Bonds is enormously wealthy, enormously talented, enormously arrogant,
enormously black, and just plain enormous. For many folks, he's the
convenient scapegoat for more than a decade of alleged steroid abuse
in Major League Baseball. However, there's still the bothersome little
detail of "proof." Books have been written, disgruntled friends and
lovers have leaked stories, and sportswriters-seeking retribution for
years of dealing with Barry's notorious condescension-have tried the San
Francisco Giants star in the press ... but no smoking gun exists. Sure,
the circumstantial evidence against Bonds is damning, but what about
Lance Armstrong, another top athlete with an equal amount of anecdotal
"proof" following him around like a white ... I mean, black cloud? Yet,
for much of America: Barry is a pariah and Lance a hero.
Of course Bonds is juiced, right? Of
course he's cheated on his wife and on his taxes. Of course the game --
and the whole damn planet -- would be better off with him behind bars.
But even assuming he did what countless other major leaguers did --
indulge in performance-enhancing drugs -- here's a little incentive to
help you re-think your Bonds Bias:
1. Steroids or not, Bonds was a first ballot Hall of Famer before his
breakout 73 home run year in 2001. "Barry Bonds is the greatest baseball
player since Babe Ruth," says sportswriter, Dave Zirin. "He is the only
player in history to have 500 home runs and 500 stolen bases. He
averaged a 30/30 (30 home runs and 30 stolen bases) for the entire
decade of the 1990s, and he is the only player I've ever seen who can
change the game with every swing."
2. Major League Baseball turned a blind eye to its ever-expanding stars.
As long as the fans were happy and television deals rolled in, no one in
power acted to stop the steroid binge. Now, with fans whipped into a
frenzy and Congress smelling a photo op, Barry Bonds is the perfect
3. Like it or not, Bonds played on an even playing field. If steroids
have indeed tainted baseball for the past decade or so, by definition,
Barry has faced innumerable pitchers powered by juice. This hasn't
stopped him from rewriting the record books.
4. Steroids or not, as Zirin explains above, Bonds is by far the best
hitter of his era. For example, no one else who has been publicly linked
to performance-enhancing drugs has hit over 600 home runs (never mind
721 and counting) during the so-called steroid era ... not Jason Giambi,
Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmiero, Gary Sheffield, Jose Canseco,
Pudge Rodriguez, etc. On whatever even playing field you choose, Bonds
stands well above the crowd.
5. Every era has its asterisks. The great Babe Ruth played against
athletes that, in general, were not as big, strong, fast, or
well-conditioned as they are today. Ruth never played against black
opponents. The Sultan of Swat didn't have to travel coast-to-coast over
162 games and face late inning relief specialists every night. The
Bambino had none other than the Iron Horse, Lou Gehrig (and a virtual
Murderer's Row) behind him the lineup. In fact, Ruth played regularly
for the best team in the game.
Since Bonds is the player so many love to hate, he's guilty till proven
innocent in the court of public opinion. I say that even if we
eventually do learn that Barry was not afraid of needles, he shouldn't
take the fall for baseball's folly and he should ultimately be judged
within the context of the era in which he played ... and utterly
is the author of several books, most recently 50 American Revolutions
You're Not Supposed to Know (Disinformation Books). He can be found
on the Web at: