Saturday, April 22, 2006

Home Run Bonds!


Aaron, Ali, Robinson, Armstrong & Bonds:
An Open Letter to Bonds Haters

You love to hate Barry Bonds and even a Giants fan has been known to throw a few curses in his direction but when the whole world turns against him, as if he were the reason for America’s decline, for an unfathomable debt, for the steady slide in working wages, for the brutal cuts in social services, for the inaccessibility of medical coverage, for the price of gasoline, for the browning of our environment, for the poisoning of our water, for the neglect of our children’s education, for the destruction of New Orleans, for the wasting of our values, for the loss of American pride, and for the catastrophes in Iraq and Afghanistan, then by god I’ll stand up for Barry Bonds.

You don’t like it when we compare Bonds to the great Babe Ruth but for the years 2001-2004 Bonds posted numbers against juiced pitchers and juiced competitors a full two standard deviations above the norm.

You don’t like it when we rate Bonds among the elite players who ever played the game but for the two decades of his career there is no one who even begins to compare.

Baseball fans are strange and fickle creatures. You love the numbers when they support your point of view but ignore them when they do not. Who among you did not marvel at Brady Anderson’s 50 home run season? Who among you did not bow to Ken Caminiti’s MVP season? Who among you did not stand and cheer the great home run chase of Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire? Are their accomplishments any less today?

Step out of baseball for a moment. The comparison that should hit home is Lance Armstrong to Barry Bonds. In the world of contemporary sports, only Armstrong, Gretsky, Jordan and Tiger Woods rise to the level of Bonds’ accomplishments. The evidence of Armstrong’s “blood doping” is every bit as strong as the evidence against Bonds. Neither Armstrong nor Bonds ever failed a drug test.

Why are there no politicians or sports writers clamoring for an investigation of Lance Armstrong? Why are there no Grand Jury witch-hunts?

You don’t like it when we compare Barry Bonds to the immortal Jackie Robinson but what Bonds is confronting today is bitter, ugly and un-American racism.

You don’t like it when we compare Barry Bonds to Mohammed Ali but the same ignorant threats directed at Bonds were once hurled at Ali.

You don’t like it when we compare Barry Bonds to Hank Aaron but even the Hammer knows: The same racist hate mongers who once clamored for his death are now out in force for Barry Bonds.

We no longer care what you think or how you explain it to your kids (what about Bonds’ kids?). You don’t like him? Fine. You don’t want your kids to admire him? Fine. But if you want to blame Bonds for everything that’s wrong with America, get real. Take a good long look at the man that 51% of you voted for to lead this nation.

He’s our player. Leave him alone.