Wednesday, August 23, 2006
The Dave Barry of sports writing, but dumber
More of teh silly, courtesy of ESPN's 'The Sports Guy':
SG: Glad you brought up Big Mac -- I stumbled across some highlight of him and Sammy doing their complicated/awkward handshake thingie and found myself thinking, "Was that really only eight years ago?" That's the fastest a sports moment has ever become dated. Seriously, it's like staring at a picture of a Negro League baseball team. Only eight years ago, not only were these guys humongous heroes, not only were they widely credited for helping to save baseball, but nobody had a clue that something fishy was potentially going on. It's crazy. It's like being a 13-year-old kid and remembering when you were 5 and still thought Santa Claus was real. What a bummer.Yeah. Sort of like how Enron completely blindsided us. Futures-trading corporate sleazeballs were cooking the books?!?! Professional athletes were using steroids?!?!? Sausage is made ... how?!?!??!?!1112lk3j2l1k11!!!!tobeornottobe!!@#!!!!???? Is there one person in the entire history of everything who could have possibly known this???!???!
Anyway, he continues:
In a way, I can understand why Giants fans still defend Bonds so rigorously. It goes much deeper than being in denial -- by admitting what happened, they would be admitting that every good memory he brought them over the last eight years was a complete sham. They HAVE to defend him. They HAVE to support them. I feel bad for the Giants fans. For instance, let's say someone reported tomorrow that Big Papi had been using HGH for the last three years. Know what I would do? Pooh-pooh the report. "No way. Couldn't be. They're full of crap." That's what I'd say. How else can you react? I'm getting depressed. ...No, Sports Guy, Giants fans do not defend Bonds because we are five-year-olds in denial over him using performance enhancing drugs. It's obvious he did, though it would be nice if somebody could get either a piss test or a court ruling that proved he did PEDs that were either against the stated rules of baseball at the time he did them or purchased/used illegally in the United States at the time he did them, or both.
Giants fans, or at least the ones I am familiar with, defend Bonds against being made Public Enemy No. 1 and Grand Mugwump and Official Lightning Rod of the Dastardly Order of Steroid Scapegoats. Which is actually a different thing.
Which brings us back to the ridiculous assertion that "nobody had a clue that something fishy was potentially going on" during the Big Mac-Sammy Summer of '98. Lots of people had a clue. Especially people who were involved in making money off baseball, from all the other players besides McGwire and Sosa (and Bonds) who also used PEDs to the owners of baseball teams to knowledgeable media types who generated lots of ad-friendly product from baseball.
McGwire had a giant bottle of andro prominently displayed in his locker, fer crissake! Ben Johnson got busted a full ten years earlier! Steve Courson blew the lid off the NFL's dirty little secret in 1991!
The point being, Bonds did not invent PEDs and was not the first athlete to use them. What's more, when he was using them from 1999 to whenever he presumably stopped, he almost assuredly faced competition more saturated with PED use than at any other time in baseball history ... thus rendering a trifle overblown all of the clutching of pearls over his approaching the home run record as if he alone possessed the Atom Bomb of steroids while those he played against got by on oatmeal, tossing around a medicine ball and good old-fashioned grit.
So, yeah, we defend Bonds, but not because his obvious PED use somehow makes "every good memory ... over the last eight years was a complete sham". Why would we consider those memories a complete sham when the sport at the time didn't give a shit about steroid use? Ben Johnson knew he was going to have to piss in a cup after every race, whereas baseball players were given a wink and a nudge by the very arbiters of their sport.
That's got to count for something in our assessment of Bonds, McGwire, Sosa and the rest of them. Consider the options of an athlete over the past couple decades: a. Do steroids, stonewall about it and get branded a scumbag by the self-righteous; b. Fess up about your steroid use and get blackballed as a stoolie by your sport; or c. Don't do steroids and resign yourself to life as a career minor leaguer.*
Then again, the Sports Guy liked it better when he still believed a magical fat man in a red suit delivered him toys. That's some pretty remarkable devotion to being ignorant. I'm not sure if he'll ever get any of this.**
*I almost forgot d. Don't do steroids*** and be a complete asshole about it (see: Schilling, Curt)
**Lest anyone think I'm so cynical as to demean the loss of innocence ... I'm not. It's just that I think it's kind of pitiful that the Sports Guy equates finding out that yes, Virginia, people are human, with the unmasking of various supernatural bunnies and fairies and elves who inexplicably give you crap.