As read at Giants Cove
Recent reports have been leaked to the press that Barry Bonds tested positive for amphetamines. These same reports claim that he said he received the aforementioned drug from teammate Mark Sweeney. So what?
Amphetamines, better known as "speed," don't do much for you. Their a club drug, and are widely used by college students to stay awake while studying deep into the night and early hours of the morning. The only advantages it really gives you are magnified physical energy, and increased sex drive. The disadvantages vastly outweigh the advantages of using it for athletes. It doesn't increase muscle mass, it doesn't make you run faster, and it doesn't help you recover faster between workouts. It's a street drug and has no place in a Major League clubhouse, and Bonds shouldn't have been on it. But does it strengthen the case against him for steroid use? God no.
It's pretty widely accepted that Barry is surly, antisocial, and a prima donna. He doesn't like to talk to the press, his teammates, or his coaches and for the most part wants to be left to his entourage of trainers, his seven lockers, and the leather recliner he keeps in the Giants clubhouse. But he doesn't deserve to be crucified like this. It seems just a little too convenient that someone would leak just ONE positive test to the public, and that one just happens to be Bonds. Barry is by no means the only player to test positive for amphetamines, a drug that really has no effect on the way you play baseball. If he did take steroids (I won't judge either way until he tests positive for that), again, he's not the only player to use and abuse. What disgusts me most is the reaction of the public to this, based on a poll taken by ESPN.com.
36.8% of those polled say Bonds use of amphetamines is "just as big a deal as steroids." 27.1% say it's "not in the same league as steroids," while 36.2% toed the line. What disgusted me the most though, was the 66.5% of voters that said MLB shouldn't have an official ceremony if Bonds breaks the all-time home run record this season. People condemn him regardless of any and all accomplishments he's had that even performance enhancing drugs couldn't change. He still is one of the most patient hitters of all-time with the batting eye of Ted Williams. The year after hitting 73 homers he batted .370 and won the batting title by a sizable margin. With arthritic knees and a myriad of other ailments he managed to get on base at a .434 clip last year AND hit 26 homers.
People think the use of steroids nullifies all accomplishments, when in reality they can't make a bad player good, and they won't make a good player great. If that was possible, Armando Rios and Bobby Estalella would have hit 40 homers a year each. Bonds was a great player before, during, and after any suspected steroid use period. The real poison of the so-called "Steroid Era" is the way the public and press handle(d) it. The press viciously attacks the users (with a few exceptions of course), while a majority of the public in a sense tars and feathers them. Since the beginning of sports journalists and the public alike have reveled in tearing down their Superheroes, from Roger Maris chasing Babe Ruth's 60 homer run mark to Mark McGwire. Whether its an issue of race (Hank Aaron), or just pure unadulterated mindless hatred. Certain aspects are blown way out of proportion, and people can't help but see little devil horns when they look at a guy like Bonds or McGwire.
I've said this before, but we as sports fans are never going to move past the "Steroid Era" until we learn that the users themselves are people too, who merely saw an opportunity to improve themselves considerably, and took it. Was what they did extremely immoral and regrettable to see? Without a doubt. But no one deserves to be excommunicated because of their past mistakes, especially in Bonds case, where a positive steroid test hasn't even come up. What the leak of the amphetamine test does tell us, is that Bonds couldn't have come up positive for `roids, for if he had, that information would have been leaked instead.
People view the "Steroid Era" as a dark time for Major League Baseball, but it's not as though corruption and cheating didn't exist before, otherwise Pete Rose would be in the Hall of Fame, and Shoeless Joe Jackson would have played a full career. Players have been trying to get a leg up on the competition for decades upon decades; the 90's were just the most advanced form of this. Making the hunt for steroid users into a witch hunt serves only to blow the issue out of proportion in the public mind, and to deny deserving players of a place in Cooperstown.
Which brings me to my next point regarding the Hall of Fame vote. Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken? Awesome choice and I love it. What's disgraceful is that they didn't get in unanimously, while two sportswriters turned in blank ballots to protest the "Steroid Era" (1991-2001). What these two writers failed to realize was that a majority of the players on the ballot didn't even play during that time, making their "courageous" protest come off as the work of a couple of immature ignoramuses. This is a shining example of everything I hate about the presses treatment of the steroid issue; the ignorant finger-pointing that the public mindlessly follow.
My point here is that it's time to move on. Stop caring about leaked reports about amphetamines and stop thinking of every guy who hits 40-50 home runs as a steroid suspect. Should we keep testing and punishing users? Absolutely, but everything in moderation here.
The ones who come up positive for steroids are merely drug abusers. Not murderers, thieves, or rapists, so stop treating them that way. Think of them as people who seriously messed up, shake your head in disappointment, and move on. By all means, forgive them, but you don't have to forget about what they did. Just move past it so we can start enjoying baseball again and get rid of the idea that steroid use "is responsible for moral deterioration in the United States." By all means, continue to do everything possible to purge performance enhancing drugs from baseball, but don't make anyone out to be the Anti-Christ. In a country predicated on second chances, let's give baseball another one too. Society doesn't send it's drug abusers to the electric chair. It sends them to rehab and tries to help them function again in the real world. Apply this to our steroid users (Bonds included), and maybe we can actually begin to love America's Past time for what it is. Think about it.