Thursday, August 09, 2007

A Dirty Milestone

"Daddy, why is that man running around the field like that?"

"Oh M, he's just running around the bases. He just hit a home run."

"A home run? What's a home run, daddy?"

"Well that's when you hit the ball so far that it lands in the crowd where we sit when we take you to baseball games."

"Daddy, why are those people in the crowd fighting over the ball?"

"Because, M, this is a very special home run for that man who is running around the bases. It's the most home runs that anybody has ever hit in the history of baseball. The people in the crowd think the ball might be worth a lot of money."

"Daddy, why did that man hit the most home runs of anybody in baseball history?"

And so my oldest daughter, at the ripe old age of three and a half, learned this morning from her father what it means when someone "cheats". Because no fucking way I wasn't going to tell her the truth on this one. No fucking way.

See, here's the thing. I don't trust baseball. I don't trust the sport, the commissioner, the players, basically anybody involved with the game to actually come out openly and discuss and admit what has gone on with all this steroids business. While it's a messy solution to be sure, this is a messy quadnary that the major leagues got itself in to by not addressing the growing steroid problem rampant in its sport in the 80s and 90s, so there's probably not going to be an easy "right" outcome. It's going to be tough no matter what gets done. But I just don't trust the powers that be in the sport of baseball in this country to make sure in the official record books, in the hall of fame, in every place that it really matters, that what Barry Bonds accomplished on Tuesday night was basically a load of bullshit. Make it an asterisk on his record, make an official proclamation of a time that will forever be marked as the "steroid era" in the annals of baseball (and all records from that time viewed accordingly), handle it how you want. But you simply have to address it when thinking about, say, who the greatest career home run hitter of all time was.

Now don't get me wrong. Barry Bonds is a fucking incredible hitter. Easily the best of my lifetime, and probably of the lifetime of anybody who is reading this today. But that doesn't mean that he deserves this record without an accompanying asterisk or something similar, and it doesn't mean that the steroid use is irrelevant to what has happened this week. Think about it -- for a period of at least 5 years from approximately 1999 through 2004, Barry Bonds took steroids. And if you read here often then you know that I am typically the very first to clarify that people are innocent until proven guilty of crimes in this country, something that as a lawyer myself I feel very strongly about for sure. But this case is different. In this case, Barry Bonds admitted he used steroids -- "the clear" and "the cream" that he received from Balco Laboratories in the Bay Area while he was a memeber of the the San Francisco Giants. While Barry inanely insists that he thought these substances were flaxseed oil and and some cockamamy bullshit lie and not steroids, even he still admits that he in fact used the substances that later proved to be steroids.

And here's the thing: I have now spoken with three Bonds apologists over the past few days, and the depth of the denial literally floors me. I just can't believe the stuff that people say. My good friend tells me the other day that he figures the steroids added maybe 50 home runs to Barry Bonds' lifetime totals. My own idiot older brother says they added 30 or 35 homers to his totals. What the eff is wrong with you people? For five years (at least), Barry Bonds used steroids and other injectable hormones that literally changed his body type. Forever. I don't need to rehash the hackneyed side-by-side shots of the old Bonds from his Pirates days next to the new Bonds in his current Giants uniform. The massively larger cranium (and probably smaller junk), the enormous change in even the forearms and the ankles, etc. The guy's body was changed completely and eternally, turned into a monstrous version of its original self, and during and after that time Bonds went on to hit about 500 home runs over an 8 year period, including of course the record-setting 73 home runs in 2001.

I remember the old Bonds. The original Bonds. The scrawny Bonds. The real Bonds. That guy was a good hitter too, hitting .300 every year and somewhere in the 30s for home runs. That little guy probably woulda scrapped his way just barely to make it to 500 home runs by the time his career was up. Instead he's going to hit nearly 800. So I'm subtracting three hundred home runs from his totals in my mind. Here is the perfect advertisement for the steroid problem in major league baseball, easily the most historic and traditional of all the major sports in the U.S. -- a guy who would have hit 500 home runs, but who instead pumped himself full of hormones and chemicals normally used for animals and not humans, and ended up getting his name all over the recordbooks, including what are basically the two most hallowed records in all of sports.

Okay, so getting back to the point of this post. I don't trust the major league baseball machine to tell the fans of today, and more importantly the fans of the future who weren't watching all these years to know what really happened, exactly how it went down that Barry Bonds and Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa et al hit all these home runs suddenly in the late 90s and early 2000s. They have too many reasons not to tell the truth, and there is very little anyone else can do to make them do otherwise. From an official perspective, we are basically stuck with whatever way major league baseball decides to report on all these home runs.

