Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Anabolics Anonymous

Trip, you ignorant slut.

I know that you used the word “alleged” only because you didn’t see it with your own two eyes, but Bonds isn’t simply “alleged” to have used steroids. It has been proven beyond all reasonable doubt. It’s been proven by the mountains of documents and testimony disclosed in Game of Shadows, by the rapid expansion of Anabolic Barry’s hat size, by the associates serving prison time, and by the fact that at an age when virtually every other player in history has gone into decline, Bonds morphed into the greatest hitter ever to stride the earth. No, he never failed a steroid test. But O.J. never failed a murder test, either. Our prisons are full of people convicted on considerably less than the sea of facts that implicates Bonds. The evidence doesn’t allow for any inference other than that the guy began juicing around the turn of the century. None.

Further, I don’t know where this notion that steroids weren’t “illegal” comes from. They weren’t specifically prohibited by Major League Baseball, but neither was sorcery or bionics. But to possess and use them was a federal crime. Does anyone believe that the juicers didn’t understand that what they were doing was wrong? When you’re trafficking in the black market and taking pains to cover your tracks, it’s impossible to claim straight-faced that you did nothing wrong.

And though he’s not without fault, when exactly did Bud Selig become the Jesus of Baseball, put on earth to bear the weight of everyone’s sins? Has he often been an ineffectual commissioner? Sure. But so? Does that make Anabolic Barry less culpable? Lax policing might explain why someone would be willing to commit a crime, but it doesn’t excuse the offense.

You love the game. I used to. I don’t understand how anyone who cares about baseball can shrug off what Bonds and McGwire (and others) did. The game changes. I get that. Strike zones shrink, ballparks shrink, pitcher’s mounds shrink. Training regimens improve and nutrition advances. You can’t hold those things against Bonds any more than you can hold segregation against Ruth. You play when you play, under the rules then in place. But fans have to be able to trust that, at some level, it’s fair play. And Bonds made a mockery of that trust and the game itself. He was already an all-time great, a three-time MVP, and a first-ballot hall of famer when he turned 36, an age at which he should have begun to diminish as a player. Instead, he hit 49 home runs that year, topping a career best established at age 29. The next season, one more year removed from his prime, he tallied 73 homers – more than anyone else in history and 50% more than his career best. Then, despite being walked nearly 200 times a year over the next three seasons (no one else has ever been walked more than 170 times in a season), he averaged 45 home runs a year. He was so dominant – at age 40 – that he warped the fabric of the game.

Without drugs, those numbers would have been astonishing. With drugs, they’re simply grotesque. Bonds holds the record now, but it’s a hollow achievement, not worthy of adoration. And it’s also not worthy of the considerable attention I’ve given it today.


Trip McClatchy said...

Did you really compare Bonds to O.J.? Why not Hitler?

The Boy said...

I prefer Genghis Khan.

(For the record, I'm pretty sure I read that Barry's hat size has only gone up 1/8 in size...still not natural, but not quite a Macy's parade float either.)

All I can say is a) I too think Bonds is a prick, b) I think Bonds used some sort of steroids, HGH, whatever, c) so did Brady Anderson, about 200 other batters, and about 200 other pitchers, and d) Bud Selig looked the other way because McGwire and Sosa were putting butts in the seats. You sell your soul for McGwire, you're probably going to end up getting an outcome you didn't intend (Bonds)...

But A-Rod's going to break the record in five years anyway, right?