By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
Are You Now or Have You Ever Been A Home Run King?
“The continued and racially charged scrutiny heaped upon Barry Lamar Bonds during his home run chase in 2007 was arguably one of the most stained moments in sports history. Not because of the person, but firstly because Major League Baseball and mainstream media failed to totally embrace the moment and secondly, both entities continued its longtime history of treating African-Americans and non-Whites on and off the field as mere subservients to the game.”
–Tony McClean, Editor- in-Chief, BASN.PHILADELPHIA — Over 50 years ago, an ordinary, arrogant, garrulous punk named Joseph McCarthy took it upon himself to make it his mission to destroy as many lives as possible by defamation, degradation and outright slander in an insane lust for power.
This scumbag, a state senator from Wisconsin, with nothing but fear and innuendo as his main sources, used the Cold War as his palette and painted grim futures for his victims with each stroke of the phrase, “Are you now or have you ever been a Communist?” and did so with impunity and the blessings of the United States government in the early 1950s.
The media, in large part the electronic arm, beat back the blowhard by exposing his agenda, hitting back at the bully who needlessly hurt so many.
Now, less than a year after breaking the all-time record for home runs, Barry Lamar Bonds, currently No. 1 on the hit parade with 762 dingers, is in a career choke hold because Major League Baseball is apparently in full collusion mode in depriving him of the opportunity to add to his compelling statistics that make the argument for him being the greatest all-around player the game has ever seen.
“How else do you explain the greatest hitter of his generation remaining idle, while mediocre talent years younger than him, struggles to stay in the major leagues?” asks author Dave Zirin.
Zirin, a journalist and author of the “Edge of Sports” blog, points as to why Bonds is being subjugated to this level of scrutiny. “Previous collusion efforts were about the team owners reining themselves in on overspending.
But in this case, the insistence on MLB making a scapegoat out of a player who has never tested positive for steroids has become so corrosive in its overtures that one can feel the personal scorn collectively hurled at Bonds in the effort to stop him from earning a living.”
As to Bonds and his taking of performance enhancing drugs, Zirin calls it a bunch of bullshit. “And what is a ‘performance enhancer’? That’s not even a legal or medical term; it’s sports radio shorthand.
The cortisone shot into Curt Schilling ankle in the 2005 playoffs was a performance enhancer. The Viagra coursing through Bob Dole’s veins is a performance enhancer. Whatever keeps that smile glued to Laura Bush’s face is a performance enhancer. It’s a colloquial phrase tells us nothing. ”
The findings of the Mitchell report attempted to nail a period in the 1990s as the epicenter for steroid use in baseball, but knowledge of steroids in baseball, through eventual statements from executives, players and others connected with the game has a shelf life of over 30 years, with evidence of performance spurts scattered among hundreds of current and former players.
But unlike the actions of media in the 1950s against McCarthy, a code of silence seems to have become the strategy for mainstream media in this era, as no voice to speak on behalf of a man who has yet to be tested positive for steroids.
It is in this atmosphere where Mike Gimbel had decided he had seen enough. Gimbel, a former Consultant on Player Evaluation for the Boston Red Sox and the Montreal Expos, is the architect of a mass protest to say out loud what many fans, especially in the Black community, already sense. “I’m a political activist, and this action against Barry Bonds is as unjust as anything I’ve seen in all my years in labor.”
Currently an elected delegate from his union, The Civil Service Technical Guild, Local 375, AFSCME (6,700 strong) to the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, Gimbel says Bonds’ situation is clearly a right-to-work issue.
“The season is halfway done. The New York Mets are playing two pathetic outfielders in their starting lineup, and their announcers are saying there’s no one available”, says Gimbel.
“And the San Francisco Giants are even worse. The owners cut Bonds loose knowing he built that stadium and put those butts in the seats. That they would go along with this witch hunt speaks to the vigor and viciousness in which MLB carries on this racist attack against Barry Bonds.”
With the endorsement of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), a forum calling for public protest of the blacklisting of Bonds has been scheduled for this Friday at 5 p.m. at the Baseball Heritage Museum in Cleveland, Ohio.
Also among those speaking will be Rosie Bonds, a former Olympic athlete, sister of Bobby and aunt of Barry Bonds, who has spent the last generation as an advocate for human rights. In a prepared statement, Ms. Bonds declared the following:
“My name is Rosie Bonds-Kreidler. Born in Riverside, California and attended college at University of California @Riverside with a political science and science major. American Record Holder in 80 meter hurdles, and voted California’s Most Outstanding Woman Track Athlete of the Year 64-67. My brother, Bobby Bonds played and coached for the San Francisco Giants and Cleveland Indians.
“My nephew Barry Bonds, home run king and professional baseball player throughout his younger years with Pittsburgh Pirates and ending his career with San Francisco Giants.
“Barry has many awards, records, and a foundation to help disadvantaged children.His father is deceased (Bobby) and mother Pat living. The Bonds family has suffered through three unfortunate cancer deaths.
