Wednesday, March 08, 2006

What Country Is This?

So two journalists decide to gather together all of the allegations against Barry Bonds and that equals guilt? His entire reputation is destroyed because of an argument based on a 'totality of circumstances.' Sorry Jack, this is America. Here you are innocent until proven guilty, and a sensational book, no matter how much someone wants it to be true, does not equal proof.

Did Barry Bonds knowingly use steroids? Probably. But that is what is called a guess, and the book says nothing we didn't know already. When Barry tests positive for steroids or admits his use or is caught on tape saying he used, then we can call him guilty and discuss his legacy in baseball and why baseball didn't act to stop steroid use earlier. Until then, maybe after then, Barry Bonds is simply one of the greatest players ever.

To be honest, I really hope he hits fifty home runs this year while baseball is aggressively testing him, just to shut up preening, self-indulgent blowhards like Gene Wojciechowski.

23 comments:

greg said...

Me too.

Paul said...

A lawyer doesn't need a confession or a blood test to convict. There is more than enough evidence that Bonds is a cheater. So is anyone else that goes to a chem lab and takes these substances. MLB is also liable for its failure to nip this problem in the bud. The allegations that he's a tax cheat, an abusive man, and a bully just lower my image of him even more. I don't know how you guys can defend him. If he passes Aaron (who did it honestly) it will be a shame for the baseball world.
Bonds WAS one of the greatest players ever, until he decided to cheat to try to become the best.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/magazine/03/06/growth.doc0313/

greg said...

Regardless of whether he knowingly used steroids or not, the problem lies within baseball. Illegal drug use has been a part of not only baseball but many professional sports for a long, long time. Meth use was a huge problem in the 70's and 80's; steroids have been a problem for years. Bonds is certainly not the only one who was able to use drugs without getting caught in Major League Baseball.

Baseball permitted rampant drug use for years and years, Bonds was never caught for anything and reagrdless of whether he used them knowingly or not, he is still one of the greatest hitters of all time. Is he an idiot and poor role model? Yes. Did he probably use steroids? Absolutely? Does that mean he should have his records taken away or asterisks next to them? No. If you start that game we will be pulling skeletons out of closets for a long, long time and in places people would be shocked to learn about.

Whether or not he's abusive, a cheat and a bully matters not when it comes to records. If he passes Aaron and he's a dick, so what? Ty Cobb was a dick and he's regarded as one of the greatest hitters of all time. Willie Mays was known as a horrible teammate. He's still one of the greatest. Not all of our sports heroes are real heroes.

jeff said...

Reasonable people understand that Bonds cheated--he doesn't deserve his records (neither do Sosa or McGwire) and he should be kicked out of baseball. Why are you guys defending a cheat? That is all I need to know. The fact that he is a jerk is irrelevant--Cobb earned his records Bonds didn't.

greg said...

Reasonable people know the world, especially the professional world, is never as cut and dry, black and white as they would like.

If steroids is cheating (I'm not arguing that point, of course they are) then baseball is complicit in many, many, many big leaguers cheating for many years, because they allowed it. There was no steroid policy and when there was it was a total joke. It's still a total joke! Steroids are a performance enhancing drug. So is meth. So are a lot of things that have been or were rampant in baseball and other sports for years. I'm arguing that baseball is at fault here and to go back and change records because of performance enhancing drugs is going to be a long, long process involving many, many names. Steroids are banned by MLB now. Bonds has not been caught under the new drug policy. I know it's a bastardisation of the rules and insults the fan and the integrity of the game, but by the rules, he is not guilty. Yet.

Jeff, you corroborate my original point about Bonds being a jerk. Yes he is. He is stupid, obnoxious, big-headed and a complete a-hole. But that should have no bearing on his or any other records in any sport. Cobb earned his records, yes. So did Bonds, by following the rules that were in place at the time. Cobb played in a segregated era, should his records be asterisked?

Tom said...

