Sunday, December 9, 2007

I wouldn't want to be Barry Bonds

Whether it is in the movies or in real life, it seems like most of us get as much pleasure from booing somebody as we do cheering for people.

Deep down, I guess we all like a good villain. There is something about our human nature that makes us want to be negative toward certain people.

There are lots of examples of this, but one of the most vivid ones from this year was the treatment of professional baseball player Barry Bonds.

In the last few years, there has been a media obsession with him for a few reasons. Of course, he broke major league baseball's all-time home run record last season, and most would agree that that is the most hallowed record in professional sports.

Hank Aaron held that record for more than 30 years, and as Bonds approached it, he received more attention than the president. Literally, every swing of the bat he made was reported by the national media.

Though it was a big moment when he broke the record, the achievement was not greeted with happiness. Just about everybody who was not a fan of the team he played for reacted with derision.

At every ball park he played in away from San Francisco (which was the team he played for), he was booed and jeered. He was treated like Osama bin Laden in baseball spikes.

Of course, the reason for this is because many have suspected for years that Bonds used steroids to help boost his performance. Therefore, many people branded him a cheater and not worthy to break this record. He came across like a villain compared to the heroic Aaron.

I'm not going to discuss whether Bonds is a cheater or not.

True, there have been books written where people have leveled damaging accusations at him. Plus, federal authorities have recently slammed him with perjury and obstruction of justice charges for testimony he gave before a grand jury about his alleged steroid use.

All of this will play itself out in the coming months and then we should all be able to deliver a more definite opinion about whether he did it or not.

I guess the point of this posting is that there is no way I would want to be Barry Bonds.

When thinking about that statement, it is pretty mind blowing because Bonds has achieved many of the things the world covets.

His professional achievements are stunning, and certainly all of us would love to be as good at our jobs as he has been at his.

Whether a person likes him or not, there can be no questioning that he has been one of the best baseball players of the last couple of decades. Even before the whispers about possible steroid use began, he had put up enough statistics to be considered a future Hall of Famer.

However, he is considered a pariah in many ways. He is a common punching bag for the media. Current players like Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling have been openly critical of him.

Retired players from earlier eras have grave reservations about him being selected to the Hall of Fame. The only people who have remained loyal to him have been the fans of San Francisco where he played so many years.

As I mentioned earlier, federal officials recently indicted Bonds on perjury and obstruction of justice charges. These charges date to testimony he gave to a grand jury back in 2003.

If nothing else, we have learned from other cases in recent months that when federal officials bring charges, they mean business. Disgraced quarterback Michael Vick and Olympic sprinter Marion Jones found that out the hard way, and both suffered stunning falls.

Additionally, for Bonds, news reports have stated that an old friend and an ex-girlfriend plan to testify against him.

The house is burning down around him.

It's easy to envy professional athletes, but when the wheels come off the tracks, the problems become magnified.

I hope Bonds gets a fair trial because we all deserve that.

However, that may be tough to get because folks love to hound people they perceive to be the villain.


Joltin' Django said...

I urge any and every baseball fan to read "Game of Shadows." In that book you not only learn that Barry Bonds is a cheater, you learn that he is one objectionable human being as well.

Unless Bonds comes before an O.J. Simpson-esque jury (which is unlikely in a federal trial), there is no way that he will be found not guilty. Grand jury testimony leaked to the authors indicates that Bonds told the panel that he'd never, ever used steroids in any shape or form; however, files confiscated from the BALCO offices, in addition to other tesimony, shows that he did indeed use steroids.

Bonds better live it up while he can 'cause his big butt is going to be in prison ...

Chris said...

In a related note, the George Mitchell report about baseball's steroids era has apparently been delivered to MLB.

According to one news story, 60 to 80 current and former players are mentioned in the report.