It's pile-on time. Barry Bonds is the easy target of everyone's self-righteousness ... again. Selig says he won't acknowledge officially any records Bonds breaks from here on out. Fans are waving signs with asterisks. Even Frank DeFord is getting in on the action, and he should know better.
I'm not saying it isn't terribly disappointing to me -- a baseball fan, a Giants fan, a Barry fan -- to have to admit that yes, Barry is probably juiced to the nines. I'm just wondering ... I'm I the only one to notice that he isn't - and hasn't been - alone? How can you single one guy out just for wanting the same advantages his closest peers have? Where are the asterisks on Sosa's career? Where are the asterisks - and the boos - on Jason Giambi? Why on earth is Mark McGuire the anti-Bonds?
McGuire is, if anything, the proto-Bonds. Except he was never as good. So it was spectacularly unfair for Bonds, the better all-around player, to be overshadowed by McGuire, who was only exceeding Bonds' numbers through substance abuse. Bonds wanted to even the playing field - if both were juiced, we'd be able to see who was REALLY better. Sure, the motivation shouldn't be on personal records - but everyone who says that also can't peel their eyes off a good home-run record race. And if its OK for McGuire to pursue a personal record, why not Bonds?
DeFord made a good point recently - let everyone use steroids. That way, you'll level the playing field. In a way, that's what Bonds did. J.T. Snow could take steroids and never be the hitter Bonds is. Bonds is superior, steroids or no.
It comes down to what it has always come down to: the press and the public (except Giants fans who are, for the most part, way smarter than anyone else) don't like Barry because he isn't publicly cuddly. The irony is, by all accounts, he is privately sweet-natured and generous. Whereas McGuire, who was a straight-up bastard in real life, according to people in a position to know, was a smiley good-guy for the cameras. McGuire was a fake. Bonds is the real thing.
No one wants Bonds to beat Ruth's record, but not because they think him an inferior batsman. It's because it isn't as easy to picture Bonds being your best pal, big brother, or Dad. And yes, I also think race has to do with it. We forgive fewer flaws the darker you are.
The fact is, Barry is only playing the game other big hitters have been playing for years. And nothing would have come of it if it weren't for Bonds' remarkable natural talent (you can only augment something that already exists) and longevity.
Selig is making a huge mistake if he shuns Barry and ignores the records. It will then be Selig, not Barry, who has ruined the game for all of us. Look how willing we've been for decades to look the other way, to pretend not to notice the obvious. Let US decide how to remember Barry Bonds. I may celebrate him as the greatest ballplayer I ever had the good fortune to watch play; the next guy may consider him a stain on the game. At least we both get to see it our way.