But that's where I come in. And you. We have the power to make sure that the next generation of kids, baseball fans and just fans of sport in general, know what really happened here. They would if they could, but baseball can't take that knowledge away from us. I argue that we have the right, in fact the obligation, to make sure to pass on the truth about Barry Bonds to the next generation, even if it's just one kid at a time. So wheh my daughter asked me what was happening on the tv during Sportscenter this morning, I told her the truth. All of it. Even the part MLB doesn't want my daughter to know. Eff that. Barry Bonds is an admitted cheater -- don't ever let anyone convince you otherwise -- and he ruined his body and his life just for the glory of being able to cheat his way to saying that he's the best, relying on his sport to refrain from using an asterisk or otherwise cheapening one of the richest periods in baseball history with scarlet letters and doping accusations.

I'm not going to let it happen. When my kids ever ask about the home run champions in baseball, they will always get the whole story from me. Hank Aaron hit the most home runs, kids, but then a cheater named Barry Bonds cheated and broke that record. But he's just a cheater who could hit a baseball really well Hank Aaron is the real home run champion. You guys who write often about your relationships with your kids, especially your sons (I'm a sexist like that I guess) -- guys like Speaker and Drizz most immediately come to mind -- I really hope you will be joining me in this effort to do the right thing for our kids, and for the world. Cheaters never win. Not in my house anyways.

No poker content today, how do ya like that? But don't forget the Mookie tonight, 10pm ET on full tilt, with a password as always of "vegas1". Buddydank Radio should be on and in full force for the week's largest gathering of bloggers and non-blogging poker enthusiasts alike. I am hoping to be in the field but some last-minute transit issues here on Wednesday due to massive rainstorms overnight have pushed off a bunch of morning meetings for me until Wednesday afternoon and evening instead, so my entire night -- including my already-won entry into FTOPS Event #1 tonight at 9pm ET -- may well be in jeopardy. Ahhh work. You fucking suck a dong lately.


Blogger Alan aka RecessRampage said...

Bonds cheated? What are you talking about? Now excuse me when I go watch the video of Ben Johnson breaking the world record.

All jokes aside, I totally agree with you. As a matter of fact, I have a hard time watching baseball ever since the whole steroid scandal broke... Because no matter who does what, it's hard to get impressed because now every time I watch, I keep wondering who the cheaters are.

1:02 AM  
Blogger bayne_s said...

Only baseball player from this era that I will tell future generations about is Pedro Martinez. He was dominant against the cheaters and too spindly to have cheated.

Bud Selig has been spineless in his handling of Home Run Record. Why go to observe the tying Home Run if your not even going to pay enough attention to realize it's been hit?

1:48 AM  
Blogger OhCaptain said...

Great post! I couldn't agree more. This is a lesson that none of us wants to teach their kids. I like to tell them the story of Cal Ripken. No roids, just a guy that went to work every day.

1:56 AM  
Blogger Schaubs said...

Barry Bonds hit #73 on October 7th, 2001... I know because I was there and I can tell you for a FACT that I will be telling my children all about it. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget.

Regardless of steriods (or other related growth hormones), he is a hall of famer, and will go down as the all time greatest during our era... just ask Greg Anderson.

Call him what you want, his stats speak for themselves.

8 gold gloves.
MVPs? multiple.
500/500 club? It's a pretty lonely club.

The list is pretty extensive and remarkable.

Just make sure you tell your daughter about all the other cheaters in baseball. Like the pitchers, the coaches, the GM's, the managers, the owners etc.

If you think for one minute that some of these influences were not privy to what was going on, then you are misleading your daughter and cheating her from the true facts about baseball, not just Barry.

2:01 AM  
Blogger alan said...

Innocent until proven guilty. He obviously took SOMETHING. Was it illegal and against the rules? Who knows. No one ever will.

2:07 AM  
Blogger L'artiste said...

Much ado about nothing, A-Rod will destroy that thing in about 8 years. And he's probably or will probably juice too so we pretty much have to deal with it.

Oh, Hank Aaron used amphetamines btw. Will you mention that to your kids too? They're all cheats.

2:14 AM  
Blogger HighOnPoker said...

As much as that is all true, isn't it also true in every other major sport. Boxing has always been questioned. The NBA had the Tim Donaghy scandal. It just seems that all organized sports are a step away from organized crime or worse, the WWE.

2:21 AM  
Blogger TenMile said...

Great Post.

2:22 AM  
Blogger Pokerwolf said...

Make sure you never trust anyone in the NFL either. Mr. Shawne Merriman was suspended for four games due to using steroids.

Then, everyone in the media and all of the football fans I saw shrugged their shoulders and voted him into the Pro Bowl.

Don't just save your speeches for baseball. Every sport has this problem.

