Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Since the first article I wrote about Barry Bonds, more articles have come out both criticizing him (too little, too late) and, amazingly, defending him.
The most defiant is Jemele Hill from ESPN. A black woman sportswriter, her article, "The Indictment of Bonds is Just Plain Wrong" begins as defiant as Bonds himself, stating that you would assume that she defends Bonds because she is black, and that we would be wrong. She later does, in fact, pull "the race card" to defend Bonds.
However, race isn't her biggest problem; it's logic. A quote: "For now, let's focus on something even bigger than race -- the unbelievably deep hypocrisy that has fueled the federal government's pursuit of Bonds for four years. The decision to indict Bonds on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, a charge I still don't understand, considering the government didn't need Bonds to topple BALCO -- isn't right, fair or just."
Ignoring the fact that she admits to not understanding why the government would give Bonds total immunity for his testimony, then indict him when he broke the agreement, the bigger question is, "why would it be hypocritical to go after Bonds?" Ms. Hill's claim is that Bonds wasn't the biggest criminal; there were bigger. Victor Conte, who ran BALCO, she claims isn't facing as stiff a punishment as Bonds. Well, maybe so. But Conte agreed to a plea deal and more important, didn't lie in his testimony. The charges Ms. Hill can't understand, the perjury and obstruction of justice, wouldn't exist if Bonds had simply told the truth.
More quotes: "Bonds -- who wasn't the first baseball player to take performance-enhancing drugs...who played against players taking the same drugs as him...-- is facing prison time and will be anointed the primary culprit of an era he didn't create."
The logic of this is truly freakish. Al Capone didn't create gangsterism, and surely competed against (and killed) other gangsters. Should he be free from prosecution because he didn't create the crime he committed? The point is moot, because to repeat, Bonds crime wasn't steroids; it's the perjury and obstruction of justice.
Ms. Hill continues to either willfully ignore the issues and obfuscate, or just plain doesn't understand them. She even bizarrely drags President Bush into the fray, implying that his interest in the steroid scandal is "intriguing" considering that when he co-owned the Texas Rangers, some of his players used steroids.
Then she plays the race card, claiming Bonds' biggest crime was not playing the grateful black man. She then brings out the worst example possible. "Gary Sheffield, while not the most eloquent speaker, alerted us to the obvious -- that MLB has a certain amount of economic control over Latino players because it plucks them from their home countries so they won't have to pay hefty signing bonuses in the draft."
Ignoring the fact that Gary Sheffield is a world-renowed malcontent and moron, I'll attack the financial facts of this argument. Two years ago, the Mets signed two Latin American prospects to the tune of 2 million in signing bonuses. They were both 16 years old.
Then last year, the Nationals signed a shortstop from Latin America to a reported 1.6 million signing bonus. The Yankees signed a catcher from Venezuela named Jesus Montero to a reported 2.2 million dollar signing bonus. He was 16 at the time. Seems to me they are paying hefty signing bonuses...to unproven 16-year-olds.
Exponentially increasing signing bonuses aside, didn't the Red Sox pay over 100 million dollars for Daisuke Matsuzaka? The point being: Major league ballclubs will pay top dollar for anyone who can help them win. Money isn't the issue, talent is.
Ms. Hill continues her race diatribe. "Why didn't the government pursue the past that Mark McGwire wasn't eager to talk about? Why does MLB seem to have only a passive interest in Paul Byrd?" To retort to Ms. Hill: Didn't the Feds invade the home of Jason Grimsely, a white pitcher? Didn't the Feds offer Bonds the exact same deal they offered Jason Giambi?
Perhaps the point could be better-made by another ESPN reporter. Howard Bryant, African-American himself, chastises the Bonds' defenders and the thought that race is a major part of the BALCO case.
"In the BALCO case, there were numerous defendants and many targets...but nobody associated with BALCO has escaped cleanly. Bonds is the last domino. He and his trainer, Greg Anderson, are the only ones still standing from BALCO who haven't either pleaded guilty, cooperated fully, or both; and that explains the treatment given Bonds."
He continues: "At one point in December 2003, Bonds and Jason Giambi were in the same position. But Bonds chose, in the eyes of the feds, to lie. Neither was to be charged with any crimes if they told the truth in a private setting, under oath."
Mr. Bryant's logic is as strong as Ms. Hill's is faulty. Ms Hill writes, "What-about-them arguments are normally despicable, but to ignore that Bonds was part of an ensemble cast is foolish and lacks perspective."
As Mr. Bryant wrote, Bond's indictment isn't about his being singled out. It's about his arrogance, his belief that he could bully prosecutors. Mr. Bryant writes persuasively: "It is a power game; and against individuals who possess such staggering degrees of wealth, only the federal government -- with its resources, subpoena authority and moral muscle -- has the power to make them accountable. That miscalculation, more than any racial bias, is the root of Bonds' downfall."
Amen. No matter how defenders of Bonds angle and obfuscate the argument, the undeniable truth is, he had a chance to avoid all this and struck out.