Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Chasing Barry

Check out my story in today's - it's the lead feature! Chasing Barry: Against a backdrop of steroids and scandal, Barry Bonds' chase of Babe Ruth produced a firestorm of coverage, but few members of the sports media came to his defense."

Thanks to my editor there, Dylan Stableford.

What makes the coverage of Bonds by the New York media, in particular, so objectionable is their blatant hypocrisy. Last year, Jason Giambi was a strike out or two away from being sent to the minors. The next thing you know, the admitted steroid (or HGH) abuser starts hitting every ball out of the park. (Coicidnece? Ask Palmeiro.) When the Yankees won a game 7-6 due to a couple of dingers from Giambi, did the New York Post put the score of the game on the back page with the "7" written with syringes? The Yankees ended up in first place last year because of Giambi (as well as the previous years with Giambi in the line up). Should there have been an asterisk next to the team name in the standings? Come to think of it, I believe Giambi hit two solo shots off Pedro in Game 7 in 2003. Maybe Sox fans should be more upset about the fact that the Yankees cheated to win than about Grady Little.
Nice one, Steve. The issue certainly is fascinating, regardless of where one stands on it.
Peter Gorman
Bonds and Giambi both used steroids, of course. Giambi (whether it was for the right reasons or not is debatable) apologized, Bonds did not. Giambi comes across as an affable, friendly guy. Bonds, does not. Giambi isn’t approaching any historic baseball record, Bonds is.

I don’t think the main issue is whether or not these high profile athletes (Giambi, Bonds, Sheffield, etc.) are currently using steroids (you might have noticed a bit of a drop in some prominent alleged user’s numbers (including Sosa and Bonds) since John McCain held up the magnifying glass. The issue is whether or not they used them over the years.

And because that’s the issue, it stands to reason that the biggest story here is if Bonds used steroids over the years to boost his numbers (read: cheat) - as he is about to pass the most famous person in baseball history on the all time homerun list.

In my opinion, the issue here is not racism. You can argue that Giambi gets off easy and Bonds gets treated roughly. But Gary Sheffield is (allegedly) a steroid user, so is Slammin’ Sammy, and you don’t hear anything about those two anymore.

Palmiero was crucified but only because his indignant, televised, swearing under oath and finger wagging was promptly followed by a positive test for ‘roids making him a hypocritical clown.

Basically, it’s not just the crime; it’s the criminal and the circumstance. If Barry was a bit less of a dickhead and a bit less prominent, he’d probably get the Giambi treatment.
I haven't consistently followed baseball since the '94 strike, but I know this much: the establishment is clearly anti-Syringe Man.

And, being that we're told what to think more times than not, it's always refreshing -- despite the subject -- to to see a contrarian viewpoint.

Hey Steve-
Nice article, and unlike much that is written on the subject, pretty objective-a good fuel for debate. It has me coming to the conclusion that the real culprit in the situation, and what desrves most of the ill-will from anyone upset seeing Barry Bonds break hallowed records is the pathetically weak drug policy that MLB had and the way that this issue was swept under the rug when it was obviously rampant, both by MLB and the press.
let them all be juiced. what is performance enhancing anyway? doesn't taking an aspirin if you have a headache enhance your performance? or having coffee to help you be more alert? what about having surgery to repair an injury, possibly extending a career that would have otherwise been over without the medical technology we have today? what about cortisone shots? what about artificial limbs that could be considered superior to natural legs and feet? and if the bionic man were to become a reality, would we let him play sports just because he doesn't use steroids?

any way you look at it... 714 is an awful lot of homeruns. Juiced or not - you still have to hit the pea first, before you can hit a homerun.
Yes but the 'pea' tends to go further if you have twice the muscle mass at 40 as you did at 30.

There's no doubt that 714 is a great accomplishment but you can't help but wonder how many he'd have if he aged naturally.

The problem here is that Bonds is challenging the single most revered record in all of sports. When you think of Ruth and what he meant to the game and then think of Aaron and what he endured to capture the record, you can’t help but wonder if Bonds is deserving of being mentioned in that company
The main difference between Bonds and Giambi is that one is breaking records and the other is not even close. In other words, Giambi is harmless. This has nothing to do with race. That's complete hogwash and a cop out. If you're a journalist worth your salt, take a goddamn stand when you know something stinks.

The idea of tepid objectivity in the face of glaring wrongs (i.e. grotesquely growing hat sizes and expanding body mass when ones testosterone should be dropping) is bullshit. Mainstream American journalists are weak and hold on to outdated ideals. (Mexican journalists on the other hand attempt to overthrow their government and get killed for it. They’ve got guts.) The treatment that baseball writers and columnists are giving Bonds is not that far removed from what is going on with the Washington press corps, which allowed the administration to waltz into a disastrous war with false reasoning and then when it became popular to turn on an unpopular war, many of these reporters began to gnash their teeth. Baseball writers looked the other way as the players (black and white; Bonds and McGwire) began to grow at unreasonable levels. Why? Because they wanted to protect this outdated romantic notion of a game they consider holy. You know: Fathers and sons and a nice day at the park. BUT: Once it became popular to be outraged by steroids, they piled on. McGwire retired before it reached that level and so he was spared; Bonds isn’t. American journalism is a joke and so is baseball.
Awesome prose, as usual. The article really flows. You don't have to be E.B. White to know that anything that sounds so natural must have taken a ton of work.
I'm sure it's no surprise that I think people can put whatever they want in their own bodies. I do like the point above that steroids don't actually create skill from thin air. They don't really create strength, very much, without extensive work on top.
I think the tacit assumption is that Aaron or Ruth wouldn't have done steroids today if they were playing. I'm sure I'll infuriate every baseball historian in the world by saying so, but if half the Ruth legends are true, I can't imagine he would've passed on the needle if it had been available...

Mitch Earleywine
I agree with you some and disagree with you some. I think it's likely that Bonds was using steroids, as were McGwire, Sosa, and scores of others. It's a huge scandal.

Just look at the records: In the first 50 years of modern major-league baseball, of racially integrated teams and regular night games, only one player ever hit more than 55 home runs in a season: Roger Maris in 1961. Mickey Mantle never did, Reggie Jackson never did, Hank Aaron never did. But in the six seasons from 1997 to 2002, six players did, with Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire doing it three times. They weren’t playing that many games in the thin air of Coors Field!

The owners must have known something was up. Guys ballooning up and then hitting 45, 55, 65 home runs? C'mon.

Where I agree with you is that Barry Bonds is being made the scapegoat for this entire scandal, as if all the blame should go on one "evil" individual, and that will purify the game.

Whether this is racial or because of Bonds' personality I don't know. Certainly the excerpt Sports Illustrated ran from the "Game of Shadows" didn't paint a very flattering portrait: Bonds' common response when someone didn't jump to follow his orders was "Did I fuckin' stutter?"
Mitch, it's like you said above. Steroids don't make you strong without the work. Can you picture Ruth in a weight room? I don't think so.

I think new stadiums with shorter outfield dimensions and older stadiums with pulled-in fences have contributed to exploding homerun totals as much as performance enhancers. Look at Puljos & the new park in St. Louis. How many HRs would Mantle have hit in today's Yankee Stadium?

Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Your Ad Here