Monday, May 14, 2007

Barry Bonds - A Chemical Creation

According to Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, the San Francisco Chronicle reporters who wrote "Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal That Rocked Professional Sports," Mike Murphy, equipment manager of the San Francisco Giants, testified that since Bonds became a Giant in 1993, the size of his uniform jersey has gone from 42 to 52. His cap size has expanded from 7 1/8 to 7 1/4, even though while it was expanding he shaved his head. (Bonds reportedly shaved his head because his hair was falling out as a result of steroid use.) And Fainaru-Wada and Williams also say Murphy testified that Bonds's baseball shoe size has changed from 10½ to 13.
"Before and after" photos of Bonds are above.
Now, I know Will's not everyone's cup of tea, but he's a very serious and credible baseball fan. As far as the reputation and tradition of Major League Baseball goes, there are many who have participated in the sport's ruination; but I really think Barry Bonds deserves a special place in baseball hell for what he's done.

The Kosher Hedgehog Dissents, Sort Of:

Maybe because I grew up a Giant fan, because Barry Bond's godfather is my boyhood hero, Willie Mays, or because Barry played his college baseball for my home town school and law school alma mater, Arizona State University, but I beg to say some words on his behalf. Barry Bonds would have been a Hall of Famer had he played in any era of the game (setting aside, of course, the fact that Major League Baseball banned African American players from 1887 until 1947). There is no question that he is a great athlete and a superb hitter. George Will concedes as much in his Newsweek article.

I have little doubt that Barry Bonds used performance-enhancing substances. What is greatly in doubt, however, is whether his use of those substances violated either the law or the rules of Major League Baseball. If Barry Bonds violated the rules of Major League Baseball, Major League Baseball should present its evidence of those violations and discipline him accordingly. If not, then Bonds apparently did only what other players of his era--Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Jose Canseco, and probably countless others--did to advance their careers.

George Will writes, "But cold, covert attempts to alter unfairly the conditions of competition subvert the essence of sport, which is the principle that participants shall compete under identical rules and conditions." Bonds did exactly that--he competed against other contemporary athletes who could and did use performance-enhancing drugs. Contrary to what Mr. Will seems to be arguing, Bonds was not competing against Henry Aaron or Babe Ruth under "identical rules and conditions"; indeed, it would be impossible for him to have done so.

Babe Ruth was able to hit 60 home runs in a season, and 714 in his career, because at the outset of his playing career baseball introduced the "rabbit" ball that sprung off a bat with more velocity than the baseball of the earlier "dead ball" era. Who can say whether Ruth would have been as successful as Henry Aaron batting against the likes of Koufax, Drysdale, Marichal and Gibson? Ruth, Aaron and Bonds all dealt with different strike zones. Bonds has played in the era of the "closer," the relief specialist who comes in fresh and rested for one or two late innings and throws nothing but smoke. No baseball players of different eras, even 10 years apart, can be said to be competing under Will's ideal of "identical rules and conditions."

People don't like Barry Bonds. They say he is arrogant. Well, people did not always like Henry Aaron as well. And as for arrogance, Bonds probably has nothing on the Babe. As for the "depravity" of using steroids, has Bonds' behavior set a worse example than the boozing and womanizing of Babe Ruth? In an era when the consumption of alcohol was illegal, Ruth was a fixture in the speakeasies, where he associated with known figures in organized crime and gambling. The public loved it.

Cap Anson forced baseball to ban black players, because he refused to play with or against them. Ty Cobb was by every account a despicable human being. If, as the Hedgehog insists, there is a place in baseball hell for Barry Bonds, then he will have lots of company, and the devil will be able to put together an incredible lineup.

The Hedgehog responds: Clearly my dear colleague Kosher has a bad case of Giantitis. Simply because many others cheat does not justify the blatant serial cheating and lying in which Mr. Bonds has engaged. After all, we are talking about baseball, the Great American Pastime, where men are men and are guided by truth, justice, and the American Way. Haven't you ever watched Pride of the Yankees? Wink And speaking of the (hated) Yankees, it seems to me that if Babe Ruth had caroused a little less he would have hit more home runs. The only significant similarity between Bonds and Ruth is that when all is said and done, both men probably will have died young as a result of their choices.

Having said that, I must concede that we are talking about a game here. But when I was ten years old, baseball was life! It's difficult for the boy inside me to forgive the likes of Bonds, McGuire, and the rest.

Rebuttal by the Kosher Hedgehog: Who's on first, What's on second and at third base is Idontknow.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course, since he's a SF Giant, I suspect some Dodger fans might be more willing to heap opprobrium on Bonds than perhaps for someone playing on a different team.

This non-fan of baseball (I've been holding a grudge since childhood) thinks the biggest problem lies with MLB's unwillingness to take a definitive stand for so long, even while not condoning what should clearly be viewed as cheating on the part of individual players.

Monday, May 14, 2007 3:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is extremely interesting for me to read this post. Thank you for it. I like such topics and anything that is connected to them. BTW, try to add some pics :).

Thursday, January 21, 2010 4:48:00 AM  

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