Bonds’ days as scapegoat done
It was all so simple before.
He’s what’s wrong with the game. He’s a jerk. He’s the problem. He’s the poster boy.
Not any more.
Two wrongs ” or 85, as the Mitchell Report concluded Thursday ” don’t make a right, but, boy, was that fun. Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Miguel Tejada and everyone implicated in baseball’s steroid scandal.
To paraphrase Richard Nixon, you won’t have just Barry Bonds to kick around any more.
Yes, Bonds likely did steroids ” do remember, he is entitled to a trial under a technicality of the legal system, something which many have forgotten. Yes, he played from 1993-2007 with my beloved Giants. Yet it has been long time coming that the spotlight moves off him. It was far to convenient to scorn Bonds and blame just him, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa for the steroid boom.
That practice went by the boards Thursday.
Whither The Rocket
One of the reasons Bonds has been target No. 1 of the steroid is that he was pursuing and broke Hank Aaron’s all-time homer mark. He was breaking all the records of the game while allegedly cheating.
Now, though, it gets fun.
What do we do about Clemens? This guy has seven Cy Young awards, or the exact same number of Most Valuable Player Awards Bonds has won. With 354 wins, he essentially holds the record for a modern-day pitcher. (Cy Young’s 511 wins are the product of a completely different era.) Clemens has 4,672 strikeouts, second only behind Nolan Ryan.
There’s no way The Rocket could have done any of this if he hadn’t allegedly started doing ‘roids back in Toronto in 1997 and 1998.
What’s really interesting is that a lot of the members of the baseball media are saying that Clemens and others named in the Mitchell Report should get a chance to prove their innocence. After all, the testimony against these players is based on informants facing jail time.
This seems to be deja vu all over again. Somehow, Bonds wasn’t afforded that opportunity when BALCO broke, not to mention that a lot of the witnesses were in the same situation as Brian McNamee and Kirk Radomski. Everyone just rushed to judgment in Bonds’ case, citing his increased head size and pointing the spike in his numbers.
Did anyone check to notice that Clemens has legs the size of tree trunks and that he managed to win four Cy Youngs after the age of 34? In a related development, Bonds won four MVPs after he turned 34.
The same year that Bonds hit his tainted 73 home runs in 2001, Clemens went a staggering 20-3 and won Cy Young No. 6 at the age of 39. In 2005, the guy had won just 13 games with a 1.87 ERA. If the Astros score any runs for him, that’s Cy Young No. 8 at 43.
None of this triggered the sniff test? Watching “SportsCenter,” “Baseball Tonight” analysts Steve Phillips and Tim Kurkjian talked about “whispers” that Clemens had been using steroids recently. How come these “whispers” are just that for Clemens and the equivalent for Bonds was assumed fact when the fecal matter hit the cooling device in 2003?
Longing for simpler days
Simple. If it was just Bonds, then you asterisk whatever he did and pretend that the steroid problem is over. Now it is no longer neat. If fact, steroids have made this really messy.
Former Met and Phiilie Lenny Dykstra is on this list? That would seem to indicate that performance enhancers go back to at least 1993, the year he finished second, ironically, in the NL MVP race to a clean Bonds. Steroids were being used before McGwire and Sosa went on their binge in 1998 and Bonds followed suit.
We’ve got 31 pitchers in the Mitchell Report which sort of makes it difficult to say for the integrity of the record book whether batters actually had a chemical advantage.
And if we really care about the integrity of the game, what do you do about pennants and World Series titles? In theory, that’s the whole point of the game. The Red Sox had Eric Gagne, a Mitchell Report-maker, on their roster when they won the Series. OK, bad example. He probably did more to help undermine Boston’s chances.
But with offenders on all 30 teams in baseball, you can argue that steroids influenced the outcome of the sport’s championship.
And here are the scariest names of all, though: Bobby Estella and Mark Carreon. If these completely insignificant players ” and former Giants ” allegedly did steroids, there have got to be many more. Thursday’s Mitchell report was only the tip of the iceberg.
That makes one long for the days when it was theoretically just that Barry Bonds guy being the poster boy for steroids.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or email@example.com.