"There are only two ways of telling the complete truth—anonymously and posthumously."Thomas Sowell

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Barry Bonds Most Unsavory

I've written about before, but I'm back after Barry Bonds' lame defenses during his last press conference in which he was asked about steroid use.

Exhibit A:

Bonds, dressed casually in a black shirt and jeans, was asked whether he thinks using steroids is cheating.

"I don't know what cheating is," he said. "I don't believe steroids can help your eye-hand coordination, technically hit a baseball. I just don't believe it. That's my opinion."

B.S. buddy. You aren't being challenged for your high batting average. The question is how you've hit so many home runs. Steroid-fueled muscle might not make a .400 hitter, but it could surely add 10-20 homers a year. Muscle mass matters when it comes to hitting for power.

Exhibit B:

Bonds believes he's being scrutinized more since he's closing in on Ruth's record.

"Because Babe Ruth is one of the greatest baseball players ever, and Babe Ruth ain't black, either," he said. "I'm black. Blacks, we go through a little more. ... I'm not a racist though, but I live in the real world. I'm fine with that."

If it's possible, Bonds is even more disingenuous here. Nobody is giving much thought to Bonds passing the number two home run hitter of all time, they're thinking about Bonds being number one when he has likely been engaged in serious cheating. We don't know how many the Babe or Hank Aaron or Willie Mays could have hit with high test coursing through their veins. Racism has become the last resort of the scoundrel in this situation.


Jay D. Homnick said...

Hunter, your second critique is definitely a home run: the only sense in which Barry Bonds' life experience is affected by pigmentation inheres in the process that imbues American currency with its green tint.

As for your first point, I have been pondering this conundrum for some years. The fact is that many of baseball's home run hitters are not stronger than the doubles hitters; there is something in the timing and angle of their swing. No one who knows baseball will argue that Ken Griffey Jr. is more powerful than Wade Boggs.

The Boog Powells and Harmon Killebrew power hitters, just so huge that if they connected the ball experienced rocket propulsion, represent a minority of baseball's 500 Home-run Club. Nor would anyone label Barry Bonds one of that ilk.

Furthermore, Barry has matured after the age of thirty-five into the greatest hitter of baseballs who ever played, putting aside the question of home runs. He has developed a hand-eye coordination that has expanded our knowledge of human potential in that area. No joke.

To then say that this staggering virtuosity, a feat of concentration and timing, is coincidental to the acceleration of the long-ball output, strains the rule of 'simplicity' in science. If you see one wondrous cause and two wondrous outcomes, the first of which (increased batting average and consistent sharp contact) is definitely attributable to the cause, the healthiest conclusion to reach usually is that the second outcome is equally rooted in the selfsame cause.

But the fact that he idiotically pursued this simultaneous courtship of chemical stimuli certainly casts a pall over his otherwise spectacular attainments.

Greg said...

Well, I have a slightly different take than Hunter or Jay on "The Defiant Giant"... and admittedly, mine is probably a bit "simplistic." Haha. =)

Anyway, I'm not challenging the notion that Bonds is a gifted baseball player who also has an amazing work ethic combined with deep familial roots in the game. When your dad and your godfather are Hall of Famers, you automatically have an edge in a few areas of the game.

However, using steroids under the care of a trained professional has helped Bonds in more areas than just home runs.

I had Bonds on my fantasy team in '01, so I remember the birth of this modern baseball phenomenon quite well. When Bonds started hitting homers like crazy that year, most people figured he'd cool off. Well, when June rolled around he wasn't slowing down. The problem for pitchers at that time wasn't Bonds' average (slightly over .300), it was his home run pace (well over 80). So they started pitching him very differently... terrified of giving up the long ball. Ever since June/July of '01, Bonds has been getting intentionally (or semi-intentionally) walked at a rate never seen before in the MLB.

To Bonds' credit, he has taken advantage of the "new chess game" that pitchers are forced to play with him now that he has two queens: He takes the walk when that's what's offered, and he gets hits at slightly higher rates than pre-2001 because he's in a favorable position at slightly higher rates than pre-2001.

Again, I'm not saying that if I did steroids I could be a big-leaguer, but I am saying that I'm questioning all of Bonds hitting statistics: HR's, batting average, walks, Slug %, all of it. If Bonds had never done steroids, he'd have fewer HR's, fewer walks, a lower batting average, but probably MORE steals.

In my view, it's as simple as that. =)

A few years ago somebody was complaining to Bonds about how much baseball players make and didn't he think they were a little overpaid? Bonds replied, "It's not my fault you don't play baseball."

At the time, I thought, you know, Bonds is right. In a free-market society, people should get paid according to the demand for their good or services. Yeah, he was arrogant, but technically correct.

Of course, now that Bonds is annoyed that the media won't stop asking him about steroids, I wish I could tell him, "It's not our fault you did steroids."

View Bonds stats for yourself.

Hunter Baker said...

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I'm more with Greg than Jay on this one. If he didn't get a benefit out of juicing the blood, he wouldn't do it. I think the benefit is in his increased stats. In fact, Greg's link the Bonds' stats has convinced me more than ever. Nobody takes off like that after 15 years in the game.