Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Hey! Old Balls In The Media! I Don't Give A Shit About Barry Bonds

I know I should be all worked up about this, Jay... but I'm just not.

I'm a little late to the show with this but I just need to put my two cents in about it. After Barry got his late surge of votes for the MLB All-Star voting, the predictable crew of pilers on raised the predictable fuss about Barry making the All-Star Team (See eg Mariotti's ironically titled piece "One Giant Contradiction"). Most raised the issue that when polled, about 50% of fans are rooting against Bonds breaking the home run mark. They find it strange that despite this distaste for Bonds, he somehow has a strong enough fan base to make a late surge into the starting lineup of the All-Star voting and recently he seems to be garnering much less negative reaction from fans. Recently in Boston, a place Barry had previously said was too racist for him to feel comfortable playing, the fans gave him a surprisingly mixed reception that was borderline cordial. The fan's reaction almost sent Dan Shaughnessy into an early grave. So what gives? Why all of the sudden has the sentiment towards Bonds if not changed, at least softened? Well I can only speak for myself but I can think of two reasons: 1. This is a media fueled frenzy and some of these assholes are so wound up about it that I'd rather Bonds win than those assholes who write negative shit about him; and 2. The "Steroid Era" obscures every stat. Why should I feel any differently about what Bonds is doing than I feel about what Clemens, Manny or A-Rod is doing? So rather than try and figure it out, I just assume everyone cheated and I've moved on.

1. The Media Has Killed This Story For Me
When the whole Balco thing came out, I was irate about Bonds and anyone who had been involved in it. It was so frustrating to think that guys like Bonds and Giambi were getting big and putting up big numbers while other more honorable guys were losing their jobs. But then it became a talking point every single day and it gave holier than thou pricks like Mariotti, Lupica and Ryan material for any time they woke up too late and couldn't think of anything relevant to print. As if these fucking pricks wouldn't have jumped to the front of the line and knocked over grandmas and small children to get their hands on a drug that would make them write better and earn them 5 times what they could make without it (for all of our sakes, I hope this drug is discovered). So as I was forced to listen to more and more about it, I cared less and less about it. And finally, over the course of this year, I hit my breaking point. I began to ask, why do these guys care so much? Why do they hang Bonds out to dry, citing his head size, shoe size and other such circumstantial evidence yet Clemens gets a pass and guys like Adrian Beltre blow up and hit 48 home runs one year and you don't hear boo about it. I mean, no one mentions that Nomar showed up on the cover of SI a couple years ago looking like Lou Ferrigno and subsequently broke down with a series of injuries, never to perform to that level since they started testing. Are you gonna tell me that Nomar wasn't juicing? If you continually rake someone over the coals for circumstantial evidence and then the same evidence is presented for a bevy of other athletes but you make excuses for those athletes and not Bonds, you begin to lose my faith that you are reporting objectively.

And then the Canseco thing came out. The media (and Curt Schilling) told us to discount Canseco's story. He was a liar and an idiot. Turns out he was the only one telling the truth. And then it turned out that YOU (the media) knew about this all along and lied about Canseco's stories because you wanted to stay in accordance with the "clubhouse code." And now all those same media idiots are saying "yeah, I saw stuff go on and I at the very least felt something was up, but I didn't know enough to say for sure." Oh, but you're SURE that you know enough about Bonds to come to conclusions about him.

But for me, what put this whole situation over the edge was the media's reaction to Curt Schilling's remarks. I wrote about this before, but when Schilling said Bonds had admitted to using steroids, every scribe in the land KILLED him for it. "Bonds has never admitted" to using steroids and "how irresponsible for Schilling to say such things." These are the same people saying that Bonds chase of the home run crown is a disgrace and the fans are idiots for voting this "cheater" into the all-star game. But when they are asked how they "know" that Bonds has used steroids, the say, "oh, I know." Their evidence: Head size, stats, production at Bonds age and leaked grand jury testimony that Schilling was talking about but that they can't cite for certain. So it's more responsible to call Bonds a cheater but give crappy evidence as to why than to cite Grand Jury testimony that has never been disputed. Here's an idea: When you come to conclusions based on conjecture and speculation, you cannot then criticize someone else for doing the same fucking thing.

2. It's The Steroid Era. I'm Cool With It. Move on.
When they kill Bonds for this, what do they want my reaction to be. Anger? Sadness? He's not on my team. He's not breaking a record I give a shit about. He's not impacting the playoffs in any way. Why should I care? If we are to believe everything we read, then all three of the guys who broke Maris's record were on juice when they did it. Ok, what does that suggest about everyone else? Does that mean that Pedro's 1999 and 2000 season were steroid fueled? What about Ichiro breaking the single season hits record? And how far does this go back? With Rickey Hendersons's checkered past, aren't all of his stolen base records suspect? And don't even get me started on Clemens. If we are using circumstantial evidence, we have a whistleblower on Clemens and the fact that the guy's pitching 93mph at 70 years-old. But rather than dwell on these things, I just don't care. I sleep fine believing that everyone was on something. Though in Manny Ramirez's case, I'm assuming he was on Nitrous, so we may have to put an asterisk next to his name to indicate how amazing his achievements have been despite his use of drugs. So who cares if these guys are breaking records. I'm over it. I watch the game to watch my team win. If anything, it's given me more of an appreciation for my team and less focus on the stats of the league leaders. It's more fun for me now. Plus, no one has ever explained to me what exactly steroids does that makes players so much better. I mean, Alex Sanchez took steroids and he sucked dick. It's my understanding that they were used to help players recover from injury more quickly. If that's the case, maybe we want to start looking into positive uses for these things. But if it's true that needle in the butt steroids gives you some percentage advantage, I want someone to explain to me why this is any different than a player getting Tommy John surgery and gaining 2mph on his fastball. Are we going to have to look back on the TJ era? Unless the effect of steroids is definitively quantifiable, I don't want to be bothered by it. If the problem is some kind of moral opposition to doing illegal stuff, then maybe you want to ask every player in the 80's about the nose candy being passed around. We'd break the "shift-8" key just looking at the Mets roster in the 80's.

Lastly, I'm not going to pretend that I'm a Bonds defender or that I'm happy with what's going on or has gone on. I just don't care anymore. And more than anything, I don't want to be told that I should.

1 comment:

The Double-U Show said...

thank you thank you for posting this blog. I think that the steroids COVERAGE, not the ERA itself has really hurt baseball. I think what these guys are doing is stupid and dangerous and if my young son were ever doing it I would kill him, but on that same note many of the people in the media are making such a big deal about the steroids that you hear as much about that as you do about the games. I think too since so many players were careless about steroids the stories began to leak and the records began to seem artificially enhanced. You've got a good blog, really