Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Clear & Present Danger

Whatever we've thought of Barry Bonds in the recent past, he's doing and saying mostly the right things now. [italics mine]
Michael Wilbon, Washington Post, August 7th, 2007

I've thought for a while that what people forget is that the performance enhancers that are the elephant in the room are drugs, harmful, illegal drugs that leave a pattern of predictable behavior in their wake. All of the accused steroid users, and epo users in cycling, act like addicts, perhaps not chemically addicted but emotionally dependent on the perceived boost these drugs give to their confidences, their careers, their lives. They deny, they obfuscate, they do and try anything to justify their behavior, because they need to. Coming clean, facing the truth, would be too painful and would threaten the way of life they are enmeshed in.

According to a transcript of Bonds’ Dec. 4, 2003, testimony reviewed by the Chronicle, prosecutors confronted the slugger with documents allegedly detailing the steroids he used — “the cream,” “the clear,” human growth hormone, Depo-Testosterone, insulin and a drug for female infertility that can be used to mask steroid use. - The San Francisco Chronicle
The jury is not out. It's clear Bonds juiced. The evidence, his changed body, the rumors, the record book detailing dosage and date, is out there for everyone, Major League Baseball, ESPN, the newspapers. And yet people continue to enable and deny.

...he's doing and saying mostly the right things now

Has Bonds come clean? Has he told the truth? Apologized? Gone public with what he has done and why? There is an active federal grand jury investigation into Bonds's steroid usage. Is he volunteering information?

...he's doing and saying mostly the right things now

In fact, Greg Anderson, Bonds's trainer and friend since middle school, convicted steroid dealer, is refusing to testify against Bonds as part of that grand jury investigation and serving jail time instead. Bonds is actively obscuring the truth through his relationship with Anderson. If Bonds is innocent or took the cream, the clear, human growth hormone, depo-testosterone, insulin, and a drug for female infertility that serves to mask steroid usage unknowingly (cough!), why is Anderson refusing to testify? See the excellent NY Times article by Murray Chass.

A split screen on ESPN every time they cut away to the home run record chase-- half Anderson sitting in his jail cell remaining silent/half Bonds at bat -- would tell the whole story. But that's not the storyline they're selling...;)

Michael Wilbon criticizes Bud Selig for what is, I admit, a wishy-washy stance that's par for the course of his tenure as commisioner. But hands in the pockets might be the classiest move at this point. Other than not attending.

...he's doing and saying mostly the right things now

The truth is the right thing to say and do.
This isn't about Bonds as a gruff, obnoxious guy. The records of Sosa, McGwire, Giambi, Palmeiro should be stricken if, as suspected, they were using, too.
A drug enabler wants everything to seem to be okay, normal, no matter how much pretending and denial it may take.

he's doing and saying mostly the right things now

Performance enhancers are a clear and present danger to the integrity of sports; they threaten to turn all sports into mere storylines, orchestrated to generate drama. The truth, the fairness, the reality all get trampled as everyone, fans, players, teams, networks, newspapers, become enmeshed in the storylines The storyline of the homerun chase back in the 90's helped bring baseball back, but at what cost? Michael Wilbon seems to be saying, "See, Barry is doing his part to say and do the things expected to be part of The Storyline. Why can't we all?"

This moment is awkward and corrupt because that's the truth of it. The new era of sports is eclipsing the old. We all know the circumstances. We can choose to applaud and pretend nothing's wrong, that there isn't a cheater getting away with it, that there isn't a man sitting in a jail cell in silence in order to protect the storyline that profits sports networks and sportswriters and Major League Baseball itself. Or we can demand truth and fairness in sports. In the name of Hank Aaron, in the name of Roger Maris. In the names of all the baseball players who didn't risk their lives taking drugs. Selig stands, hands in pockets, knowing this happened on his watch, but really it happened while all of us were watching.


Lil Bro said...

Hear, hear! Well said.

Ollie said...

Hey! We're starting to almost look like a semi-professional blog!