Thursday, March 09, 2006


Using those drugs is cheating. Barry Bonds, according to accounts he hasn’t contested, is a cheater. This cheating isn’t a technical violation of some arbitrary rule, like driving 68 in a 65mph zone on a clear day with zero traffic.

This kind of cheating is a form of theft. It aims to steal the benefits of victory from those who follow the rules. You could calculate the money, plenty, and intangibles, much more. The problem is the disparity between drug users and non drug users.

If the rules were changed to permit all performance drugs, then if a user beats a non-user, no big deal. The only problem with simply allowing performance enhancing drugs is that some of them are harmful, and can fuck you up pretty bad.

If it means breaking Babe Ruth’s record, it would seem, a professional athlete should be allowed to do his or her own risk/reward analysis. Unfortunately, if the drugs are seen as necessary for success, all athletes will take them and they’ll cease to provide an advantage. Those closest to the pinnacle would want to experiment with new stuff to take them to the stratosphere, like test pilots, like Barry Bonds.

It’s a societal issue. Any sane parent would rather have little Johnny chilling with a little weed than raging around on roids. But if the pros do it, every Pony League middle schooler will be looking to bulk up. If you think of fame and fortune as the benefit of taking roids, very few users will realize any benefit at all, but all will pay the price.

If Barry Bonds plays this season he’ll pass Babe Ruth in all-time home runs. The Babe was a regular guy. He’d stand at the bar and down a beer and a hot dog with you. Barry won’t look you in the eye. Poor Barry is not a regular guy. I gather from the local sports press that players don’t like him much.

Ty Cobb was one of the greatest all around players in history. He was a prick. Everybody hated him. So when his name comes up they say, “Great player, what an asshole!” But don’t believe me about Ty Cobb’s NASTY PERSONALITY.

Being a regular guy, comfortable with yourself, and comfortable around others, is not a skill, it’s a disposition that poor Barry Bonds just lacks. It comes from thinking of yourself as a reasonably, but not especially, good person, and having the natural reflex to treat everyone as your equal (which of course, they are).

A rookie for the A’s, just up from the minors, asked in a post game interview about his sudden increase in income said, “I’m just glad to have a car that doesn’t die at every red light.” That’s a regular guy.

I guess it’s not impossible that MLB will successfully clamp down on performance enhancing drugs. If so, and other things being equal, the home runs per season ceiling would return to 60, where it had been for at least sixty years. MLB record books would show a major spike in home runs in the steroid seasons. Barry would be hung up on that spike like a parachutist on a radio tower, more an oddity than anything else: “Look at the steroid guy!”

Or, if performance enhancing drugs continue to be used, Bond’s records will be eclipsed soon enough anyway, and still nobody will like him. He can’t win.
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sfmike said...

I think it was h. brown who wrote that just about ALL professional athletes were juiced up on "performance-enhancing" drugs. You don't get to play at that level at this moment in time if you're not on the roids. It's only when you're a total liar/hypocrite about it that I think the act gets really disgusting (see Lance Armstrong as an example).

Barry may be an asshole, but the way he's been treated in this town from day one has been so outrageously racist that it's been really disturbing to listen to, and the asshole Chronicle reporters are just hitching up to that particular bandwagon. I think a lot of Barry's "unpleasant" personality comes from the way he's been treated by the honkies in San Francisco. Plus, he was never a "regular" guy. He grew up the son of a professional athletic superstar. Cut him some slack. He's beautiful to watch and it's been a pleasure to see him live over the years.

And as far as questionable "records" go, Mark McGuire's is even more asterisk-like than anything Barry Bonds has accomplished.

Let Barry play and leave his career in peace.

sfwillie said...

Hi Mike,

Interesting question about all athletes. Obviously not all, of anything. There are some major leaguers who can’t get their shirts tucked in, let alone do a roid regimen. But, say, ninety percent? I doubt it. If you could point me to some stats please do.

If you’re advocating that MLB should not concern itself with drugs one way or the other, I support that. If an athlete (or anyone) wants to do steroids or pot or meth, that’s a personal choice. This is America and we have a right to do with our bodies what we wish. The status quo, however, is one of discrepancy between policy and practice, a situation that favors weasels. Not everyone is a weasel. You, I, and our dear visitors are not weasels.

The guy I like is Jose Canseco. A promising career failed, well publicized spousal discord, arrested for reckless with an unregistered gun, the guy happily admits doing steroids, and despite perpetrating one of the most egregious misplays ever caught on tape*, is completely comfortable inside his own skin.

Re a couple of your points:

McGuire, Sosa, and the rest, they’re all cheaters, and they share Barry’s shame. Baseball history won’t be kind to any of them, I hope. Hell, Sosa got caught with a corked bat. His explanation was idiotic. Scratch Sammy.

I was only holding up being a regular guy as an alternative to trying to be special.

Does SF have a history of being mean to black ballplayers?

Barry’s real sin: being so incredibly boring.

* Back on the warning track for what would have been a good but not great catch, the ball hit Jose on the head, and, bounced over the fence for a home run.

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