"A lawyer doesn't need a confession or a blood test to convict." Interesting language. Last time I checked, a lawyer doesn't convict, a jury does, at the end of a fair trial. He probably won't go before a jury for steroid use. No reasonable person could conclude that Barry Bonds has gotten a fair trial from the media that almost univerally reviles him. So we have to rely on the most official and objective system to determine his guilt. Unfortunately, that is the MLB drug-testing system. So far, Barry's been clean under that system. The same goes for McGwire and Sosa.

However, even if they weren't, it is not a slam dunk (to mix sports metaphors) that their records should be taken away from him. Let me draw out Greg's point: It is well-documented that pitchers doctored balls and that players have corked bats. I've heard that Ty Cobb sharpened his spikes to intimidate fielders when he was sliding into base. Do we take away his stolen bases for cheating? How many hits should George Brett lose because it took so long for that umpire to call him out for having pine tar too far up on the bat?

The most home runs Aaron hit in a season came when he was 37. If we turn the Bonds logic on him, then we have to ask how it is possible that someone could hit the most home runs of his career at that advanced age. There were plenty of drugs around in 1971. I'm just saying....

We can go in circles on this forever. But Greg is right, if baseball had done its job a long time ago, we wouldn't have this problem. MLB never stopped the cheaters or even made it clear what they considered cheating. Now we want retroactively to hold Bonds accountable for breaking rules that weren't clear rules based on evidence filtered through a hostile media. It's not fair and it's not right, no matter how much of a jerk Barry Bonds is.

greg said...

George Brett was acquitted of any wrongdoing in the pine tar scandal.

Tom said...

If you take George Brett's word for it. I never trusted that guy. Therefore, he's guilty.

Paul said...

Okay, you got me on semantics. Guilty as charged. A lawyer doesn't need a confession or a blood test TO GET a conviction. Soooo sorry.

What's wrong here is the application of legal principles to an ethical matter. Something doesn't have to be illegal in order to be unethical. Bonds violated a code of ethics.

Brett was acquitted. The commish ruled that the bat hit the homer, not the pine tar. Pine tar doesn't make the ball travel farther, but steroids do.

As for Cobb, a good slap tag in the face (with the ball in the glove) would have put a stop to his spike-first slides.

Bonds could have saved himself a lot of trouble by just acting like Tim Duncan from time to time. Instead he's left it up to the public (through the media) to judge him and the evidence is stacked against him. That's his own damn fault.

Paul said...

By the way, I never made the argument that his records should be erased. I only hope that he never breaks Ruth's or Aaron's records.

greg said...

Steroids can make the ball travel further, but you still have to hit the ball which is often traveling in excess of 90 mph and moving side to side. If steroids were all that were needed to become a great hitter then Jeremy Giambi would still be playing. Bonds, with or without steroids, is arguably the greatest hitter ever. And he didn't have the performance-enhancing circumstances of playing in a segregated league to enhance his records.

Ty Cobb was a mean, mean S.O.B. and hitting him in the face with a ball would have only elicited an ass-kicking of the highest order and the resolve to come in with spikes higher and sharper the next time.

And what does it mean to act like Tim Duncan? And if you don't act like him does than presume guilt?

Paul said...

Acting like Tim Duncan: Thankful, respectful and professional toward the people who pay your salary (the fans).
Has nothing to do with guilt or innocence.

Tom said...

Not to nitpick, but my understanding is that pine tar does make the ball travel farther. It is interesting that MLB acquitting George Brett settles the matter, but MLB not finding any wrong doing on the part of Bonds means that Bonds is still guilty because a biased media has continually presented him as a jerk and a cheat.

Lots of people did not like Ted Williams and Eddie Murray when they played because they were surly with the media. I think we need to wait around a while before we make up our minds on Bonds.

greg said...