2:26 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

It is a problem in every sport, without a doubt. The baseball thing is just the worst of the lot because (1) tradition is by far the most important in baseball among the four major sports in the U.S., and (2) the biggest roider in baseball history now owns the most hallowed records in the sport, if not all of sports. It is just a terrble scenario for baseball.

Schaubs, to be clear I am well aware that baseball knew what was going on with the roids in the 80s and 90s (tried to make that clear in my post). But all those people who suggest that this automatically excuses the individuals who took the steroids, I simply suggest that you have a different outlook than I on personal responsibility generally.

As far as I'm concerned, Hank Aaron never admitted nor was he proven to be using performance enhancing drugs. Others may feel differently, but I don't like to convict people with no proof and no admission. Maybe it's just me. And the U.S. legal system.

And pokerwolf -- the Shawn Merriman thing was the lamest thing ever, I 100% agree. Making him MVP after the steroid bust was the worst thing they could have possibly done.

2:46 AM  
Blogger iamhoff said...

Tony Gwynn is one of the few players from the 'Roid era who has no need of any asterisk by his name. The only 'Roids anywhere near him would've been in the carne asada in the numerous burritos he consumed. Bonds? Asterisk forever.

Side note, where the hell are you posting from? I'm commenting here at 1:38 PM PDT on Wednesday 8/8, and the title on your post says you posted on Thursday 8/9. I B confoosed.

3:38 AM  
Blogger Poker Brian said...

Agree with ya Hoy, I couldnt help when watching this morning to think of what a sham the whole thing was.

Besides why talk about baseball when we can talk about football? Who cares if those guys are juiced, makes for good TV.

3:56 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Hoff, I have my blog's local time set to Guam time or something. To throw off would-be outers is all.

I post from the same place as the island is in Lost. Now someone please tell me where that is.

3:57 AM  
Blogger Julius_Goat said...

The Lost island is located in Hurley's frontal lobes, which are located in a taco in Pasadena, which is currently being consumed by Tony Gwynn, who is about to beat Barry Bonds up in front of his kids.

4:43 AM  
Blogger The Poker Enthusiast said...

The most famous roid when I was a kid was George Brett and His hemroid. I'm not sure that qualifies but it was a moment in time.

I think that Bonds was going into the hall of Fame before he roided up. His numbers at the age of 34 show him with about 450 home runs and 3 MVPs at the point.

And though I agree with you in may ways, I don't think you make your post if he doesn't break the most hallowed statistic in sports. There has been a history of performance improving drugs in baseball as well as all of the other major sports so it is some what ludicris to signal him out because he broke a record.

In the 80's a bunch of players were given slaps on the wrist for using speed to help them get through the grind. Is popping speed any different?

Gaylord Perry admitted to doctoring baseballs when he pitched so that he could gain an unfair advantage vs, the oppsing hitters. Nobody gets on his case for doing it and he is a hall of fame player.

I think that if you call Barry Bonds a cheater then you should also list the numerous players in all the different sports the same way. Not just because he broke a record.

5:22 AM  
Blogger Gnome said...

Good post. The only thing I disagree with is the idea that Bonds should have an asterisk in the record book. I think asterisks create more harm than good -- where are the asterisks for amphetamines, the dead ball era, for Don Sutton and Gaylord Perry and for hundreds of other drug users over the years.
The fans know the truth.
The record book should reflect the cold hard numbers.
As fans, it's our responsibility to make sure history reflects the reality behind the numbers.

5:53 AM  
Blogger surflexus said...

Steroids have been available for over 50 years. There are many former players with records that have used them. What about Lasik eye surgery that can make your vision better than it was naturally. Should that also count against you?

6:02 AM  
Blogger Blinders said...

The pitchers are juicing to, so the record stands. Well except for the fact that he uses that contraption on his arm to mechanically assist him hitting home runs. He got grandfathered in with that, and nobody else in the leauge is allowed to use it. If you look at it closely it is obvious it does much more than protecty his arm.

Enough of the Bonds hating. I want to sponsor a "Blogger Fantasy Football Battle" (BFFB). Check my blog for details.

6:31 AM  
Blogger RaisingCayne said...

I like the remark about Bonds' apologists. I've got a roommate that's been a Giants fan for twenty years, so he's got a man-crush on the cheater. Our jury systems may be innocent 'til proven guilty, but my own opinions aren't tied to such bounds... where there's smoke there's fire. I refuse to believe a person's hat size grows an inch and a half after the age of 35...

6:55 AM  
Blogger KajaPoker said...

You're a sick, sick man Hoy, naming your daughters M and Q....

And to the rest of the post:
Baseball - Bonds
Basketball - Donaghey
Football - Vick
Tour de France - Everyone
WWE - Benoit
Boxing - Come on...

We're left with Hockey (who watches that anyway) and Golf and Soccer. That's why the only sport I watch is Poker.

7:45 AM  

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