t sit here and cry to me about the beauty of ken Burns’ documentary, as if baseball is dead because of Bonds).
Deciding that steroids or HGH are different, or that because Bonds is a jerk, he is more deserving of your scorn; is the real shallow bluster. Looking at the issue with a broader perspective, one might come to the realization that it is the state of America’s War on Drugs that has us where we are today. An enlightened society would have been running well-organized studies to determine the real efficacy and risks involved in the use of PED’s for decades, and we wouldn’t be sitting here screaming about how bad they are while watching known abusers enjoy acclaim, health and reward.
I can remember being told in health class how dangerous it was to smoke pot. Anybody still believe that? Jose Canseco, the Govenator, and countless others who’ve used and abused steroids appear to me to be the very picture of health, (watching Bill Maher interview Canseco last year, it seemed that Jose was an alien, he was glowing sitting there next to Maher). Some people have adverse side-effects using steroids? Some people have adverse side effects taking aspirin, or eating McDonalds.
That’s life. Some things are really bad for you, and really good for me. Legislating one and not the other is hypocrisy at best. I disagree with that kind of thinking, so stop coming here and telling me to wake up and smell the coffee. I’m already drinking it.
UPDATE: …. Another thing I find interesting is the number of baseball people coming out in support of Bonds, including men who don’t know him or have any real rooting interest. Here’s Ozzie Guillen:
I think it will be great for baseball. I think he’s the greatest hitter ever. … I worry about baseball, and this kid brings baseball back, McGwire and Sammy and all these guys. People hated baseball then, after the strike. A lot of people will be mad when he breaks the record, but I hope he does.
Mike Schmidt, Jason Schmidt, Derek Jeter, Joe Torre, even Padres manager Bruce Bochy (who could hardly hate Bonds more), all of these men and more have had positive things to say about Bonds and the home run record, and many of them dismiss the steroid accusations out of hand. Why is that? I mean, it’s a story when some jackoff like Turk Wendell goes after Bonds, but there’s an almost endless stream of comments by active players, managers and general managers who seem to have a much more measured and thoughtful opinion on the subject.
Could it be that those involved in the game every day realize the hypocrisy involved in telling a player that they must not use steroids because of the health risks for them and anyone who might emulate them; while using and discarding tens of thousands of young athletes every year? Anybody wonder what Lupica thinks about the hundreds of young men who sell their souls in an effort to make the majors and are betrayed by agents, teams, general managers; asked to play through pain, leave loved ones behind, risk their lives, their health, their dreams to make an investment worthwhile for a team….
What about the role models these players are? What about the role models these GM’s are, or these teams? But no, let’s get Bonds. He’s the one guy whose failings mean the most. Let’s get him. Lack of perspective, perchance?
Now we learn that Bonds’s lawyer is
…. Bonds’ attorney will ask a San Francisco Superior Court judge on Friday to issue a temporary restraining order forfeiting all profits from publication and distribution of the book. In the phone message, Rains said the request would be made under the theory that the transcripts were “illegally obtained and possessed under federal law.”
Here’s the Sports Law Blog with an interesting take on the lawsuit.
I wanted to give poor Adam a chance to see what his comments look like out in the open:
…. It’s too bad you’ve taken the talk radio attitude toward people who disagree with you–go away you jerks! If you can’t handle criticism you should make this a closed forum.
Finally, (and I will go away, don’t worry) it’s odd that you crave media recognition, as evidence by how you publicize any quotes about you and this site or any time you’re asked to appear on a radio program, but then you hold yourself up as superior to all real, professional media.
Okay, now you and the cohorts can pile on and call names, because this is now like any other ego-driven blog, run by someone who sees himself as not just better and smarter than most everyone in the media and baseball, but better and smarter than all fans too.
I could hardly be characterized as a media hog, since in the four years I’ve done this I’ve made a splash about once a year. Writers like Alex Belth, who once asked me how to start a blog, and is now writing for SI, not to mention my friend Will Carroll, who goes to the MLB meetings each year, have all surpassed me while I sit at home happily plugging along with my ego-driven tripe.
Have I somehow misrepresented the mass media here? Is there some consistent, rational major sports media outlet covering this story that I have forgotten about? Hardly. Here’s just a couple from today:
The Shadow Knows “…. whatever Gary Sheffield might be, no one thought he was a liar.”
“…. a devastating new book by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams.”
