No Asterisks for Barry Bonds, Please
by Burton S. Blumert by Burton S. Blumert
As a kid growing up in the frigid northeast, winter seemed without end. Any small sign of spring was dashed by the inevitable "surprise" snowstorm in early March. But there was one infallible symbol of spring’s inevitability,
"Baseball’s Spring Training camps open in Florida," blared the sport’s pages.
The headlines were reinforced with photographs of overweight pitchers and catchers descending upon sun-drenched fields. (They always came first.)
Baseball is a metaphor for renewal, for hope and optimism. As the fresh season nears, even last year’s losers start without a blemish, tied for first place. After all, look what the Boston Red Sox did last year.
To most New Yorkers in the 1940s and 50s, Florida was a mysterious paradise, with palm trees yet. The flocks of "snow-birds" migrating south was a decade or two away and Arizona had not yet been discovered by baseball’s moguls as a spring training alternative to southern Florida.
To most easterners Arizona was a place they sent you if you had trouble breathing.
Fans from small market cities like Milwaukee and Kansas City may never see their teams in a playoff, but, for those few weeks before the games start to count, they shed the loser’s mask and dare to believe this will be their year.
Such is the joy of baseball in the spring.
But not this year.
Major League baseball initiated a steroid testing program last week. Nobody showed much enthusiasm. The Player’s Union has always been wary of any such testing, and the owners’ primary concern remains "counting the house."
Commissioner "Bud" Selig, seemed near nausea at the press conference announcing Baseball’s great need to cleanse the game of "performance enhancing" drugs. This was the party line, and Selig was faithful to the script,
Everybody knows what’s going on here. This is a media generated fraud.
Baseball has no steroid problem!
BLUMERT’S BEAUTIFUL WIFE (BBW) "Did I hear right? You’ll get 10,000 angry e-mails on that one. Why do I suspect that Barry Bonds has something to do with all of this?"
As I patiently explained to my dear wife: steroids can have a critical impact on people who are "jerking and lifting 500 pounds," or, racing 100 yards in less than 10 seconds. To such folks a jolt of steroid juice could make a difference.
Those 300-pound behemoths that put on body armor for three hours every Sunday and are called "Linemen," can also be beneficiaries of a visit from the friendly "vitamin" dealer.
But not Major League baseball players. They would never benefit from the use of steroids over a 162-game season. Baseball is a slow, measured game. Things can get excruciatingly tense, but rarely is there need for an explosion of effort that would be abetted by a stab of steroids in the butt.
The media people know this. If they are appalled, yet fascinated by the use of steroids, let them spend their time monitoring Track and Field. They can compete for Pulitzer prizes every 4 years at the Olympics where there are enough "dopers" to go around.
Allow me to dwell a moment on that great American, the "sports writer." Most were nerds at college, jealous of the "jocks" they would later report about, hating them all the while. By temperament, they would be better suited writing obituaries.
My wife was right about one thing; Barry Bonds is the real target of the media’s attack on steroids and baseball. We know the media despises Bonds (see "All Baseball Players Are Mortal — Even Barry Bonds" and "Barry Bonds: The Baseball Superstar the Media Love To Hate") and this was their grand opportunity to mortally wound him.
"Bonds is a u2018cheater’ and an asterisk should be placed next to every one of his records," whine the media pygmies. Some of Bonds’s more vociferous critics would have his name expunged from the Record Book entirely.
Bonds has remained indifferent to the years of image-hammering the media has conducted. He’s done little off the baseball diamond to win friends and influence others. A charmer he’s not.
This may explain why people who should know better have succumbed to the media’s scurrilous attack on Barry’s accomplishments.
One absurd example is that steroids have enlarged Barry’s head by several hat sizes. You mean there are muscles on the skin side of the skull?
Maybe Bonds knew the "clear" he rubbed on his knees was an illicit substance; maybe not, but 2005 is his 20th year in the Major Leagues. For those who have been suckered by the media and would give credit to chemicals for his assault on Baseball’s hallowed records, I submit this brief overview of his career; what follows are Bonds’ production for his first 15 years and the last 5 (steroid years?):
– First 15 Years Last 5 Years Base Hits 2010 720 Stolen Bases 460 46 Bases on Ball 1430 872 Home Runs 445 258 Strike Outs 1112 316 All Star 9 4 MVP 3 4 Golden Glove 8 0
To the non- or casual baseball fan they may be just numbers, but to those of us weaned on baseball statistics, these are the "stats" of a super superstar.
Is Barry Bonds the best baseball player ever? I don’t know, but it’s the sort of debate that links the generations. Don’t let the loathsome media poison the well.