At the Letters: Bantering over Bonds

Jeff Passan
Yahoo! Sports

Nothing stirs the inbox quite like a five-count indictment against baseball's home run king and an opinion piece fired off within a couple hours of the news.

So we'll skip the pleasantries and head right to the letters, some of which condemn Barry Bonds, others of which condemn me and the rest of which condemn Major League Baseball. Suffice to say, there's blame to go around and a fair share of opinion on whom it should be laid:

How sad is this for baseball? First the all-time hit king can't get in the Hall of Fame … and now, the all-time home run king could see the same thing happen.

John Perry
Milan, Mich.

Sad. Embarrassing. Damning. Whatever you want to call it, baseball will forever carry itself with a faint outline of a black eye because of Pete Rose and Barry Bonds.

My only problem with your column is that it makes Bonds out to be something different from all the other cheaters. Let's be honest: There were probably hundreds of them. They should not be allowed to get off free, either.

Ray Smith
Vienna, Va.

Get off free? Mark McGwire, once the game's most beloved player, has turned retirement into exile. Ditto for Rafael Palmeiro. Steroid chants still dog Jason Giambi. And imagine what former Sen. George Mitchell's report on performance-enhancing drugs could do. Dozens of current and former players will undergo the same public undressing that has befallen all of the previous users. Reputations will crumble, statistics will hollow out and we'll move on knowing that no matter how thorough his report, Mitchell still will have missed plenty who used.

I'm no great Bonds fan, but your sense of outrage and self-righteousness is way over the top. Save it for now, buddy. When the whole story comes out there will be a whole slew of big liars and cheaters to harp on. You can start with the hallowed commissioner of baseball who would have us believe that he was innocently ignorant of what was going on. Bonds' biggest offense is not that he cheated but that he was the best player who cheated and the biggest jerk.

Fred C.
San Francisco

Hey, I'm on record as saying Bud Selig is plenty culpable, too.

Though you're right. If Barry Bonds were just some 15-home run guy, he'd be nothing more than a pompous pawn. Though were that the case, Bonds would have no motivation to allegedly lie to a federal grand jury.

It must really feel good when a proud black man messes up and gives all who hate proud black men the opportunity to kick some dirt in his eye. Bonds is the American Dream. Cheating is at the heart of America. Native Americans were cheated out of their land. African-Americans were cheated for 400 years and even still today. This country was built on cheating. It happens on Wall Street, in journalism, government, academia and even the church. Bonds' only failing was his envy of McGwire.

Queens, N.Y.

I'd have happily included other letters about the persecution of the black man had they not: a) accused me of white-man tricknology;; b) used magnificent strings of expletives; or c) made sense. Discussing race intelligently is a difficult proposition.

That said, I think there is a lot of weight to the theory that the hatred for Bonds has to do with the color of his skin. I saw it first-hand, and it was abhorrent.

And yet to derive pleasure from the potential jailing of one of the greatest players baseball has ever seen – steroids notwithstanding – is masochistic. This is a sad day for baseball, though it goes to show that no man – black, white or purple – should mess with the government, because even if only for publicity purposes, it can bite back with the ferocity of a python.

My question is why would anyone believe 100 percent that our government is telling the truth about whatever evidence it has? The government of the United States has lied and continues to lie. I'm not saying that Barry Bonds did not take steroids, all I'm saying is let him have his day in court. Just because someone from our government says they have proof he tested positive doesn't make it so. Let us not forget this is the government that said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

Carl White
Hayward, Calif.

True enough, though had the United States vetted the WMD claims as a court and jury with these accusations, we might not be at war.

As for the government: Either you believe or you don't. I choose to believe that prosecutors are presenting real evidence and have no reason to think otherwise until proven so.

Why are we wasting so many resources and money on Barry Bonds? I know steroids are bad and aren't allowed in MLB. But when has steroids ever hurt anybody other than the person taking. It's not like it's a threat to the public.

Andrew Sweeney

In the minds of some elected Representatives, it was a big enough issue to bring in front of the nation. And a big enough issue for President Bush to address in his State of the Union.

In reality, it is a moral issue that has been politicized to the point of saturation. Yes, it's a shame when any child uses performance-enhancing drugs, though to blame professional athletes for that seems like a leap. Who really wants to be like Barry Bonds: home run king, yes, but generally reviled, booed and taunted. What causes children to use steroids is a desire for greatness in their own bubble, and that's more a function of society than individual role models.

Calling it like it is seems so refreshing these days. Bonds is a disgrace. He personifies everything that is wrong with professional sports. We used to have real heroes playing for us. Now when we and particularly our kids need them the most we have Bonds. Sad. I'm going to listen to Sinatra's "There Used to be a Ballpark" and have a good sulk.

Bob Cady
New Hampshire

The olden days were full of issues, too. Baseball had an awful cocaine problem in the '80s, and for the last 50 years players have eaten amphetamines like penny candy. Flawed people have played sports since their inception. We just know more about them today than we ever have.