Two Yankees Linked to Balco in Book About Bonds “…. The authors quote a “source familiar with Bonds” who described concerns expressed by Bonds’s father, Bobby, the former major leaguer, about his son’s steroid use.”
Just two of the most respected and widely read sports sections in the United States reporting on this book as if it was filled with all this brand new information. Gee, Sheffield is a liar. Good thing I’ve never lied.
Headlines to sell newspapers, to make a splash on the national front, regardless of factual accuracy or rational thought. The story is three years old now, and everyone (rational) who’s read the book says there’s not one thing in it that’s new.
(Oh, and as an aside, the authors of Game of Shadows must be a lot like me in not being interested in criticism, as they forgot to offer me a complimentary copy for review.)
Here’s another gem of a quote; “A Balco defense lawyer, Troy Ellerman, believed Bonds was lying when he said that he never knowingly took steroids. ” Wow. A lawyer thought Bonds was lying.
Again, I hardly see how I’m the shallow bluster man, while these writers are your heroes.
I’m looking pretty hard at the last two pieces I wrote, and I still can’t find the part where I talked about whether steroids were legal or illegal. I also cannot find the part where I suggested that we should ignore the entire situation, or that Bonds should be celebrated for his alleged use of PED’s.
What I am suggesting is that the issue is far more complex and nuanced than a bonehead like Selig could ever come to terms with; that the mass media’s insistence that the future of the sport and our children lie within the grasp of a witch-hunters purvey is a lie.
PED’s are here to stay. You cannot legislate risk. You cannot tell people what they can and cannot do to get the most they desire from life. You cannot. Sitting here and expecting me to accept the party line that this is an issue of such grave importance is a waste of your time, Sean and Adam. If you’re sorry about what you’re reading here, go away.
This is my site, and these are my opinions. You think Lupica’s got the answers, go read Lupica. I disagree with the position that Bonds deserves to be shamed and embarrassed and removed from the game for my good. I disagree with the position that the game of baseball was somehow harmed by Bonds or Sosa or McGwire’s actions. Baseball’s been through worse scandals than great players crossing some arbitrary line towards performance enhancement, and it will get over this.
Yes, I believe that only baseball matters. What happens on the field is what I care most about. I’ll say it again, other than drinking ground up baby’s brains, I could care less what Bonds or Sosa or Giambi do to prepare themselves to play the game. They are the professionals, I believe that it’s up to them. They wanna drink plutonium, GO DRINK PLUTONIUM.
I don’t want Lupica or some jerk-off in Congress telling me how to get ready to do my job, do you? Does anyone? They look the other way when corporations destroy the environment, steal from pension plans, sell arms to both sides of a civil war in a third world country, look the other way while the American people are being ground into dust…. And I’m supposed to get all worked up because today they want to tell me that steroids are bad?
You talk about steroids being illegal like that is supposed to be the end of the argument. In this country, the decision to make one substance legal and another illegal is completely political, and can no longer be reasonably argued to be based on the issue of safety, addiction, or anything other than whether somebody is willing to make money selling it.
What I’m writing is shallow bluster? Please. I’d suggest you read through the volume of material I’ve collected in my steroids and baseball section and see that the shallow bluster is what’s being forced down our throats by the vast majority of the major media outlets.
UPDATE: Here’s some more shallow bluster.
I find myself constantly amazed by my inability to lower my expectations of people fast enough to catch up with their performance. Now that the Bonds book is soon to hit the shelves, Seligula, one of the strangest and misplaced men in power that I could ever have imagined, is either going to or not going to investigate Barry Bonds because of the allegations made in another headline grabbing book.
What is disappointing isn’t that Selig is wrongly targeting Bonds because of his record-breaking performances, or that he shouldn’t even bother to investigate whether 4 or 6 years ago, Bonds did or didn’t do, what was or wasn’t against the rules of the game he dominated.
What’s really wrong is that Selig’s investigation of Bonds will happen because of all the horseshit hysteria surrounding this issue, because of the constant whining by Gary Wadler and Dick Pound about how baseball has to save the world by making players pee in more cups, subject themselves to endless types of blood tests and breathalizers, because of the constant agonizing about the children, “who’ll save the children” by an equally endless stream of Senator’s and Congressman and Governor’s and sportswriters, (let’s not forget the sportswriters, bent on saving baseball from such horrible, arrogant players).
