Saturday, July 28, 2007

Yo, Meathead!

Well, we did it. On Wednesday, I picked up Ed in San Francisco and we went to the Palace of Fine Arts to participate in ESPN’s Beyond 756: An ESPN Town Meeting about Barry “Steroid Boy” Bonds and the home run record, hosted by the great Bob Ley. The panel was made up of three former Giants who played with or managed Bonds (Dusty Baker, Ellis Burks, and Kurt Reuter), as well as four reporters (Juan Williams, Lance Williams, Brian Burwell, and Buster Olney). Interestingly enough, Lance Williams is the co-author of the book on BALCO, Game of Shadows, that first detailed all the information on Bonds and his steroid use.

We had a lot of waiting (two hours’ worth) before we made it inside, but once in the theater, Ed moved quickly and secured us seats in the front row. There followed 90 minutes of debate in which the former players and manager answered every question by insisting Bonds was innocent since he hadn’t failed any drug tests. On the other hand, all the writers seemed to believe that Bonds was guilty of using steroids, and Burwell, of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, was especially vocal. There were also plenty of boorish Giants fans in the audience booing and hissing whenever the writers expressed an opinion and cheering when the former Giants said anything. Fortunately, I didn’t hear any of the booing when I watched the tape of the show later, so the microphones must not have picked it up.

As a humorous epilogue, I made it on TV—right before the last commercial break, the camera pans down the front row, and there I am, clapping. Pretty funny! We also took a few pictures after the show was over, so we’re posting a couple of them here.

SEASONINGS: I just want to say before I close this week that it’s a shame that the biggest U.S. sports all have scandals associated with them as we speak. In baseball, the home run chase is tainted by the allegations that Bonds pumped himself up artificially. In basketball, the betting scandal in NBA officiating deals a most serious blow to the league’s credibility. In football, the Michael Vick dogfighting charges are another black eye on the NFL. Across the globe in Europe, the Tour de France is racked with drugs and lies. It really seems that as we move toward the future, more people see sports strictly as “entertainment,” and no one cares if the players are criminals or cheats, as long as the audience is entertained. But I think all of this is disgraceful. I can’t believe that my views might be considered old-fashioned, but I still think that the sanctity of records and the integrity of a long history can be kept without sacrificing the entertainment factor. These games should really be about players striving for the win as hard as they can on the talent they were born with. What could be more exciting than that?


Star said...

I see a parallel between sports and politics - no surprise that people turn a blind eye to the crimes and scandals in the world of sports when they hardly care who is running the country. Your article is yet another thoughtful piece of meat!

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