A Witch Hunt And A Love Fest

By Bill Neri-Amadeo
Updated: February 6, 2009

LANSING, Mich. — Let’s face it; we live in two different worlds in 2009.

In one world, people are given second chances. People, especially athletes, are beloved for the glory and joy they bring into our worlds. This is a good world. This is the world Michael Phelps lives in.

In this world, nobody wants to discuss the DUI he got in 2004 and people overlook the fact that he just got photographed smoking marijuana. In this world, people admire Michael Phelps for being the greatest swimmer in the history of our great country and realize how people can make mistakes and how mistakes shouldn’t take away their hard-earned glory.

Yes, this is a good world to live in but it’s certainly not the only world we live in.

In this other world, people don’t objectively look at the good things someone has done. People like Jim Rome and Mike Patrick and numerous others live in their glass homes and throw stones and do their small part to destroy a good man, a great athlete, a human being who while he May have made a mistake.

There is no room for this man to be forgiven and certainly too many members of the media who will never forget. This is a sad world, a disgusting world. This is Barry Bonds’ world.

And as I sit back and bang away on my computer keys, I wonder why there has to be two different worlds but with every breath I take, I’m reminded these two worlds will always exist.

I’m going to attempt to do my part to bring these worlds together and let you decide what is right and what is wrong. Let’s start with Michael Phelps. Make no mistake about it, Michael Phelps is an American icon and for what he accomplished in the Olympics, he deserves all of the glory he has garnered.

This young man has put swimming on the map and nearly everybody caught “Phelps Fever” during the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and for all of his success, he was the toast of America.

Phelps received millions of dollars in endorsements, stood on the sidelines of major football games, did the radio and talk show circuit and has lived a charmed life. While his acclaim reached new heights in 2008, America was quick to forgive the fact that he had a DUI in 2004.

And now, despite all of his fame and fortune, Phelps was caught smoking pot and for this indiscretion, the media has made light of it. The media still loves Phelps and say this was just a case of misjudgment; in fact, it is a second case of misjudgment.

With that being said, Phelps is still a hero and to perfectly honest, I’m glad he is. There is nothing and nobody that can take away what he has accomplished. He deserves to make a mistake or two and still be beloved.

I just have one question for the mass media: Why is it the same rules do not apply to Barry Bonds? Whether you love or hate Bonds, the fact is he is the greatest player of this generation.

Amidst allegations of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs, the legend of Bonds should not be tainted. If we look at Bonds the player, we see a man who has amassed 762 jomers, 1,996 RBIs, 2,558 walks and is the ONLY person in the history of the great game of baseball to accumulate over 500 homeruns and steal 500 bases.

Naysayers will tell you these statistics are attributed to the “Steroid Era” but if you look back prior to the pre-1998 So-Called Steroid-Era, Bonds was always a threat to hit 40 home runs, steal 30 bases, hit close to .300 and draw well over 100 walks.

No matter how we want to look at Bonds, he is a first ballot Hall of Famers and anyone who denies that simply doesn’t know the game of baseball. But despite everything Bonds has done on the field, he is the ridicule of a witch hunt and is hated by the media.

Bonds has to stare down a Federal investigation into the use of steroids and a perjury charge and the media has taken joy in his misery. And I have to ask, is this right?

Why is it that Michael Phelps is forgiven so easily and Barry Bonds is despised so much? Why is it that on-air personalities such as Jim Rome will dedicate 30 minutes of air time to explain their warped views on why no team should take a chance on Barry Bonds?

Shouldn’t Phelps and Bonds be judged by the same rules?

While Phelps had a historic run in the 2008 Olympics, wasn’t it Bonds who was the premier player of “America’s Pastime” for over 20 years? Is the answer race or does it come in the form of the likes of Jim Rome and Mike Patrick? Let’s examine these areas.


Some Bonds supporters will say that Phelps is still so beloved and Bonds so despised simply because of skin tone. I really hope this is not a racial issue but it needs to be addressed simply because Phelps is white and Bonds is black.

