Friday, September 5, 2008

Buzz Bissinger feels for Bonds

Blogger-friendly Buzz Bissinger hates Barry Bonds. Expect now he feels bad for him:

But last week’s news trickling out of the endless investigation of Barry Bonds has caused me to feel something for him I never thought possible: sympathy. And beyond just sympathy, outrage over what has turned from a prosecution into a venomous persecution of someone who, no offense to the pastime purists, is just a baseball player. And I am beginning to think that federal authorities in charge of the pending criminal case against him for perjury have exactly the same attitude many sports fans do — we don’t like Barry Bonds, and since we don’t like him, let’s teach him a lesson he won’t forget. Let’s ruin him, which the federal government is fond of doing in all too many instances.
This is so absurdly silly. Simply because time has passed is not a reason to let a crime go unpunished. HE LIED TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. UNDER OATH. True, Bonds is due a speedy trial and this has been far from that. But just because we've allowed the grass to grow around that truck up on blocks, we should let Bonds off the hook? Screw the statutes of limitations and all that legal mumbo-jumbo!

Buzz goes on to say this:
...In fact some of those named, such as Andy Pettitte and Jason Giambi of the New York Yankees, are still playing.

But the major difference is that Pettitte and Giambi (to some extent) are likeable fellows, whereas Bonds is downright loathsome.
Whoa, whoa, whoaaaaaa Nellie! Giambi TOLD THE TRUTH to the federal grand jury, admitting steroid usage and even getting into graphic descriptions how he'd inject it into his stomach, buttocks. Pettitte also admitted HGH usage, though not under oath. As a result of his being forthright (at least his perception of being forthright), Pettitte was excused from the Clemens debacle.

Buzz makes a flimsy argument about Bonds not being able to tell the truth because it would have ruined him. So Bonds chose to lie.
If he had taken steroids and told the truth, he would have been ruined. By not telling the truth, he would have been ruined. He was in a no-win situation. And when it comes to manning up, or more precisely not manning up, he is once again in very plentiful company. Of the 86 players named in the Mitchell report, how many actually cooperated with the investigation? Precisely one: Jason Giambi.
Giambi had a few years of brutal treatment but he was honest (without really admitting it to the public, I know) and eventually his fans came around to supporting him. After all, he wasn't the only cat in the birdhouse. Bonds could have taken a similar route, admitting his faults, his errors, his mistakes...showing his human side... and it's possible that the public would have forgiven him, or at least understood him better. Instead, he's chosen the defiant route and that has kept him on the wrong side of the public's opinion.

Buzz IS right in that Bonds is loathsome, but the reason Bonds is still being hunted is that the government doesn't particularly like being lied to and made to look the fool. Buzz makes the leap that 1) because Bonds is an unlikable dude and 2) he's still being hunted by the big, bad government, MLB has colluded to keep Bonds off the field this year:
In fact, more than just pariah: it seems pretty clear that he has been blackballed by the league this year despite statistics last season that included 28 home runs, 132 walks and an on-base percentage of .480 in only 340 at-bats. In the stretch-run for the playoffs, there isn’t a team that can use him? Of course there is, but his conspicuous absence smacks of collusion by team owners regardless of denials by Commissioner Selig. The players’ union smells stink, and so do I.

If Buzz has ANY sense of baseball history, he'd realize that the owners couldn't agree on what day it is today and what direction the sun rises from, much less agreeing to keep Bonds unemployed. There's no way Selig to tell every owner to keep Bonds off the field without anyone knowing. And even IF Selig had that magical power, wouldn't he have done it LAST year to keep Aaron atop the career HR list? Selig is a consensus-builder as a management style. He's not the dictatorial type. To suggest, seriously, that Selig could have orchestrated a Bonds-free 2008 season is just patently ridiculous.

Bonds has had the chance, innumerable times, to admit his wrongdoing and rehab his image. He could have done what McGwire failed to do: use his platform and position to help authorities slow the drug development pipeline, help dissuade kids from using steroids, share his story. Yet, he's kept his wall up, his guns pointed back at us, the government. He's tried to make MLB the bad guys for keeping him out of the game. At some point, Bonds needs to look in the mirror and realize that only he, himself, has to blame for his position right now.


dimitrios said...

I don't care about Barry Bonds one way or the other, but this article should begin and end with, "he lied under oath". You would think that with all of Bond's money he could have found a competent attorney that he would listen to. My guess is that his attorney told him to either shut up or plead the fifth and Bonds being Bonds didn't listen to him and now he finds himself in the same position that a lot of criminals find themselves. He is sitting there muttering to himself that he should have just kept his mouth shut. Kind of like Clemens should have done.

You would think that the whole Martha Stewert thing would have schooled people into the fact that if you get asked a question either under oath or not you simply keep your mouth shut. Oh well I don't want to turn this into a lawyerly blog, but we give celebrities a lot of leeway in this country, it has to end somewhere.

Jason @ IIATMS said...

what can I say other than "I agree". Bissinger's stance is confusing at best, ignorant at worst. I just don't get it. You'd think a guy of his caliber, intelligence, stature would/could come up with something other than the same old, same old.