Baseball’s Heartbreaking Question: Who’s the Mamzer, Who’s the Mensch?

Barry Bonds is the greatest baseball player of my lifetime. He may be even better than that. His batting records are stunning in any era, without equal in his own.

From all accounts, he’s also a complete ass. In this he continues a grand tradition that began before Ty Cobb and will continue long after everyone reading this is dead and buried.

Barry Bonds was a great player before he became known as a freak and he was certainly a great ballplayer after his neck began to grow. The record he is about to break (the Hank Aaron home-run record) will never truly be his because detractors will create an imaginery asterisk even if baseball chooses to allow the record to stand, but he’s been a wonderful talent over 2 decades and only those with an agenda would argue it.

It didn’t have to be this way. Baseball COULD have attempted to do something years ago when these things first started showing up in print (and the print media was way ahead of the curve on this one). Baseball COULD have come back after the strike with a renewed effort to clean up the game, even if it meant foregoing to McGuire-Sosa home run march and the millions of dollars it brought the game.

Baseball could have stood up and said “Man we don’t have a handle on this but we’re sure as hell going to do something about it” and baseball could have protected its most cherished asset (the rich history of the game, which includes the record book) but could not because it is run by people without a moral compass and the game’s powerful owners are addicted to money.

Bud Selig has been at the very least entertaining in regard to steroids over the years. In 2005 he said “It’s easy to look back and rewrite history. People can say that we knew, but I’d like to know on what basis. There certainly is no medical evidence. There was no testing.” Hey Bud, WHY was there no testing?

Did you see Jose Canseco at the plate in the 80s? How about the 90s? What about Mark McGuire? In that same interview quoted above Selig said “Nobody worries more about the image of the sport than I do. I’m proud of our players.”

Just not Barry Bonds. Right? Barry Bonds is paying a huge price for baseball’s big lie and Bud Selig and the owners have shown unprecdented willingness to sacrifice him. So when Barry Bonds talks about race being part of the issue, can we honestly dismiss it out of hand? Where was the outrage when Mark McGuire was breaking the single season home run record?

I honestly believe the media is going after the wrong guy. Barry Bonds began taking steroids when others had already joined in the party, but it is he alone (and not Mark McGuire) whose record will be blemished for all of history. Bud Selig continues on his merry way, the Mr. Magoo of major sports in North America bumbling along blind to the things around him.

He is blind, but apparently not color blind.

My question then to you is this: WHEN did Barry Bonds officially begin breaking the laws of baseball, and at what point BEFORE THAT would reasonable people hold Bud Selig accountable for not taking action?

I await the answer.

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12 Responses to "Baseball’s Heartbreaking Question: Who’s the Mamzer, Who’s the Mensch?"

  1. Bohologo says:

    LT, any thoughts on performance-enhancers in hockey? The kids sure are a lot bigger than they were 20 years ago, and it can’t be all because they found the weight room.

    I can’t even watch the Tour de France anymore, it’s like pro wrestling….

  2. Lowetide says:

    bohologo: I don’t know that bulking up baseball style would benefit a player, but there’s probably several ways to help a hockey player with this stuff. The quicker recovery would certainly be a benefit for a hockey player.

    One suspects a few enforcers have used it and there have been a few guys admitting to it. But baseball has always been a lightning rod for this stuff, mostly imo because the season is so incredibly long and any edge that allows a player to recover for a day game after a night game is going to become famous pdq.

  3. Ryan says:

    A lot of hockey players are big guys, but they aren’t ‘steroid’ muscular by any stretch… one could argue that the majority of hockey players aren’t that muscular at all compared to the athletes of other sports. If players are taking steroids, the dosing is not for size but for recovery from exertion and injury. This is pretty typical in a lot of sports, especially ones that require speed or have weight classes.

    But really, if we’re going to start a discussion about performance enhancers in hockey, it’s stimulants we should be talking about rather than anabolics.

  4. Asiaoil says:

    You know the whole Barry Bonds thing is soooooooooooo hypocritical that I’m actually cheering for the guy. These days you would think that Bonds was the only guy juicing for the last 20 years – it was EVERYWHERE in MLB. If you question the Bonds record then every other record broken in the last 20 years is also up for the asterisk treatment.

  5. choppystride says:

    I would be very surprised if performance enhancement drugs is not widely used in hockey. With the lax testing & big money involved, the reward/risk ratio is just too great. While using steroids to add bulk is probably would not the most useful endeavours for the majority of the players, I can definitely see the benefits of taking something like EPO, which enhances both aerobic & anaerobic capacities. These kinds of drugs have been known to be taken by soccer players & cyclists – not exactly the most muscular athletes.

    I have to say, whenever I see some hockey player (esp a veteran), who comes back from a “summer of intense training” and can suddenly seem to skate faster than ever before and does not ever seem to get tired, it always makes me wonder….

  6. Lowetide says:

    choppystride: Agree. Someone like Selanne spent so much time in the middle of his career playing at a level well below his peak that it became an established level.

    THEN he did something and his career has gone back up to a very high level again. I believe Selanne credited a new skate and there’s no reason to question him but there’s an example of a player who has had unusual success after a long period of mediocrity.

  7. Dennis says:

    I’m also rooting for Bonds to break the record, if for no other reason then it will expose Bud. He was willing to pay the price to have the game back in the public’s good books after ’94 and now with Barry getting closer and closer, the bill’s about to come due.

  8. Asiaoil says:

    Got to admit the Selanne numbers are just so far out of the ordinary that they odd. How does a guy who is on a “normal” career path that sees his production decrease in his early-mid 30s suddenly start scoring just as well as his prime late 20s years at 36? Plus he had major reconstructive knee surgury didn’t he?

    Look I love Selanne – but his numbers are very strange and I can’t think of another player who did something like this off the top of my head.

  9. PDO says:

    So my question is, that never seems to get brought up…

    Why the hell are the pitchers immune from all the criticism?

    If we find out most pitchers were on juice in one form or another as well, then should Bonds be punished by anything more than the league averages in nicking his numbers?

    And what happens if steroids are created 15 years from now with no ill side effects? Are the banned? Or legal? What about protein powder? Omega 3-6-9? Coffee? Red Bull? What’s the difference? Where is the line drawn?

  10. Bank Shot says:

    Selanne credits his knee surgery during the layoff to his renewed vigour.

    He said before the year long layoff he had been playing in constant pain which kind of killed his lust for the game.

    His drop off was abrupt enough to lend some credibility to his words. I mean 5th in league scoring at 29 to 32 points at 33 doesn’t seem like a natural decline due to age.

  11. Art Vandelay says:

    if race isn’t part of it, why is Barry Bonds treated like the devil while Roger Clemens gets a free pass? he’s every bit the egomaniacal dickhead.

  12. jon says:

    What Bank Shot said regarding Selanne. Got a total re-construction and cleaning of the knee with sufficient time to let it heal due to the lockout.

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