Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Indictment

Everyone had to see this coming. And no, I am not surprised--but it still hurts. Big Time.

Today's Indictment of Barry Bonds on Perjury and Obstruction of Justice Charges--Officially Marks much of the past decade of Professional Baseball--AS A JOKE. This is not a pretty sight. Sure, its been rumored for some time, and written about in the terrific book--Game of Shadows. But now--The Current All Time Home Run King is, Officially, alleged to have lied about taking Steroids. Legal proceedings are beginning against him. Like those players exposed already and certainly more to come in the future--without any more doubt--Baseball OFFICIALLY turned its back on a serious problem in the mid-90's--in order to regain market share after a DEVASTATING STRIKE in 1994.

And, to Rake in The Big Bucks.

The Players are not all to blame here.

For Glory, Fame & Riches--Baseball Fans were duped.

Now--Major League Baseball looks foolish. And, we all must suffer.

Players Cheated--The Baseball Establishment allowed it to happen.

As of today--November 15, 2007--Major League Baseball is a FAR lesser game.

No American Sport so rich in History.

No American Sport so tied to its very own Statistics.

No American Sport now so saddled with its Record Book in Disarray.

Never again can ANY TEAM from past or future decades of Major League Baseball be compared to teams from the last 10 Years. That's a shame. Never again can Baseball Fans enjoy conversation over who was The Better Hitter? Who was The Better Team? Or, Who was The Better Player?--when it comes to baseball's performers over the past ten years.

For Years and Decades to come--the arguments will rage. Do you erase records and statistics by those that were caught? Or, do you allow those tainted marks to stand?

There is no real answer. Because--if you expunge any record, by any individual who may have cheated--you must wipe out EACH AND EVERY GAME PLAYED over a certain period of time. Baseball is too intertwined. Any outcome on the field--is affected by more than just one dirty player. That's the truth. Never, could anyone come to a reasonable conclusion on this fact.

Unless Major League Baseball wipes out most of the past decade of Major League Seasons--EVERY SINGLE RECORD--even those of Barry Bonds--will have to stand. Fans will have to live with these falsehoods--whether they like it or not--which I certainly don't. The Dishonesty over most of the past ten years--tears into the very fabric of the game itself.

Yes--An Asterisk should be placed next to Bonds' records--whether he's convicted, or not. But, Major League Baseball needs to place an asterisk, as well, over each and every one of its own Championship Seasons since the mid to late 1990's. Nothing short of that--will really be telling the truth!!

What A Shameful Day for Major League Baseball. Their House--So Out Of Order--to allow this to FESTER. Commissioner Selig--this happened on Your Watch!! And, you only seemed to care--when The Federal Government threatened your owners. What a farce.

Like most everyone--my head has not been in the sand on The Issue of Steroids. No, I have not been in denial. The Tragedy of its rampant use in the game I love, has bothered me for some time. And Now--the Most Treasured Of Baseball Records of My Favorite Sport--will NEVER BE THE SAME.

Sorrowful--is the only way to describe my feelings this evening.

Yet, The Indictment of Barry Bonds does allow for one Major Step to Begin--Finally--after so much pain.

The Healing of The Great Game.


Jim H said...


This game's resiliency has been tested before, and passed. Cheating has been a part of this game since its inception, and will continue to be.

Comparing hitters, pitchers and fielders from different eras are exercises in futility. Fun - but futile. Athletes are better by the very nature of the modern era. Better training, better equipment, better medicine and yes...better ways to cheat.

There are athletes that disappoint us today...just as they did decades ago.

The practical results of the steroids seem to be unquestioned: more power, more ability to bounce back from injury, etc.

But the practical results of different era were there, too. The "Dead Ball" era. The "Juiced Ball" era. The immediate impact on pitching and hitting upon lowering of the mound after the 1968 season. The enlarging of the fielders' gloves...etc.

You still have to hit a round ball squarely with a round bat, and pitch the ball over the plate.

All records and performance are a product of the times, players and circumstances. So yes, in the future we'll say the hitters weren't really as powerful as the numbers indicated in the '90s and '00s. We'll discount many of the numbers over this time period. But we already do that all the time for other "factors" from other eras (smaller stadiums, expanded leagues, coddled 5 inning pitchers, etc).

It's still a great game. What happens on the field should be counted. Era begets era...and the telling of the stories, the heros, the goats the thrills and the great disappointments goes on.

Anonymous said...

