Friday, January 12, 2007

Barry Bonds...Everything Grew But His Heart

It's official: Barry Bonds is now the biggest asshole in professional sports today.

On Thursday, reports circulated that Bonds had failed a drug test and that amphetamines had turned up in his system sometime during the last season. Bonds, at the time, blamed teammate Mark Sweeney, apparently telling baseball officials and the players' union that it was due to some pills he'd taken out of Sweeney's locker.

Now, I don't know about anyone else, but I seem to remember that at about the age of five, my parents made it pretty clear that you didn't take stuff out of the medicine cabinet that wasn't meant for you because it's just flat out dangerous. But, even assuming Bonds' parents missed imparting that important life lesson on their youngster, what the hell was he supposedly looking for in other players' lockers? Breath mints? Isn't that called theft?

Can you imagine? You're 40 years old. You're already the most maligned player in the game. You're a surly bastard. Drug allegations have dogged you for the better part of the past five years because it's just a bit unusual that somehow you've managed to avoid all statistical trends which show your abilities should have declined rapidly after age 32. Instead they increased dramatically. Your body has grown like the Grinch's heart after hearing all the Whos in Whoville singing. The media and the public are just waiting for you to fuck up, hoping, in fact, you fuck up before you can pass Hank Aaron and become baseball's all-time home run leader.

So, what do you do? Well, walking past a teammate's locker, you happen to glance at a bottle of pills and say to yourself, "hey, those look good. I think I'll take some."

Ironically, Sweeney was, according to the chatter from the sports world, one of Bonds' few friends. Bonds denied implicating Sweeney saying his explanation was misinterpreted. Uh-huh. Perhaps he meant to blame a different player.

As a believer in the notion that a person is innocent until proven guilty, I have always felt that Bonds' records should be viewed as legitimate. He has never failed a steroid test. Until the amphetamines issue, he'd never failed any drug test that has been publicly revealed.

But, he has failed baseball fans, his teammates and the game. The best solution would be for the San Francisco Giants, who have tabled a not-yet-accepted $16 million, one-year contract offer to Bonds, to withdraw the deal and for no other team to offer him one. He's well over 40, he can't run, can't field and he lives only to break the record. Frankly, he doesn't deserve to hold it. Unfortunately, there's probably well over $16 million in profits to be made by San Francisco as long as they can stick Bonds in the line up and he swats home runs.

If he does break Hank Aaron's record, baseball will be faced with an interesting conundrum. Mark McGwire didn't even come close to getting in the Hall of Fame this year and he was never found to have taken anything other than androstendione, a muscle repairing supplement that was perfectly legal in baseball at the time. And, McGwire was considered a good guy.

Imagine, baseball might find itself with both its all-time hits leader, Pete Rose, banned for betting on the game while a manager, and its all time home runs leader out of the Hall of Fame. A rather sad indictment on today's sporting world.

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