Barry Bonds is now the new home run king. And for maybe the first time in the last 5 years, ESPN actually did some real reporting by talking with one of the authors of Game of Shadows about Barry's legacy. Although they also did their absolute best to drag Barry through the mud in what I wouldn't exactly describe as objective journalism. But when was I ever expecting objective journalism from ESPN anyway.
Of course most people out there aren't very happy. A roided up jackass athlete without much class has taken the home run record away from a dignified, classy, and clean player.
But quite frankly, the reason Barry's gotten to this record is because baseball and Bud Selig turned a blind eye on steroids for years. If you're partly responsible for helping create a monster, you shouldn't be surprised when it starts causing trouble. Or you should at least take your hands out of your pockets and actively do something. In other words, I have little sympathy for baseball.
People also wonder how in God's name those of us out here in the Bay Area can cheer for Bonds. Well, it's actually quite simple.
We all know Bonds is an asshole of the highest caliber. And we know he used steroids. But despite all of this, and the federal charges hanging over his head, he's been one of the most loyal athletes we've ever had in this city. And that definitely counts for something.
Since Bonds joined the Giants in 1993, we've had the privilege of watching arguably the greatest player in the history of the game. And for the most part, he's done it without complaining. And it's not like Bonds hasn't had reasons to complain. The Giants haven't always had the most fearsome lineups surrounding Bonds, and in almost every season since he joined the Giants, he's literally put them on his back and made them better than they would otherwise be. Watching him do that year after year, while he has remained intensely loyal to the Giants, has made him immensely popular in San Francisco. We should all be so lucky to have players as loyal as Bonds on our teams, even if they occasionally blame teammates for giving them amphetamines.
The primary reason we give Barry a pass here in San Francisco is because he's one of us. He grew up here. He has bloodlines here. He's maybe the greatest player ever and he's a part of the family. And you don't turn your back on family. Blood, after all, is thicker than water.
Think if Albert Pujols suddenly became embroiled in a steroids controversy. I'm pretty sure most of St. Louis Cardinals fans would still support him even though the rest of the country would boo him mercilessly. And that's ok. I'd understand why St. Louis would remain loyal to him. His ties aren't as deep to St. Louis as Bonds' are to the Bay Area, but Pujols is a special player to St. Louis.
It's also important to remember that Bonds isn't the only controversial athlete to ever put on a baseball uniform. Baseball has been rife with cheaters, gamblers, assholes, etc. And steroids are hardly the worst problem baseball has ever faced. Plus if Bonds were a football player, we wouldn't even be having this discussion because no one would care.
The problem is people seem to think that the sports world should be some kind of utopia where everyone's on a level playing field and always plays fair. But life isn't like that and neither are sports. There will always be people who bend the rules, if not completely break them, to gain an edge. Bonds isn't the first person to do this, and he certainly won't be the last.