Paul, I agree with you that Duncan is a class act. Bonds is incomeptent, inarticulate, combative with the media (but, who can blame him?), unintelligent and surly. But he does some very nice things for his fans and charity organizations regardless of whether the media wants to cover them, which they most certainly do not. The way in which both Bonds and the media have dealt with one another is no way to accuartely guage the credibility of either. He may not be the soft-spoken, humble and hard-working Tim Duncan but he is not an unappreciative jackass when it comes to his fans either. Ask anyone who lives in S.F.

dcat said...

Let me add a few cents worth here --
It is not an irrelevant fact to point out that whileBonds was allegedly engaging in all of these shenanigans, none of them were illegal in MLB. They were illegal, to be sure, but so is pot. But they were not banned in baseball -- so never mind illegal, those of you who are talking about ethics are also wrong -- ethics are codes of conduct in a given realm or profession. And the same can be said for cheating -- how can someone cheat by doing something that is not banned?
Now, does that make me feel good? No. Baseball screwed the pooch on this one, allowing it to fester and not making hard decisions. Bonds seems like a scuzzball and unlike Tom, i am willing to buy the vast amount of circumstantial evidence to say that whether or not he is legally guilty, it is possible for the facts to indicate that he did it. That said, I'm not sure what "it" is. He used drugs that in the franework of the game were not banned.But I agree with Tom that we are hanging him by media, and that without reading the book and being able to assess it for myself and in the context of standards of evidence -- both legal but also, say, historical (why are we using the legal system's standards of evidence as the coin of the realm here?), I am not willing just to grant final say to these two guys (even though I really think Fainaru is good).
By the way -- let's not sit here and talk about what a shame it is that Bond might pass Babe Ruth. I'd hate to see him pass Aaron, no doubt. But Ruth? Bonds may have used performance enhancing drugs. Ruth never had to face black pitchers; never had to hit with black fielders; never had to face the challenge for statistical supremacy with a Josh Gibson. I do not want to hear a damned thing about the statistical integrity of the game before integration.

Paul said...

I call BS on this 'segregated league' talk. You guys need to come off your high horses. Ruth crushed most white pitchers he faced; who's to say he wouldn't have crushed most black pitchers? It's a guessing game.

We could go on all day putting asterisks on records. Bonds has 162 games; Ruth only had 154. Ruth faced the same pitcher in the first and ninth innings. Bonds has to face closers throwing 90 mph in the 9th inning. Bonds plays in an era of diluted pitching because of expansion and gets to face the Colorado Rockies pitching; IN COLORADO.
Segregation was a terrible reality, but it was beyond Ruth's control. Taking steroids to look like the incredible hulk was IN Bonds' control. Not much of a comparison.

greg said...

It has nothing to do with horses. The point I've been making again and again is that there are a thousand different factors that can call one's records into question. Segregation, while beyond Ruth's control, was still a fact. Steroids were not banned. We cannot begin the game of adding circumstantial asterisks to the record book. Records are not objective indicators of an athlete's success; we all know that. But, we like to think they are. If Bonds passes Ruth and Aaron. So be it. He is the homerun king. If he doesn't, then he's not.

As long as we're calling BS.... diluted pitching compared to Ruth's era? Are you kidding? Many pitchers druing Ruth's time were hacks off the street that did it for some extra cash. Today's pitchers, however diluted, have the benefit of year-round, intensive training, science, strength conditioning, and some even have or had steroids.

Let's also not overlook the fact that while Bonds and McGwire used 'roids and bulked up enormously, many players were using them to stay healthy and to heal injuries. The 'cream' that Balco manufactured was also used to speed the recovery time of major injuries. Why isn't anyone investigating Clemens or Smoltz or others who have come back from injuries or have age working against them (as does Bonds). Steroid abuse was widespread and while Bonds is almost assuredly guilty of using them (whether he knew or not) there are alot more out there that are flying under the radar and not being chased by Woodward and Bernstein wannabes because they don't look like Bruce Banner.

By the way, if anyone is interested in donating to the Barry Bonds foundation you can do so at http://barrybonds.mlb.com/players/bonds_barry/about/foundation.html.