At the same time, there are plenty of heroes left. Watch Jose Reyes steal a base, Curtis Granderson leg out a triple, Grady Sizemore make a diving catch, Jonathan Papelbon close a game. Or look what Jamie Moyer gives to the community and Torii Hunter gives to the game.

Being neither a Barry Bonds apologist nor a fan, I find this latest column to be repulsive, self-righteous and just plain crap. The constant theme throughout this entire "headline-stealing" ordeal has been that Barry Bonds is a cheater. Barry Bonds is not a cheater. He's done nothing more than try to take care of an aging body and keep it in as good a shape as possible. If he did, indeed, knowingly take steroids, then he is, at worst, guilty of lying.

Lee Evans

Yeah. Lying to a federal grand jury. That is called perjury, and it is punishable by law up to five years in jail. The government has shown it doesn't care if you took steroids. It's not pursuing Jason or Jeremy Giambi. It simply wants the truth, one that Bonds allegedly did not tell because he had too much to lose.

Sounds kind of silly now, huh?

Do you have an opinion about the reason that the grand jury was silent all these years about Bonds' steroid use when they supposedly had proof of his guilt? Why did they withhold that information and allow him to continue to pursue the home run record?

Tina Kurtz
Porterville, Calif.

Great question, and one to which I don't know the answer. Some have theorized that the politics behind it played a role. Kevin Ryan, the U.S. Attorney who oversaw the BALCO raid, was fired by President Bush, and though it would seem he had all of this evidence – we don't know for sure – his not indicting Bonds may have played a role in his dismissal. The interim U.S. Attorney in the San Francisco office, Scott Schools, proceeded where Ryan chose not to.

Had the indictment come during the home run chase, MLB probably could have suspended him and, thus, suspended the chase. Not for the positive test in November 2000, necessarily – in baseball's actions, if not its eyes, steroids didn't even exist then – but the entanglement with the law.

Since Barry Bonds is indicted for use of steroids and perjury, how can MLB allow his home run record to stand when Hank Aaron reached his record on his own accord and A-Rod is going by the way of his own strength also, as far as we know?

Michael Norman
Topeka, Kan.

Selig's statement didn't shed much light. Before devolving into the whole toughest-testing-in-pro-sports boilerplate, he did say: "I take this indictment very seriously and will follow its progress closely."

What that means for the home run record is unknown. Even with a conviction, MLB is unlikely to do anything. What are the options? Erase Bonds' name from the record books, as though he didn't exist? Throw an asterisk next to his name and give a label to the greatest record in the game? The shroud of steroids is enough already, no?

As for A-Rod: Baseball is the opposite of the criminal-justice system these days. All players are suspects until they pass their tests, and even then, with human growth hormone undetectable, it's suspect. They're not exactly guilty until proven innocent, but they're not innocent by nature, not by any means. Innocence died with surprises. I mean, Paul Byrd? Seriously?

Thanks, Jeff, for your informed, lucid and non-emotional treatment of Bonds' indictment. You have woven a tapestry of truth around Barry's mystique which may become his funerary shroud. But you also left him an out (no pun intended here) – he is, of course, innocent until proven guilty regarding the perjury and obstruction charges even though Bonds was convicted long ago in the court of public opinion. Hopefully Cooperstown will pay attention. My plea is that the Hall of Fame accept all the violators – Charlie Hustle included – not to honor them for their accomplishments but to shine light on their personal failures; to show the world that it is indeed humans who play this game.

Steve Qunell
Whitefish, Mont.

Problem is, their personal failures besmirched the game. As reprehensible a human being as Ty Cobb was, he never allowed his issues to affect the integrity of the game (unless, of course, you consider sliding spikes high an egregious offense).

Rose gambled on baseball. Bonds, even after they were outlawed by baseball, allegedly used performance-enhancing drugs. The Hall of Fame can certainly outline their indiscretions and the reason they're not in without admitting them.

True, Barry Bonds used steroids. True, he lied. True, his "record" is tainted by his actions. But to write an article about baseball's favorite steroid user and make no mention of the fact that steroids have been used, and continue to be used, by scores of baseball players is to ignore the central issue that arises out of this incredibly sad development.

Christopher Rudy
Los Angeles

Admitted, agreed and accepted.

Isn't it unbelievable that it took both the government and baseball four years to get to this point, and on the same day that Bonds is indicted, another Yahoo! MLB headline is Selig announcing record revenues? Come on. Baseball has changed or made its rules along the way, and while we don't condone cheating and lying, baseball has been the beneficiary of it, with the owners paying record salaries, charging record ticket prices and seeing record values for their investments. We all loved the Sammy and Mark show, and it truly did save baseball when the greed of both the players and the owners threatened to turn off all fans, blame not even being an issue.

Mike Mannis

A $6 billion industry, built on the acne-pocked backs of guys injecting themselves with drugs manufactured for horses.

America the beautiful, indeed.

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