“I have been a social justice and hope advocate for years and I now pursue a project for homeless, disabled, senior, and low income women called “Dolls for Life and Dignity. Presently, I am disabled after a terrible Fed-Ex rig truck accident which disabled me and ruined my career as a trauma nurse.
“I became homeless with continued health care. I have been around the world representing the U.S. in the capacity as a good-will ambassador for several years.
“Now presently I fight against social injustice, racism, domestic violence, homelessness, poverty, hunger, etc. Through God’s we will eradicate these many misfortunes.”
“With all the advocacy work, and the constant attempt to eradicate homelessness, hunger, social injustices, poverty, domestic violence, and many other issues, it has impressed me more that Patricia Bonds, wife to Bobby Bonds, and mother of Barry, Rickey, and Bobby Bonds II, can stand tall with grace and class amidst this demoniceffort to blacklist her son.
“She will not allow the press or any deceptive entity to weasel their evils into her home. You see, to be a person with a son as great as Barry, mother of the year would be an insult to place on a woman of her stature. She has set standards a true loving mother will endure for her children.
“For this Pat, we all love you and pray for your strength. You recognize that God commanded us to “love thy neighbor as thyself, and to not barefalse witness against thy neighbor. God bless you and keep the faith, we all love you and Barry and no one can change that.”
Anyone need a .400 hitter?
Gimbel, whose union ran the cleanup of “Ground Zero” after 9/11 as well as the rebuilding of the No. 1 & No. 9 subway line that ran under the World Trade Center, didn’t let up on the mainstream media as accessories to the fact. “Look at the recent nonsense with Don Imus spewing out that crap again. The bulk of mainstream media tried to protect him, in spite of his history with racist and chauvinistic remarks.
Sure enough, he comes back on the air and starts up all over again, saying he’s being ‘sarcastic’– hah — ‘caustic’ is more like it. But if the media at large refuses to give this any weight, it’s up to people to speak out and address this injustice.”
Although saddled with aching knees, Bonds still hit 28 home runs and drove in 66 runs to go with an unreal on-base percentage of .480– at age 43. “So,” chides Zirin, “you’re telling me the Seattle Mariners or Tampa Bay Rays or the Angels couldn’t use a .400 designated hitter in their lineup?
“I bet if you asked Vladimir Guerrero if he could use Barry Bonds in his lineup to protect him, he’d answer yes– in two languages.”
Sports, as a meritocracy, has never really been fair to Black athletes, and Bonds, son of a major league All-Star (Bobby Bonds) has been continuously jabbed with the sharp sticks of allegation since his ascension to the top of the home run charts.
Given a chance to continue his storied career, Bonds, barring injury, would be on pace to become a member of the 3000 hit club, score 20 more runs to pass avowed racist Tyrus Cobb (take that out to the old ballgame, why don’t you?), 49 more runs to pass the great Rickey Henderson as the runs champion, and 38 extra base hits to surpass Mr. Henry Aaron as the leader in that category.
Plus the outside shot to hit 800 hone runs.
The argument offered by those willing to spew the words is that bonds, because of his indictment of four counts of perjury and one of obstruction of justice, is too hot a potato for any clubhouse because of the government investigation of BALCO labs.
Zirin, via his Edge of Sports blog, implies otherwise. “The timing that’s important here is … the ascension your brand spanking new Attorney General, Mike Mukasey, and his desire for a cheap hit…The fact is that Bonds is under attack from a collection of torture-loving, Habeas Corpus shredding, illegal wire tapping, political operatives.
“The idea that a Barry Bonds indictment becomes the first act of Mike Mukasey’s Justice Department only exposes Sens. Diane Feinstein and Chuck Schumer, and the other Democratic politicians who backed his confirmation.”
In spite of many who were caught cheating after the fact; in spite of Jose Canseco playing Joe Valachi to the public at large via his syringe-shaking, tell-all tome, “Juiced,”; in spite of the All-American boy Roger Clemens turning into a walking joke in front of the adoring politicians and fans that kissed his ass for years; the anger and unrighteous indignation remains pointed squarely at a man who has still not proven to be a steroids user.
To paraphrase the great Howard Cosell, anyone who thinks Bonds isn’t the homerun king, should step to the mound and pitch against him.
Dr. Boyce Watkins encapsulates the spirit of what will hopefully be a peek for those on the outside looking in to take those powers that be to task. “I feel that Barry Bonds has every right to have his remarkable career recognized by baseball fans everywhere.
“While other prominent athletes in major sports have been viewed with suspicion, only Barry Bonds and Marion Jones have received such public disdain. It is my opinion that Barry Bonds’ records are remarkable and he has made a remarkable contribution to baseball.
“The presence of illegal substances in the league is not only pervasive, but others in positions of true authority did nothing to stop it. In the end, they created an environment that forced athletes to make tough decisions in order to remain competitive.
“Also, if Barry Bonds has an asterisk next to his records for the accusations thrust upon him, then any athlete who played during the era of black exclusion should have an asterisk as well. Barry Bonds deserves as much respect as any other athlete in his sport.”