I have to think, hope and pray that in 2009, with the United States electing a black man as the leader of our country, that Bonds is not being signaled out because of the color of his skin but when you objectively look at the two parties of this discussion, the issue makes you think.

But to be perfectly honest, I think the media is a far greater culprit that racial division. Two of these personalities that have ridiculed Bonds are employed by ESPN.

“Jim Rome”

Jim Rome is a very busy guy. He has his own Radio show, his own television show and stands on a soapbox on numerous issues. One such issue is Barry Bonds.

This summer, Rome went on a tirade as to why teams should not sign Bonds. Rome portrays the role of “Good-Guy” with a sarcastic attitude and has said that no team should take a chance on a guy who could kill your chemistry.

Rome has not had anything nice to say about Bonds and people love Jim Rome, however, if you’re going to live by the sword, should you not die by the sword? Since Rome is so harsh on Bonds, should he not be held accountable for his own actions?

Wasn’t it Jim Rome who made a bold statement in 1997 when the great Gordie Howe was going to skate one shift with the International Hockey League’s Detroit Vipers. Howe, who was 69 at the time, wanted to skate one shift with the team so he could be the first man to play hockey in six decades.

Not only did this bother Rome, but he actually put a $3,000 bounty out on Howe to any player playing against the Vipers to take Howe out permanently. Is this really somebody we should be listening too?

“Mike Patrick”

Another ESPN commentator who has taken his shot at Bonds is Mike Patrick. During the Duke/Clemson game on February 4th, Patrick was commentating and ESPN showed a clip of bonds and talked about his Federal trial.

When the game cut back to Patrick, he said: “Bonds would look good in stripes” in an attempt to mock the fact that the All-Time Home run king may have to serve time in a Federal Prison. I have to ask, what did Patrick’s opinion have to do with the college game he was paid to announce?

This was the worst case of “Yellow-Journalism” since Jim Gray attacked Pete Rose when Rose was invited on the field to be one of the 50 greatest players of all-time. Patrick’s comments were a disgrace and if he had said something that out of place about Phelps, there would’ve been repercussions.

While we are swarmed with the likes of Rome and Patrick and are constantly told what a horrible person Barry Bonds is, the other side is never shown. The media never talked about how close Bonds was with his father and how Barry continued to have an incredible season in 2003 despite during emotionally while losing his father during the season.

The media won’t tell you that Barry Bonds offered to play the 2008 season for the minimum contract and to donate that money to kids who couldn’t afford to buy baseball tickets. No, Rome and Patrick and the like never tell you about that because nobody even looks to see the other side of Barry Bonds.

With unemployment rates going through the roof and stock market suffering such a great deal, many people had to go without this holiday season. Despite the problems with our economy, Congress has spent Millions of dollars investigating steroids in baseball.

And now, there is a Federal investigation going on concerning Barry Bonds over the issue of perjury. This is not a Michael Vick situation. If Barry Bonds hurt anybody, he hurt himself and it is important to prove that nothing has been proven at this point.

It’s amazing that people like Bud Selig want to make such an example of Barry Bonds. Selig, the Commissioner of Major League Baseball wasn’t even in attendance when Bonds broke Hank Aaron’s Home Run record and has made Bonds his number one priority.

Selig, along with the likes of Rome and Patrick have helped create this tragic world for Bonds. When I look at Selig, I see a bitter man who makes $17.5 million a year and for what? What has Selig done to enhance the game of baseball?

He tried to contract small market teams even though the team he owned, the Milwaukee Brewers played in a small market. He has made a lot of statements that have amounted to nothing and he has made Barry Bonds public enemy number 1.

Is that really the job description of the Baseball Commissioner?

Does that really warrant a $17.5 million salary?

I’ll end by saying this. I don’t begrudge the world of Michael Phelps. I admire his talent and respect all that he has done. It is a great world to live in. I just have one question:

Why should Barry Bonds not be invited into that world?