Barry Bonds is not Osama bin Laden. He does not possess weapons of mass destruction. He is not a terrorist or a terrorist sympathizer and he had no connection to the tragic events of September 11, 2001.
I love the game of baseball. It is a game that eliminates chance by the sheer accumulation of numbers. It is a game that champions both the individual and the team. It is a game that embraces speed, agility, quickness, power, instinct, strategy and mental preparedness. It is a game of ingenious design, bordering on perfection, in which the best rise to the top and those who cannot perform are exposed. More than anything else, the game of baseball is a test of endurance. It is a marathon and those who survive and prosper year after year, season after grueling season, are the greatest champions the world of sport will ever know. Baseball demands and rewards devotion, mind and body, and it cannot be cheated over the course of time.
Despite the feeding frenzy, spurred on by a burgeoning industry of a rabid sportscasters, analysts and beat reporters with a chip the size of Montana on their shoulders, there is no compelling evidence that Barry Bonds ever knowingly or unknowingly took illegal or banned substances to enhance his performance. The eagerness of the sports culture to discard any presumption of innocence in order to shred the reputation of baseball’s greatest player belies something rotten to its core.
A defense of Barry Bonds is by no means a defense of steroid abuse. There is ample evidence of the harmful, long-term effects of such abuse on the human body. It is for this reason and this reason alone that baseball should clean up its own house – without the invective and without the pathetic posturing of opportunistic politicians.
There is a scandal here but it is not whatever Barry Bonds did or did not do. It is the story of a Justice Department, in a time of war and terrorism, expending its limited time and resources trying to knock the king of baseball off his throne. It is the story of a United States Senator, known for straight talk until he took the role of a political hack for a president he frankly despises, trying to score points by targeting an African American hero. It is the story of a flawed and failed Attorney General, who will take his place alongside J. Edgar Hoover as an enemy combatant in the war on civil liberties, leaking a Grand Jury transcript while pretending to investigate the White House leak of an undercover CIA operative.
The outrage over the case of Barry Bonds is misplaced and disingenuous. When all is said and done, Bonds was one of the greatest players ever to take the field before his monumental 73 home run season. His combination of speed and power, as well as his former defensive excellence, are qualities rivaled only by those of his Godfather, the great Say Hey Kid, Willie Mays. If you want to know where Bonds stands in baseball history, ask Mays and Aaron. I believe they will tell you: They know a witch hunt when they see one.
Barry Bonds will survive the investigations, the innuendos, the taunting and heckling, and the tirades of tired sports analysts. His legacy will remain intact and the controversy will only add spice to the eternal debate of all baseball fans. Who is the greatest of all time: Bonds, Ruth or Mays?
It is not the legacy of Bonds or the integrity of baseball that should concern us. It is the American fixation on the trivial that should give us pause. Baseball is a game. We should question this media driven need to tear down our sports and cultural heroes while giving the current president a virtual free pass from Texas to the White House.
We are a nation engaged in an unlawful and immoral war. Our soldiers and their enemies are dying every day. Our dollar is collapsing and our debt is out of control as we contemplate the next round of tax cuts for the elite. Half the nation is addicted to an assortment of prescription drugs, most of which we neither need nor benefit from and some of which can kill us or do irreparable harm, yet what is the topic at the proverbial water cooler?
Barry Bonds: Did he or did he not?
Wake up, America.
Shame, where is thy blush?
Jack Random is the author of Ghost Dance Insurrection (Dry Bones Press) the Jazzman Chronicles, Volumes I and II. The Chronicles have been published by CounterPunch, the Albion Monitor, FirstPeoplesCentury, Trinicenter, Global Research and other notable sites. The Jazzman Chronicles are available at City Lights Bookstore in SF. Visit his website: www.jackrandom.com.
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