March 10, 2006

Excusing Barry?

A lot of strange things have been written this week about the Barry Bonds/steroid revelations, but certainly nothing stranger than Stephen A. Smith's Philadelphia Inquirer column yesterday, with the bizarre headline "Bonds a Victim of Hypocrisy, Ego."

In the piece Smith, oddly enough, channels what is currently a common Republican method of argumentation: that media coverage of an event is always more important than the event itself. His initial reaction to the latest revelations isn't to vilify Bonds for his exposure as a cheater and a liar- it's to bash the media and baseball establishment for somehow treating Bonds unfairly, and for purely racial reasons. Smith's nut graph:

The fact remains that while no one can prove what is inside someone's soul, a large segment of the black population feels exactly the way Bonds feels:

It believes that McGwire was cheating the whole time. That it was evident he was on something more than andro, likely even Deca-Durabolin and Winstrol - steroids Bonds has been accused of using.

It believes that many in the baseball community knew this much, and still covered their eyes and ears because they didn't want to taint baseball's once-pristine image, already sullied because of innumerable boneheaded decisions (such as the cancellation of the World Series in 1994) that the sport had yet to recover from in 1998.

Many black folks believe what Bonds believes: that if he wasn't on the brink of eclipsing the great Babe Ruth's No. 2 spot among all-time home-run leaders, there may not have been a Balco investigation, constant leaking of grand jury testimony, or something tantamount to a witch hunt against a guy who continues to play baseball with impunity everywhere but in the court of public opinion.

Leave aside the absurdity of somehow making an asshole like Bonds the standard-bearer of Black America. Let's get one thing straight: Bonds is a victim of nothing. He knowingly used steroids, knowingly cheated, and has knowingly lied about it for the past seven years, including under oath. Yes, other people did it too, and yes, baseball itself (the owners, union, and everyone else) benefited from it. But acknowledgement of this in no way absolves Bonds and the other players of responsibility.

And yes, McGwire most likely did the same thing Bonds did. But guess what: his reputation is now in tatters as well. Smith's argument, that Bonds used steroids after McGwire did, and therefore deserves absolution, is an extreme of moral vapidity. And I love the insinuation that the BALCO investigation was somehow a racist plot against Bonds, when in fact all of the accused and convicted BALCO defendents were white, Bonds was never charged with any crime in connection with it, and the athlete whose reputation suffered the largest hit as a result of the case, Jason Giambi, is white as well.

The reason Bonds is hated by reporters, and by the general population, isn't that he's black- it's that he's an asshole to them, and (seemingly) to everyone else. And a cheater, and a liar, and many other things. I always thought the book on Stephen A. Smith was that he was a good writer, but terrible on TV. But this column is more absurd than anything he's ever said on "Quite Frankly."

Posted by Stephen Silver at March 10, 2006 06:48 PM

So...the media is working on destroying a black man in order to prevent him from breaking the records?

Did Hank Aaron stop being black or something?

Posted by: Tainted Bill at March 10, 2006 10:16 PM

Bonds as dispicable a character as he is was not cheating under the rules at the time (although cheating history is another matter), nor was McGuire.

Last season was the first time that steroids were actually banned substances.

Posted by: J. Lichty at March 13, 2006 11:51 AM
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