Bonds, MLB, The Media, And American Rage

By Gary Norris Gray
Updated: July 12, 2007

CALIFORNIA — First and foremost, Barry Lamar Bonds didn’t break any of Major League Baseball’s laws. He may have broken America’s substance abuse, but let me emphasize “ may have” . In America, we are all innocent until proven guilty, unless you’re an outspoken and prominent African-American male.

Even in BASN’s poll on All Star weekend asked its readers whether Bonds is being vilified in the American white media? The resounding response was a 90 percent yes and it illustrates how we still see events in black and white.

Bonds plays the game like any other player trying to get advantage of any game situation. Thes examples include pitchers throwing spitballs and or cut baseballs, pitchers using sandpaper or brillo pads to get a better grip on their curve ball, runners stealing the catchers signs to the pitchers.

What about batters moving out of the box to gain a few feet before the baseball brakes at home plate, or groundkeepers either letting the field grass grow too long or watering the infield surface to slow down base runners.

This is cheating, but nobody complains. This is part of the game or is it? When cheating benefits the team it is acceptable when it benefits an individual it is not acceptable. There’s something wrong with this attitude.

The majors did not enforce their shadow drug mandate until 2004-2005. So where is all of this rage coming from towards future Hall of Famer Barry Lamar Bonds. He just played within the rules of the game.

Most of America enjoyed Tuesday night’s All Star Game in Windy AT&T Park in San Francisco. Bonds came to the plate and the crowd cheered their hometown hero. But there is still a distant cry, a distant thunder in examining the record-breaking feats of Barry Bonds.

This year, fans are throwing objects and racial epithets on the field. Nationally televised sports talk shows are decimating information about him. The American media calls Bonds a cheater and a steroid freak who doesn’t deserve the home run record.

What about the many pitchers, caught using substance enhancing drugs? Has anybody looked at the old photographs of New York Yankee Roger Clemens in his early years in Boston with the Red Sox? Be serious and be fair

In the past two years there has been a nasty tone bombarding Bonds every time he takes the field. The complaints have come from the media of mostly white middle age, and middle class males. Males that could not play the game so they write about it. This leads many to ask is this another racial American rage event.

What happened when Oakland’s “Bash Brothers” (Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire) were knocking homers all over American League parks? What happened when McGwire and Sammy Sosa battled each other for the single-season home run record?

What happened when the quite big red headed man wearing the St. Louis Cardinal red number 25 passed Roger Maris’ single season home run record? America was in love with Mark and Sammy.

They were in love with baseball’s longball fest. Major league owners were making money as millions of fans came to watch, very few complained. Weren’t they not using the same alleged substances as Barry Lamar Bonds?

My, My, My, how times have changed.

This year’s spring training for the Giants would only be a harbinger of things to come. The United States sports media corps again started discussions about athletes and steroids, especially Bonds and Sosa, who quietly returned to baseball in Texas.

Meanwhile, New York Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi stated in a high profile magazine that many current players should not be taking the stuff .

Two years ago when Baltimore’s Rafael Palmiero tested positive for drugs and was suspended for 10 days, the drug issue hit the front pages of all American sports sections but baseball went on its merry way ignoring the issue again.

The anger was not there; the venom could not be felt. This year you can smell the fire in the air. This year you can hear the war drums. Just by mentioning Bonds name, people veins start popping out of their heads, their eyes get glassy and red; their voices raise a few octaves.

Just as the mentioning the name of such individuals such as Gary Sheffield, Dick Allen, O.J. Simpson, Jack Johnson, Jim Brown, Curt Flood, Muhammad Ali, Reggie Jackson, Shani Davis, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, and Richard Williams (the father of Venus and Serena ) evoke a range of emotions from anger to rage in America. Only Ali has regained the graces of American love.

A courageous effort is still being made by Major League Baseball to hide the drug (steroid) issue. Unfortunately the big Black bull is still in baseball’s China closet and his name is Barry Lamar Bonds.

He is headed for the home run record with each passing day. Bonds made it easy this year for the baseball fan, the commissioner, and sports media to talk about drugs and baseball.

Baseball is still using smoke and mirrors to divert the serious problems of (MLB) Major League Baseball and should stop playing mind games with the American public. Baseball is becoming the new (WWF) World Wresting Federation and it’s not funny. The American pastime has become a joke and it needs to be corrected.

Barry Bonds and the media are not the best of friends. In the late 60’s and early 70’s a very young Barry watched his father Bobby Bonds get roasted by some of the same reporters on the beat today.

Newspapers all over the country misquoted and abused the senior Bonds. Bobby spoke his mind and that’s a no-no in America. Bobby had a severe drinking problem and the San Francisco sports beat writers printed some harsh articles.

Obviously Barry’s childhood experiences with the media have influenced Barry Bonds the man today. He is tight lipped, passive-aggressive, and at times belligerent. Barry does not trust the press nor should he.

Bonds still is the lightning rod on the issue of steroids and Barry thinks he is wearing a Teflon Giants baseball jersey, especially around the City of San Francisco. Many pure baseball fans do not want Bonds to break Hank Aaron’s record.

Yet the same angry baseball fans voted him to the All Star Game in San Francisco this year. So is this a media generated conversation? If you throw out Barry Bonds 2003 season of 73 homers, he averages between 40-50 homers per season. If he played three to five more year, Bonds would achieve this record anyway.

Bonds made a very interesting statement a few years ago and should make everyone think about this continuing issue of cheating in baseball. “Drugs, steroids, or whatever you ingest cannot make you see the ball or hit the ball.”

It might help you hit the ball farther, but if you can’t see it then what? You still have to have the natural abilities to hit a baseball.” Bonds has a point, and baseball needs to listen to this very talented baseball star.

Major League Baseball and the majority white American sports press corps need to stop playing mind games with this issue and be serious about dealing with the steroid problem.

Either have a serious drug program or let the homers continue the fly, stop making Barry Lamar Bonds baseball’s scapegoat. It’s not fair nor is it right.