Selig will launch an investigation, I can see that now, and we will once again see a mighty, Hall of Fame player have his name dragged through the gutter with all the low-lifes and scum that he allowed himself to be surrounded by, (no sportswriter – or Congressman, for that matter- ever spent time gambling or doing drugs or hanging out with lowlifes, right?). Another superstar who, in reality, gave us countless magical moments of baseball immortality and history that we’ll never forget, but who forgot to genuflect at the altar of the sportswriters and now will pay the ultimate price, because he’s an asshole, people, remember, he’s a real asshole.
Another player who dedicated his life to being the best he could possibly be will now be indicted and convicted by a preponderance of evidence gathered by a monumental tight-ass like John Dowd or Kenneth Starr, who will compile a lengthy and critical report, citing numerous named and un-named sources, men and women who will sell out another person for personal gain, because our superstars have to be perfect, always sign the children’s autographs, every last one, (remember the children, that cocksucker Bonds won’t save the children).
Lowest common denominator, lowest expectations, demonize and cauterize, back to Salem for America, all to save the children, please God Almighty, SAVE THE CHILDREN!!!!
If Selig has any balls at all he will tell everyone that the circus is over, that he has gone as far as he is willing to go, everyone makes mistakes, and it’s time to move on. If he has any character, any strength of resolve, he will stop capitulating to the drum beat being hammered by Verducci and Lupica and these ridiculous politicians knocking each other over racing to the microphones and cameras to let us all know that they love America and that they will save the children, (please God Almighty, SAVE THE CHILDREN!!!!) and the rest of these pompous crusaders, and tell everyone to get the hell off his back.
But do I expect that to happen?
My silence is deafening, huh? Sweet.
Sorry for the lack of posts, my computer’s hard drive was corrupted, resulting in me not having computer access for most of the last two months. I’m back, but I haven’t read the Bonds book yet, so my comments will be reduced to the following:
The story is an old one, and it hardly constitutes the earth-shaking scandal SI wants us to believe that it represents.
Selig would be way out of line if he decided to punish Bonds, since he never did anything that violated baseball’s rules, (unless you want to make the absurd argument that pushing himself to the limits of his strength and enurance is a punishable offense). In today’s NY Daily News, ex-commissioner Bowie Kuhn laughingly suggests that Selig could even go as far as to invalidate all of Bonds accomplishments: “I certainly believe the commissioner has the power to invalidate records. In my view, it’s inherent in the ‘best interests of the game’ clause. I think if a player was found to have cheated his way to a record, that record could be and probably should be invalidated.”
He fails to explain how he would deal with all of the complications such a move would entail, not the least of which would be, why only Bonds?
If “everyone” was doing it, as so many sportswriters today want us to believe (Tom Verducci, in particular), then a John Dowd-led investigation of Bonds in particular would be shameful. What’s left? An investigation of all of the players in the league for a five year period of time? Is that really neccessary?
As for the book’s main premise, which seems to be based on the old, “a 30-something athlete can’t improve his performance and his strength and all that without cheating”, read Pinto. David has often wondered just how much help steroids really can offer.
Here’s what I’m wondering:
If Bonds was working out 12 hours a day, does it really mean that he was cheating because he was using steroids? What about the 12 hours a day he was putting in while other players were playing golf or fishing? Doesn’t that count for something? You con’t just take steroids and watch TV, you know. You gotta do the work. Long, hard, tedious, painful work. All to be better, to be the best.
Again, if Bonds was using steroids to improve his performance, and there was no rule in baseball that outlined how he wasn’t supposed to, how is that cheating? I get the impression that writers like Verducci and Lupica feel that it was extra bad because Bonds was doing it out of jealousy and arrogance, as if that mattered. What matters is that Bonds got the absolute most out of his body as he possibly could, pushed his performance to historic levels, all the while behaving like the biggest asshole in the history of sports.
John Thorn offers us perhaps the first reasoned response to the Bonds story in this NY Times Op-Ed piece:
…. Yet the Hall (of Fame) operates, like Augusta National, as a private club. Within the confines of civil law, it may admit or bar whom it pleases by whatever electoral mechanism. It may include questionable choices like Rick Ferrell, George Kelly and Warren Giles; it may exclude the arguably more deserving Ron Santo, Dick Allen and Bert Blyleven. It may create rules by which Joe Jackson is banned for life and unforgiven thereafter. It may dismiss the hobgoblin of consistency by inducting Alex Pompez, a numbers kingpin and mobster, while holding Pete Rose at arm’s length.