(Note: I originally posted this blog entry on my Yahoo! GeoCities blog on July 31, 2007.)
Not much has been going on in the last three weeks, aside from turning 35 earlier this month. So I thought I'd dig through more of my older (1999-2006) journal entries, and found this one from March 17, 2006. At that time, a book had just come out that not only stated that Barry Bonds used steroids, but talked about the lengths that he went to for the sake of "performance enhancement." Not long afterwards, I sent an "open letter" to Bonds imploring him to walk away from baseball. Now that he's on the verge of tying (and surpassing) Hank Aaron's record for career home runs, I thought I'd share it with you here.
(begin March 17, 2006 journal entry)
A number of years ago, when steroids were the big story in football (remember the late Lyle Alzado?) and the Olympics (Ben Johnson), I could never have imagined that they would someday taint baseball. Why? Baseball had an unwritten code of honor. You know, the one that lays down that you should never bunt when the opposing pitcher is working on a no-hitter. The one that says that the game must continue until there is a winner. The one that says that rubbing your dog's hair on your manager's chest is (as Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott did with then-manager Lou Piniella)... just plain gross, and creepy at that.
Remember 1998, when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were going after the home run record (and both ultimately passed Maris, with McGwire establishing the new record)? People were saying the ball was juiced as a way for Major League Baseball to regain fans it lost in the infamous labor impasse of 1994-95. Some might have even said pitchers were being paid under the table to "groove one." But the players? Baseball, arguably the oldest of America's major sports, was supposed to be above that crap. Steroids in baseball was as unthinkable as steroids in chess.
The good news is, neither they nor Barry Bonds totally erased Babe Ruth or Roger Maris from the record books. To this day, the record for most home runs by a left-handed batter still belongs to Ruth. And Roger Maris still holds the American League record for most home runs in a season (albeit with that 162-game asterisk).
Now. On to Bonds himself.
I was pleasantly surprised when the SoCal Maulers selected Barry Bonds this past Sunday night. Why? Not because I ever thought Bonds was innocent, rather the reverse. It was because I didn't want to ever face the dilemma of whether to select him. I keep of spreadsheet of available players, along with fantasy dollar values from three different sources, and next to Bonds, I had the following note: "Screw it. This guy should leave baseball right now."
I read that he had been envious of McGwire and Sosa, and that's why he started using them in 1998. And I realize what else was on the line--money, pure and simple. The want of wealth is the root of all evil, and certain individual players saw steroids as a necessary evil. But Bonds took that abuse to a whole new level, using stuff that was invented for animals, using several substances at once. I have no reason to believe that Game of Shadows is a fabrication. In my opinion, I view it as a lurid expose in the same league as the Woodstein investigation of the Watergate scandal.
Following is an open letter from me to Barry:
You were once in the same league as your fellow players. The son of Cardinals slugger Bobby Bonds and the godson of the greatest centerfielder of all time, Willie Mays, you were among the best. You earned what was, at the time, the richest contract in baseball history when you signed with the San Francisco Giants. One could even argue that you helped solidify the team's future by the Bay when they recently had been ticketed for Tampa Bay (and one can only imagine how awfully such a move would have backfired).
But that wasn't good enough for you, apparently. What's more, in San Francisco lay a huge part--if not the heart--of this whole disgrace, BALCO. You may have chosen to take certain substances they offered--the "Cream" and the "Clear" come to mind--but before that could happen, a certain Mr. Conte had to offer them to you.
When we saw you clubbing home runs in 2001, we thought maybe you had boiled hitting down to a science. Now we have found out that you used science to turn yourself into a fraud.
I'm not saying that your contributions to the San Francisco Giants--or all the fantasy teams you played for (including a certain rotisserie squad called Marcou de Sod that beat out 21 other teams, mine included, in 2004)--should be erased.
However, your pursuit of Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron has been exposed for what it is--a sham. To allow this sham to continue would be like re-electing George W. Bush as President. (D'oh!) Your individual legacy is tarnished, but you can take a little of that tarnish off by realizing what you and other players are doing to the game you love--a game the world loves. Walk away from the game right now. (The same goes for Rafael Palmeiro. As for the others, I'm hoping the new steroid policy turns out to be more than some showpiece, but I'm skeptical. Bud Selig presided over baseball when the whole steroid thing began, after all, at a time when the sport was still recovering from something else bad that happened on his watch--the 1994 strike.)
If you hear anything from Mark Pede or Mike Papay--a couple of guys in the same aforementioned rotisserie league as Marcou de Sod, who drafted you last Sunday night--tell them you're sorry, but you had no other choice. Besides, I wasted more money on Robb Nen a few years ago, and I managed to overcome that; so can Mark and Mike.
Thank you for your time.
(end March 2006 journal entry)
Whoever said "Ignorance is bliss," probably meant to say something like, "Knowledge can be hazardous to your happiness."
Another wish of mine has come to fruition: A week ago, the first season of Benson was released on DVD. I hope the other seasons are released down the road (although I could live without the seventh and final season, which was mostly crappy).
On the other hand, Warner Brothers still hasn't released seasons 2-4 of Life Goes On, and are using the lackluster sales of the first season as an excuse; thing is, they deliberately undermarketed that first season to keep sales down. And anyway, what is so gosh-darn expensive or hard about putting a few more seasons onto a few discs of plastic, considering that the hardest and most expensive part--producing the show itself--was already done 15 years ago?