SBF --

My take on the records is that we're counting the number of times something happened, whether it's a home run, a stolen base, or what have you. That's something we can see, but there's always some kind of context. We had the dead ball, the segregated leagues, the WWII veterans, the expansion of the league and the lengthening of the season, and...the various ways to cheat.

When I think of the steroids issue, it's been there for a long time. We've had tell all books and interviews, perjury before a Congressional committee, and now a Congressional commission that intends to be thorough. As far as the indictment, it seems to be an indication that baseball hasn't cleaned up its house, so Congress and the courts will force the issue.

I think that in a large group of people under constant pressure to perform, it isn't surprising that some will be tempted to look for an edge somewhere. I think the issue has become the degree to which players and owners have not taken the issue of steroids seriously enough to address the issue, and make clear what is off limits and what is not. I fear that because baseball people have not made this decision, Congress and the courts will make it for them.

It saddens me to see professional baseball in this situation, of course. I'd like to see a team of good guys, role models take the field, play the game right, do the interviews, get involved with the community. At their best, I think professional athletes can be a good example of working as part of a team, practicing a talent and working hard over time (without giving up) for a goal. I find it encouraging that many players do seem to aspire to be good role models.

I think the going may be a bit rough for awhile, but baseball is still a great game. I don't think that will change.

paul said...

I kind of lost interest in the whole individual statistics race when I realized that players also need to be judged by how well they made their teammates play, which is much harder to judge for us outsiders. Guys like Kirk Gibson, by this measure, are better Hall of Fame candidates than many of the current 500 HR characters currently out there. Just ask any of Gibson's Tiger or Dodger teammates.

Although I don't feel sorry for Bonds, and I agree that baseball needs this kick in the rear, I feel ambivalent about the justice of this indictment. It was the end result of a chain events that began with his testimony being leaked, and out of all the bad guys out there, a steroids user really ranks way down the list. We have spent a ton of money on this case.

On a slightly related note, once again A-Rod, Bonds's presumed successor as HR king, has impeccable timing, announcing his rapprochement with the Yankees as Bonds enters the hall of infamy. These two are interesting bookends around our beloved sport.

Now that I've bloviated here I'd rather not think about these two again. I'll close my eyes and think of a sunny March 30. . . .

Anonymous said...

It was great timing to wait until the season was over. By next spring it will be mostly forgotten, but it can hardly be a surprise. Rather it is vindication for the game. It would have been much worse had the allegations never have been aired officially and baseball be seen as trying to quiet the whole affair. The Mitchell Report will be worse probably, but again, a great time to get it all out in the open. It may have a huge bearing on the free agent signing period as well. Surprise names will surface. It will not just be Bonds, though he is the worst.

SenatorNat said...

The commentary herein is masterful, poetic actually. Amazing blog, this Nats320 thing you spawned, SBF. I shall not try to improve on the sentiments expressed above, as they cover the landscape, and I concur with every word.

I do want to say that it has taken a President to spotlight this in what seemed like a classic non sequiter during a State of the Union message in the wake of a major attack on the U.S. (presenting in the Gallery that night Tom Brady as the poster child for playing professional sports straight-up); two crusading reporters in San Francisco, a la Bernstein and Woodward; a major melancholy congressional investigative hearing; and a four-year (on-going) Federal investigation of BALCO before Selig felt the handwriting was on the wall for MLB action!

Selig could replace those turtles on the Comcast ads - so wedded to inaction until long past when a true leader acts he seems across the board. We who suffered during the saga that eventuated into Nationals baseball know all too well what a "timeline" means to this Rip Van Wingle...

Bonds is certainly the Giant symbol for the Steroid Age, as well he should be, since he married his own extraodinary ability with a well-honed regimen of bionic man-producing accomplishments in tearing past Baseball's historical sacred plateau power numbers.

First, 73 HRs in one season (!) by a guy whose age and new body made EVERYONE know that it could not be attributable merely to ability and saavy...(I can just here Warner Wolf crying: "73 - C'mon, and they tell us pro wrestling is fixed!!")Then, with the dark stormclouds of taint, investigation, and bring-down looming right over head, the breaking of the home run record with number 756 against the Nationals own quirky former steroid user.

Bonds is a "victim" of selective justice, perhaps, but he is more the victim of his own hubris, combined with the criminally lassez faire (LAZY) looking away for a decade of a former used car dealer in Milwaukee...

Trust in Baseball. All Good.

Anonymous said...

Your Blog beats Wilbon's, Lavaro, Zuckerman & Boswell's columns (just insert a columist name here)hands down!