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like they teach in class – Stones

There’s a great article in the current (March 28) issue of The New Yorker on the Barry Bonds trial, which is finally getting underway in San Francisco. It’s neither hit piece nor glowing defense, but subtly points to the absurdity of the time, breath, and millions of taxpayer dollars being wasted by the federal government, ostensibly to prove that a baseball player lied. The prosecution’s stated motivation, which also has something to do with protecting future generations of young athletes from the evils of steroids, is as big a lie as any Bonds ever told. What they’re really trying to do is put forth a message that any citizen with a fourth grade education could spot as daily-disproved bullshit: you can’t lie to the federal government.

Let’s get this out of the way quickly – of course Barry Bonds took steroids, lied about taking steroids, and is defiantly unapologetic. I won’t go in to matters of his public persona or where he ranks as a ballplayer from the Steroid Era versus those who came before him. I’ve covered this before; the second part is a baseball argument and as such can be debated in circles until soccer is officially declared our national pastime. And while his personality has appeared suspect at times, the collective indignant response that this has evoked might cause one to conclude that there’s a worldwide shortage of assholes – something I think we can all definitively conclude just isn’t the case. What’s considerably less palatable than any of this is the blatant hypocrisy on the part of those going after him hardest and claiming to be acting for the Higher Good as opposed to making money off his name to sell books or facilitate some blatant Uncle Sam posturing.

The government’s timing for the Bonds trial couldn’t be worse. They’re attempting to sell the public on the nobility of this costly pursuit while entrenched in some of the worst economic times in recent memory. They’re exposing incongruous testimony relating to a game while a president who won the Nobel Peace Prize before lifting a finger drops bombs on Libya. (Not to come down hard on Obama; he’s facing the same “not the job I signed up for” woes as all his predecessors. But squelching this exorbitant farce would seem exactly the kind of thing he foretold doing while campaigning for the gig.) And they’re doing it by utilizing Bonds’s polarizing surliness as a rich, high profile athlete and hiding behind the sanctimonious veil cloaking this perpetuated myth of the Purity of Baseball.

The New Yorker piece, written by Ben McGrath, insinuates some of this with a certain grace and eloquence that I couldn’t pull off. It’s entitled King of Walks, a fitting metaphor for Bonds’s approach to being prosecuted and nod to what I always considered a more impressive aspect to his game than than his hitting – his practiced refusal to swing at a bad pitch. The article also does a nice job of putting steroids in past, current, and potentially future perspective, referencing Hank Aaron’s use of amphetamines and the often overlooked point behind Jose Canseco’s tell-all book. At the center of it is Bonds and a between-the-lines message that seems clear, both for those who hated him and loved to watch him play. “Yeah I did what I did, but you aren’t going to use me to make your point and you sure as hell could never hit a baseball like I could.” With all the lies out there, there must be better begging exposure.

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  1. Cookie Rojas wrote:

    you’ve got to give it up for Greg Anderson. Talk about taking a bullet. Didn’t realize until I read it today that he and Bonds played little league together. That’s a loyal friend and there’s the story with in the story

    Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Permalink
  2. admin wrote:

    I have no idea as to Anderson’s motivation. He’s known Bonds a long time, but Bonds doesn’t seem particularly close to anybody. Anderson has to have accurate insight to what percentage of the players were juiced during that era, and as such the degree to which they’re making an example of Bonds. It would be nice to think the guy’s willing to go that far just to expose the league’s hypocrisy and the Fed’s bullshit .. but I kind of doubt his reasons are that altruistic.

    Thursday, March 31, 2011 at 11:33 am | Permalink
  3. Cookie Rojas wrote:

    Maybe so. I just finished the new yorker article. It’s difficult to separate what is real and what is journalistic license. From the article no one seems too sympathetic. You think he’s getting a pay day at the end? I still say there is an amazing story that may never be told about real human motivations? Did you read about the testimony of his childhood friend who bought his clothes?

    Sunday, April 3, 2011 at 11:30 pm | Permalink
  4. admin wrote:

    Yeah – she was quite resentful of her brother who ‘ratted her out’ and forced her in to testifying. I liked that the New Yorker article was unsympathetic to all involved .. I have no stake in Bond’s legacy or reputation, but I think the hypocrisy on the side of the government and MLB runs deep. And I have no reason to suspect that Anderson is getting paid off. I’m not sure I put that right when I said that his motivations might not be completely altruistic. Whatever the guy’s reasons he’s certainly put his ass where his mouth is (or in this case, where it isn’t.)

    Monday, April 4, 2011 at 12:56 am | Permalink

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