Friday, December 3, 2004


Why does Mr. Average Fan have such contempt for today’s athlete??  Well, because they ruin everything.  We just had the Boston Red Sox make a historic comeback on their hated rivals, then go on to win their first World Series in 86 years.  We currently have in the NFL THREE 10-1 teams and Peyton Manning putting up sick passing numbers.  NCAA hoops has tipped off and we have a ton of outstanding teams that have legit shots at winning the title.  The NBA is as wide open as it has been in over a decade. 


Then, we have a Pacers vs. Pistons fans melee that has put the sports world in shock.  A day later, we have a brawl between South Carolina and Clemson.  We have Ricky Williams in and out of the NFL news with his garbage.  We’ve had coaches quitting and being fired….even if they got their team into bowl games.   We have a Kobe Bryant civil case, a Jayson Williams retrial, an NHL lockout, a looming NBA lockout, a BCS mess, Maurice Clarrett, and a ton of NCAA hoops program issues.  Now this.


So….now it breaks.  Statements made before a federal grand jury in the BALCO case are coming to light.   Here is my take, bit by bit, on this whole mess:



No.  Usually, where there is smoke…there is AT LEAST a mini fire.  Sometimes those fires explode.  All you need to do is see the sudden spike in the numbers these guys are putting up.  Smaller stadiums, bad pitching and diluted talent have all contributed to this….but there were times in baseball history that those things happened as well. 



I’ve been on both sides of the fence with Barry.  I’ve used this forum to shout my displeasures about Bonds…and I’ve also sung his praises.  His numbers are simply amazing to me…no matter if he was on the juice or not.  I hoped not.  But, seeing those images of a slender Barry Bonds in his Pirates uniform against the hulking Bonds in his current Giants state is quite astounding [of course, in another POV, look at Tony Gwynn’s rookie physique against the one he retired with is comical as well].  He may indeed have a heck of a training regimen…but how do you stretch those muscles in your jaw and forehead??  How do you turn 35 years old and all of the sudden start doing things that no one else in the history of baseball are doing. 



Gee.  He shows up to spring training like 100 pounds lighter and has the worst year of his career.  Doesn’t sound like someone trying to get off the juice, does it??  Or the fact that he had weird medical issues including a PITUITARY problem, eh??   So now the Yanks are trying to get out of his contract.  I actually am not sure where I stand on this.  First off, the Yankees decided to overpay him because they knew no one else could.  So, they should have to deal with it.  I mean, they made that investment…and not all investments turn out for the better.   Of course, Giambi hasn’t held up to his part of the bargain as well.  Besides the steroids, he’s also a known party guy who loves to live it up.  “Live Like A Rock Star” he believes.  He does owe the Yankees to give everything he has to live up to his huge contract.  Of course, the Yankees…and everyone….knew this about Giambi in Oakland.  Yet the Yanks thought it was alright to bring him into the New York culture. 


You know….I’m not one for asterisks.  I mean, what is the point??  Does it really do anything except create arguments over which record is the real one??  I mean, did the Roger Marisasterisk mean anything??  Having said all of that….the asterisk is just there to notify in the history books of the “tainted record”.  Who among us won’t know of Barry Bonds and his steroid use??  And, in future discussions….this era could be known as the Age Of Steroids.   I mean, Jose Canseco, Ken Caminiti, Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds have all admitted to using steroids.  That is TEN MVP AWARD WINNERS admitting they were on the juice.  If we throw an asterisk on Bonds 700+ home runs or a justifiable one on his 73 HR season…then we need to throw asterisks all over the place.  Those MVP seasons.  Oakland’s 3 straight AL pennants.  Canseco’s 40-40 creation.  San Diego’s NL Pennant.  Possibly the 1997 Marlins World Series championship.   And we’d need to look at Mark McGwire’s achievements as well…since Andro, though not illegal when he was taking it, is so now.  He “retired” once Andro was banned from baseball [and most other sports] and looks remarkably different now then in his playing days.  Asterisks are not necessary since history may view today’s baseball as the Steroid Era. 



All these records broken or created during this Steroid Era, to me, are still records.  But they are tainted.  No matter what the discussion is….how can you look at Bonds HR numbers, Babe Ruth’sHR numbers and Hank Aaron’s HR numbers and believe they are equivalent?   All three did their time in completely different eras of baseball.   Babe Ruth was hitting more HR than other TEAMS were.  He was just so much better than everyone else.  But, he did play in an all-white era of baseball…which doesn’t stain his numbers [since he didn’t control who was allowed to play in MLB] but it does garner some attention.  He also played during a time where there were only 8 teams, shorter rotations and pitchers pitched entire games…which means Ruth saw the same pitchers over and over and with more of a tendency to be fatigued.  Bonds, as I said, did his during an era of steroids, small ballparks, chartered flights, interleague play, the addition of 4 more teams and smaller strike zones.   Aaron, who’s HR feat I admire the most, did his in an era where the NL went from 8 teams to 12 teams during his playing time.  Point is, you can find fault in all numbers.  The difference is that Bonds…ahem…knowingly cheated.  Ruth and Aaron didn’t. 


What is the MLB going to do??  Nothing.  They can’t.  They have a spineless leader against the strongest union in America.  I mean, with all of the talk of steroids in the labor deal of a few years ago….what happened??  After all of the pomp and circumstance, the baseball drug policy is an absolute joke.  That is why baseball is falling, the NFL is #1 and the NBA has risen.  Strong leadership.  Baseball doesn’t have that



Rest assured, there will be more coming out.  The most intriguing will be Marion Jones….since it involves a world class athlete in a sport that has a history of drug problems.  But, the biggest name…and the one we all were waiting for…has been outed.  And that really hurts our sports world as a whole. 

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