Saturday, March 11, 2006

Barry's World of Hate and Arrogance

Barry Bonds learned arrogance and hate at an early age. And it went unchecked from his childhood through adolescence and into adulthood. Surrounded by sycophants and alienating teammates, a monster was created-a perfect storm of immeasurable proportions. A better environment for such a disaster is hard to imagine. We've never seen such ilk as Barry Bonds before, and hopefully we never will again.

For me, its understandable Bonds' illegal steroid and performance enhancements use and clear addiction. Many athletes of both sexes and all sports have chosen their allure over the past 5o years. Here Bonds is not alone among people from all walks of life and character. It is where he will find the least trouble. It was Bonds' motivation and personal justifications for making this choice-and others-for which he will be accountable to the public, the game of baseball and perhaps eventually to our system of law.

If we are to believe the book of the two San Francisco chronicle reporters, Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, and I do, then there are many, many things to consider.

Setting aside the fact that Bonds certainly knows his choice to take steroids has put his long term health at risk, lets consider his motivation for making the choice. Simply put, it was jealousy and envy. Few examples of such assumptions of personal entitlement exist. Not feeling his own certain Hall of Fame career enough, in 1998 Bonds became jealous of the attention Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa received during their quest for Roger Maris' magical single-season homeruns record. We'll never know Bonds true feelings about whether or not he thought McGwire and Sosa were taking steroids as he'll never tell. But he made the decision at the time that he had to have the attention for himself. And at all cost. And without regard to anyone else.

Bonds found a willing players in his dangerous game in Greg Anderson and Kimberly Bell. Sycophants to be sure, they lusted to be part of Bonds inner world. They willingly endured the abuse and contempt, but it speaks more to the abuser who so willingly uses and exploits such weak people and treats them so shabbily. We don't accept such things in our society. But Bonds doesn't care about what anyone else thinks. He never has.

If we are to accept the book as factual, we have to also sight Bonds' self-absorbed use of the race card. The book asserts that Bonds learned this sort of approach from his late father and Willie Mays. Born to a life of priveledge, Bonds experienced none of the injustices his dad or Mays had. So his utilization of past experiences of his mentors are unjustified. But if the icon, Mays and Bonds' father had indeed instilled such justifications of raw hate in Bonds from birth then they should be held into account. Nonetheless, Barry Bonds has used such justifications to give okay to mistreatment of people.

Bonds, among others to be sure, manipulated a system to achieve an end. Much blame is heaped upon baseball's administrators. But during the course of the steroid riegn of the 90's there was little they could do. Overwhelmed by a labor union of which who's wealthiest members were indeed using illegal steroids, baseball's hierchy could do nothing without its willingness. It was only with the BALCO grand jury and a subsequent Congressional Hearing would it be that the union was leveraged into accepting a policy. Bonds and others knew they had the protection of a powerful union and knew anyone who may have raised issue were powerless to do anything at all. And without any kind of testing came plausible deniablity.

So Bonds used this plausible deniabilty during his testimony to the BALCO grand jury. Perhaps it is here, where he made a fateful mistake. If we are to believe the book, then Bonds clearly perjured himself. Other testimony and interviews reveals such things that are now of public record. Coupled with Bonds' tax problems, prosecutors may find reason to look further. Bonds's lawyer clearly has taken offense to the book's revelations and has gone on a public relations offensive. If this is the purpose of his protestations then it is clear that, "me thinkest he protest too much."

It is with these instances where Bud Selig may be given the ammunition to take action against Barry Bonds. As there was no policy against using steroids until this season, Bonds has a certain sense of can't touch this. But if Bonds is found to have perjured himself to a grand jury and been guilty of tax evasion, it is under these circumstances where Selig will have the means with which to discipline Bonds. At some point soon, we will see a formal investigation by baseball. This will not be going away.

The world that Barry Bonds lives in and his own realities are disturbing. Bonds' values and assumptions are separate from the vastest of majorities among the rest of us. Somehow rules, laws and social mores do not apply, and never have. We've seen examples in others and we've been revolted. Barry's world of hate and arrogance is now a sideshow ball and chain that weighs us all down.


At 7:29 PM, Anonymous David G. said...

Excellent commentary Bob!

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