The Baseball Desert

Friday, February 25, 2005

How Not To Be A Big-League Ballplayer

If David Ortiz is a shining example of how it should be done, then Barry Bonds is his polar opposite. Nothing has been proved regarding his alleged use of steroids, so I'm not going to be judge and jury on that issue - with a bit of luck, the full story will come out sooner or later.

I have to say, though, that his 'press conference' (and I use the term in the loosest, Giambi-esque sense of the term) earlier this week was quite a spectacle. I saw the edited highlights on, but David Pinto pointed readers in the direction of the transcript of the conference, which gives a much clearer picture of the whole charade.

Bonds, like Giambi, made it clear that, for legal reasons, there would be no questions on BALCO. Fair enough, but in the end, every question was twisted and turned and thrown back at the reporters. At times, Bonds reminded me of my kids when they're trying to argue with me - when anything resembling a reasonable argument has been countered or dismissed, they try to decoy me. In their case, they'll pick up on some unimportant detail ("you said le chambre, when it's actually LA chambre") and try to focus the argument on that; in Bonds' case, he kept throwing things back at reporters, repeating himself and generally changing the subject to avoid having to actually answer the question. He plays for the Giants, but this press conference proved that he's also one of the all-time great dodgers.

The one point that did clearly emerge from all the smokescreens that Bonds attempted to throw up is that he would like bygones to be bygones:
But, things that happen in sports, in all sorts of sports, it's time to move on. Every time there has been incident, it has been corrected and now that it's being corrected, I think we need to go forward, move forward, let it go. Y'all stop watching Red Foxx in rerun shows and let's go ahead and let the program work and allow us to do our job.
His willingness to embrace the new measures implemented by Major League baseball is admirable, but Jayson Stark reminds us (and Bonds) that it isn't going to be quite that easy. Bonds says that he's never had so much support, but it will be interesting to see how the press and the fans and even Major League Baseball handle him approaching - and possibly breaking - Hank Aaron's home-run record. If and when it happens, I won't be there to watch it - not because it might be a record which is tainted, but simply because life is too short to waste time on someone I don't admire or even like that much. Bonds may hit himself into the record books, but he's going to have a lot of trouble earning the title "home-run king".