Friday, November 16, 2007

Here's Another Hit--Barry Bonds

It's happened. The hammer has fallen.

Barry Bonds was indicted yesterday on federal perjury and obstruction of justice charges. In English, that means that the federal prosecution believes they have enough evidence to show, in a court of law, that Barry lied to a government investigation. Lied about what? Did he say he was out of town during the murder?? Kind of. He said he never took steroids. Welllllllll bummer. Evidently his famous "Flaxseed Oil defense" simply got called out.

Sportswriters around the country must have been getting a little queasy. Famous Barry bashers like Gene Wojciechowski had been saying Bonds was guilty for four years. With each year, though, even as Barry's head still swelled, the indictment seemed to lose steam. Greg Anderson, Barry's personal trainer, vowed a vow of silence--even going to jail! His determination not be a snitch was admirable. (Of course, he was also looking out for his own arse.)

But Anderson was released from jail yesterday. The feds don't need him anymore. Although we don't know what evidence they have, we know it's good.

Predictably, Wojciechowski and others pulled out all the stops in their Barry hating in today's news. Here's Wojciechowksi's article. For good measure, here's the objective version (via the Washington Post).

But let's take it easy for a second. I know we're all happy that Bonds will be made to look like a total fool for the next few months. I know we're all excited to hear his lawyer make stupid excuses like saying the feds were out to get them (well duh) and then, like Vick's "I'm innocent" BS turning into "I'm sorry" repentance, have him look into America's eyes and apologize for ruining the game for us all.

That's the thing. Barry didn't ruin the game for us all. He was just the best player who used roids. The real tragedy is that so many players--from high school to college to single A to the pros--felt that taking steroids was justifiable. It's disgusting. It's a true tragedy--not something to celebrate.

So when I saw ESPN's breaking coverage of the saga last night, I didn't get so excited. We all know that he's not going to jail for 30 years or anything like that. And even if so, it's still sad. It's sad that he's the one who has had to take the brunt of a calamity so much bigger than him. I know he's cockier than Kanye and more contemptible than Pacman Jones, but that doesn't make his downfall something to celebrate.

I would rather see the BALCO guys, and the inventors of all the undetectable roid crap, get the real punishment.

Barry will go down. Hard. And he deserves it. I sincerely hope one day he has that press conference where he'll have to look at all the reporters whom he alienated and frustrated through years of volatility; I hope he has to meet with representatives of the Giants, and of San Francisco more generally, and confront the only people in the world who maintained their trust in him. But I do feel sorry for him. We all should feel sorry for him.

I remember when I saw him at RFK a few months ago. I didn't know whether to boo or cheer--I was terribly conflicted. I won't lie: I booed and then I cheered and then I booed and then I booed. It was a 3:1 ratio. But I still cheered because damn that guy can hit, and for god's sake he's the home run king!! It's like even if you hate George W. Bush, you don't spit at him if you have the chance to meet him. You show your respect.

Now? I feel the same. I'll boo Barry, sure, but mostly I'll boo the whole paradigm: the generation of athletes who thought it OK to take shortcuts in their sport. That's the real issue, that's the true tragedy.

(Thanks to J Heezy and Lil Weezy for the title)