Jose on Barry (Not Literally)

Jose Vilson

bonds30806.jpgYesterday, ESPN’s Sportscenter had an exclusive “town hall” meeting in San Francisco, CA, to discuss Barry Bonds and his pursuit of the homerun record. It’s amazing how many fans really cheered him on, and still do. What’s worse is that, I’m cheering him on, too.

I’d love to tell you how morally upstanding Barry is and what a wonderful human being he is, but by too many accounts, he’s not. I’d also love to tell you that I’m enamored with the idea of him breaking that record over someone who actually earned that record through blood, sweat, skin color, and tears (Hank Aaron). I’d love to stand alongside many of my colored brethren in support of Barry, because he’s public enemy #1 and we as a people understand the implications of being guilty until proven innocent but I’m not.

Dude did it. That’s something we need to stop playing ourselves with. OJ was an awesome football player at the college and professional level, but he most likely murdered Nicole. Michael Jackson was the king of the 80s and even the early 90s, in music and pop culture, but he definitely bleached his skin, uprooted his naps, and touched kids inappropriately in those camps. Unfortunately, the evidence against Barry is overwhelming, and everyday something new is coming out about Barry. Barry’s gotten a free ride as far as I’m concerned, and has the money to show for it.

Yet, I’m happy Barry has the potential to break that record; after all, baseball as a community allowed for this to happen. With all the Mark McGwires, Jason Giambis, Jose Cansecos, and Gary Sheffields, we just allowed these juiced players to break records all while Bud Selig rolled in the dough these men were making for him. Sports fans, managers, owners, and the mass media all had a role in allowing steroid users to do as they pleased. It’s like we asked them to do that for us in our orgasmic need for the long ball.

Will he make it into the Hall of Fame? Most likely, and that has everything to do with the moral burdens placed upon the voters (sports writers from all across the country). Why are we holding these guys accountable for what MLB should have fixed in its own sphere? It’s akin to having a kid who’s been behaving badly for the last 7-8 years and then sending him over to his grandfather’s house to get punished; it makes one wonder how great a parent this kid had to begin with. And unlike the aforementioned kid, I wonder whether these baseball players can come back reformed.

He’ll still make it in; Barry Bonds was once a fantastic baseball player everyone could at least trust. He had a stank attitude, but we knew the guy could rank up there with the great baseball players of all time if he continued on that path before 1998-9. He was a 40-40 threat every season, and played defense like his life depended on it. An MVP candidate even before this madness. He had 3 of them before the steroids. Yet, something about him said, “If Mark and Sammy can get all this love for breaking Roger Maris’ single-season record, imagine what I can do if I took the stuff.” What made OK players into awesome players turned awesome players into icons for an entire era.

Maybe this will all go away if / when Alex Rodriguez surpasses Barry’s record (estimate: 768), but if it doesn’t, we’ll still have to smell the residue of a sullied record and the final stain left by the Steroid Era of MLB.



p.s. – The New York Yankees are hot, and A-Rod is doing as well as I hoped he would. I’ll not jinx them anymore.