I can’t believe I’m writing this. Even as I type the words into my laptop, I can’t believe I’m about to make the statements that are running through my head. What could I possibly be thinking? What would make me alter a course I thought was true? Frankly, I’m tired of the deception. I’m tired of the lies. I’m tired of Bud Selig’s drawn and lined face drooping in a sanctimonious frown. Give it a rest, Bud. That act is transparent.
So, here it is – the big revelation that is just so earth shattering. Are you ready? I think Major League Baseball should honor Barry Bonds when he breaks Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record. I think the commissioner of baseball should glue himself to the San Francisco Giants after home run 754. I think he should be there when Barry ties the record and I think he should be stopping the game and unveiling a plaque when Barry breaks the record. Unfurl the red, white and blue bunting. Order a bat made of solid gold to present to the new home run king. And, use every bit of pull you’ve got with Mr. Henry Aaron and convince him to be there, too. He doesn’t need to smile and he doesn’t need to talk – but he ought to be on hand.
Why would I speak such blasphemy? Why would I throw my support behind a washed up slugger who in all likelihood spent five of the most prolific home run seasons in baseball history putting so many illegal steroids and hormones in his body that he could probably carry quadruplets to term? Well, I’ll tell you. This predicament – the one where a surly, mean and cranky (on a good day) outfielder is about to break the most revered career record in all of sports – is the fault of Major League Baseball.
Now, you’re right. Baseball is not the only one at fault here. Barry absolutely carries a significant amount of responsibility. I will never be convinced that the man wasn’t aware of what was going into or onto his body. He makes a living with his strength. His body must function at the highest level possible to do what he does. He’s always been able to hit, but his sudden and dramatic increase in power between 1998 and 2003 was absolutely and unequivocally the result of performance enhancing drugs. And that is wrong. Granted, they weren’t illegal when it came to the rules of baseball, but most of what he took was illegal in a court of law. And, let’s be honest here. Barry is a grown man. My four year olds are aware when they have made a bad choice. Barry knew what he was doing.
However, it is my contention that Major League Baseball – right up to the commissioner’s office – knew what Barry was doing, as well. They knew at least as early as 1998 when an acne-covered Mark McGuire started belting the ball and Sammy Sosa’s head grew to the size of a watermelon. And, I’m guessing they knew about the problem in general long before that. And, yet, they did nothing. They watched that summer as Mark and Sammy held their own personal love-in, each of them trying to out-homer the other until the hulking Cardinal first baseman finally tore down Roger Maris’ asterisked home run record. Their eyes must have been like cartoons with those dollar signs turning over and over. Why else would they remain silent when McGuire said the andro was just a supplement? Why else would they look the other way when major league locker rooms were so covered in acne, you would have thought you were in my old Central Junior High School football locker room? Why else would they cover their eyes when Barry Bonds showed up the next year like a beefed up version of the Incredible Hulk – when his baseball card that year still looked like mild-mannered Dr. David Banner?
I’ll tell you why. Bud Selig, as a representative of the owners of all 32 major league baseball teams, wanted the home runs. He wanted the excitement. He wanted the gate receipts. And, so, his sin was not one of commission. Bud didn’t take the roids, that’s for sure. He didn’t inject anyone in the rear and he didn’t set up a pipeline through Mexico to sell the stuff. What he did do was just as bad. He did nothing. He didn’t move to change the league’s drug policy until after all the news came out. He didn’t open an independent investigation until after fans started comparing baseball with professional wrestling. He didn’t start suspending players until after the stars had time to clear their systems – sorry Palmiero, you were the sacrificial lamb. By doing nothing, he allowed the cancer to grow and develop and he gave it his implied blessing.
So, Mr. Selig, you are the Dr. Frankenstein to Barry Bond’s scary monster terrorizing the villagers. You created him and he is very much alive. I know, you’ve been hoping for an injury or an indictment. But, it’s probably not going to come. Now, it’s time to live with the world you created. It’s time to own up to the fact that you were complicit in arriving at this point. It’s time to put on your San Francisco cap and you’re warmest smile and stand in front of that camera in a week or two and take your medicine. Stop wringing your hands and stop pretending it isn’t happening. It will be like taking off a band aid – better to jump right in and get it over with. And, just think. As soon as he breaks the record, you can start hoping against hope that in a few short years, A-Rod can knock Barry’s name off the top of your list. But don’t sell us this see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil act. Acknowledge the record. Go to the game. Shake Barry’s hand. And stop treating us like we’re morons. Don’t you think we know why the Brewers’ are in first place, mister former Milwaukee owner?
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