Sunday, November 18, 2007

Yo, Meathead!

Hi, everybody!

I’ve been running like crazy this holiday season—just got back to California from our new house in Seattle (no, we have not officially moved yet), and I’m on my way to Connecticut to visit the family for Thanksgiving. While I was up in Washington, I see that Barry Bonds went and got himself indicted. Boo hoo! Since Ed masterfully covered the specifics in his last post, I thought I’d just put up this opinion piece from last Friday by George Vescey of the New York Times. What a great piece! I especially like the part about A-Rod. (Nice to see that Scott Boras finally screwed one of his own clients royally!) Even though I don’t like A-Rod much myself, I, too, would root for him to break Bonds’s home run record any day—at least until there is evidence that the Mighty Rodriguez himself used something illegal! (Not that I’m saying he did….)

So, enjoy!

The Truth Could Have Set Bonds Free

by George Vecsey

This day never had to come for Barry Bonds. He could have avoided yesterday’s indictment by parceling out just enough truth to satisfy a grand jury.

Back when the first grand jury was convened in 2003, Bonds could have quivered a bit and said he had been a bad slugger by going for the quick fix and deceiving the American public. He could have promised to never do it again. And he could have walked, free to break Babe Ruth’s record and Henry Aaron’s record without this infamy hanging over him. Americans love a good confession.

But the truth is not in Barry Bonds, who is so far outside the limits of reality that he did not see the advantage to a little show of humility, a little flash of honesty.

Instead, he put a spin on his connection with the notorious Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative. Now he has been indicted, not for using performance-enhancing drugs, but on four counts of perjury involving his testimony to a grand jury and one count of obstruction of justice.

Right now it is not clear if this grand jury will take up the suspicions raised in The San Francisco Chronicle about Bonds’s possible liability for tax evasion for over $80,000 in cash income. That could be a separate case.

At the moment, Bonds is in more trouble for lying than for whatever he used from the chemists at Balco. Despite the visual evidence that players were bulking up, baseball did not get around to imposing testing and penalties for performance-enhancing drugs until Bonds’s home run totals were as swollen as his cap size and his shirt size.

He is stuck on 762, unlikely to ever get another job offer. The ludicrous joke here is that Alex Rodriguez, who on Wednesday was baseball’s No. 1 egomaniac, groveling back to the Yankees, has now become baseball’s great clean hope.

After allowing his agent to publicly stiff the Yankees during the World Series, Rodriguez is apparently close to agreeing to a new contract that would include a hefty bonus for breaking the career home run record of the aforementioned Barry Bonds.

A-Rod is not the only Yankee who reeks of contradiction. The Yankees also own the services of a shell of a player named Jason Giambi, who set the public example to Bonds of how to flick away the aura of guilt.

Appearing before the original Balco grand jury, on Dec. 11, 2003, Giambi testified that he had taken steroids, human growth hormone and testosterone, and for apparently testifying truthfully he was granted immunity.

The grand jury was not after Giambi. It probably was not even after Bonds, even though Bonds (and the few supporters he has left) contend that the Balco investigation was always about getting him. This only shows how detached he is from reality.

“You use the consumer to build your case against the manufacturer,” Travis T. Tygart of the United States Anti-Doping Agency said last March, before he became chief executive of that agency. The hope is to keep harmful and illegal drugs from impressionable children and adults who are trying to emulate negative role models like Giambi and Bonds.

Giambi, the son of a banker, is a reasonable person. He understood that he would harm himself if he lied to a grand jury. He took some public criticism for a short time and then settled into his continual decline. Bonds strutted and denied and blustered and bullied, as he has done to most people around him all his life.

Probably Bonds’s greatest victim was Greg Anderson, his trainer, who went to jail because of his refusal to testify about Bonds’s involvement with Balco. Yesterday, shortly after Bonds was indicted, Anderson was ordered released from jail. It is not apparent whether Anderson finally sang or whether he had no more value to the investigators. The odds are heavy that Bonds will never make it up to Anderson for stalling the investigation.

Bonds surely has money salted away, but his prospects for employment are not great. The San Francisco Giants let him go after the season, having sold tickets for his miserable trudge toward Aaron’s record. Who would hire a 43-year-old lead-legged slugger facing five felony charges?

He could get off. Indictment does not mean conviction. But this process will make him a pariah in the free-agent market. Any team that would dream of hiring him would be doing it as a spectacle.

Everything is tainted. His image. His record. The ball he hit for No. 756. Never mind the debate over sticking an asterisk on the ball in the Hall of Fame. Baseball has no business putting an asterisk on Barry Bonds. The asterisk belongs on Major League Baseball, for allowing the players union to bully it into avoiding testing and penalties.

Now, baseball is tottering along, waiting for George J. Mitchell’s investigation to produce the astonishing revelation that performance-enhancing drugs were prevalent in the past generation. Jason Giambi has already testified to that, but Barry Bonds couldn’t go that far. Now baseball roots for good old A-Rod. Only 245 to break the record, and not a moment too soon.

SEASONINGS: Yeah, yeah, Dallas is definitely the best team in the NFC—the Cowboys proved it by taking it to the Giants last week for the season sweep. But they (or whichever NFC team makes it to the Big Dance) will still get their clocks cleaned by the Patriots or whoever represents the AFC in the Super Bowl, so all you Dallas fans might as well stop celebrating already! No one ever remembers who came in second!


Ed Attanasio, Freelance Writer, Journalist, Baseball Historian, Comedian and Ad Copywriter said...

I like the post, but I may have to disagree with you on one thing -- Green Bay might just be the best team in the NFC.

Meathead said...

Okay, I can see an argument for that. I would even prefer it. Whichever the case, I think if they make it to the Super Bowl, the AFC team will beat them, too.

Anonymous said...

No argument there, Meat. Green Bay looked sweet today, while Dallas seemed to have their hands full with the Redskins. Washington could not stop the Romo-to-T.O. train, which seems to be picking up steam every week! The Boyz defense can be had, I believe. It's going to be very interesting down the stretch in the NFL!
-ED On the Street

BIG ED (From the Other Side of the Street) said...

As far as who you should root for after moving the the Northwest. I say stick with who brought ya to the dance. You'll always have a special place for the Mets (and the A's), and the NY Giants. I would definitely forget about the Knicks -- which might cause a dilemma, because it looks like the Seattle Supersonics are headed for Oklahoma? Happy Thanksgiving Matt & Laurice. Looking forward to seeing you in 10 days!

Cyn said...

Honestly, I agree with sticking with your first love(s). The beauty of Seattle is that its diversity supports a whole bunch of different fans who also attend local stuff with fervor. Its a great place, and I am sure you will find a tribe quickly. If not, we are always available for visits:)