Saturday, December 04, 2004

Bonds unclear on the concept; may get creamed

Barry Bonds, it seems, failed to learn the first lesson of public misconduct: 'Fess up first.

If the travails of Pete Rose and Bill Clinton illustrate anything, it's the fact that the American public dotes on shamefaced acknowledgment of wrongdoing. It's not that we're an especially forgiving lot — we aren't — but rather that we love to see people grovel, and to extend them our high-minded pity when they do.

Had Pete Rose come forward years ago and said, "Yeah, I bet on the Cincinnati Reds while I was managing them; it was wrong and I'm sorry, but I was weak and stupid and overwhelmed by lust for the almighty dollar and the adrenaline rush," his ugly, chili-bowl-coiffed pan would be leering at Hall of Fame visitors from a plaque in Cooperstown this very day. Had Bill Clinton never said, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky," but instead confessed, "Yeah, I did her; it was wrong and I'm sorry, but I was weak and stupid and overwhelmed by cigar fumes and a taste for strange," he'd have escaped impeachment, and might even now still be sleeping in the White House, albeit on the opposite side of the Presidential bed.

Bonds, having missed the point of these precedents, is choosing to take the route of, "Yeah, I guess I took steroids, but I didn't know what they were." This tactic makes him look disingenuous at best, and at worst like the most gullible sap this side of the O.J. jury.

Seriously, Barry, you're a superstar athlete whose body is his multimillion-dollar livelihood. Do you really expect us to believe that you let some clown pump that glorious body full of illicit pharmaceuticals — the so-called "clear" and "cream," and you never once asked, "Hey, Greg, what is this stuff? It's not steroids, is it?"

Barry, I love you, man, but give a brother some credit.

What you should be saying is this: "Yeah, I used steroids and I knew full well what I was doing; it was wrong and I'm sorry, but I was weak and stupid and overwhelmed by visions of Josh Gibson and Sadaharu Oh dancing in my head." If you know what's good for you, you'll do exactly that, and sooner rather than later.

On the bigger question of Bonds's legacy, regardless of what he says or doesn't say from here forward, I agree with the perspective of a former sports editor for the San Jose Mercury News, whom I heard interviewed on KCBS radio yesterday. Drug use has always been a part of the baseball subculture. Babe Ruth, Grover Cleveland Alexander, and Mickey Mantle, among others, excelled at their positions despite being sloppy, fall-down drunks. The Oakland Athletics of the 1970s, winners of three consecutive world championships, are alleged by many (including the aforementioned former Merc editor) to have accomplished their historic feats under the considerable influence of "greenies" and other chemical enhancements. Mark McGwire, who held the single-season home run record before Bonds broke it, admitted having done so while taking steroid-related muscle-building supplements. The legacies of all of the above remain none the worse for wear, and Bonds will in all likelihood follow in their cleatprints, irrespective of any admissions of guilt.

Here's an even better example. Californians not too long ago elected a governor who admits that he competed illegally as a bodybuilder via the use of anabolic steroids, after having denied such use for decades. Are we going to hold a baseball player, even as prominent a player as Barry Bonds, to a higher standard than we hold the head of our state government?

Perish the thought.

1 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Blogger fling93 offered these pearls of wisdom...

Well said.

Also reminds me of Sosa claiming that corked bat was the only time. Puh-lease.

3:58 PM  

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