His foundation boasts programs like the "Link 'N Learn" program which "provides access to private tutoring, offering a three-to-one student-to-teacher ratio, to ensure each child receives individual attention and specially tailored programs; computer-assisted and multi-player interactive technology allow children to increase subject matter retention, gain motivation and improve their attitude toward learning; and parent involvement, helping parents to develop skills to assist their child's academic growth and develop self-esteem."

Barry Bonds. What a dick.

greg said...

From www.sfgate.com

Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt: "He's a fellow baseball player, and I've been to some degree in his world, too," Schmidt said. "I'll do anything I can to give him the benefit of the doubt. I never personally saw any of it happen. I don't have factual evidence. I don't have any admittance of guilt by him. All I know is what you know -- it's all denial. Visually, we might question a little bit. But who are we to say he didn't get that strong, that big from rigorous workouts?"

Astros pitcher Roger Clemens called the latest report a "witch hunt" and said, "I know Barry, and I consider him to be a friend. I worry about the man's health more than I do about him hitting home runs or whatever the point of this witch hunt we're on is about."

"It's very unfair for Barry when there are other guys who could be talked about and ripped -- because I see it, and you guys (the media) see it," Walker said. "I'm not naming names, but you'd have to be blind, you know?"

dcat said...

Paul --
What "high horse" am I on, precisely? It is a fact of history that baseball was segregated during Ruth's career. It is a fact that Josh Gibson and others did not get to compete for the records that Ruth earned. It is a fact that Ruth did not get to test his capacity to crush black pitchers. It is a fact that a huge number of the white pitcjers he did crush would not have been in the league had black and hispanic players been able to compete. It is a fact that Ruth never had home runs stolen by black center fielders. There is no high horse. Segregations evils were pervasive in all apsects of American society and baseball was not immune. And as a consequence, baseball was a lesser game as a result of generations of black players not being allowed to compete.

If these facts put me on a high horse, I'll take that over the low one you seem to prefer, and in any case, you ain't the man about to knock me off of it. If you want to argue the facts or interpretations of segregation, bring that discussion on.

dcat

Paul said...

Dcat
"I do not want to hear a damned thing about the statistical integrity of the game before integration."
I think that sounds a little self-righteous, don't you? Sounds like you think you're the only one who is qualified to make value judgments on segregation. Just let us know in what year the baseball statistics began to have integrity. Aaron played a few years in the late 1950s when some teams still did not have any black players so we should probably negate some of his early stats. The game had no 'statistical integrity' during those years.

And you ain't the man about to lecture me on segregation, either.

padawan john said...

There is no equity in comparing stats of todays players to those in the past. Segregation is only the first reason for a lack of parity. Changes in equipment, training technique, coaching styles have all radically altered the ability of players to perform. I would be willing to bet that the Portland Beavers, the hometown AAA club, could win a series over the best Yankee teams of the 1920s. The only valid comparison can be among a players contemporary peers. Bonds is one of the best hitters in baseball. His stats before he beefed up prove that. Would he hit as many home runs off the juice? Probably not, but he still would have hit more than most, especially if NO ONE ELSE was using either.

Mark Twain said something like "There are lies, damned lies, and statistics." Comparing todays stats to those from the past is a meaningless exercise; the only valid comparison is how well players match up with those from their era.

greg said...

PJ-

exactly.

greg said...

Fay Vincent and John Dowd are apparently even more stupid than Bud Selig: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2361482

"If you do nothing, you leave a cloud on the game." Dowd said. "What needs to be done is a fair, honest, thorough investigation of the facts. Then you go from there."

Vincent wants Bonds investigated. Oooohhhhhhhhh, I'm sure the MLB investigative committee is going to figure everything out now, after they have ignored the problem for decades and had to have their arms bent backwards by Congress to do anything. Is this country only populated by self-righteous, constantly positioning, grandstanding, media-whores? Fay Vincent--the guy who jumps into the fight long after it has been settled, screaming "hold me back, hold me back!" You're a badass, Fay. Fay.